It was a cold September day. I was afraid, but I had been planning for this day for months. I knew what I needed and wanted to do. I had my bag packed and in the closet that was next to the front door. I made sure it was hidden by coats. I had official copies of my documents in a folder and one change of clothes for me and my daughter. I needed to be safe.
I needed to leave QUICKLY! I had a small baby and I needed her to move with me. It was a traumatic relationship. Years of increased emotional abuse. Months of physical abuse. He had stopped caring if we were in public and who we were around. It had become an increasingly dangerous situation.
I was trembling as I wrapped my baby on my back in a quick torso carry, carried my purse full of our documents and quietly but quickly escaped what was certain death. It was 1:30am . . . I needed baby to be quiet because I was afraid if he caught me leaving, it would’ve ended badly. My daughter was a very light sleeper, and when she woke up, she was usually rambunctious and excited. But this night the rocking from me getting ready was enough to keep her sleeping.
So with my sleeping precious baby on my back and with a bruised arm, face and legs I left! I escaped! Adrenaline was running through my veins; oxytocin vibrating to my baby. The further I walked, the safer I felt. I walked for about 30 minutes until I found a police car. I broke down and cried when I saw the police officer.
I kept my baby wrapped to me during the entire situation. As we took pictures of the bruises, she stayed with me. As the police officer took my report, my daughter stayed attached to me. As the police officer took me to the domestic violence shelter for an intake, she stayed with me. I didn’t unwrap her until I was finally alone in the room. I felt safe enough to finally unwrap her to let her down. It was a physical and emotional release, but I was able to release. FINALLY I felt free. I felt safe
After leaving my abusive relationship, I had major trust issues. I didn’t want to leave my baby. I didn’t want her out of my sight. I would panic if I couldn’t see her. I wanted her to feel protected and safe. We needed a sense of security we didn’t have before.
One of the ways my abuser hurt me was by constantly telling me I wasn’t a good mom. He told me I didn’t know what I was doing, and that everything I did was stupid. My mom tried to help, but negative voices are always the loudest. So I coped by wearing my daughter during everyday activities. I even wore her in the shower. Babywearing became therapy for me. It allowed us to share space. The Good Feeling hormones took over.
Babywearing created a bond between us, and it kept my hands free. I was able to hold my baby and write out my thoughts. I was able to pick up amazing hobbies such as photography and bond with my baby. We were in better communication. I was able to reclaim my strength and build a loving relationship with my little girl and with myself.
This is my personal experience, but so many other women go through this, too. Babywearing can have an important role in rebuilding our lives and reminding ourselves that we are strong and able! We are capable.
A wrap or other carrier can help heal trauma in both parent and baby. Unfortunately, most survivors can’t afford $100 for a wrap or baby carrier. This is why organizations such as World On My Shoulders, a nonprofit that works to provide baby carriers and other evidence-based care to survivors of domestic violence, are important. I was fortunate enough to obtain a pre-owned wrap. Some survivors don’t have that chance. Most times survivors don’t have the chance to save money.
After I escaped, I went to a meetup hosted by World on My Shoulders. At that meeting, I felt safe. After living with abuse and trauma, it was great to walk into a meetup and to feel like I was amongst family. They were understanding and empathetic. There was a woman there who had gone through the same thing I did. No judgement, just education. Education on the safe way to carry my baby, and education on different ways to heal while holding my child. Education and praise.
World on My Shoulders (WoMS) and other organizations like them are lifelines to survivors of domestic violence. They rely on donations, and organizers often help families out of their own pockets when they find themselves short on donations (which is often). WoMS is a national organization committed to providing long-term, evidence-based, holistic care to caregivers who are low-income and/or domestic violence victims by providing peer-to-peer support services, reusable and sustainable reproductive health goods, and infant care essentials.
Wrapsody reached out to Julia, founder of World on My Shoulders, prior to publishing this article to discuss a fund and supplies drive. The organization always needs cash donations so they can support families!
You can donate directly to the organization using their safe and secure paypal link.
Learn more about trauma-informed babywearing and creating welcoming spaces in your babywearing groups
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We’ll also email a notice to our mailing list when Diamond Redden, author of this article, and Julia Walker, founded of WoMS, launch their course on Trauma-Informed Babywearing.