Angela Kelsey

Tell the Story

Filling the Hollow on International Women’s Day

Filed in Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stories, voices :: March 7, 2011



In Part 2 of her “So Many Silences” posts, Julie Daley wrote, “My silence earns me privilege, and it costs me my power. I give away my power to have privilege. I may feel I have power, but as long as that power is based on a privilege that is hollow at its core, the power is hollow, too.”

My initial response to this was, “Whoa.”

How many ways have I have earned privilege with my silence? With complacency, self-protection, and ignoring? With a new dress or an intellectual maneuver? With going along to get along with race-and class-based separation from other women?

What is the solution to the hollowness of my privilege, obtained at the expense of my power?  Do I throw it away, or set it on fire?  Or is it possible to reclaim, reuse, or recycle it?

Hollow spaces can hold things.  They are containers.  Sometimes what goes inside them is safer, more readily available, more accessible than it would be without them.


I can fill the hollow space of my privilege the truth of my experience.  I can speak the truth, and by speaking my true stories, help other women to speak theirs, too.

On March 8, 2011, the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day for celebrating the achievements of women past and  improving the lives of women present and future, I  commit to telling the truth about my experience with domestic violence.  To publishing my memoir.  To speaking and teaching everywhere I can.  To blogging and tweeting.  To talking about things that the collective “we” would rather keep in silence, ignore, think of as a private family matter which belongs to other people, people not like us, people who wear a different hollow mask.

My privilege and external power were  ineffective against the physical and emotional abuse I experienced from 1999-2007.   Privilege and power played a large part of my shame and my reluctance to tell anyone what was happening.

But now I will use that same, hollow as ever, privilege and power to gain the ears of people who can only hear a voice that inhabits a body that wears privilege.

I hope that when I tell my stories–what happened, why I stayed as long as I did, why I finally left–people will think differently about what kind of woman wakes up one morning to realize that she is a victim.  I hope they won’t ask in quite as exasperated a tone, Why doesn’t she just leave him?

One out of every four women will experience intimate terrorism, partner abuse, domestic violence at some point in her life.  And one out of four women is me, and I am she.

This post is part of Heather Plett’s 100 Years :: 100 People :: 100 Changes project.




  1. Tammy Gray

    I am thankful you have decided to use your voice. Thankful you are using your gifts. Thankful that you are being who you were created to be. There is nothing more beautiful.

    • Angela

      Thank you, my dear cousin. You are a kind, wise woman.

  2. wholly jeanne

    (with tears of gratitude and knowing and love): Yes, your privilege was completely ineffective in your abusive relationship. That’s the thing: oppression, abuse, crimes against another all transcend privilege and race and class. You are not setting aside the ways we are different, you are reaching above and over and around to point out that the ways we are alike. And you’re not just talking about the atrocities that include all women, you’re reaching out and up and over and beyond and into hollows to make some changes. Bravo, my friend. Bravo.

    • Angela

      Jeanne, thanks for your conversations online and off. And I know you love the owl!

  3. Rupa

    Thank you for sharing your story, Angela. I’m so very grateful you survived to tell it.

    While I’m quick to recognize a gaping disparity in privilege and external power among women, you make a powerful point that domestic violence does not discriminate in the slightest –that, ironically, the privilege you enjoyed “played a large part in your shame and reluctance to tell..”

    This is a deeply considered piece, beautifully composed. Thank you for your honesty, for your courage and for using your voice to bring us closer.

    • Angela

      Thank you, Rupa, for reading and for your comments–I think we can bridge most gaps (all?) by telling and listening to each others’ stories.

    • Angela

      Thank you, Mere. The inspiration goes both ways.

  4. Yvonne

    I know what you are talking about. And I’m touched. I want to come and give you a big hug!

  5. Heather Plett

    Thank you for your courage, Angela. Thank you for having the courage to support other women who experience what you have been through.

    “Hollowness of privilege” – I’ll be thinking about that for awhile.

    • Angela

      Heather, you pushed me over the edge into this post with your #100chanages project. Many thanks to you.

  6. Julie Daley

    “I commit to telling the truth about my experience with domestic violence. To publishing my memoir. To speaking and teaching everywhere I can. To blogging and tweeting. To talking about things that the collective “we” would rather keep in silence, ignore, think of as a private family matter which belongs to other people, people not like us, people who wear a different hollow mask.”
    This is powerful. Power-full. These are not hollow words. I ‘feel’ your power in them. This power doesn’t come from your privilege or anything else, other than your own wisdom, knowing and truth. I can feel this power rise from the core within you. It is the essence of your own nature.
    Each of us must speak the truth. We must each tell our stories. I am so grateful you are here to do that, Angela. I can’t wait to be the first in line to have you autograph your book for me.

    • Angela

      Julie, you started this conversation with your brave, thoughtful posts on oppression, showing me that telling our stories from a place of compassion is the only way to go. I am deeply grateful for your comments.

  7. Marjory

    Wow, Angela, you are so courageous! Filled with awe to witness this moment of power for you. Feeling how much we awaken each others voices. So much love and respect.

    • Angela

      Thanks, Marjory–you are another awakener of voices!

  8. kelly

    I hear you, I feel you, and there are echoes in that hollow place that speak my name. You are brave, and beautiful. I send you much admiration, and many hugs.

    • Angela

      Kelly, thanks for your understanding, kindness, and, of course, the hugs.

  9. Alana

    Angela – speaking the truth people don’t want to hear. Yes. Telling our stories. Oh yes. I hear and honor your commitments. And I’ll be right behind Julie in that line.

  10. Josie

    There is tremendous power in “the hollow”, the space, the Holy Grail, the womb, the place where creation occurs, the FEMININE. Owl is woman’s medicine. Owl flies into the dark, into the night and is unafraid. Our wisdom has been quiet, living in the dark of night for a long time. It’s time to bring it out into the light of day and speak it! The world has been too lopsided for too long. With love and light.