Escaping Domestic Abuse: An Artist Turned Activist Speaks Out

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” — Roald Dahl

It’s tough to see glitter, magic or even hope in the world when yours is crippled by unbearable suffering. Even in the worst case scenario, however, there is reason to hope. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a cause I wish few people could relate to. But chances are, you or a loved one have been affected.

Every nine seconds a woman in the U.S. is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused, according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, and one in three women (and many men) worldwide will experience abuse in her lifetime. Magician and actor turned activist Misty Lee is determined to change all that. I’m convinced that her most recent artistry has the potential to save lives.

A Bit About Magical Misty

Born and raised in Detroit, Misty credits her School of Hard Knocks upbringing for her macabre wit and passion for the “dark arts.” She’s become Hollywood’s go-to gal for “all things magically freaky,” remaining best known for her saucy sorcery and gift for sophisticated stage illusion. In 2011, she became the first female staff medium to perform the famed Houdini Séance at Hollywood’s Magic Castle. And that’s not all…

Misty’s most recent project brings magic to a whole new level. In effort to raise awareness for the Domestic Violence Hotline, she wrote and created the following PSA, likening the decision to break free from an abusive relationship to escaping a straight jacket—efforts Misty knows all too well.

The following video illustrates more in 87 seconds than I could say in pages. After you’ve viewed the video, read on for a Q & A with the artist herself.

A Chat with the Artist

August: Your PSA gave me chills. What inspired you to create it?

Misty: Thank you for your watching it!  The PSA is essentially a love letter to my mother. I watched her endure years of abuse, and now she’s living on her terms. Although her abuse was primarily verbal, the effects were permeating and deeply debilitating. Her strength and tenacity are an inspiration, and I wrote the PSA around her refusal to accept the role of ‘victim’ as her fate. I hope it will inspire others to be brave, escape and thrive.

August: What do you hope viewers glean from the production?

Misty: For the abused: If it convinces even one person that they’re not alone, that it can be done, that they’re worth it, and inspires them to create a plan for freedom, it was worth it.

For abusers: I’m hoping an abuser may see this and realize this is an unacceptable way to treat a loved one, and it may inspire them to make the choice to stop the cycle—and begin to heal.

For the lucky few who have never experienced abuse first hand: Insight that will inspire deeper understanding, which will hopefully elicit a passionate response and a willingness to help.

August: What can we do to support your ventures?

Misty: That’s very nice of you to ask, August. Please spread the word. Share the video, tell your loved ones, and if you know someone who may be suffering, SAY SOMETHING. Victims often suffer in silence for fear of not being believed or suffering repercussions. Letting them know you’re available to help or providing them with an outlet may save a victim’s life. Even if all you can do is write the hotline number on a napkin and put it in their hand, you’re sending a clear message that help is available—sometimes the smallest action can make an enormous difference.

August: If you could wave a magic wand and make one positive change happen pronto, what would you do?

Misty: Gift people with the ability to see and feel the real consequences of their actions. Self-awareness raises gratitude, and gratitude increases the courage it takes to be vulnerable and kind. It’s worth it.


We’d love to hear your thoughts. What did you think of Misty’s video or insight? What has inspired you to seek freedom from dark, seemingly impossible situations? If you or a loved one are currently in an abusive situation, please the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.

Leave a comment


  1. laurie27wsmith

     /  October 17, 2013

    I shivered watching the video, the darkness, the abusive voices. It took me to a place far away, one I try not to visit. Then Misty’s determination and ‘fuck you’ had me cheering (to myself). I only wish that my mother had had the guts to escape years ago. Perhaps life would have been different. Well done August for posting this video and interview.

  2. Raani York

     /  October 17, 2013

    Thank you very much for sharing this Video and interview with Misty, August! You’re an amazing interviewer!
    And this video even scared me – and that means something!!

    Thank you Misty for this!!

    Thank God I never had to fear this kind of abuse! I had a boyfriend once who had a bad temper – but I think the fact that he knew he was dating a girl with some decades of Martial Arts experience kept him from ever lift his hand against me. After his second “outburst” I broke up with him and have never seen him since.
    But there are thousands – and thousands of women who are not blessed with my kind of education and cannot stand proud and say “Keep your hands off me”. And of course it’s right to teach people to watch carefully and help.
    I’m very impressed and deeply shaken.

  3. Unfortunately, I’m not in a location conducive to watching and listening to the video, but I’ll be back to comment further once I am.

    From a personal perspective, abuse comes in many voices at varying volumes. It can be a joking voice that spins the screws into my self-esteem. Passive-aggressive behavior that suggests I’m inadequate or abnormal. It can come with inappropriate bursts of hostility directed at something as inane a toaster because of something I say or do.

    Those who love me saw it long before I did. The type I experience(d) is insidious because it leaves holes in the soul even I couldn’t see. No bruises. No shouting at me.

    When I got sober, I found my strength and my voice. Sometimes it takes getting in the car and leaving for an hour, a week, six weeks. I ignore all of the “poor, pathetic, lonely me’s” that kept me from chasing my dreams for so many years. I stand up for my right to be free-to-be-me.

    He recently said, “You’re not a normal wife.” My response? “Thank you.”

    What? A novella already, and I haven’t yet had the benefit of viewing your video. There is a person in my life who suffers from violent abuse, but fears repercussions if she files a formal complaint. He’s threatened to chain her, have her raped repeatedly, chopped into pieces, and dumped in a nearby lake should she get him into trouble with the police. I convinced her to file a report with the police, and to move out, but she STILL takes his calls. She once worked as a counselor for domestic abuse, so she understands she’s volunteering every time she answers the call. I’ll definitely get the video to her.

    Thanks so much!

  4. Pretty intense video, triggering but really gets the point across. Sorry you’ve been there, thank you for raising awareness. It’s what my blog is about, I had to leave my abusive family behind. They’re just part of the abuse I endured for years.

  1. Escaping Domestic Abuse: An Artist Turned Activist Speaks Out | Poly Nirvana
  2. Escape: Domestic Violence PSA

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