I saw a video on Upworthy today.
Stare Into Her Eyes — Now Watch One Year In An Abusive Relationship Happen In One Minute (The link is to a vid that might trigger some, but the marks, etc. were done w/makeup.)
Some of the comments on the page where I saw it linked disgusted me but sadly, didn’t surprise me.
“Why didn’t she leave?”
“I would never let someone do that to me.”
“She’s so stupid for staying through that.”
“She must have zero self-esteem.”
… and so on. But the problem here is that no one wants to think about where this comes from. I have to think that when people make these type of comments they are imagining a scenario that goes somewhat like this:
Two people meet. They hit it off and go out on a date. At some point in the subsequent relationship one of them suddenly hits the other in the face, starts calling them names, rapes them, or all of the above.
But it doesn’t happen like that. I don’t think you paid attention to that so I’m going to say it again and bold that shit.
It doesn’t happen like that.
It isn’t something that just comes out of the blue. It starts off with something simple. An argument wherein one or the other drops the F bomb. Or maybe sex got a little past the limit of comfort but it was still within bounds so it was brushed off. Because (and imagine that I’m loudly proclaiming this because using all caps annoys the crap out of me) if it were to happen out of the blue with something drastic anyone would leave.
The woman that you see at the grocery store cringing behind the man who tells his ‘bitch’ to hurry up would leave. Your friend who told you she was ending her marriage due to the abuse you didn’t know was happening would leave. The women who you see on the news, pronounced dead at the scene, with their abusive partners on the loose and under investigation would fucking leave.
But abuse doesn’t happen that way. Abuse sneaks up on you, thief in the night, ready to steal the very essence of what gives you the will to live. You start off a normal human being but by the end of it you feel a shell of who you used to be. Ugly, fat, unwanted, stupid, pathetic, someone who no one would want. You fear the loss of your children, your home, your very life if you were to leave. Since people don’t generally walk around talking about their abusive relationships in the light of day for anyone to hear, the person has likely been convinced (by themselves and by their partner) that they are crazy, unworthy, irrational, bitchy, stupid, and unworthy.
See that I mentioned unworthy there twice? I know, I’m sneaky like that. But that’s how it is. There is a mantra going on inside the head of someone who has experienced abuse. They are systematically broken down. Day after day it is ground into them that they are not worth the love or attention of anyone. That the abuser is, in fact, doing them a favor by being with them.
And here’s the kicker. When it reaches that point where the chick considers getting out there’s always that little voice in their head reminding them of what will happen.
“How is the husband/boyfriend?” says random person/friend/family member.
“Oh, we’re getting divorced/broke up”
“He was abusive.”
Now at this point there are two expected reactions. Either there will be a sudden drop in temperature from the sneer of condescension or the pity train rolls into town. Either way the person gets to, once again, feel something that another person puts on her. Humiliation. Loss of respect.
Abuse is not something that can be put in a blog post and explained away between quips. It happens every day, somewhere, to someone. Right now, while I’m typing this and later, while you’re reading, someone is getting hurt whether it is physically or emotionally. Someone is locked in a bathroom sobbing after being sexually punished by a person claims that they love them. Someone is crying (or holding in the tears lest they make it worse) while being told how disgusting they are. Or you know what? Someone might be dead.
While people are busy blaming the victim, playing the ‘I’d never‘ game, someone out there is silent because not only was her voice taken by someone who was supposed to love her but it was trampled by the rest of the folks who were supposed to care. The answer is always the same when a person tries to (however subtly) talk about the wrongs in their relationship.
“You should leave.”
Easier said than done. What about the stay at home mom who has been convinced that she is an idiot and a bad mother, incapable of caring for her children and thus the courts will allow the asshole (yes, the asshole. If you can’t take the language, don’t come to this blog because like Bernie Mac I’m going to tell it like it T. I. is.) full custody. She’s convinced that with no money and no record of abuse (how do you even begin to document sexual abuse? Verbal? Mental?) she will lose her children.
And how about the woman who was raised in a religious environment where the breaking of a marriage is sin? Telling her to ‘get over it’ doesn’t cut it when she feels it would be risking her immortal soul to do so. Whatever your personal views on the afterlife or lack thereof, take a moment and ponder what it would be like to live in fear of burning for untold years. It is real to the person and you’ve got to respect that.
But enough of that. Why am I posting this? For two reasons. First, before you jump to conclusions the next time you see a woman with a broken arm struggling to unload her kid from the backseat while her husband stands to the side, useless, give her a smile. Before you cut your friend off mid-sentence as she’s bemoaning the night before when her boyfriend told her she was ugly and stupid to tell her to leave the jackass already, take a moment. Breathe. Give her a smile and a compliment. Let her know that she’s not alone. She’s not stupid. She’s not ugly. She, your friend, your acquaintance, your relative sparkles brighter than the sparkles on a Twilight vamp and you love her like you love bacon.
Because you never know. The next time he raises his hand or voice in anger she may not hear him at all. She might hear you. Telling her to shine bright like the fucking diamond she is. And she might just take that chance and then she might, just maybe, leave. Not because you told her to leave. Not because you judged her or pitied her. But because you took a moment to remind her that she fucking rocks.
And second, I wrote this for you. The chick reading this who minimizes her screen every time her dude ambles past. The woman on her lunch break who might have felt the twinge of tears behind your eyelids as you remembered last night, or this morning. The dude who doesn’t think that he can say anything because ‘men don’t get abused’.
I’m not going to tell you to leave. I’m certainly not telling you to stay. But I am telling you this. Whoever you are, and however trite you may think this, you fucking rock.
You are smart.
You are beautiful (or hot as hell if you’re a dude).
You have talent, you are a diamond. Whether that’s buried in a lump of charcoal right now or not, it doesn’t matter. Because you are you. The only ‘you’ this world will ever know. And your partner, the person who loves you but hurts you? They aren’t worthy of you.
You rolled your eyes at that and brushed me off, didn’t you? I’m going to say it again (and this time I’m pulling out the fucking caps).
THEY AREN’T WORTHY OF YOU.
I can’t tell you that everything will be alright. I can’t tell you that it will be easy or fun. But I can tell you this. One day, after you get you back you will wake up free. You will sigh in contentment because you realize that you no longer have to walk around on eggshells lest you set the asshole off. You will have meals that you want to eat, where you want them, how you like them. The whole day will be choices that you make for you, not what you have to do to try and keep someone happy to keep them from hurting you, scaring you, or belittling you.
You will go to bed with a smile on your face and you will think to yourself, ‘I fucking rock.’
And that, you diamond (in the rough or not), is why I wrote this blog post. With the hope that just one of you who reads it will think to yourself that you rock. Because you deserve it. No matter what you’ve been told or shown, you deserve happiness and the ability to live a full day without pain.
You are worthy. You are worth it.
Now start living it. Because you rock. No matter what you’ve been told, no matter what you’ve been shown.
And if you feel the need to chat, contact me. I won’t judge, I won’t pressure you. Because I know what it’s like to scream into the wind and only hear your voice echoing back.