Let me start by saying this is purely based on my own experience. These are things that people have actually said to me when they learn about my history as a victim of domestic violence. For two and a half years I was part of a domestic violence relationship. For two and a half years I was emotionally, physically and at times, sexually abused. I’ve had a lot of questions asked, the usual questions about what I saw in him or why I stayed. Yet, there are still people who have said things that have made my head spin.
There are a lot of stupid things that have been said, but here are the top six and why they’re incredibly ignorant.
1. “You’re the idiot who didn’t leave, you knew he was abusive. You deserve it”
Alright, in all seriousness, you didn’t ask to be ignorant. You didn’t ask to be born with such a clear lack of understanding and compassion that it is too much for your brain to handle the idea that maybe there was a reason I felt I had to stay. So, bear that in mind. Because I didn’t ask to be given a life that the asshole could use against me to manipulate and torture me any more than you asked to be ignorant. You don’t know my backstory and the things he used to say to make me stay. You don’t know the very real fear I lived with every single day.
2. “It’s not that hard to walk away”
Well, let’s see you be put in the same set of circumstances and just be able to walk away, seeing as how it is so bloody easy. Let’s see you walk away from someone who tells you all the ways he plans to hurt you and everyone you love if you walk away. Someone who has the means to track you down and hurt you even more once they find you.. He spent months working out my strengths, weaknesses, which buttons do what and how he can use all of them against me … and he didn’t hold back from using them whenever he felt like it.
3. “It mustn’t have been that bad if you’re OK now”
Let me be very, very clear: just because I can smile and laugh and forget for a little while, doesn’t mean I’m OK. For the most part, I am OK now. What isn’t OK is that every time I see a red Lancer, I freeze. Every time I see a tall, stocky guy with long, dark hair I break out in sweats and start panicking. I had to throw out my sugar jar because he’d thrown it at my head and tried to smash it over my face so many times that it caused panic attacks without me realising. So, no. I’m not “OK”, I just get on with it.
4. “He seemed like such a nice guy, I’m sure he wasn’t that bad”
Oh OK, he was nice to you, so I must be lying. Little do you know that on that one occasion you met him, he told me immediately afterward that I’m never to speak to you again because he doesn’t like the look of you. Yeah, he’s a real gem.
5. “You’re overreacting”
He stabbed himself in front of me. Twisted the knife in his leg. When I freaked out, he tried to slit his throat and I had to wrestle him for the knife. On another occasion, he held me down by my throat until I started to black out, then stopped and said he wouldn’t do it because it’s too merciful. He’d rather see me suffering. But, you’re right. I have no reason to be upset.
6. “It mustn’t have been too bad, I never saw any bruises on you”
Can you even comprehend what you’re saying? You didn’t see bruises so the abuse didn’t exist? Let me tell you, he was smarter than he looked. He knew if he broke bones, he wouldn’t get the opportunity to hurt me anymore, he told me that himself. He told me on several occasions that he got sexual pleasure out of knowing he was emotionally torturing me and he was going to make me suffer as long as he could until he decided to slowly and painfully kill me. Aside from all that, he would pin me in corners and scream at me to hit him so he could hit me and claim self-defence. He would only hurt me in places I could cover up. He didn’t hurt me out of anger and that was the worst part.
I’ve never told anyone who wasn’t close or trustworthy. These people know me and yet they can still try to plug it back on me. I understand that the lack of understanding usually stems from the lack of experience. I understand that what people don’t understand, they are frightened of. Nonetheless, having your close ones tell you how weak, stupid and dramatic you are is soul crushing. Here I was, a victim of abuse for years and yet I was getting the blame. I didn’t make him do the things he did and I think it’s time people start to understand what it is like.
I didn’t think it would end and I didn’t think it would get better. I didn’t think I deserved better thanks to his mental abuse. So, when I got out of there, of course I wanted to celebrate what I saw as an achievement. Instead, I was reprimanded and ridiculed. That was harder to deal with than the abuse at times. I just wanted to know that someone could pat me on the back and say “good on you for getting out,” but our society is too quick to blame the victims. I was a victim. Not a fool, not a liar, not a perpetrator. If you want to lay the blame, lay it on the man who did it.