Personal Post: Domestic Abuse

Posted on 08/07/2015 in Discussion / 22 Comments

Six years ago today, I took action to change my life.  I left my abusive boyfriend whom I had lived with for over three years.  A lot of people are probably asking themselves why I would still be talking about this, or living in the past, but that’s not what this is about.  It’s about me.

There is a social stigma around domestic violence and abuse victims.

It’s uncomfortable and no one wants to talk about it, often including the victims ourselves.  Lots of questions from outsiders are silently asked behind the victim’s back, like, “Why doesn’t she leave?” and “Well, how bad can it be if she’s still there?“, “I wonder what she did to deserve it.  You never know what goes on behind closed doors.”  Or my favorite: “She’s lying.”  Because otherwise, why would she be there?

I’m hear to tell you that sometimes it’s not as easy as just leaving.

 

Domestic violence
© NinaMalyna

Abusers often have a psychological hold over their victims.  In my case, my abuser spent 3+ years verbally assaulting me until I felt worthless and unable to take care of myself.  That’s what they like: control.  They don’t want us to be able to leave them,  because then they lose that control they need to make themselves feel better.  I never felt like I could leave, because I was made to feel less than every single day.  He broke my spirit deliberately.

My abuser was smart and calculating.  He abused me by taking my money.  Yes, I willingly handed it over, but I felt compelled to do so, because I knew that if I didn’t, I’d be forced to sleep on the floor, or trapped in a closet, or be made to sit in a dark room with no electricity.

My abuser backed me into corners and called me stupid, ugly and pointless.  My abuser would snap at me to move back to Michigan, because no one wanted me here, and then turn around 15 minutes later and charmingly say how sorry he was and would I please take him back?  My abuser cheated.  My abuser hurled me into a wall and gave me bruises.  My abuser dragged me across our back deck by the back collar of my shirt, choking me, before pinning me to the ground with his own body weight.  My abuser killed my cat and made two others “disappear”.  I never turned him in because I couldn’t prove it and I was afraid of him.

I could probably write a book on my experience, titled How To Date A Sociopath for Dummies.  It would be a best seller.

A lot of people in my life pulled away from me, because it understandably made them uncomfortable.   Confidantes of abuse victims feel guilty.  They feel awkward.  They pity.  They pull away. But I wish they wouldn’t.  I’m personally telling you that pulling away is the worst thing you can do, because without your support, they feel even more dependent on their abuser for validation and self-worth.

Being a victim is a lonely experience.  Haunting, even.  I was a ghost of myself for a long time.   I stopped hanging out with friends, I stopped going places.  I stopped reading, because he knew reading was my escape from him and would force me to sit in a dark room without lights so I couldn’t even leave the situation in my mind with a book.  And he did so much more to me than just these things I’ve told you.

“People like you never leave.”

I remember the day I decided to leave.  Coincidentally, it was the same day he had dragged me across the back deck by my shirt.  I sat sobbing on the deck with my back to the rail, crying that I was done and leaving, while he put his arms around me to “console” me, and whispered into my ear, People like you never leave.”  I left five days later with the help of my father from whom I had hidden the abuse, and some dear friends who are so special to me – friends who very much feared I’d go running back to him.  They are my village.  I am really proud of who I am today and how far I have come and it’s because of them and their combined strength that I was able to change my life.  I still have nightmares, I still get anxious, but my village talks me through it and reassures me that everything is okay.  I would be less without them.  I might not be, without them.  Admittedly, talking about it is awkward even now…but it shouldn’t be.  Most people will completely pass over this post, or read it and then move on because it’s hard to listen to such an uncomfortable story when we hardly ever talk openly about it.  I’m telling you all of this because I refuse to be silent.  If I make people uncomfortable, good.  It needs to be talked about.  It needs to be said and discussed and dissected so we come to terms with the realization that domestic violence is more common than we think.  It needs open dialogue so victims aren’t afraid to speak out and get help.  So they aren’t ashamed.  Victims are victims twice:  once by their abuser and then once again by the social stigma surrounding being an abuse victim.  I refuse to be a victim any longer. I will not be shamed that I stayed for so long nor keep silent about my struggle.  I will always talk about my experience.  I refuse to be a victim, so I’m telling you that the social stigma needs to go and the only way it will is if we talk about it.  Out loud.  Out in the open.  If we share our experiences.

I refuse to be a victim.

If you feel like you might be the victim of domestic abuse, please contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline.  You can also call 1-800-799-7233 for help.

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Jennifer became addicted to books when she randomly picked up a Sweet Valley High book in grade school. She never looked back. After blowing through the SVH and SVU series faster than her parents could put them in her hands, she began perusing her stepfather's bookshelves and reading fantasy like Piers Anthony's Incarnations of Immortality series, which she still maintains is some of the best fantasy ever. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.

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22 responses to “Personal Post: Domestic Abuse

  1. You are amazing for speaking out. I went through the same thing but left in 2001. I was in that relationship 3 years as well. The things you described, it was like you were sharing MY story. I don’t share much about my experience anymore but I do agree that it’s good to speak out. I don’t think people really understood what I went through. When I left I just packed the car and disappeared. I didn’t tell anyone and just drive as far as I could without driving into the ocean. I still have PTSD from that but every day I fight to move forward. To be more than my past. Thank you for sharing your story and I’m sorry you had to go through that too.
    Candace’s latest thoughts >> Saturday Situation: Link Up Your Bookish Posts and Giveaways!

    • Candace, I am so sorry you have a similar story. It’s awful that it’s so prevalent and hardly ever talked about. I am fortunate for the people I have in my life. I knew he wouldn’t let me leave, so I waited until he left for work, and then four friends came over with boxes and a truck and their cars to pack my life up and sweep me away. I think most people who have never experienced it and don’t understand, don’t understand simply because it’s not something that happens all at once, but as a slow trickle. My psych teach in high school gave a lecture once about how when abusers tear someone down, they do it one small piece at a time. Eventually the victim looks down and sees that all her pieces are gone and she’s left to try to gather them back up.

  2. Heather

    Wow, I had no idea you went through that, we’ll have to chat more soon. It’s sad how common domestic abuse is. I’m just recovering from this myself, which has been part of my absence this last year. Leaving is really, really hard and I had my kids caught in the mix. I haven’t even been out for a year, and I know leaving was the best and most difficult choice I ever made. The social stigma… that really hurts. People are so quick to judge a situation and blame the victim… very sad. But, I’m glad that you got out, you left and you are stronger for it!

    • People are really quick to judge and assume that it wasn’t bad or even real, because she didn’t leave. They don’t understand that leaving is not as easy as deciding to pack your shit and go. I never would have been able to leave on my own; he wouldn’t have let me. It was so carefully planned, it still kinda surprises me we did it. I am so sorry you have experienced this, too. But you are so strong and I can tell you are happier where you are at now! <3

  3. Carol L

    Jennifer, the most important part of this whhole post is that you’re still here to tell it. Thank you for putting your experiences out there. So many abuse relationships end tragically. I’m just happy to read that you left and can talk about it. Thanks again for sharing your story. Carol L

  4. Hannah @ The Irish Banana

    Oh, Jenn. I had no idea. But I am so incredibly proud of you for not only breaking the cycle but also sharing your story. You are one of the most vivacious, funny, and remarkable women I have ever known. You are beautiful and intelligent and I’m so glad you recognized you deserved so much more you. You deserve all the good and happy things in life (like books … And makeup 😉). I’m so proud of you. Thank you for this post and for sharing your story with the world. Damn, I love you, girl.

    • Most people have zero idea, and that’s the whole point. Victims are ashamed and we shouldn’t be! It’s heartbreaking to know that much like rape victims, domestic violence victims are afraid or too ashamed to speak out because they think it’s their fault they stayed or whatever. Love you too 🙂

  5. Thank you for sharing. Domestic abuse is so hard for people to talk about, but they need to because it shouldn’t be hidden. I remember growing up and my mom had an abusive boyfriend and I hated him. She constantly had abusvr boyfriends. But there was that one that I especially hated. He was the worst and I remember waking up one morning to my dog yelping and I looked out my window and he was out there beating my dog with a rubber hammer because the dog got in the garbage (while on a chain at that.. garbage in his reach.. ). So I fan down the stairs and was halfway to the door when my mom grabbed me and stopped me from going out because she said he would hurt me or her. I actually wish to this day that I had been brave enough to go out and that he would have hit me because I know for a fact that if he had of hot me, we would have been gone so fast. My mom might take the abuse herself, but she never would have let him touch one of us. Thankfully, months later we finally left. But it could have been sooner. Eventually she did find someone who treated her like she deserved and their time together was much too short, but she has learned from him that she doesn’t need to put up with someone abusive anymore, so she is doing better. I’ve told my husband that if he ever hits me, I’m gone. We’ve had a few bad arguments in our 10 years, but he’s never raised a hand, it’s just not him. I refuse to let my kids see the kind of things I did growning up. Anyways, sorry for the long rant. You are so brave and amazing for leaving. I know they manipulate you and I’m glad you had some friends that were able to help you.
    Jenn (The Bookish Ginger)’s latest thoughts >> Update!

    • It is so hard to leave these situations. It’s a psychological hold and I am glad you don’t seem angry with your mom over that experience. I had a similar experience with my mom when I was a kid, and she did find someone wonderful he was taken from us far too soon. I still miss him.

  6. Jill

    Thank you for sharing your story. I was also in a relationship like this. I left before our first year of marriage was over because he beat me during my pregnancy. Sadly, it didn’t end there. He continued to stalk and abuse me long after our divorce. I finally had to take self defense and the last time he attacked me, I unleashed all the pain, shame and rage into him for the hell he put me and our child through. He never touched me again and the police finally arrested him that night. He is no longer a part of our lives and this has been almost 20 years since I left and 17 years since I laid eyes on him. I’m very blessed because I did remarry and he is not only a great husband, but a beautiful father and we have 3 children, this includes our son that I brought to our marriage.

    • Ugh, I feel you for real. I left after he went to work. My friends were waiting around the corner with a moving van and boxes, and we got me packed up and moved out in about 3-4 hours at most. I left the keys to the house on a letter in the foyer for him to find. Changed my number en route to the place where I was moving so he couldn’t call me. My employer was instructed to tell him I was in meetings whenever he called (which was all the damn time). He figured it out roughly about the moment we got to AT&T to change my number, because he tried to call my cell and it said the number had been disconnected. So he immediately left work and went home. I think we missed him by about 90 minutes! He spent the next 2-3 years emailing me constantly. The only reason he stopped calling my job was because I left it. I can’t tell you how relieving it was that the job I went to had double security and armed guards. But like you, I ended up marrying an awesome guy (one of the friends who helped me move actually!) and I don’t even have words to describe how grateful I am for him. 🙂 So glad you found your happiness and safety too! <3

      • Jill

        I’m so glad that you found someone special. That’s the hardest part, trusting again. I was lucky because my ex got ahold of me outside of my school, I had gone back to college. One of the guys I went to school with was a 5th degree black belt and he chased him off. He then made it his personal mission to reach me how to protect myself at all costs. As most abuse victims, I abhor violence. But it felt so good to finally give him a taste of the abuse he put me through. As the norm, he was a coward when he realized I could finally take him. I have a daughter now and my husband, her brothers and I wasted no time teaching her self defense. No man will ever touch her and walk away unscathed. I get a little thrill when I see her throw out a punch or kick and she’s a little power house. I am determined she will never be a victim. Lol

  7. Jen, you are so brave for sharing this story with your readers, friends, and other young women who might be struggling with a situation like this. It is difficult to reconcile the talkative, vivacious, happy, funny no-nonsense person that you are with your past and I’m so happy that your friends and family were there to help you move on. Fill your life with light, happiness, books, cats, and all the beauty that was denied to you and live your life to the fullest every day.
    Liza @ Reading with ABC’s latest thoughts >> Stacking the Shelves #133

  8. Cass

    You are so incredibly brave for sharing your story with the world! And I’m so very sorry it happened to you. Nobody should ever go through this kind of trauma. I’m glad and grateful nevertheless, that you used this experience to speak out and to spread the message for others to do the same because far too few do it. We feel shame and fear telling others about being abused, being sexually harassed and/or suffering from mental health issues and why exactly? Because they may judge us. And that pisses me off to no end. It’s just simply cruel for others to do and they have no idea how destructive it can be on top of everything else for victims/sufferers. And I think that if we speak out enough about our problems, experiences, traumas and what not, if we manage to show the people who make abuse victims feel ashamed or deny the existence of mental illnesses how wrong what they are doing maybe they will stop? That’s very optimistic but I still wish… I’m sorry if I was blunt. I’m very passionate about the topic. Again, you are very brave and I hop you continue staying strong. ^^

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