another hard-to-come-to-terms-with fallout from your abuse experience is in how the people around your ex react. the idea of ‘taking sides’ is hard for even those just going through an ordinary breakup, but when abuse is involved it becomes particularly complex.
speaking out about abuse is an extraordinarily tough thing to do. what’s even tougher is to then watch people disregard your account of things in order to remain friends with your abuser. often, you don’t even need to speak out about it in order for their close friends to know, and that makes it even harder.
just about any of my abuser’s friends could testify to how badly he treated me. they witnessed the berating on almost every night out. they listened to him brag about cheating. they joined in on the taunting, the torturing, the merciless mind-games. they would post things that i’d told him in confidence on my facebook wall for all to see. they’d sit beside him as he abused me down the phone - and then they’d send me messages telling me to stop being a baby. they were who he went to join after he left me lying on the floor of our tent at T in the Park, bruised and hysterical. they were complicit. and they took his side.
one of his friends - a girl - offered to meet up with me after the relationship ended. i was so relieved to still have at least someone on my side. the entirety of our lunch together was dedicated to her telling me all the bad things he said about me, or did to me. they stayed friends.
regardless of the circumstances, it is inherently damaging to know that people will continue to be pals with someone who has fucked you up in so many ways, purely because they can be a laugh and it’s more convenient. the reasonings that people will come up with in order to justify it are endless, but they’re also pathetic. and it’s indicative of a bigger problem that society faces, and that we’ve seen so clearly over the past couple of weeks with the kavanaugh hearings - it isn’t about whether people believe what happened to you, it’s whether they actually care. and, more often than not, it’s easier not to care. it’s easier to continue being friends with scumbags than it is to have a shred of morality or backbone. wouldn’t want to rock the boat.
but, i wonder, how do the girlfriends of these men feel? what does it do to the wellbeing of a woman to know that her boyfriend is ok with violence towards women? how do you sleep soundly next to a man whose ‘loyalty’ looks like defending an abuser? if my boyfriend’s best pal hit his girlfriend, you better believe he’d be choosing me or the friend.
your abuser’s new girlfriend’s outlook is another matter for another day.
let me be clear about this: i did not expect, nor desire, his friends to ‘choose me’. i didn’t want them. i didn’t want their support. i didn’t need them to abandon him in order for me to be ok. the issue, actually, is how ok men are with gender-based violence. how readily would even the ~wokest~ men intervene if one of their buddies was berating his girlfriend in front of them? generations of stigma and taboo have left society thinking that domestic abuse is a personal issue that we should be allowed to sort out on our own. spoiler: that’s how it continues, gets worse, or ends us up on the 6 o’clock news because we’ve been found dead in our home.
masculinity doesn’t mean blindly supporting your friends no matter what.