but this, this is flowing out of me tonight. it won’t be polished and it will be too long, but it’s raw and it’s honest and, i think, it’s important.
i’ve been thinking a lot about domestic abuse today - in both general, and personal, terms. it’s something that i’ve aimed to subtly share snippets of at sporadic intervals over the past few months. this is a result of finding the confidence to speak out, and simultaneously building for myself an inadvertent online support system of strong, like-minded people who not only provide me with the encouragement to open up discussions - but who also seem to equally benefit from what i’m saying.
when i first wrote about it, i received the usual bits & pieces of gormless backlash from people whose opinions are as relevant as post-2007 hair crimpers. but, some time later, i found myself in unrelated correspondence with my abuser’s new girlfriend. our exchange is unimportant to this narrative - but one thing that she said has haunted me since. “my friends are a little more interested in your account since the old post about *****”. it’s been months, and i’m still not really sure what to make of that. from my point of view, however, and perhaps justifiably from hers, the undertone of both scepticism and mild threat is clear. nobody wants to be told their boyfriend is capable of such things. but does that make it not true? you and me both wish.
this piece isn’t going to be a platform for rattling off 4 years’ worth of torment. whether i’ll eventually find the right channel to do so is one issue - whether i’ll eventually no longer need to is another. and this is the crux of the matter. my beautiful wonderful boyfriend is saddened by my hang-ups with my ex. not because he resents him being mentioned or thought about, but because he just so desperately wants me to realise i am so much more than that. and this i know - but domestic abuse is, in itself, more than that. it’s more than thinking ‘i’m hotter than he ever was’ or ‘i’m more successful than he now is’ or ‘i’m probably happier in my new relationship than he is’. it’s more than thinking highly of yourself - individually or comparative to him. it’s more than no longer caring whatsoever about him.
abuse does something to your mind, to your soul, to the very essence of who you are. even when they’re long gone, and eventually one morning you realise that the lingering feelings you have towards them have disappeared with the night, you remain - and, unfortunately, it is to you that the damage has been done. your feelings are temporary and fleeting, and they are not what you’ve got to show for being abused. four years of hatred and terror and misery and fear and rejection and manipulation do not leave your feelings damaged, they leave you damaged. your actual person, the human that you are, has been changed. and how we deal with that is a lonely, complex, risky thing.
no piece on this website will ever be a tell-all, conclusive, one-stop shop for telling my abuse story. there are so many facets to those years of my life, and the ones that have been altered since, that it cannot be reduced to one sensational juicy post. tonight is merely a reflection on the fact that letting my abusive ex-boyfriend still be relevant to my life is, actually, ok. tonight i remind myself that there is no correct way to deal with what happened to me. tonight i remembered that my ex made a photo of him & his new girlfriend his facebook profile pic before we even broke up - and i laughed and laughed and laughed. to be able to regard someone who consistently terrified me to the point of developing anxiety now as a completely ludicrous human joke is, it transpires, what i need.
there is more to be said on it and, while domestic abuse still carries with it such crippling shameful stigma, i’ll continue to talk about it as & when i see fit. and, in all honesty, i don’t care whose friends are ‘interested’ - read it and weep ladies - i won’t allow the validity of my experience to be called into question, especially by someone who claims to champion girl power. to everyone else: please continue to make your blog/social media/presence a safe place for those who need it - especially those who will be branded as weak or pathetic or stupid or ‘asking for it’ for staying with an abuser by a society which does not understand the psychology of abuse.
and, lastly, don’t let anyone question your own experience. domestic abuse is defined as ‘an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading, and violent behaviour…’. so, when i was forced to give over my facebook password and then watch him unfriend every male who wasn’t a family member, when i had to get out of bed at 4am because he turned up at my house and threatened to key our cars if i didn’t go outside to talk to him, when he repeatedly threatened suicide purely as a result of imagined wrongdoings on my part (including saying i couldn’t go to the cinema with him for another couple of hours because i was shopping for a prom dress with my mum) and that, as a seventeen-year-old, i’d have to live with the knowledge that i was responsible for his death - don’t get sassy and say you’ve got your friends keeping an eye on me. nothing will ever scare me like he did, literally do your worst.