Why I Didn’t Tell Anyone About Experiencing Domestic Abuse
If you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by selecting “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.
I believe each of us has one dark secret that we choose to bury for the rest of our lives, and we have this irrational fear that it can come out any time, from anyone.
But I am about to tell you mine.
I was physically assaulted a few years ago.
I wouldn’t go into detail because it would bring back painful memories and horrors of the past, but I will tell you why it’s hard for me to talk about it, why I only shared it to a trusted few, why I didn’t ask for help and why I never reported it to authorities.
Why I chose to live in silence when I can speak in volumes.
Fear. I was scared. I was scared when I saw blood dripping from my nose. I was scared the moment I realized I was hit. What am I gonna tell the doctors? What am I gonna tell my parents? I was dumbfounded.
You see, as a victim, I felt powerless; my mind was telling me that my assailant has dominance over me, that he is strong and I am weak. That I have to remain quiet, or else. I was asked many questions back then but I lied. I lied to save the person who hit me. I lied to not cause any more conflict. I lied to the people I love to keep them worry-free.
I lied because I felt completely ashamed.
Shame. I felt intense humiliation. I was ashamed that I let it happen, that I “allowed” him to hit me. I even questioned myself if I was provocative. I blamed myself for what happened. I was resentful because I didn’t fight back.
My embarrassment grew after the incident because of how I looked after. I was ashamed to face people because they might judge me with all the bruises and swelling. I was in deep self-loathing because of how I looked. I can even remember the looks I got whenever I was out in public. I wanted to hide.
I wanted to bury myself in the sand to avoid judgment.
Judgment. I know our society well enough to understand what those looks meant and what those questions were for. I already resented myself enough to endure those questions that feed my pain and trauma. I already judged myself for being vulnerable so I needed nothing but space. I thought I could take care of myself and carry my own cross until I was fully healed.
I tried to remain strong because I didn’t want mercy.
Pity. I hated myself enough for being weak, so I wanted to redeem and fend for myself. I thought I never needed anyone’s sympathy. I thought I never deserved someone else’s care at a time when I needed it the most. It took me months to tell the truth to a few close friends because I didn’t want them to feel bad for me. I didn’t want them to see the weakness I was trying to hide for years. I didn’t want them to judge me for being stupid that I let it happen. I just didn’t want them to do anything because I felt suffocated by it.
I thought I could do it alone. I thought all I had was myself.
“It wasn’t him, it was me,” was in my mind all throughout my journey toward healing. You see, victims of abuse like me live in the dark mainly because of these reasons, but there are more than that. We chose to live in silence because we were already silenced even before we could fight back, even before we could save ourselves. We chose to hide it from the people who care for us because we were in enough pain to see them hurt and worried. We chose to tell our stories in our own terms because we weren’t sure of how things would turn out.
Because we are still trying to forgive ourselves.
Wounds and bruises may heal but emotional pain takes many years, let alone addressing the trauma that comes with it. You know, pain isn’t flushed away easily by bottles of beer or wine every night; it’s not wiped away by Kleenex in an instant. Pain and forgiveness are two things we try to get accustomed to. As victims of abuse, we live with it every day and we cope as hard as we can in order to go on living. There are times we will blame ourselves again and again, but we know we are strong enough to fall back. We know what we’ve gone through and we don’t want to crash back there again.
Because we are strong, no matter what, and we are a work in progress.
A version of this article was previously published on Thought Catalog.
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