I Am a Survivor, Not a Victim, of Domestic Abuse
This post has been stirring in my brain for quite some time. I never really knew how to put the words together to address an issue like this but I think I have finally figured it out. It is no secret that I have been through a lot in my short life. Looking back and thinking about all the trauma I endured is kind of overwhelming to say the least. There was a lot of denial at first, but I had to learn how to embrace my past and move forward from it. One thing I couldn’t move past was when people called me a “victim” of abuse.
The definition of victim (well from Dictionary.com at least) is a person harmed, injured or killed as a result of a crime, accident or other event or action. I guess yeah, I was harmed and sometimes injured by him but I always thought I handled it somewhat well. That was until I was told I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and victimizing myself. I was kind of shocked that someone would say that to me. I was so hurt because I never once thought my blog made me sound like I was feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I did wallow for a while and stop taking care of myself back when I first started, but that wasn’t because I was “feeling sorry for myself.” It was because I was depressed.
People have victimized me and felt sorry for me. Not the other way around. There were a lot of “Why me?” moments where I questioned my actions in the relationship because of the way I was treated, but I never counted that as self pity. I think questions like “Why me?” are valid in an abuse situation because you’re left wondering what you did to deserve such harsh treatment from someone who you gave your whole heart too. My whole life was uprooted because of the mental, emotional, physical and sexual abuse I endured from the hands of a man I once loved. Yes, sexual abuse. Something I have not touched base on at all. I decided it was time to write about it. I decided to stop hiding it from everyone. This is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but this is what I signed up for when I started telling my story through blogging.
I have kept quiet about my sexual abuse for a few reasons.
1. I didn’t know how to cope with it.
2. I needed to start healing without dwelling on it.
3. I didn’t know how to put this story into words.
I’ve been working hard to try and move forward with my life since the last time I saw him face to face back in September 2019. Luckily for me, that day he didn’t even try to touch me because if he tried, I would have let him do whatever he wanted to me. That’s what he always used to do, whatever he wanted. He played with my mind and body so much I didn’t even realize I was being abused. I didn’t realize that our sexual relationship was abusive until I was already too far in to turn around and save myself. I was used for my body because he manipulated me into thinking he cared about me and loved me.
He was violent towards me during…sex…(I seriously couldn’t find a better word to use. Sorry!) He was violent on just a regular day too. I don’t know how many times he would get mad and start hitting stuff like the wall, or the bathroom countertop or the entertainment center in his room. Walking on eggshells to please a man is never ideal. I couldn’t say anything without worrying it would piss him off and if I did piss him off he would take it out on me in the bedroom. Hitting me across the face and hurting me almost every time, even after we broke up.
These images still go through my head and have caused me to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I know this might be a little too much information or a trigger to some, but this can’t be ignored. Issues like this happen every day to so many people and I’m sick of it. I’m sick of seeing lovely women treated like shit by a man who thinks it’s fun to hurt people. I never said anything to him to stop it because I was scared and freaked out. I just dealt with it because I loved him. I was in love with someone who deliberately went out of his way to hurt me. Someone who wanted to see me suffer at the hands of him because he wasn’t happy, so why should I be happy? Right? No, wrong. I deserved so much more than what I got from him.
Now all I see is him “happy” with some other girl. He has tried to contact me recently, behind her back, and the text exchanges get us nowhere. He’s trying to manipulate me again. He’s trying to make me unhappy again. There were so many times though I sat there and saw them being happy together and I asked God, “Why is he able to be happy after he caused all this suffering?” Maybe he’s not happy with her? I don’t know. Maybe his demons are taking over his life? For a while, he was winning again by making me sad and stressed out because he said he would leave her for me, but then I realized that we went through this so many times before and that I am stronger than this. I didn’t go back to him thank god, but I know he wanted me to “come back” so he could control me again, and I didn’t let that happen.
I don’t think there is ever much talk about how being abused truly feels, so let me tell you now. Manipulation is a big part of it. He told me he cared about me when he really didn’t and lied to my face to keep me in the dark about things he was doing behind my back. He told me I was crazy and gaslighted me into questioning my own reality in some way. My triggers from the abuse cause so much nausea and so many headaches. I feel bad for the girl he’s with now because that is what’s exactly happening to her, manipulation. His abuse came with a lot of tears, screaming and begging for him to stay with me because I was drawn to him in some way and manipulated to think he was a “god” (my words, not his). I’m not sure how many nights I cried myself to sleep or how many times I threw up from crying so hard because he called me ugly or a “psychopath.” There were a lot of nights where I was laying in bed texting him 100 times in a row while he was ignoring me, while debating on ending my life because of the way he treated me.
OK, maybe I strayed away from the point of this post. I had to give a back story though because that’s just how I write. So, my point is that I am not a victim of his abuse. I am a survivor. If I didn’t stay strong through all these hardships, there is a good chance that I wouldn’t be here today. There were so many times that I thought about ending my suffering by my own hand, but I had to realize how strong I am and that a man is never worth this much pain and suffering. No matter how many times he hit me, pushed me, tried to run over my foot with his car or abused me in the bedroom, I stayed strong and fought to be OK again, because we all know that for a long time I was not OK. How could you be OK when you were abused, gaslighted and manipulated for almost two years? One thing that helped me right away though was always saying, “I am not a victim of his abuse. I am a survivor.” That statement kept me strong even when I was at my weakest.
Weakness happens and it is completely OK. I have had many moments of weakness in my life and most of them lead to the abuse I endured because I couldn’t stand up for myself. When you’re blinded by “love” though, I think weakness will take over. I was so blinded by my love for him that I let him manipulate me into letting him use my body for anything he wanted. Whenever we were together and he mentioned sex, he always got what he wanted. I thought that sex would fix all our issues so I just let him have it no matter how cruel it may have been. I definitely thought that letting him do whatever he wanted with me would make him come back to me and we would be together and be happy. That’s what he told me he was going to do, but none of that ever happened. I overcame weakness by taking back control of my life and my body and became so much stronger than I was.
Earlier in this post I wrote about how people have victimized me in the past when I mentioned my abuse to them. I don’t like that. Victimizing someone can do a lot of damage to someone. The uncomfortable looks from people who I tell my abuse story to are unsettling to say the least. There is little validation from those looks and those people victimizing me. I don’t need validation by any means, but what I do need is for people to realize how I see myself as a survivor.
I have never once played the victim card! I don’t want to play the victim card and I don’t want people to feel sorry for me when they hear my story. What I do want is for people to see me as strong because that is exactly what I am. Strong. I am also brave, powerful, hardworking, motivated, and for lack of a better term, a bad ass. I have overcome the biggest hardship I have ever faced by being a strong woman and winning my battle on my own. I found myself and realized my self-worth while fighting this war with my ex-boyfriend and my mental illnesses.
I still think about the abuse every day, especially when he tries to contact me, but I turned my abuse into a learning experience, not a pity party! His abuse taught me how to listen to my gut instincts and find red flags in potential relationships. Before getting abused, I was never able to pinpoint any potential red flags and thought that erratic behavior from certain boyfriends/potential boyfriends was normal. My gut has always told me when something wasn’t right with a partner, but I never listened. I never protected myself. After I endured abuse I was able to start seeing things differently and start using caution.
These past two years have been anything but pretty for me. I lost so much of myself and lost so many people I cared about because I couldn’t figure out the right way to cope with my abuse. All I needed was time! I had to stop dwelling on it and start analyzing it in a different way that could help me get to the place I am at today. Having mental illness didn’t help the cause and doing this whole thing without a counselor or without medication probably wasn’t the best idea either, but I did it.
Now I am taking the steps I need to by getting professional help. My depression was manageable but PTSD is a whole other ball game. I am now tackling PTSD from abuse head on and I am rocking it!
I had to stop right there in my tracks, say “This isn’t how I want my life to be,” and I fought to get my life back from the man who used me as a toy. I got my life back and I am thriving. I got my life back and I am glowing. I got my life back and I am happy! I am not a victim. I am a survivor.
Photo via contributor