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To the Woman Who Wrote the Article 'Date Someone Who Treats You Like Shit'

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Editor’s note: The following includes language around abuse. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence,  you can the National Domestic Violence Hotline at  1-800-799-7233.

To the woman who wrote the article “Date Someone Who Treats You Like Shit,”

You are wrong. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and try to believe that this is some sort of satire, but I know deep down that isn’t the case. This isn’t some sort of twisted joke. This is real. You seem to believe this, and you want others to believe it as well.

Yes, people will hurt you. Yes, oftentimes you will be treated as less than you deserve. You will find this in the workplace. You will find this with your family. You will find this with your friends. You will even find this with your significant other. We are all humans, we all fail. We have all hurt someone by treating them as less than we should have, and we will all be hurt by someone who will treat us as less than we deserve.

But to encourage people to actively seek out this hurt, to actively seek out the individuals who will “treat you like shit,” who will ignore you and put you last and not care for you and never understand you — this advice is absolutely ludicrous. To actually and honestly encourage readers to look for the people who will hurt them, and then to fall in love with these people, only to be brokenhearted in the end is hands down one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard in my entire life. And I’ve heard some really bad advice.

As someone who comes from an abusive background, I have to assume the author of this article has never experienced abuse. I have to assume the author of this article has never experienced the pain that comes from believing the lies your significant other (the one who treats you like shit) tells you. It leaves a hole in your soul – believing these lies.

Getting rid of these lies is a battle that doesn’t end when the relationship does. It is a battle that follows you… to your new school, to your new friends, to your new relationships. These lies constantly whisper at you. They constantly try to bring you back into their embrace. They constantly try to break you over and over again. The survivor of abuse doesn’t escape the abuse immediately after escaping the abuser. Their mind can become its own abuser.

As someone who has survived abuse I am here to tell you that you are wrong. You should never encourage an individual to willingly fall in love with someone they know will devastate them. You should never encourage an individual to enter into an abusive relationship for the opportunity to grow. Yes, abusive situations can make people stronger. Yes, abusive situations can allow an individual to learn things about themselves that they previously didn’t know. But, there is nothing one can gain from an abusive relationship that they cannot gain elsewhere. There is nothing abuse has taught me about myself or about the world around me that I couldn’t have learned through another means, another life experience. There is no amount of strength, no amount of self-worth, no amount of value or pride or bravery I could not have learned elsewhere.

And there is not a single lesson I have learned that allows me to deem the abuse I’ve experienced as “worth it.”

I am grateful I was lucky enough to escape my abuse and start to put it behind me. I am grateful I was lucky enough to find life lessons amidst the pain. But let me make something clear to you: if I could change my history of abuse, I would. I would never willingly live through what I did to gain some sort of knowledge or self-clarity on the other side. I’ve yet to meet a person who has honestly told me if they could re-live their life over, they would still “date someone who treats them like shit.” Every single person I know who has survived abuse has survived to tell me their goal is to do everything they can to avoid the people who have treated them like shit and to do everything they can to be sure others avoid them just the same.

Value and worth are not things that can only be learned when they are stripped away from you. Someone will not only ever learn of their worth through this wrenching heartbreak and emotional, verbal, and even physical abuse you describe. It is entirely possible to come to learn of this value through healthy means. It is entirely possible to come to learn of this value through healthy friendships and relationships. It is entirely possible to come to learn of this value through self-discovery. It is entirely possible to learn of this value throughout one’s lifetime.

This is the experience we should be pushing people toward.

We should be pushing people toward learning their value and their worth through healthy means, be it family ties, friendships, a career, therapy, the development of a hobby or skill. These are the types of experiences we should be striving for, and pushing others to strive for. There is absolutely nothing that can be gained through an abusive situation that cannot be gained elsewhere. To push someone toward abuse for the sense of value that may follow is not only ignorant, it is dangerous.

As someone who has experienced abuse, I can tell you it leaves scars. I still have nightmares, six years later. I still cannot trust. I still experience severe anxiety when I see someone who remotely resembles my abuser. I still fear going home because of the possibility of running into him. I still catch myself bracing for a blow – physical or emotional – when I get into an argument with my current boyfriend, despite that blow never coming. I still fall into depression around significant dates of abuse. I still struggle daily with the trauma of what I’ve experienced. Some days are better than others. Some days are really bad. But I did not at all need to endure the abuse I did, I never needed to “date someone who treated me like shit” to find my true value or find someone I deserved. I could have found him without the ex who treated me like shit. I could have learned to truly love myself, I could have learned just how much I’m worth, without this abusive relationship tainting my past.

Push people toward health, not brokenness. Push people toward success, not pain. Push people toward love, not harm. Push people toward what they deserve, not toward what they don’t. This is what will help people realize their true value. This support and guidance and encouragement are what will allow people to see their worth. Abuse is called abuse for a reason – its results are often anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), suicide, physical and mental harm. The results of abuse are real traumas, real disorders, real illnesses. The main result of abuse is not growth. And we should never push someone toward abuse because of the possibility of growth on the other side.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence,  you can the National Domestic Violence Hotline at  1-800-799-7233. If you need to you can also visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Originally published: October 21, 2016
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