Emotional abuse is a really fucked up thing, because even though they’re there, the scars aren’t inherently visible.
Nearly 5 years into a relationship, I learned my breaking point. It wasn’t a month into us dating when he called me a whore and a slut for wearing a low-cut top. It wasn’t when he almost killed us in a house fire a year later. It wasn’t when he berated me on the way home from a vacation for not wanting to be around him while he was a raging asshole. It wasn’t any of the times he passed out wasted, yet again. It wasn’t when he regularly yelled at me for whatever the offense of the moment was. It wasn’t a few months after we broke up and were trying to reconcile when he pushed me down onto the street. But that was such a foreshadowing that it warrants more discussion…:
We were on our way to a show when I got a text or a call – who remembers? – and he kept at it, wanted to know who it was from, who I was fucking that was on the other line. Not your business. Not worth it. As we crossed the street, he grabbed at my phone – I tried to pretend it was playful in an effort to shrug it off. He kept at it as we walked…got to the one spot that wasn’t directly in front of a building and he lurched at me to get the phone. I wasn’t having it and he wrestled me down to the sidewalk, on top of me, all while I was screaming NO! STOP! GET OFF ME! Doormen from the surrounding buildings came over and he jumped up and ran away. Somewhere, who knows. Both men asked if I was okay, and if they should call the police. Part of me absolutely wanted them to, but I said no. That was the only time I seriously considered getting his ass put in jail. But, the fallout… no thanks.
Then, after that… I called him. To see if he was okay, if HE was okay. After he threw me on the fucking ground. He wouldn’t tell me where he was, and my biggest concern was if he was with another woman (ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME). He acted like he’d evaded police that the evil doormen had called on him and he was hiding out. And it was my fault that he was going to miss this band that came around every couple of years and how could I be so selfish and fucked up that I would make him miss this opportunity for a silly misunderstanding, especially one that stemmed from my being a whore.
I went to the show and enjoyed myself, but had him in the back of my head the whole time. When it was over, I desperately wanted to go home but was terrified that he would have destroyed my apartment, hurt my pets, be waiting for me, or any combination of the three. I called a close friend of his with whom he worked to see if he had been in contact, and made him stay on the line with me as I walked into my apartment. Everything was as it had been left, but this was not the first night I’d put the chain on the door, so he couldn’t come in unexpected.
There was fallout from that event, but it isn’t even worth page space at this point. It was just another fight, right? I was used to it. Things don’t start out that way, but four and a half years later, it’s very difficult to step outside of it and see it for what it is.
But eventually, I did. My breaking point was when he raped me.
- I DON’T WANT THIS. STOP. GET OFF ME.
“I can do whatever I want” “You have no choice”
Sometimes you just deal with it – you can fight it to no avail, or disassociate and get it over with. So, I just did, and when he finished, he passed out. I didn’t realize at the time that it was rape, but knew that I was very much not okay with any of the things that had gone on that night and that there was no way it wouldn’t continue to get worse. This had to be the final straw.
I also knew that I couldn’t just leave for work while he was asleep and figure it out later, as had happened so many times prior. I didn’t have a fully-formed escape plan, but my gut told me that it needed to happen, NOW. I considered asking him for his keys back next time we met. I thought about changing the locks and confronting him later, but I needed a definitive line to be cast. We talked about our “fight” and I told him I was done, and he needed to give me his keys and leave.
Eventually, that’s what happened. As did the texts that I abandoned him and took away the one place he felt was home. OH, FUCK YOU, YOU SHITBAG! You made me feel unsafe in my home, my body, and my mind. EAT ALL OF THE DICKS. Each and every one of them.
It took a few months for the gravity of what had happened to really sink in and for me to realize that he raped me. One party says no to sex and the other does it anyway, well hell, that there is rape. I finally realized how there could be a 1 in 3 statistics – oh yeah, it’s WAY THE FUCK MORE LIKELY that it’s someone you know, but I always figured it was mostly sleazy date rape, not abusive pieces of shit trying to exert some little bit of power. Holy hell, there are some fucked up things happening in people’s homes.
All of the realization, moving on, and growth has come since I’ve last seen this person and has been on my own. I’ve had no closure or ability to say, “you are abusive” or “you raped me” or “you gas lit me, tried to make me believe things that were not reality, made me feel bad about myself and that I somehow deserved your emotional and verbal abuse.” But ya know what? I sure as fuck did not, and nobody does. It is damn difficult to reconcile all of this as someone who is incredibly strong and resilient. I can recognize it as something that happened, but it still feels a little out of body when I consider the actual events – how does it get this way? It has completely changed my perspective on abuse in general. I never EVER thought I’d be someone who’d have gone through it, but it happens because of the abuser, not the survivor. It makes it a little difficult to talk about, since I see myself as such a strong-ass bitch that nobody can fuck with, but I know that I did not cause this. Writing this is a good way to get out a bit of what’s been at times dormant, but always brewing inside. I’ve carried so much weight that needs to be sloughed off and I’m so fucking tired. I want to feel light again, to be buoyant. This is one small way to let go, shed some shit, and feel more free.