1-23-13 Guest Post by Amanda
I used to have this really judgmental attitude about abused women. They were weak, uneducated, and overall quite likely to be pathetic. How can you stay after he’s put you in the hospital? It boggled my mind.
The irony is that all the while I was being judgmental, I was one. An abused woman, that is.
I didn’t come to that realization until after had left him. I blamed all our problems on alcohol. He blamed all our problems on me. It worked until it didn’t. 21 years, 7 months, 13 days.
But I didn’t come to terms with the physical abuse in our relationship until it was over.
It took a while to accept that just because he didn’t put me in the hospital doesn’t mean it wasn’t abuse.
Yes, even though the police were first called to intervene in one of our fights back in the third year of our relationship, I never really identified with being an abused woman.
I didn’t fit my own misconceptions, so how could I be?
I didn’t recognize it in my own life, because it really wasn’t that bad. It couldn’t really be abuse because I’d never ended up in the hospital or had really visible bruises. Well, okay, there was a time or two there was a little bruising, but they were really little ones. No more than finger imprints on my arms, and really I had started it. It wasn’t like there were black eyes or huge bruises that couldn’t be hidden with clothing.
And it only really got physical a handful of times over our 21 years together. So it really didn’t count as abusive. Not in my own mind. Not until after it was over.
It was pointed out to me more than once through my years with him that I could’ve had it much, much worse. My own childhood had shown me that in living colour.
My pain didn’t count, especially when compared to that of others. I spent my whole life until I met him being taught that. Women got yelled at, sworn at and hit in the world I grew up in. That made it all the easier to convince myself it wasn’t abuse when it got to that point.
I mean, yes, he had his hands around my neck more than once. But he never held long enough to make me pass out, his anger usually fizzled before that happened. So they barely count as choking incidents.
Twisted thinking told me I kind of deserved it.
I was just as abusive as he was because I swore at him and called him names too. I lashed out physically and he could’ve turned 90% of our physical confrontations into claims of self defense. Why Does He Do That covers that part of the abusive cycle quite eloquently, but I didn’t have access to that until after the end.
People would tell me I didn’t deserve it, that this was just as bad as any of the horror stories in the news. I didn’t believe them, because he really was not that bad.
And in all that time, none of the counseling or medical professionals we went to really identified what we had going on as abusive. Even during my pseudo-suicidal stages.
So if experts weren’t going to say it, who was I to?
And really, it was only when he was drinking.
So if I could just get him to stop that, the abuse would end and we’d live happily ever after thank you very much.
It didn’t happen that way.
He hasn’t quit drinking, but I am free of his everyday snipes at my soul.
I’ve come to realize what nobody likes to say out loud, abuse goes on after the relationship ends. Especially if there are children involved, you can escape and achieve physical freedom and still suffer emotionally, financially and spiritually long afterward.