"You know how I get and you just keep pushing me!"
"It must be your fault because nobody else has made me this angry before"
"No body else would ever want you so stop bitching about how I treat you"
"You are revolting! You are lucky to even have me!"
It may sound like another cliche government advertisement but every one of these lines have been thrown at women I know. Strong, educated women who would be a force to be reckoned with should a stranger dare to come between them and their children or families. Sadly enough it's the person they trusted most who harnessed the blame on them. Their partner.
According to whiteribbon.org.au "one in three women over the age of 15 will experience physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives" and sadly in Australia "every week one woman is killed by a current or former partner"
Unfortunately I am part of that statistic.
I was physically and sexually abused by a former partner. I was too scared to speak up at the time but ultimately got out of the relationship and am obviously now safe and happily married to someone I know would never even consider treating me so despicably. Unfortunately not every woman in my situation can go to sleep at night knowing that there won't be an issue any bigger than a forgotten phone bill. And it breaks my heart.
As the mother of an amazing little girl the statistics are heart wrenching. If its not my daughter then it's statistically likely that it will be one of her friends. One in three...With those odds watching a group of happy bubbly 5 year olds play at a birthday party takes a dark turn, knowing that two, maybe three of of those darling little angels happily dancing, dressed as fairies will one day be terrified for her wellbeing and possibly for her life.
There was a tv advertisement that was
on regularly while I was pregnant, three little girls in their ballet outfits waiting in the wings to go on stage, dressed in pale pink leotards and tutus, their hair pulled back into slick buns. Innocence embodied...Then it faded out to give the stark statistics rolling across the screen in bold white lettering. One in three girls...
I couldn't watch it.
It would make my blood feel like shards of ice in my veins.
I was once one of those little girls.
I was that one in three.
As strange as it sounds, I'm ok that I was me. I'm not ok that it happened but because it was me, statistically, it may not happen to someone else, someone who wasn't as strong as I was, as strong as I am. Someone who may not have been able to move past it, who couldn't talk about it through it, someone who felt ashamed.
Someone who couldn't use the opportunity to try to educate others.
I was 16 when it first happened. Naive and trusting, not aware of the horrors that the big wide world could hold. Feeling like an adult but in reality still had a lot of growing up to do.
And yet I stayed with him for another 4 years. I believed that I was the cause, an antagonist to his anger.
I got off lightly.
There were no broken bones, no lasting scars, no wounds to act as a reminder.
On the outside at least.
On the inside, on my soul, there was lasting damage that almost 6 years later is still gradually being smoothed into place.
It will never be fixed.
The innocent perfection can never be replicated.
There will always be bumps and dents that no amount of self work can completely hide. Small things can trigger unexpected reactions.
For example Joop aftershave will always make me anxious and want to vomit.
Nothing will take that away.
Sadly it took me quite a long time to finally realise that he was something I should be afraid of.
He wasn't the knight in shining armour that he made himself out to be, he was the dragon and I had swallowed his lies one after another.
It was like the controlling confines of the relationship gave me somewhat of a "safe haven" and it wasn't until I was finally safe and no longer being brainwashed daily that I realised how much of a monster he really is and I was able to debrief myself on the situation.
I wasn't the problem, he was.
I wasn't at fault for his anger, he was.
The realisation that I had in fact been in an abusive relationship the entire time was a bit of a bombshell.
I wasn't until I was filling in a friend about why I left the relationship and I heard myself telling the whole story that it dawned on me.
I wish I had listened earlier.
Part two of this post series will be up tomorrow. Stay tuned.