In response to an earlier post, I decided to take this healing thing and cutting those ties seriously. I’m partially doing that in therapy and I’m partially doing it myself; through journalling and through reading. A few months ago, I bought myself copies of Why Does He Do That? and Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?. A lot of it may not be relevant for me any more, considering I’m no longer in those relationships or those kinds of relationships and a good chunk of it on the basis that I don’t have kids, but the introduction alone for Daily Wisdom talks about finding a sense of self and a sense of freedom from those abusive partners, and that’s exactly what I’m looking for.
I’ve had a few people in the past said they’d be interested to hear more about the healing process, about my healing process, that I write in such a way that it’d be useful to get the perspective from someone who’s still going through that process (though, I’d argue that none of us ever stop going through that process) and well, it’d be useful for me to actually write out my thoughts as I’m working my way through this book, to have them somewhere where I can look back on them and process where I am now and where I was.
I imagine these posts could quickly become annoying and I apologise for that if so. I’m not going to neglect writing my other posts, in case you’re here just to hear the odd token story from an exited womon. I guess I’m going to be writing these posts for myself and for other womyn who have been in abusive relationships; maybe there’d be some insight there that can help them, especially those that can’t afford their own copies of the books. Whatever the reason, I’m doing it anyway (or at least I say that now, I have no sticking power with anything) so if that does become annoying, I am sorry.
I don’t make him do the things he does.
When men blame women for their behaviour,
that’s one of the benchmarks of abuse.
Everything was my fault when I was with Dom, literally everything. I was responsible not only for the things I did, but the things he did, even the things the cats did. If one of them woke him up early in the morning, it was my fault. Everything was my fault. Everything was always twisted in that house, I’m loathe to call it a ‘home’ because it really just wasn’t.
He twisted everything. Anything I accused him of, he twisted back on me. I was the abusive one, I was the one yelling, I was the one controlling everything, I was the one who always started the arguments, I was the one who made the flat messy, I was the one that spent all the rent money, I was the one that did everything.
He was an expert when it came to gas-lighting. I believed him, I believed every word. There was a long period of time where I genuinely believed that I was the abusive one, where I genuinely believed I had no right to complain because he was just defending himself when I abused him; it’s what kept me trapped in that ‘relationship’ for so long – what right did I have to kick up a fuss and leave him when I was the one being abusive, if I could just be better then there wouldn’t be a problem.
I’ve been out of that relationship for four years and I still have those doubts; still doubt whether he was really the abusive one, if it was in fact just me. I question every single behaviour, every single word, every single thing I do with my girlfriend; convinced I’m really just an abusive person, I’m constantly watching myself for any slightest signs of abuse. Logically, I know it’s not me, I know it’s never been me. I know I treat my girlfriend with the love and the respect and the care that she deserves. I know I’m just actually a genuinely nice person; that I can have moments where I get frustrated and maybe say something verging on mean about people in my life, but that’s more just venting in response to normal day-to-day frustrations exactly so I don’t actually say anything mean to them. This isn’t even me just trying to say the nicest things about myself (trust me, this is definitely not a habit) to alleviate any sense of guilt, I am just a nice person.
And regardless as to whether or not I am a nice person, I didn’t make him do anything. I guess. It’s still hard to believe, let’s face it, I’ve not exactly been programmed to see the worst in abusers, I’ve been programmed to see the absolute best in them and the absolute worst in myself and going against that is difficult and painful and scary.
It’s difficult for me to accept the above quote; it’s difficult for me to accept that the responsibility for his own actions lies with him. There’s always a ‘but’, there’s always a loop-hole. ‘But if I just hadn’t…’, ‘if I’d just done…’, ‘but if it wasn’t for me…’. There’s always a reason why it’s my fault, there’s always a cause and an effect and I am always that cause. Trying to get myself out of that way of thinking is difficult and it’s painful.
It’s difficult and it’s painful because it’s easy to blame myself and not only because that’s what I’ve been taught and manipulated and programmed into doing for the majority of my life. It’s easier to blame myself because if it’s my fault then there’s something I can do to stop it happening again. If I just change my behaviour, just change the way I think, just change everything about myself, then I won’t get hurt again, right? Blaming myself means there’s a problem with me and I can fix me, I can whittle down and change and warp every single aspect of myself, I can be a whole other person and then the abuse and the rape and the torture would stop. If I’m the problem, then I can fix it. Blaming myself is easier because it means I don’t have to face up to the fact that I was a victim, I don’t have to face up to the fact that I was abused and I was raped and I was tortured for the majority of my life, for the entirety of that relationship. If I blame myself, if it was my fault, then words like ‘rape’ and ‘domestic abuse’ become meaningless because I of course wasn’t living with an abusive, violent man, he was the one living with an ‘abusive’, ‘infuriating’, ‘difficult’ woman who caused so much trouble that he was forced to defend himself. Blaming me means I don’t blame them. Not blaming men means I can free myself of the label of victim. It means nothing happened, it means I have no right to whine about it now. It means I don’t have to admit just how horribly I was hurt, to either myself or anyone else.
So changing that thinking is hard for me, just as it is for any other survivor. We have so many reasons to blame ourselves. When we’re in the situation we do it for protection because goddess help us if we try and blame him, when we do it later, it’s still for protection, it’s protecting our own minds from the overwhelming reality of being a victim.
Logically, of course I can see it. Of course I can see that he was responsible for his own actions, just as I was responsible for mine (barring the things he and others forced me to do – that I relented and agreed to do for my own protection). Of course I can see that my not putting the shopping away fast enough didn’t make him hit me; he chose to hit me. Of course I can see that me saying ‘hi’ to a friend didn’t make him turn on me and assault me for cheating on him; he chose to do that. Of course I can see that my lying next to him pretending to be asleep wasn’t me playing hard to get, wasn’t me asking for it, wasn’t me trying to turn him on with a kinky game; he chose to rape me. I logically know those were his choices, his actions, not mine. I know I never wanted to get the shit kicked out of me, I know I never wanted his gross, sweaty self all over me, I knew I was a lesbian even so I definitely didn’t want his hands on me. I know I didn’t make him do any of those things because why would I, they weren’t anything I wanted? I know I didn’t make him beat me and rape me and torment me for five years; he chose to do that.
But logic isn’t the same as belief, it just isn’t. I’m too scared to believe, I’m trying, goddess trust me, I’m trying but it’s just so hard to believe that I didn’t make him do each and every single one of the things he did to me. It’s so hard not to believe that if I was just a better person, if I wasn’t as ‘abusive’ as he convinced me he was, then none of it would ever have happened, it’s so hard to put the blame on him without shaking in fear at what the consequences of that would be if he were to ever know, to ever find me.
I’m trying, I really am. I’m trying to believe it wasn’t me.
I know if it was any other womon, I’d be saying the same; I know I’d be telling her it’s utterly disgusting that he blames her, I’d be saying it is most definitely abusive, that she doesn’t control what he does. But when it comes to me?
Well, I’m working on it, I am.
I’m not responsible for what he chose to do.
I’m not responsible for what he chose to do.
I’m not responsible for what he chose to do.