A Fresh Start

I am ready to have the upcoming
year bring me new life.

Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft

This is another one of those kinda things that I just scorn at.  I don’t do self-care, I don’t do mindfulness, I don’t do hope, I don’t do future.

The thing is, when you spend your life being prostituted, abused, raped, used, manipulated, controlled; when nothing is yours, when you have no choices, no freedom, no rights, then you kinda give up on the whole ‘future’ thing.

I spent my life barely expecting to see the next sun rise, never mind the next month or the next birthday or the new year.  I didn’t plan any further ahead than I had to.  When I was forced to plan further ahead, I either made it up, not holding on to any real expectations or I just nodded along, not really expecting to be here when the time came, not really daring to hope.  I knew that at any moment I could come across an extra violent client, that my mother could completely lose control, that Dom would kill me, that I’d just give up, that I’d just become another statistic.  I never expected to see the next day, so I never planned any further ahead.

I lived my life in a way that reflected that, even after I exited.  I made sure that my flat was reasonably clean, that I never owned too many things, so once I was gone, there wouldn’t be too much for others to handle.  I always had my important paperwork organised so, again, it wouldn’t be too much for others to handle.  I made sure I always had a bag packed, ready to go, either back home or to just up and leave here if I needed to.  I had the number for the Cat Protection League in my phone, so I could ensure my cat was taken care of.  I always had a stash of pills on hand so I could check out any time I needed.  I’ve nearly always lived in a way so that if I don’t see that next sun rise, I’d never be too much hassle to anyone else.

I never made New Year’s Resolutions.  I never made plans for my birthday.  I never actively planned future career choices.  I refused to play ‘in five years time…’ style games.  I refused to engage with my therapist when she tried to get me to plan for the future.

It’s just not really a skill I have.  It’s an alien concept to me.  So often, it really does just feel like I come from an entirely different world; a world where futures don’t exist, a world where career options don’t exist, a world where needs and wants don’t exist and when it comes to engaging with this world I just feel lost and confused.  Plan for the future?  Why the fuck would I do that?  I’m probably going to die today.  It doesn’t matter anyway, this is all I’m ever gonna be.  I’m never getting out of here, so what’s the point?

I’m still slightly bemused each time I see the sun rise; even more bemused when I see a New Year come in or I reach another birthday.  I don’t quite understand how I got as old as I am.  I should have died by now.  Statistically I shouldn’t be alive.  Medically I shouldn’t be alive (I have technically died before now).  I just shouldn’t have made it this far and it’s always a little bewildering when I realise I have.  I’ve been free for nearly four years and I’m still utterly bewildered when that sun rises.  I’m still so surprised that I’ve somehow managed to survive another day.

So yeah, when it comes to hopeful little messages like this one, it’s hard to just not laugh.  A year?  An entire year?  Ha, like I’ll make it that far.

But then, I guess things are different now.  There’s no more pimps.  No more punters.  No more abusive boyfriends beating the crap out of me each day.  There’s just me.  And my girlfriend.  And my cat.  And the biggest risk out of those is, well, me.  (Though, the cat does have a tendency to try and trip me up!) 

My life has changed a lot, recently.  There’s the obvious, having escaped prostitution and escaped Dom, but it’s changed in so many other ways, too.  I built closer and stronger connections with my friends, I made new friends and allies, connected with my sisters – both survivor sisters and not, engaged more and more with radical feminist theory, started to find some level of joy in simple things, started a really healthy and positive relationship.  And all those changes have meant that, for once, I am actually planning for the future.  At least for the short-term.  I know where I want to move to.  I know what I want to go back to Uni. to study.  I know who I want to be with.

If I’m being honest, I think I’ve already had my ‘fresh start’.  It started the moment I decided to exit and simultaneously get away from Dom.  But I was so trapped in flashbacks and memories and trauma and pain that I could barely have that real ‘fresh start’.  I was stuck in a limbo.  No longer being prostituted or beaten or abused, but not healing or moving forwards, either.  I was just stuck in a limbo.  Constantly teetering on that edge.  Constantly on the verge of returning to my own life, because whilst it might have been so horrific, beyond what words can describe, it was at least something I knew.  And this world?  This isn’t something I know.  I understand the language of abuse and threats and violence and trauma.  I don’t understand the languages of love and compassion and care and freedom.  But I’m learning.  Good Goddess, I’m learning.

It’s only really been the last year or so that I’ve been able to make any real changes at all, that I’ve really had something that resembled a ‘fresh start’, that things have actually been getting better for me.  I can’t really remember what it was that changed.  I know I was working on an incredibly hard memory; a memory that left me with so much guilt and shame.  A memory I couldn’t deal with and I was more than prepared to just kill myself over it.  As far as I know, the people around me had no idea how badly I was doing.  I was hiding my suicidal ideation from everyone.  It was so far past suicidal ideation.

I don’t know what got me out of that.  I honestly don’t.  I somehow managed to forgive myself for Nicky’s death, which is surprising considering I still blame myself so, so much.  I at least stopped holding myself quite so accountable.  Honestly, I don’t even know, I don’t know what got me out of it.

But things changed quickly once I was out of it.  I was really engaging in therapy, in healing work.  I was building more and more connections.  Making new friends; friends who would persuade me to stretch out even further and build even more connections.  I started a relationship (which is something that I never, never would have been able to do before).  I even started doing things like travelling.  Meeting up with large groups of people.  Going away for the weekend with people I barely knew.

I already had my new start.  Whilst last year was filled with terrible, terrible things.  With so much pain.  So many flashbacks.  Even though I barely even made it through that year, considering how close I was to either killing myself or going back.  Despite everything, last year was quite possibly the best year of my life.  (Holy fuck, I have low standards.)

I still might not really believe in the concept of ‘futures’, but I think I might actually kinda have hope, this year.

Who’d’ve thought it possible?

RadSurvivor.

Your Family Isn’t Good For You – Part 1

I’m going to be on guard when he says
he’s trashing my family to ‘help’ me.

Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft

For a while, I didn’t really have an idea what to write when it came to this entry.  I am very aware of the tactics that abusers use; isolating you from your family and friends so you have no real support network, no strength and making his abuse easier.  But frankly, Dom wasn’t wrong when it came to criticising my family – they are the people that trafficked me, after all.

But even if it was a good idea to be away from my family, the reasons he tried to distance me from them were not in my interest, they were only in his.

He always made it sound like it was for my own good, which yes, it was, but that wasn’t his motivation, it was never his motivation.  He didn’t give a shit about me, he didn’t give a shit about my well-being, about the fact I was being trafficked and abused, about the way they treated me, he only cared about himself and my being isolated, about my not belonging to anyone other than him.

I had to be his.  I had to belong to him and only him and he knew that as long as my family were around that they would always have the most control over me; that I had been so conditioned and groomed and abused that I would always refer to them before him.  He approved of their abuse of me, I knew that, especially as it made me more pliable, more vulnerable, easier to abuse and manipulate without fighting.  I know that’s exactly the reason why he picked me, because I had been severely abused before, because he could get more violent more quickly without facing resistance.  But whilst he admired and appreciated the abuse from my family, he still wanted me to be his.

When I was nineteen, I was pressured by numerous people to press charges against my mum’s boyfriend, but the majority of that pressure came from Dom.  He repeatedly told me it was the right thing to do, told me I needed to do it, told me he’d stand by me no matter, told me I needed to get out from under his control (ha), repeatedly guilted me, playing on the one thing he knew would push me into doing it – that if Paul abused other girls it’d be on me (this was a message repeated to me by numerous people – including the police).  All the pressure meant I ended up doing it, I ended up pressing charges, but it was mostly Dom’s influence that got me there because there was no way I was doing it without interpersonal support, even if it did come from an equally abusive man.  I don’t want go into all the details of that case, that’s definitely another post, but Dom spent that entire time trying to chip away the control and gas lighting that Paul had over me and replacing it with his own.

He repeatedly told me he’d never treat me like that, that I didn’t deserve to be treated like that, that I deserved to be away from my family.  And I believed him, believed that for the first time someone was actually on my side, completely unable to recognise that he only wanted to take that control for himself, completely unable to recognise that he was treating me like that.  As I’ve said in other posts, I never loved him nor wanted to be in a relationship with him, but during those months, he was my main support; I became incredibly dependent on him and really trusted him and needed him.

I was deliberately ignoring the things he was doing to hurt me.  I ignored the beatings, the rapes, the criticisms, the violent words.  I ignored every time he called me pathetic and stupid when the pressure of the case got so much I ended up self-harming.  I ignored the times he told me I must be lying about Paul.  I ignored the times he said I was pathetic for letting it all affect me so much.  I ignored the times he poked holes in my memories, making me doubt myself and the abuse.  I ignored the times he took advantage of me, raped me, whenever my mental health spiralled because of the case – the times he raped me when I was too drunk to know my own name, the times I passed out from drinking, the times I was too dissociated to know what was going on, the times I was so stuck in flashbacks and so triggered and not wanting to be touched at all and he forced me anyway.

All I could see were the times he was ‘there for me’.  The times he came with me to give my video statement.  The times he sat with me in hospital so they could stitch me up once again.  The times he rang into college for me because I was too ill to go in, too ill to call in myself.  The times he cooked for me and cleaned for me and cared for me when I was too ill to even move.  All I could see was the support that he gave me throughout the case – completely unaware that he didn’t care about me, didn’t care about the case, didn’t care about my well-being, was only seeking the ways to gain more control over me.

Even whilst writing this, I’m doubting myself.  Maybe he really was just a good guy, maybe he really was just trying to help me?  How dare I accuse him of being abusive and having ulterior motives when he put so much effort into supporting me during those months?  What if I’m wrong?  What if he genuinely just wanted to help me?

Logically, I know I’m not wrong.  I know he only helped me so he could transfer that control over to himself.  I know he wasn’t helping me cut off my family, press charges, gain freedom for me.  He didn’t want me free, he just wanted to secure his ownership over me and he knew he’d never have full ownership over me when my family still had so much control, so much prominence over my life.

I know how that can seem odd to others, maybe hearing it from another perspective is what’s making me doubt it myself.  I know other survivors will recognise and understand the two crazy sides of him, though, can understand exactly how this worked.  Abusers don’t work with much logic; they work in a way that is beneficial to them, that leaves their victims feeling the most crazy and the most dependent.  Stopping someone else being abusive to me, pushing me to cut ties with my abusive family might sound great on paper, it might make him sound like an amazing guy, but his intention was to never give me freedom, it was to take control himself.  If my family hadn’t actually been abusive, he would have found some other way to try and force me to cut contact with them, it’s just the way abusers work.  Dom just had a legitimate reason to get me to cut contact with them.

After that police case was dropped, after Paul violently raped me in retribution, all of Dom’s care, all of his support disappeared instantly.  He accused me of ‘cheating on him’.  Said I was a whore and I obviously wanted it anyway.  That I was lying about Paul ever having had raped me and that I was the one that sought it out, that I was in a relationship with him and always had been.  The next day, I attempted suicide but was stopped.  Dom got angry at me because I didn’t ring him first, said how worried and concerned he was, how hurt he was that I didn’t reach out to him when he loved me so much.  The entire time I was in the hospital and then recovering in my room at the hostel, he was texting me, calling me, constantly.  Then he switched violently, called me an attention seeking little bitch and went on again about how bad my family was for me.  That I only did it because I felt so disgusted with myself for having sex with my own family again.  Those following days were filled with him jumping from one extreme to the other.  Caring and loving and concerned.  Violent and abusive and criticising.  His overall message, throughout, was that I couldn’t ever contact my family again – that I’d fucked up so much that none of them would ever want anything to do with me.  That he was all I had left.

There were, however, family members who were ‘nice’ to me, or at least appeared to be and for a long time I would have argued that they were absolutely not abusive and separate from the others.  I now know that’s wrong and that they were equally abusive albeit in different way, but at the time, I considered them to be safe, amazing people, people I actually wanted a connection with, people who I saw as a support system.

These people, mostly, were my dad (at least, I always assumed him to be my father and he thought he was my father), my half brother (although a child, he gave me a lot of emotional strength and support) and my grandma and by extension her new husband.

Dom did everything he could to try and cut my ties with those people, too.  In hindsight, I needed to cut contact with them long before I did, but once again, Dom’s motivations were not for my benefit, they were for his.  It was not something I wanted.  I believed them to be the only family I had left after mostly cutting ties with my mother and her boyfriend, after my granddad/father had finally dropped dead, after mostly cutting ties with my sister and I didn’t want to lose those last connections with my family, regardless as to whether or not they were good for me.

Dom was constantly criticising them, pointing out every little thing they did and often twisting it.  He repeatedly said it was for my own good.  He’d make it impossible for me to see them.  Insist we have to do something else on the days I agreed to meet them.  Insist on coming with me whenever I saw them.  I didn’t see any of my family alone for all of those five years – which ironically possibly worked out for me, it was the most peace I ever got because both Dom, my dad, his girlfriend and my grandma completely toned down their behaviours towards me around one another.  But again, that wasn’t Dom’s intention, his intention was to make sure I didn’t say anything, that I didn’t try and reach out to them.

Always, always, always it was for my own good.  ‘They’re just going to put you down, they’re just going to criticise you.  You do so much better when you’re not around them.  They just want to control you.  My family would never do that.  They don’t want you to be happy.  They don’t support you – I do.  You’re going to turn into them if you keep spending so much time with them.  You’re better off without them.  You only need me.’

He was trying to drive a wedge between me and my family and it was absolutely a wedge that needed to be there, which makes this even harder to process.  I needed to be away from my family.  They weren’t safe for me.  They were awful to me.  And I did need to cut off those ties.  Which makes it so much harder to view him in a bad light because ultimately, it was for my own good.  But he didn’t have my ‘own good’ at heart, he never did.  He drove a wedge between myself and my family for his own intentions.  To secure control over me and to ensure no-one could interfere with that – either by splitting us up or by securing control over me themselves.  My mind, my trust, my compliance, my submission was a battlefield.  So many people wanted it, so many people never wanted me to have it myself – I didn’t even know it was something I could have myself.  Dom just wanted to take it for himself; he never wanted to free me from my family.

RadSurvivor.

I Admire You

I’m still here; I’m still on my feet.  I will keep moving
until I find the freedom and the peace I deserve.

Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft

Being nice to myself, self-care, taking care of myself, being my own best friend, whatever you wanna call it, is definitely not one of my skills.  Self-hating, self-doubting, low self esteem, low aspirations, low sense of self worth are the tool marks of prostituted womyn, of abused womyn.  Trying to regain those skills, to find some sense of positivity is much easier said than done.

This is true for any womon, we’re all socialised in a way where we’re seen as less than, but womyn who are abused and raped and bullied by violent men are inevitably going to face extra challenges when it comes to trying to regain that sense of self-worth.

I’m no exception to that.  I’ve spent my life being told that I’d never be worth anything more than a whore; to simply be reduced to my body and what men could do to it.  Even if I wasn’t a whore, the best I could hope for would be a man deciding to marry me (in my case it was supposed to be my mum’s boyfriend).  I was never meant for anything more.

Even when I partially escaped prostitution, I was trapped in abusive relationships and any sense of worth I had was made in relation to them.  I wasn’t worth anything barring the status that they gave me.  I wasn’t worth anything except in light of my being their ‘property’.  On my own I had no worth and Dom made damn sure to destroy any sense of worth I had left, which, after a lifetime of being prostituted, wasn’t much to start with.

So when it comes to healing exercises, healing wisdom, whatever, like this, I always struggle.  I’m always tempted to just turn the page.  I still don’t consider myself to be worth anything.  I balk at compliments.  I dismiss anything positive said about me in any light.  I massively struggle with saying anything positive about myself; I’m left feeling arrogant, disgusting, up my own arse.  So reading this was difficult, finding truth in this was difficult.  Or at least, finding the truth in this for myself was difficult.  And it wasn’t even that much of an in your face, you’re awesome kind of message.

But you see, we can be kinda stubborn.  We don’t mean to be, not really.  We don’t mean to throw your compliments and kind words back in your face, actually, we tend to really, really appreciate them and they’re so welcomed in the midst of all of our own self-hatred and the hatred that’s been spewed at us for the majority of our lives, but those words, even coming from those people that we trust and love are still just so hard to believe.  How are we supposed to believe the minority of people who tell us we are worth so much when for the majority of our lives we’ve been told we’re worth so little?  How are we supposed to see value in ourselves when seeing ourselves as worthless and as nothing is exactly what kept us alive?

Any time I seemed to place any kind of value on myself whilst in that relationship, Dom reacted badly.  If I was proud of myself for doing well on a uni. essay, I was an arrogant little bitch, I thought I was better than him, I was rubbing it in his face.  Whenever I managed to get a new job, he’d say I was deliberately making a point, that I was saying he was useless and lazy and wasn’t pulling his weight.  Whenever I slightly liked my own body, he’d tear me apart, again say I thought I was better than him.  If I placed any value on myself, it made him angry, gave him an excuse to tear me apart and prove to me once again what I was really worth and what I really deserved.  My placing value in myself meant that I could potentially leave him; if I feel so worthless and so useless and he ‘loves’ me anyway, then I best stay with what little I have, right?  Because I’m never gonna have anything better, I’m never gonna be worth anything more.

One of the main messages in the book was that your partner, or ex-partner in my case, is the absolute last person you should trust and believe when it comes to talking about who and what you are; what you’re capable of, what you’re worth, what you deserve.

I remember the way Dom used to see me, what he thought of me, so, so clearly.  Those words still go round and round my head and shifting them is nearly impossible.  I’m working on it, of course I am, but I still can’t help thinking that actually, maybe, he was right.  Maybe I really am just that useless, just that worthless, just that stupid, maybe I really just didn’t deserve anything other than him?

I know I’m wrong, now.  (Sort of, anyway, I’m probably gonna go back into my self-hating spiral at any moment).  I was actually talking to my girlfriend whilst writing this post and her words actually got through to me.  More so than the words in the book did.  Having a real life person, a person who has shown me time and time again that she cares about me, that she values me, that she loves me, tell me just how much I’m really worth, tell me just how amazing and strong and intelligent I am registered a little more with me than a book ever can.  It registered in a way that meant that I could maybe, even if only slightly, believe that I am worth more, that I do deserve more.  That I deserve more than to be in an abusive relationship.  That I deserve more than to be prostituted.

Now that I’m in a slightly better mood than what I was when I started writing this post, the words in the book are even starting to seep in a little more.  I know why he said what he did to me, why he viewed me in the way that he did.  The more he tore me down, the weaker I got, the weaker I got, the more power and control he had over me.  How can I trust the word of a man who ultimately sought out to only hurt me, destroy me and gain control over me?  How can I trust what he says about me to ever be true?

I know part of the reason why I trusted it, because I valued myself so little long before I met him; because I’d spent my entire life hearing the same things repeated to me over and over and over.  Nobody (barring my ex-girlfriend when I was much younger) had ever told me they’d loved me, ever told me I was worth more, ever told me I could have aspirations, ever told me I was anything.  I’d had the same messages repeated over and over and over; that I was useless and that I was worthless.  That I would never be anything other than a whore, that that was where my only skills and strengths lay.

I know not to trust anything he said, not to believe it, that I should be doubting it and seeing the exact opposite in myself, but it’s honestly not as simple at that.  Those words stick, they stick for a long time, especially when they’ve been reinforced over and over and over again.

I barely see my own strength.  I barely see any sense of deserving anything better.  I barely see my own resourcefulness or resilience.

On some level, I know they’re there or I never would have left.  I never would have left those abusive relationships.  I never would have left prostitution.  I know that I didn’t fully believe his lies, if I had then again, I never would have left.  But I can’t believe in my own strengths fully, not yet.

If nothing else, though, I know that I can admit to at least part of the quote that this post starts with.  ‘I’m still here; I’m still on my feet.’  Or just about at least, I’m struggling, of course I’m struggling, with such a history of trauma how could I not be struggling, but I am still here, I am still trying, I am still fighting.  I might not believe I deserve that peace and that freedom, but I have it, at least physically and I’m working on the mental aspects.  I might not believe I deserve it, but for the first time in my life, I actually want it and I’m gonna fight for it.

RadSurvivor.

Coming to Terms with How Two-Sided He is

My feelings about him are a jumble,
and I need people in my life who can let me
feel all the different emotions I have.

Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? – Lundy Bancroft

This is probably one of the hardest topics I’ve had to write about in regards to Dom, so far, even more so than my fears that I maybe really was the abusive one within the ‘relationship’.  It’s one that I’d do anything to deny.

But sometimes, sometimes I actually liked him as a person.

I never loved him nor wanted to be in a ‘relationship’ with him, I know that, but there were times where I almost valued him as a friend.  He was intelligent, we had some similar interests, there were times where we were able to laugh together and spend at least neutral, if not good, time together.  There were times where he could be genuinely kind to me, or at least he seemed to be.

It was quite likely that I was doing anything I could to see some kind of good in him; it made the abuse more bearable, it made it easier to blame myself because he wasn’t truly like that, at least not all the time.  Though, at the same time, it was fucking crazy making.

Most violent males quite often appear to be anything but, at least to people on the outside.  I guess I was slightly lucky in that most people seemed to instinctively dislike Dom upon first meeting him, though with time they’d slowly fall in love with him, slowly see the charm and the sociability that he had underneath.  At first, though, that just wasn’t there.  Most people found him arrogant, unlike-able, weird and off putting as well as overly friendly and overly demanding of other people’s time.

I remember our first Philosophy lesson, the day I first met him, September 2006.  It was like every womon there had some kind of natural instinct to stay away from him, I saw looks as he sat next to them and they’d lie, saying they’d saved the seat for a friend.  He worked his way round the room, I trusted my own instincts and the instincts of the other womyn in the class and hoped he wouldn’t come near me.  I thought I was OK, I’d sat next to a womon on the end of a row, he couldn’t sit next to me.  But he decided to pull a chair over and sit on the edge of my table, uncomfortably invading my space.  Already a survivor, I nowhere near had the confidence to tell a man to leave me alone, so I tolerated him being there.  The womon next to me, uncomfortable with him being there, turned away and focused on the womon the other side of her, leaving me with only him for company.  I notice, looking back, he never once made an effort to socialise with the other males in the class, he focused solely on the womyn.

I should have trusted my first instincts from that first Philosophy lesson.  I should have trusted the instincts of my sisters.  I should have at least understood what kind of obnoxious, arrogant little shits of men apply to do Philosophy A-Level.  And he really was.  He automatically considered himself to be more intelligent than everyone else; consistently arguing and debating with everyone about everything, including our newly qualified female tutor who he obviously thought he had more power than.  I found him incredibly distasteful and a horrible person and I know I wasn’t alone.  I doubted myself, though, thought I was being harsh.  Figured everyone deserved a chance and he was probably just nervous with it being his first day of college.  Tolerating him and giving him that chance was probably the biggest mistake I ever made.  And it’s not one I’ll make again.  Men are not welcome in my life, in any capacity and I’ll certainly never be giving them second chances.

Most people responded the same as me, though.  Hated him and found him distasteful and off-putting at first, but later found a somewhat likeable person underneath.  Someone intelligent and with a sense of humour, someone who could be genuinely kind and charming, someone who had all the right leftist dudebro language to at least briefly believe he was a good person.  He was a self-proclaimed ‘feminist’, he thought homophobia was horrible and even described himself as ‘bisexual’ (this however, is not true, he’s straight.  Raping and abusing and manipulating under-age teenage boys just as or just before they come out as gay is definitely not bisexuality), he spoke strongly against racism and bullying and classism.  How could a guy like that possibly be abusive?  How could a self-proclaimed feminist be an abuser?

There were times where I actually kinda liked him.  Not romantically, I knew I was a lesbian long before I got into a ‘relationship’ with him, but in a platonic way, to an extent.  He could be charming, he could be funny, he could carry a conversation, he could be fun to spend time with, we had similar interests, interests that not many of my friends had.  Back when I was younger (I’m aware that a good chunk of you still consider me young!) I very much had a ‘not like other girls’ thing going on; I think it was my way of embracing my lesbianism and to distance myself from femininity.  This meant that I made a lot of effort to not socialise with those ‘other girls’, I mostly socialised with men (good Goddess have I learnt my lesson) and Dom potentially seemed like he could be a good friend.

Things are different now; the quote suggests that I need someone to be able to see the good and the bad within him, and to an extent I do still.  I need people to realise that I didn’t always hate him, I wasn’t always scared of him.  I was always on edge, always waiting for things to change, always waiting for him to get angry again, but there were also times where I genuinely enjoyed his company.  Unlike some other survivors who did, I wouldn’t say I loved him, I never did, but there were times when I did consider him a friend and it did make everything much more complicated.

How was I supposed to put together the violent man who beat me and raped me and belittled me and sold me to his friends and family and humiliated me and controlled me with the friend who’d quite happily have a gaming marathon with me, who’d some mornings get up with me at 6am to be able to go to uni, who’d make me a coffee and keep me company even though he didn’t have to do anything that day, who supported me (albeit he also pressured me into doing it) when I pressed charges against my mum’s boyfriend, who supported me when I tried to break contact with my family (though, isolating me from people definitely worked for him), who bandaged up my self-harm, who defended me when a guy attacked me at college, who bought me flowers, who bought me jewellery, who would do sweet little things to surprise me?  How can I put those two people together?  I didn’t love him, but he could be kind to me, he could be caring, he could be sweet.  And yeah, usually that kindness came after a violent assault, but that just fucks with your head even more, you see the two extremes one after each other, you see the pain and the apologies and the regret and you believe that good person is the real person, you believe that they just slipped, just lost control, just lost their temper, that they really, really didn’t mean to do it because how could this kind, sweet, caring person ever mean to be that cruel?

It was a constant head-fuck and even now I feel guilty about being so cruel to him, about being so honest about who he was.  I feel like, like I should be protecting him.  That in reality he is a sweet and caring guy, a survivor of domestic abuse himself (his father beat his mother and then threatened to turn on him causing her to leave when he was five), who was possibly a survivor of sexual abuse (though, I’m not inclined to believe this, actually, the only reason I believe he’s a survivor of domestic abuse is because I believe his mother and frankly, she’s the survivor, not him), who was bullied throughout school but who still had a kind heart to so many.

Logically, I know he only ever let me know any of this to do… well, exactly this.  To have me doubting who he really is, to feel sorry for him, to justify what he is and what he does.  I don’t even know if half of it is true and I guess it doesn’t even matter.  He got my sympathy anyway and I’m still working on getting rid of its traces.

Living with the dichotomy of who he is is still so difficult though.  A good majority of my friends are radical feminists, lesbian feminists, a few lib-fems dotted in here and there and they all hate him or would hate him if they knew who he was, what he did.  I know that a lot of the womyn in my life know how domestic abuse works, I know they understand the dual relationship with an abuser, but it still leaves me feeling so ashamed for not completely and 100% hating him.  I know he was a violent, abusive person who does not deserve my sympathy, I know that that kind and caring side was merely a disguise to hide who he really is, I know that that dual nature was used to manipulate me and control me further – but that doesn’t stop me and it certainly didn’t stop me from appreciating that nice side of him because well, frankly, if you’re getting your head kicked in and your body violated pretty much every day, you appreciate any act of kindness after a while.

Sometimes, even now, even now I’m out of that relationship and have been for a long time, I do need people to acknowledge just how difficult that dual nature is to live with.  Just how confused and hurt and torn it leaves us.  Even if we don’t actively love our ex’s, even if we never loved them, it still leaves such a sense of confusion and doubt.  We need people to meet us where we are, to acknowledge both sides of our abusers.  They’re not good, of course they’re not and that ‘goodness’ is very often an act to hide their violence and their cruelty, but we did and do see that kindness and it does fuck us up.

Especially for womyn still in those kinds of relationships, saying that their partners are out-right bad people, evil people, abusive people just simply isn’t going to work.  It’ll have us running a mile, honestly.  We have to admit that those acts of kindness do mean something to victims, we have to acknowledge that the reality for domestic abuse victims is dual in nature and they need to be met on that level.

Those acts of kindness fade, eventually, they become so much less frequent and they become so half-arsed compared to what they once used to be.  Especially when the abuser is sure they have complete control and their victim isn’t going to leave them, is too scared to do anything other than forgive them, who is living a life of such constant violence that even being handed a tissue to mop up your own blood can be such a ray of light.

I can’t remember the last time Dom was nice to me, it was long, long before I finally broke up with him and ended our ‘engagement’ (my sealed destiny of captivity), I honestly can’t remember at all.  He’d clearly decided it was no longer needed, that I was so stuck and so hurt and so broken that he didn’t need to pretend he was sorry any more, he didn’t need to be nice to me.  I had no-one and nothing left as far as he knew, I had no reason to fight it, he had no reason to carry on manipulating me and controlling me, I was always going to be his victim until he finally killed me.  He was wrong, he was so very wrong and him being wrong was ultimately what saved my life.

RadSurvivor.