Friday, July 15, 2016

How to not be in an abusive relationship.

I wrote a blog post called 'How to beat girls and women' in February 2007. Now it is 2016, and I just got a comment on it from someone called Love Hurts: "My husband is so tender and loving to me in some ways, but sometimes he rapes me and beats me. Then he tells me he is sorry that he would never want to hurt me. He says he fears it so I don't try to leave him. We have been best friends our whole lives as well, but he just gets so scared of me leaving that he becomes violent. I'm his first and only gf or wife. My ex before him beat me nearly to death and now I find myself dealing with this. Maybe there is no escape from sexual abuse. I was human trafficked as a child and forced into prostitution before escaping. I'm a survivor. Maybe tho I deserve this because of my childhood. he really is a good man. He loves me at least. My own father never did but he does." It is very difficult for an abused woman to close the space into which abuse happens. It's not a speck of use saying, Why do you stay? Because it follows one, from relationship to relationship. You start off with a perfectly normal man and after a few months or years he becomes a monster. Every time he shouts or hits you he tells you it is your fault. He beats your fault into you. This is particularly hard if your fault was hammered into you as a child, or if you suffered sexual abuse. He bellows. He judges. He snarls. You are never good enough. That was my life. I used to tiptoe quietly around the house, unsure when I entered a room where he was, if he was going to suddenly erupt in fury. And I knew that my fear was irritating. I knew that just me being scared was likely to make him bully me, and I didn't know how to stop being scared. Eventually I made up my mind to leave, but... wouldn't I go and create this again with another man? I had found myself in that space twice already. I was doing a Landmark Seminar at the time, and I booked a call with my seminar leader to help me work out how I would go about creating a relationship in which abusive behaviour was not possible. She started off telling me how disgusting it was that a man would behave like that. I agreed, but what could I do? That tack was getting nowhere. So then she asked me what I could create as a possibility that would make it impossible for abusive behaviour to exist in a relationship. I said, "Love. Honour. Responsibility. Caring. Respect..." Ok, she said, who could you respect? I started running through a list. I could respect my partner. I could respect the sanctity of the home. I could respect my children and their need for peace. And who else? She kept asking. And who else? Who else could you respect? I stared at the pretty kitchen cupboards and tried to think. Who else? Eventually she gave up and said, "You!! You could respect You!!" I was stunned. Had I not said Me? I hadn't said it! I am the last person in the world I think of as a doormat and I hadn't even thought that I could respect me! I suddenly saw something, about how I was being in that relationship. Something I had got from my mother. I didn't matter as long as everyone else was ok... Gosh!!!!! The seminar leader said, "Ok, I have got where I was going now, quick. What do you see as possible for a relationship in which abusive behaviour does not happen?" I couldn't think. I grabbed for the first words that came. "Err... Love, Respect and understanding," I said. "Great!" She said. "Lovely. Got to go! Bye!" I hung up the phone and stood there gawping at it. At that moment my partner came downstairs, turning at the bottom of the stairs to face me. I looked up at him, and I felt something different in the way I was standing. It was something in the base of my spine. We were in the middle of a fight, and he had come down to continue it. I saw him open his mouth, and look at me, and I saw is mind go blank. Whatever nastiness he had been about to utter, he could not remember it. He floundered, "Er, um... can I help with dinner?" My mouth fell open further. I narrated this story to a forum leader once, and asked her, why? why would a conversation of which he was not even a part, have affected his behaviour? She said, because we are 100% responsible for the behaviour of everyone around us. You are responsible for his behaviour, she said, and for the first time I heard that as a statement of power. That is my power. When I drop it, I pick it up. It is hard to carry it, though it is getting easier with time. 5 years later, he is a co-parent, not a partner, and he is still sometimes nasty at me. I resist reacting, I go away, and recreate it. Love, respect and understanding. Which one is flagging here? I admit it, it is always respect for myself. I recreate that I respect myself. I just do. I am some woman. And out of that the empowering response flows.


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