While I will not go into the grim details, domestic violence is the topic of this post. Reader discretion is advised.
Thirteen years ago, I was in a physically and sexually abusive relationship. It was with a man twelve years older than myself, and it was a decision I had made in my young, naive years. I had been living by myself after high school, and I was in search of someone to take care of me, because (due to being a borderline) I felt lonely and abandoned by my mother and an ex boyfriend who had left me right before a miscarriage.
I met the abuser at a job I had at the time, and for whatever reason, I thought we were in love. I thought it was normal for him to put his hands on me. I thought it was normal to just lay there while a man did their thing. (This is why Handmade’s Tale is hard for me to watch) I thought it was normal for a man to control the money, his and my own. I thought it was normal for him to keep me from my friends and my family.
I was in that situation for almost 2 years, and I’m honestly surprised that I made it out alive. He was abusive to me, he was abusive to the dogs, and my cats, and I lived in fear. One day I just snapped, and broke glasses. The next day, I was moving out.
And I ran as far away as I could possibly get.
I say that because I ran from the mental damage he had caused. I carried on with my life like it had never happened.
Through two marriages, having kids and a handful of moves, I ran from it.
Never mind that for the first three years after I left, I woke up screaming in the middle of the night, scared to death.
Never mind that I ran into some of his family members at my job a few years later, and frantically tried to hide from them before they saw me. I was afraid he would find out where I worked, and come after me.
Never mind that I ran into him with my husband and froze dead in my tracks. I was afraid he would find out what we drove, where we lived, and come after me.
Never mind that I had never learned sex is not a duty I must fulfill but not enjoy.
I was severely scarred, mentally.
A few months ago, I was in therapy, and I finally admitted that I wished to discuss the abuse from thirteen years ago. It had been affecting my marriage for long enough, and my therapist agreed it was time. That session was very difficult for me. There were tears, there was anger; it was very eye opening. It took thirteen years for me to admit that I was a victim, but once I did, the healing began. Subsequent sessions have helped me as well, but my therapist always leaves it up to me if I want to work on that or discuss other issues.
It is a very slow process. I’m not sure if it’s because I ran from it for so many years, or if this is just how healing from abuse is supposed to go, but it takes daily effort. Some days, I’m still in denial that it happened. Some days, I blame myself for the fact that it happened at all. But the fact of the matter is, I can recover from it. I can heal.
If you’re anywhere on the road to healing from past abuse, don’t give up. It will be hard, it will have ups and downs, but you can make it to the other side. Always remember you’re not alone. Unfortunately, so many of us have been through all kinds of abuse, but you will find that most of us are supportive of one another. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, go to therapy, learn and use DBT skills; use these resources to help you. They helped me take that first step towards healing, and they help me now as I continue to heal and unlearn unhealthy ways of thinking that came from that period in my life.
You’re not alone. You can do this. ❤