To the Woman with the Bruises,
I know you. I don't know your name, where you live, your age or your phone number.
But I know you.
I know that look in your eyes. That frightened, defeated, depressed, broken look.
I know you, because I once saw that look in my own eyes.
I know what it's like to live with someone who terrifies you. I know what it's like to go to sleep sick and wake up scared.
I know you.
And I want you to hear me, as one survivor to another: It's not your fault.
I know the psychological warfare you've been besieged with. I know how your self-esteem is non-existent, replaced by a constant stream of negatives. I know that you've come to believe that you're so useless, damaged, stupid and lazy that you deserve every word hurled at you in anger, every blow that's ever landed upon you, be it emotionally or physically. I know you believe that if you could just be BETTER, this would all go away, that you'd meet with approval, that finally, he'd be happy. And love you.
After all, he can be sweet, can't he? You have memories that you treasure in your heart, that you keep close and turn back to, time and again. There's hope there. Proof that he can be loving, and kind, and gentle. The rage that takes him over, that's what's to blame. At heart, he's so loving, isn't he?
Here's the truth: No. No, he's not.
His rage is just a part of him as any good you've ever seen. And the reality is that no amount of enduring his rage will ever get him to stop. Nothing you say or do is responsible for his behavior, and therefore, nothing you say or do will ever make him stop lashing out at you.
Because it's all on him. You bear no responsibility for his abuse of you. None.
It doesn't matter how angry you make him, what you've done. If you burn dinner, return home late after work, decided to go out for a girls' night, put a dent in the car. Doesn't. Matter. As an adult, HE has the responsibility to control his emotions, because he's the only one that actually can. There is NOTHING you can ever do that would justify him putting his hands on you in anger. There just isn't.
It doesn't matter WHY he's abusive. It just doesn't. Be it mental illness, addiction or just being an evil, abusive jerk. The end result is the same. Someone that abuses their partner is not someone you need to be with. You can't heal him, save him or fix him. You need to attend to your own safety.
And as for all that crap he's drilled into your head? Think about something: If you're so lazy, stupid, ugly, fat or whatever load of psychologically damaging crap he's hammered into your head, ask yourself... why would he want to have someone like that around? Considering how high his standards are, it makes no sense at all, does it? It's because you're none of those things. What you are is a wonderful person who has the right to be treated by a partner as a blessing in their lives.
He breaks you down, psychologically and physically, because he knows he's not worthy of you, so controlling you, keeping you caged by fear and self-loathing, is the only hope he's got. That's why he ups the stakes the way he does. Finding fault with something he'd praised before -- be it a meal you cooked or a dress you wore -- shows that he needs to assure himself that no matter what he does, he's in control.
There is never, ever a way to satisfy him.
I'm praying you get out. Leave him. There are women's shelters that you can run to. Or, like the Superbowl commercial that aired this year, remember that you can call 911. Please, get help. Get to safety. Get yourself some therapy to undo the damage he's done. Be the woman you were made to be.
And I promise you, that woman? She's nobody's punching bag.
And if you do these things, you'll look in the mirror one day, and the woman gazing back at you will have joy in her eyes. Peace. Excitement. A love of living again. And strength. There will be a strength there that you recognize.
I know you. I was you... I am you. I got out. I stayed out. You can, too.
Be it a violent partner or abusive parents, there is hope. There is a way out.
You can do this. Reach out. Ask for help. Domestic violence hotlines in your area can give you a wealth of information, and are there to help, to listen.
You can do this.
In the U.S., there is both a hotline and a website with chat available. 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). http://www.thehotline.org
If you're in Canada, domestic abuse hotlines are broken down by province. Go here for more information and a breakdown of hotlines by province.
I wrote this post because no woman, child, or man should ever live in fear. No person, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status or any other label you'd like to use should EVER be a victim of domestic violence. I'm participating in the #1000Speak movement to get the message out, to offer understanding and compassion to those who are targets of domestic violence
I chose to write about a woman because statistically, women outnumber men as victims of domestic violence. I gravely suspect that the statistics about men who are abused by intimate partners are even MORE underreported than even the experts are guessing. I hope and pray that as more people speak out, more cry and yell about domestic violence being a crime in our world, that there will come a day when nobody lives in fear from someone who supposedly loves them.
This is my cry out. This is my yell. This is my banner waving furiously. No. More. End domestic violence.