To my ex who didn’t “Abuse” me,
As I approach the two year mark from the day I finally found the courage to kick you out of my house, I find my thoughts drifting back to what I could have done differently and where I went wrong. I realized something today though, it is and always has been “what did I do?” “He wouldn’t have done those things if I had only given him what he wanted.” I never thought much of it over the five years we lived together but over the last two, with people genuinely getting angry with me for still thinking this way, it made me want to find the root of how I saw things. I knew what you were doing was wrong, I knew this wasn’t love or basic needs that you fulfilled, I knew what you were doing to me and I let it happen. That much I have always known and I couldn’t be angry with you because of it, couldn’t cut you off because you needed me to fix your problems and if I left it would be my fault when it happened to someone else, I would have doomed them to it.
I try to steer clear of any conversation about what things were like then with anyone who wasn’t around, you get that awkward question “Did he abuse you?” every time. I can feel the panic every time someone asks because after living through five years of it and spending the next two hiding and trying to remember how to live again, I still don’t know how to answer. When they ask that what they really want to know is did you hit me because for some unknown reason that is the only thing anyone sees as abuse. The question always puts me standing right back in front of you feeling small and trying to make you see what you were doing and that horrible look of disgust you would give me when you would yell “stop making it sound like I’m abusive.” So let’s finally get this clear. You were. You never once raised a fist to me or back handed me, no, but that doesn’t change anything. I still had to stand in front of a mirror each morning and try desperately to cover the dark bruises and broken skin on my neck with makeup. I still had to hide the winces of pain every time I put on a seat belt and it tightened against the sensitive discolored skin of my chest. I still had to wear pants all summer to hide the marks on my legs and thighs. Worst of all if someone saw my skin, their comments were never the ‘you need to tell someone, you need to get out,’ they were snide comments of what a frisky little slut I must be, how I like it rough. There is no support for the people like me because no one realizes you’re not just a kinky whore if they see the signs. It wasn’t a sign of your lust to everyone else, it was a dark mark on my character. It gave you exactly what you wanted though, I have never felt as alone as the only time in my life that I have ever been constantly surrounded by people.
I still wake up in the middle of the night with your whisper of “are you awake” ringing in my ear, the feel of your hands on my body and your teeth sinking into my flesh. You knew as well as I did you weren’t asleep, you never once faltered in your excuse when you were caught though. Getting caught just made me a horrible person for not believing you. Were you asleep when you would trap me in the corner when I tried to leave too? Or when you threatened the people I loved when my life wasn’t worth it for me to stay anymore? When you came back in loading a gun after you had finished packing? You probably tell people I was the crazy one now, how I would break your nose or how I knocked you to the kitchen floor. I bet the part you don’t tell them though is elbowing you in the face was the only way to get you off of me because you didn’t care about the screaming, the begging, the pleading and if I did manage to get away you just came after me and drug me down in the floor, you were asleep so those things didn’t work or that you had me backed into a corner screaming at me holding me against my will because you wouldn’t allowed to go see my best friend, I even managed to get past you not that I made if far before you caught me, gripping me tight enough to leave bruises, so that I couldn’t leave and even warned you four times before I took you to the ground. You don’t tell I was only defending myself because to you there was nothing for me to defend against. You didn’t hit me.
I get told all the time you had me brain washed, but you didn’t, I would never have gotten out if you had. What they don’t understand is I was never unaware of what you were doing, I was afraid of the consequences. You hoped that fear would break me because I was already so broken, depressed and suicidal, you saw me as an easy target. I hope you learned just how strong broken people are. Your actions had nothing to do with a mental illness or a blood lust. It was all about control and when I couldn’t be trained it was about finding what would break my mind and make me give up, you never realized though: The only weakness I had great enough to break me was my greatest strength: the one person you feared.
I hope you learned your lesson and no one else ever endures the game you played with me at your hand again or at the very least they are brave enough to end it the way I should have.
The girl who was never yours