Domestic Violence And Beyond: I’m Not Just A Victim

The next time you hear about a victim of abuse and think of her (or him) as weak, think again. There are things you can understand only when you have experienced them. I used to think a person who was being victimised deserved it for letting themselves be tortured. Perhaps I was meant to learn to be more compassionate. Perhaps it was a punishment for being so arrogant. Whatever it was, I wouldn’t wish the same fate on my worst enemy.

It’s tough losing your friends and your sucess and your health. But the worst is losing your self-esteem. People stay in abusive relationships because they don’t believe that thay deserve better. The human mind, so capable of infinite creation, is equally capable of ruthless destruction. Which is what the abuser does. I had actually forgotten that life could be any other way than the way it had become. Crying in bed every night, waking up with a headache, giddy spells during the day. People who saw me at that time, said that I’d become a bundle of nerves, constantly edgy and scared.

We all have our defense systems and ways to cope with the world. Sometimes, someone gets around those defenses. We do make friends and relationships. And we share those parts of ourselves that we normally keep carefully secure. Our dreams, our fears, our hopes, our insecurities. We hope these will be treated with as much care as we do ourselves. And we don’t expect the people we trust to secretly use them against us, wage wars inside our own heads and make us our worst enemies.

It happens so subtly and imperceptibly, you don’t even notice. Everyone expects some friction in relationships. There are bound to be disagreements. But its a long way to realising that you are fighting more than enjoying the time. And it is yet another horrendous realisation that the other person is actually deriving pleasure from insulting you, humiliating you….being happy in your unhappiness. Yes, there really are such people. And the longer you stay with such a person, the more difficult it is to get out. Each minute your self-worth is plummeting and all you are left with, is the thought that you have nothing else to live for, except this person, this relationship…and so you better do everything you can to keep them happy….even let them run all over you, if necessary.

This was more than two years ago. Getting out was difficult enough, facing the world again was really scary. The voices haven’t left me. Even today, I wonder if a new person I meet will turn out to be like that one.

It hurt a lot that the people I thought were close to me, never cared to help. The few people I did reach out to, were always too busy or ‘it wasn’t any of their business’. And yet others offered advice….so much of it…and got angry and left when I didn’t seem to take it. I was angry for a long time after that. They were being judgemental rather than compassionate, missionaries rather than friends. They were being right. If any of them should fall into trouble (and I hope they don’t) I’ll be there, being a friend. I don’t have to change because they did. But I’ll never need them again.

In a strange way it has made me more wary of people, but also less caring of them….less dependent. Maybe that is a good thing.

It isn’t easy to admit that you trusted wrongly. It is not easy to talk about being humiliated and putting up with it. It is definitely not easy to put up with the condescension or pity that you encounter when you talk about it. I know because I haven’t been able to, for a long time.

But I have nothing to be ashamed of, anymore. If anything, I think more people need to be sensitised to what a victim is going through. If you can’t support her, at least don’t judge her. She is probably judging herself, very harshly, already and punishing herself for being herself.

One thing it definitely does, is make you more compassionate. One of the first bloggers I met was and still is the author of a very popular blog. She said “You sound like you are in a lot of pain.” I told her I had just ended a bad relationship. She listened without a word. At the end, she told me that she was in an abusive marriage….had been for 10 years. She is the mother of two children and at that time had just started working for the first time in her life. Despite the pain I can only suspect she was living in, she was coping somehow and finding a way to look forward to life. She walked out of the marriage last month. I am so proud of her in a way I can’t begin to explain.

I have tremendous respect for people who have survived abuse. She is the real survivor.

17 thoughts on “Domestic Violence And Beyond: I’m Not Just A Victim

  1. A true survivor indeed. Thanks for linking to the story. I have linked back to the story myself along with a link to the local chapter of a nonprofit organization called Saheli.

  2. ideasmith 🙂 ! Thank you so much for visiting polioman, and thank you more for giving me a totally different perspective on the situation.

    As I was living with her (Suniti came to live with me after a while) I was wondering about what is really, really going on in her mind. There was so much more, I was sure, than she was telling me. But I did not ask. As you said, I did not want to pass any judgment. Just wanted to listen. I am going to write what happened next… And, it may or may not corroborate your views.

    But love to have you around in the blog world :-).

  3. Sundar: Thank you very much. I hope my writing lives up to expectations. 🙂

    Brewtus: Thank you. This is something I’d like people to know about.

    Aekta: {{{{{{{{{}}}}}}}}}}}…..any time for you, babe. How are u doing?

    Hiren: You’re right. I only hope her example inspires others in the same situation.

    Arundhati: Thank you for that. I liked the concept of polioman. I’m going to be dropping by again too. See u around the blogsphere!

  4. ideasmith: i caught your blog only today! just wanted to say you are doing a great job of your life. all the very best. the future is glorious, just wait! 🙂

  5. Smithy! This just goes to show that you do have the errmmmmm…balls!

    I have lived through one myself and the feeling has always been:”it must be me”!!!And I know now that its so untrue.

    You rock!

  6. @ Sunset: I know that feeling. You get so used to being kicked and even programmed to kick yourself for everything bad, it continues long after the relationship is over. If you haven’t spoken about it, please start doing so. It helped me a lot. My fears are still there somewhere but talking to others and realising it wasn’t my fault went a long way in healing me and my battered self-confidence. I’d love to hear from you if you write in too.

  7. Do you believe in miracles Smithy?

    Well, for me it has happened. Because I havent forgone the person, but we have both worked really hard to change things around. Many have told me to give up and run while I still could. Many called me a coward to my face. there have been ugly scenes, separations, other men and possibly other women in between.

    But some insane urge propelled , drove me to push back and stand my ground, to point out that we did have a chance to survive. And to my credit and his, things started changing. I shall never forget the trauma I have lived through. But I have forgiven. Today, I am proud to stand by him and he is eternally grateful for the second chance we have given ouselves.I do not recognize him from the man a few years back. Neither does he recognize me for the woman who cowered and trembled with fear. We probably lost a lot but we have gained much much much more.

    I am not saying the fears have gone. I am saying I am a different person and so is he. There are moments, tense, when we do not breathe for fear that the old monsters called Rage, Insecurity, Jealousy may wreak havoc. And then the moment passes.

    Our society is very strange and we live in very troubled times when such medieval forms of emotion clash with our modern selves. I cannot blame friends and family for not being able to offer advice, because they are caught in the bind as well.The ironic part was that I worked with an NGO that had counsellors and lawyers helping women in abusive relationships and rattling of words of encouragement and statistics and advice was part of my everyday discourse while I returned home to those very demeaning acts that drove women to the NGO. My colleagues NEVER could tell the horror I was lving through. My friends would have probably laughed at the concept knowing the professional, strong, independent side to me. It was only my mother who noticed and in many instances told me to run while I could.

    I admire women who dont take shit from anyone such as you. But it was a choice I consciously made. It may not have turned out this way. Especially if there had not been a fundamental bedrock of love between us, which was worth protecting and standing up for. We chose a long distance relationship for a while and it worked. He grew up and became more responsible. I loosened up and became much bolder in my actions. But underneath, we both realised that we were meant to be.

    But yes, nothing is for certain. I do not know my future with him. And situations can change. Tip the fine balance that we have. And the monsters may retun to the ball. I am not sure I will have the strength to put up a fight the next time around. I will walk. With my head held high. Knowing that I tried, my very best. Call it foolhardy, but I think it was just a case of stubborn ness on my part as well! And faith in change.

    I am fortunate that I do not have children from this relationship yet. And that shall be an entirely different equation.But I know where exactly my priorities will lie then.

    Which is why I said “I lived through one myself”. I have lived through it, but WE have survived. And I thought I should share this with someone who has probably seen only the dark tunnel.

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