Gender Stereotypes & Abuse

CN: gender stereotypes, abuse, SA, fat phobia, victim blaming/shaming, size shaming, r*pe apologia, uncensored use of the word r*pe, toxic masculinity, ableism

“Is he bigger than you?”, is usually the first question people ask after finding out I’m a victim of domestic violence. They tell me I couldn’t have been abused because I’m bigger than my abuser. They said I could have fought him off. I’m not believed because I’m not petite or thin.

To these people, victims aren’t supposed to look physically strong. To them, violence is always physical.
I tried fighting back but it angered him. So much so he left me with a fat lip. Afterwards he wouldn’t let me leave the house until the bruise healed. So I did everything I could to avoid the beatings. But as any victim of domestic violence knows, that isn’t always possible.

I’ve been told that I couldn’t have been raped because I should have been able to fight him off. If I didn’t fight him off then I must have wanted it. This type of reasoning is victim blaming. Whether they meant to or not, these people are saying that since I didn’t fight hard enough I deserved what happened. They’re saying there is such a thing as “true rape”.

This type of thinking is fat phobic and size shaming because you’re saying that because of my size, I should have never been a victim. Except, as previously stated violence isn’t always physical. He made me afraid by various means. This type of thinking is ableist as well because I am physically disabled and fighting him or anyone off would be impossible. It is also transmysoginistic because I am about as tall as most men and fat so I’m not seen as feminine enough. Then of course, there’s the sexism of “you’re too ugly to fuck”. Forgetting that rape is never about sex, but about power, this trope suggests that rapists rape because they were physically attracted to their victims. This trope goes as far as to suggest that fat women should be grateful they even got the attention.

Now, think about the media you consume.  Think of the Henpecked Husband and Tiny Guy, Huge Girl tropes. Why is the idea of a “domineering” woman, usually taller than her husband funny? It’s because men are supposed to be in charge. Size is thought to be in direct relation to strength and men have to be strong, otherwise he isn’t a man.  Women are supposed to be small and meek.  Are you getting the picture?

These tropes exist because we live in a patriarchal society which values toxic masculinity and enforces a strict and rigid gender binary. And so, I will continue to get these questions. And I will continue to ask these people why they think I deserve abuse. Hopefully that way they’ll understand that what they’re doing is revictimizing me. At the very least, I’ll enjoy their faces as they try to justify my abuse to my face.

Gender Stereotypes & Abuse
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Victim Double Standards

CN: SA, CSA, domestic violence, corporal punishment

As a child, I was beaten and put down constantly. Anything I did, wore, or liked could be subject to ridicule. Any sign, imagine or real, of disrespect was met with a the buckle of a belt, a shoe or the calloused and hardened hands of my grandma. The people who should have been my protectors were my first abusers. So I grew up with low self-esteem and at 15 attempted suicide. In my late teens, I met my first boyfriend. He’d become my daughter’s father and the reason I deal with PTSD now.

People would ask how I could end up with someone like him. After a lot of therapy and introspection I figured out why. As I child, the messages I received were that I didn’t matter. I wasn’t important and never would be. I deserved the beatings and verbal abuse I got. After years of hearing that and hearing the messages I got from society , I finally understood my worth was very little.

So, this guy comes along and doesn’t call me names. Tells me I matter, well, that was new and I wanted more of it. But the reason he chose me specifically was because I was so starved for love and affirmation. Once I was “his”, he could reveal his true colors. Ok, but why did I stay? Because I had been conditioned since childhood to accept this type of treatment. Who was I to ask why I was beaten? Didn’t I know it was done out of love? I deserved it because I made the abuser angry. I needed to be reminded of the rules and who set them. (Aside: isn’t curious how the reasons people give to justify spanking children are identical to the justifications of spousal abusers?)

I didn’t like it. In fact I fucking hated it. But instead of hating my abusers, I hated myself for being so horrible that people needed to beat me. It was the same message I got as a child. It was just a different person saying it now.

“Oh you can’t blame your childhood! You’re making yourself a victim.” That’s what I was met with when I explained why I stayed.

“He was abused as a child. The abused will abuse.” This was also said simultaneously and no one noticed the double standard.

I was aware of the abuse he endured. He told me in the beginning of the relationship, which I now know was his way of trying to bond with me, to make me easier to manipulate. See, he understood me, I thought. 

So, why is it that I can’t say my childhood made me an easier target for abuse but he can justify his abuse of me with the abuse he endured as a child? Why is one OK and the other not?

Since news broke that Milo Yiannopoulos was uninvited from CPAC and the release of his book was cancelled over his comments regarding pedophilia, I have seen several people try to defend him. I’m not linking to anything by that guy. You can google him yourself. It’s bad enough he’s even being mentioned here but for the purposes of this post, he has to. One defense, I saw over and over was that Milo was a victim of CSA. The reasoning of “the abused will abuse” shows up again.

It’s very unfortunate that he lived through that. No one, I mean no one, no matter how much I hate them and their beliefs, deserves to be abused in that way. But having a fucked up childhood is not a justification for being an abusive adult. And yes, his transmisogyny, racism, sexism is all abuse.

Hearing that “the abused will abuse” made me think I would eventually become a monster. It would be inevitable that I would become like my abuser. While I know it isn’t true it’s still scares me.

The powerful or the privileged (or their supporters) can say , ‘I had a bad childhood” and all is forgiven. The marginalized and weak say, “I also had a bad childhood” and they’re met with derision. Ask yourself why that is.

Victim Double Standards

Melania, Splash Damage and Domestic Violence Myths

CN: uncensored used of the word r*pe, dv myths

I believe Melania is a victim of domestic violence (DV). Not just from seeing how she acts, but based on her husband’s history. If you don’t want to show her any pity or sympathy, that’s fine. That’s your right. But please remember that when you say she can easily leave, or that she deserves it you’re hurting me and other survivors of DV. That’s called splash damage.

It’s like when those statues of DJT popped up around the country. They were made to ridicule his body. There is plenty to criticize him for. Calling him fat or engaging in toxic masculinity when we ridicule the size of his hands or genitalia causes splash damage. It doesn’t hurt him. It hurts others. Speculating whether or not Barron is autistic, saying Republicans are mentally ill, that’s straight up ableism. Again, it causes splash damage.

Fat phobia, ableism and sexism against privileged people may not necessarily hurt those privileged. But it adds to the stigma that being fat, disabled or perceived as a woman has.

Blast Melania for her racists comments, her birther support, the plagiarism of Michelle’s speech. I understand the argument that if Melania weren’t white that she wouldn’t be so defended. That’s true. People are more sympathetic to her because of the damsel in distress trope. Yes it’s racist bullshit that white people will fall over themselves to defend Melania and Barron while dehumanizing Michelle, Sasha and Malia. But calling her out can be done without perpetuating harmful myths about DV and victim blaming.

If domestic violence and disabilities were an exclusively white issue? Then yeah, fuck it, have at Melania and her son. But these issues do not discriminate and it is possible to criticize someone without throwing other marginalized people under the bus.

For instance, let’s say Melania is a victim and let’s say she does leave. It is true that she’d have more privileges than a poor Black or Brown woman leaving an abusive situation. However, leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim. And her husband is currently the most powerful man in the world. I’ve seen people say Secret Service would protect her from him. I’m skeptical of that claim.

I have also seen the claim that there is no evidence, just what other DV victims have read from her expressions and body language. Alright, so there may not be any concrete proof he’s abusing Melania. But he’s been accused of sexual assault before. He’s admitted as much on tape. We all know what he’s said about his daughter Ivanka. It isn’t unreasonable to think Melania is a victim of his. I mean, we’re told we should trust our instincts and learn to spot red flags. We spot them in him and we’re told “there’s no proof she’s being abused”. Honestly, it feels like I’m being gaslit when told I’m imagining things.

I have seen people who do believe DJT is abusing her but that she deserves it becuase she’s racist. That type of thinking is in the same vein as jokes about rapists facing the same fate in prison. It works under the assumption that there is such a thing as a perfect victim. Or that being a shitty person means you deserve to be oppressed.
As a person of color it’s been frustrating because I get accused of defending her and upholding white supremacy. No, what I care about are all these myths. As a victim of DV everything I’ve read about Melania regarding DV is shit that’s been said to me. And I’m fucking tired.

We can call out out her racism without hurting DV victims. That’s all I’m asking. These myths harm all victims, especially POC who predominantly have a harder time accessing resources unlike Melania who would have access to good legal representation and therapy.

Hate the woman if you want. Don’t believe she’s a victim if you so choose. Criticize and condemn her for the racist shit she’s said. Just don’t throw DV victims under the bus. Don’t perpetuate one form of oppression while calling out another.

Melania, Splash Damage and Domestic Violence Myths

Ethics in Outing Abusers

CN: SA, r*pe, victim shaming

Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone. Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone.

Sharing screenshots where an abuser admits to abuse isn’t morally the same as abusing someone.

I cannot believe I have to say this. I said it last year during the Phoenix Drake fiasco and again, this year around the same time as well, concerning Dan Linford.

In both cases before any screenshots were available some people, mostly men, asked “where’s the evidence?”. Never minding the fact that both Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford admitted to rape. Never minding the fact that several people in both cases came forward with their own stories about these two.

But this post isn’t about not believing victims. Which honestly I could write a post about. No, this post is about the ethics in sharing screenshots. I’m writing this because, frankly, I am sick to death of having people not believe victims only to then shame them when they DO provide evidence. Why do they get shamed? Because apparently since both Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford confessed in private messages, they both have an ethical right to privacy.

This is where I call bullshit. If they had confessed to a mandated reporter, that person BY LAW would have to notify the authorities. This is no different. In both cases, confessions were made and the people who heard these confessions did the ethical thing and warned others. As you read in both articles linked above, these men infiltrated groups with vulnerable people, several times. This is important. They were able to do so because there hadn’t been a way for their previous victims to warn others.

But it stops here. This is how women and non-binary people protect ourselves.

Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford didn’t confess to eating too much chocolate and feeling bad about it. They confessed to rape. In both cases, they made excuses, they minimized what they did to their victims. They weren’t sorry for what they did (if they were, they would have turned themselves in, they wouldn’t have made excuses, they wouldn’t have confessed to women and NB folks and used them as emotional labor). They certainly didn’t show any ethics in their behavior.

Once someone shows themselves to be abusive they lose any right to privacy. There is no moral equivalence here. The unethical thing to do in this case would be to keep the confession to yourself. Rapists lose any right to privacy the minute they demonstrate they’re a danger to others. Indeed, it is because of this privacy that they felt confident and comfortable enough to be able to abuse again and again. (As an aside: Dan teaches philosophy and ethics. Let that bit of irony set in)

Phoenix Drake and Dan Linford will not and cannot get away with this. We will not let them. We’re tired of being abused, we’re tired of being gaslit. We’re tired of giving our trust to people unworthy of it. We don’t have many ways to defend ourselves, but we have this. I will be damned if anyone is going to guilt us for doing what we need to in order to protect ourselves.

Ethics in Outing Abusers

Remembering my Tia

CN: domestic violence, child abuse, death

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about one of my aunts. I’ll refer to her as Tia through this post. She was one of my grandma’s older sisters. We used to visit her once in a while when I was little. I remember she was always very soft spoken. She was also very short, about 4′ 9″, so I didn’t find her intimating like I did other adults. Although, my grandma was just a few inches taller, she scared me because she was tough and she was the disciplinarian in our house.
There was always a sadness about my Tia that I now recognize as my own.

Anyway, we’d go see her and her husband; my “uncle”. We’ll call him Pablo. He was this big guy, and the inside joke between Mami, grandma and I was that he was ugly and apparently my grandfather did not like him. That was the sense I got from the other adults. They didn’t like Pablo. I didn’t like him. Where as Tia was shy and timid, Pablo was loud and brash. Tia was a tiny wisp of a person and Pablo was big; about 6 feet and 200 pounds. About the only thing bigger was his mouth. I don’t remember exact conversations with him but he was that one uncle everyone has that no one likes to see.

I always regarded Tia as a nice woman. I had a lot of tias growing up, and while I didn’t see her much I did enjoy it when I did. She was nice to me. She always gave me juice and she seemed interested in what I told her. I didn’t get that from other adults.

Once I became taller than her, around my 8th birthday, everybody would joke about how much bigger I was than Tia. I was a bit self-conscious about my height. Mami, grandma and all of the other women in my family were short. Along I come and I’m this palm tree. Tia never made me feel bad it, unlike my grandmother’s other sister.

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My classmates would call me “Palma”. No, really.
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I feel you, Tom Selleck.

 

Once I left Puerto Rico when I was 14, I didn’t see Tia again for another two years. When we went back for my grandpa’s funeral, I saw Tia and went to say hello. By this time I was a whole foot taller than her. Pablo had died about a month before. I gave her my condolences and she said “ay, nena. Está bien.” She seemed relieved and I didn’t understand it. I asked my mom and she explained that Pablo was “malo“.
I knew she meant that Pablo had been abusive. At that time I didn’t understand domestic violence. I knew she had dealt with it because that what was she was supposed to do.

I didn’t see Tia again until I returned to Puerto Rico with my baby daughter TJ, three years later.
By this time, my Tia was living with my grandma. Tia was bed-ridden and her memory was going. But she remembered me. “Ah, yes. You’re my sister’s granddaughter. La nena grande”, (the big girl).
She would try to play with TJ. She was still her usual quiet self. She had two children. Of course, her son rarely visited her. Her daughter would come over every day but she’s a nurse. She couldn’t afford to put Tia in a home and my grandma would never allow that.

I would sit in the room with her watching television. I’d leave the room and leave the TV on. She’d call me to ask to turn it off. I’d tell her I had left it on so she’d have some form of companionship. She would insist. So, I would turn it off. The whole day would pass and Tia was content spending it in silence. I asked grandma about it. She finally told me everything.

Pablo was abusive to Tia and the children. Pablo hated noise and demanded the children be silent. He didn’t let Tia watch television. She’d only listen to the radio, set to the station playing “Canciones del Ayer”. These were old Spanish language ballads.

By now, I had been through my own abusive relationship. I finally understood my Tia. Then I realized that the sadness I sensed in her, was familiar to me because I felt it. I remember my Tia’s sad eyes and recognize them as my own. I felt closer to Tia after that.

Our vacation was over and we said our good-byes. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she wished me a safe trip. “Dios te cuide, nena”
Tia died a few weeks after.

I remember my Tia and wonder what kind of woman she could have been had she never met Pablo. I remember the soft-spoken woman who didn’t say much but when she did she never had an ill word to say to anyone. I remember the woman who would call me “nena” and always had something kind to say to me. I remember her and I wished I had known her better. I realize now that she was strong. She endured and survived Pablo. She protected her children.

I remember you, Tia. I wish the world had been kinder to you. I hope I leave this world a kinder place for people like us. I wish I had known you better, but I’m glad I met you.

Gracias, Tia.

Remembering my Tia

Bad Advice

TW: domestic violence, r*pe, abuse

Every time I come across a story about domestic violence there are always the well-meaning, but horribly misguided folks commenting on how to avoid becoming a victim. In this post I highlight some I’ve seen today and explain why this advice is not only wrong but potentially fatal.

1) “get a gun”, I assure you my abuser would have used it on me. I wouldn’t have been able to “hide it sum place your man won’t see” because I was a literal prisoner in his home. Good luck me trying to hide anything. I tried. I wasn’t even hiding a weapon. I was hiding a picture of my best friend because I wasn’t allowed friends. He had a knife he used to threatened me with. A gun in the house would have ended with me dead.

-“Report it to the authorities and then leave the state”- Cops don’t take this shit seriously, and how exactly is a victim of domestic violence supposed to just up and move when she’s more than likely completely dependent on the abuser. He made it so precisely so she can’t leave. Good luck trying to leave if you have children with your abuser too.

– “if you had watched him closely you would have noticed the red flags”- yes, because abusers upon meeting their future victims introduce themselves as “hi, I will eventually change my personality once I know I have you and then I will beat/rape/torture you. Is this ok with you?”. Like you people really think we just go into this shit knowing?

And yeah, ok. Let’s see, little girls are socialized from birth to never speak up, to never say no, if a boy pulls our hair that just means “he likes you”. That jealousy just means he cares. So after a lifetime of all these messages you expect us to just be able to leave? You made us into easy targets and then scold us for not knowing how to respond.

Tats-Just-How-Boys-Are

If we are lucky enough to leave, we get asked, “why couldn’t you work it out?”, “I’m sure it wasn’t all bad”, “he seemed like such a great guy”, “but aren’t you worried about not having a father for your baby?”, “you’re so selfish”, “you probably did something to deserve it”. Either way, the blame always lands on the victim. I’m tired of it.

This is by no means a complete list. These are the ones I saw today. I’ll probably add more to this as time goes on.
What bad advice have you received after leaving your abusive partner?

Bad Advice

Living with Domestic Violence

Trigger Warning: mentions of physical abuse, extreme violations of personal space/invasions of privacy, threats of violence, gendered slurs. This is a pretty heavy post.

Being in an abusive relationship is exhausting. You find yourself walking on eggshells, constantly trying to gauge your abuser’s moods and act accordingly; anticipating a bad day so you can prepare yourself for the impending damage, both mental and physical.

Once, I  came home after dark and he, claiming he was worried, didn’t let me go out alone after that. I could go to the library but I needed to be back home at my curfew which was before it became dark. If I wasn’t I was subject to beatings and “panty checks”. He was convinced I was unfaithful and so would inspect me to find any evidence of “another man”.

I was only allowed to use the phone to call my mother but he dialed and held the phone to my ear.

The bathroom didn’t have a lock, so I didn’t have any privacy there either. If I took too long in the bathroom, he’d come in and check on me. He was worried I was “washing (myself) thoroughly to get rid of any signs of infidelity”

When we’d go to bed, he’d wrapped his arms and legs around me. If I needed to get up in the middle of the night, I would have to wake him. He wouldn’t go back to sleep until I came back to bed. Cuddling was a trigger for a long time after leaving him.

He said I couldn’t love my friends because I had him.

At first, I wasn’t allowed a cell phone. He eventually gave me a prepaid cellphone but I could only use it for him.

I thought that once I went to live with my mom, I’d have a bit more freedom. I was wrong. He’d call constantly, or show up unannounced. When he wasn’t at my mother’s house, I was able to use the phone and check my social media accounts. As soon as I heard him at the door, I logged off. I learned to do this after he became angry that I was messaging with friends. I stopped using my mother’s phone when he was around because he’d monitor the conversation.

I thought that once he started working I’d be free to come and go as I wanted. He’d be too busy to call my mother’s house to check if I was there. I was wrong. Although he lived in another borough, he managed to get a job 10 minutes away from where I lived. He worked full-time but still checked up on me every chance he could.

I wasn’t allowed to have a baby shower because it hurt his male pride. He said he would pay for everything the baby and I needed, and that I didn’t need anybody else buying me anything.

When we went out, I wasn’t allowed to make eye contact with people. I used to walk with my eyes downcast. I didn’t realize I did until after I left him and my brother and mom pointed it out. If I smiled at anyone, especially a man, I was accused of being unfaithful.

While I was pregnant, I slept a lot, of course. He’d come over and want me awake but I was so exhausted. He would  accuse me cheating. Why was I so tired? Never mind that he continually kept tabs on me so even if I wanted to cheat I couldn’t have.

He threatened to burn down a friend’s house so I couldn’t go visit anymore. He said he didn’t care who he hurt. No one was going to keep him away from me.

Since I was no longer living with him, and I now had a baby, I became bolder. He never hit me when I lived with my mom. I was too afraid to leave him, so I started doing things I thought would make him want to leave me. I would go to my best friend’s house with my daughter, TJ and not come back at the expected time. He hated this particular friend. He even thought I was cheating on him with her. I told my mom not to answer his phone calls. Eventually he did start threatening to leave me and I acted nonchalant about it. I didn’t care. I wanted him to leave.

My best friend was disappointed about not being able to throw me a baby shower, so she decided to have a welcome home party for TJ when we were discharged from the hospital. TJ got the presents and he had to deal with it. He hated that my friends would hold TJ.

Then he became jealous of TJ. He didn’t like that I breastfed her. He said TJ was just borrowing my breasts, that they were really his. He hated that my attention was hers and not his.

I slept when TJ slept. It was the only sleep I could get. He became angry that I didn’t stay awake to talk to him.

He was at my mother’s house all the time and as soon as he left, he would call me. He’d become angry that I didn’t want to talk. I told him that he had just left after spending the whole day with me. He said it didn’t matter.

He once made me call another best friend because he had became jealous of my relationship with him. I grew up with this guy. We’ve been friends for almost 20 years. Jekyll was convinced that this friend was in love with me. So I called my friend and apologized for bothering him but Jekyll “needed to talk” to him. Jekyll asked my friend what he felt for me. My friend said, “Well, I love her. We’ve been friends for a very long time. I’d do anything for her”. Jekyll’s whole face changed. I knew I was in trouble.

That night I got one of the worst beatings he ever gave me. I was a lying whore. I was cheating on him with my best friend who lives an ocean away who I barely even talked to, because of Jekyll.

Jekyll even scrutinized the music I listened to for hidden meaning. The Killers’ All the Pretty Faces was clearly a message for him. When Brandon Flowers sang “I don’t feel like loving you no more,” it meant that I wanted to leave Jekyll. The lyric “you’re not going anywhere without me” was used to threaten me. Jekyll told me not to forget that I was his, that I indeed could not go anywhere without him.

Even after I finally left him, Jekyll still felt entitled to me. Someone told him I had become friendly with the local shop keep. He threaten the shopkeeper for “touching (his) merchandise”. He said it didn’t matter that we were no longer together. I was his forever.

I ended up getting an order of protection.

I decided to write this because a lot of people believe domestic violence is just that, violence, plain and simple. They aren’t aware that although many times physical and sexual violence is part of domestic violence, it isn’t the only type of abuse to exist. Financial abuse, reproductive coercion and emotional/psychological abuse are ones that very rarely get talked about.

Even when speaking to other survivors, some are surprised at the severity of Jekyll’s abuse.

This isn’t even a full account of what he did. There some things I feel are too gruesome to talk about. There are other things I don’t talk about for privacy issues.

Music, social media, phones and even a goddamn bathroom break are simple things that most people take for granted. These things remind me that I’m lucky to be alive because Jekyll monitored them heavily when we were together.

Being with him was suffocating, in every sense of the word.

Living with Domestic Violence

Forgiveness Isn’t Required

TW/CN: domestic violence, r*pe, victim blaming, brief descriptions of abuse

Note: posts linked below open in new tabs

I use to say I forgave my abuser. I forgave him, I understood him. I was so understanding of his pain I forgot about the pain he caused. In fact I even wrote a post about it when I started this blog.

I was once told that not forgiving someone, not “letting go” is like walking around with a hook in your body. You’ll keep pulling, trying to walk away, but ultimately you’ll be tethered to that hook forever. Unless you forgive wherein then the hook would release you. That very much sounds like victim blaming. Why should the onus be on the abused to forgive? Maybe we should focus on abusers and get them not to be abusive. We’re very quick to want to forgive abusers, but we somehow forget that compassion when it comes to victims. We want to know why they stayed, why they kept going back, why they haven’t “moved on”, “let go”.

“Forgiveness is the best form of love. It takes a strong person to say sorry and an even stronger person to forgive”
I have to say, that’s a lot of bullshit. No one should be expected to forgive someone who beat, raped, tormented and basically made life a living hell. Forgiveness is not required nor should be mandated. My abuser does not have a right to my forgiveness. He hurt me in every way and forgiving him? That would just let him off the hook. That damned hook.

I think one of the reasons I’ve stopped thinking I forgive him is because I’ve realized that he raped me. When I finally left him I had a very hard time admitting I was a victim of domestic Violence. I tried to downplay the abuse. I wasn’t with him for as long as the other women in the support group had been with their abusers. He never beat me to the point where I needed to go to the hospital. In fact he very rarely left marks on me. I was in pain but he knew how to inflict the physical damage.
When I was with him I didn’t know about reproductive coercion.

I still deal with the pain he caused. PTSD is horrible. How then am I supposed to forgive that?

Forgiveness culture is just another way to keep victims/survivors in line. It’s just another part of rape culture. It’s just another part of “boys will be boys”.

I’d like now, to quote a few lines from the first post linked above and explain how utter shit my thinking was back then.

“After being with him I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s still hard, because he’s T Jr’s father. But at the end of the day she’s better off without that type of person in her life. I’m better off as well. We deserve better. I’ve realized none of what happened was my fault. And all I can do now is try to pick up the pieces and raise T Jr as best I can, taking the lessons I’ve learned and turning them to good use for her.”

This still holds true. I’ve picked up the pieces, as it were, and I’ve tried to move on. I’ve had relationships with other men, those didn’t work out but they weren’t abusive. I’ve learned to spot red flags in potential partners and friends.

“I can’t hold on to the hate, resentments, regrets, or what if’s. If I do I feel I’d be consumed by it all. I want to stable in all ways for myself and T Jr. I can’t possibly be a good parent and role model if T Jr sees her mommy is full of hate.”

You know what? After what he did, he deserves nothing but my hate and resentment. There aren’t any “what if’s” about our relationship. The only regret I have is being with him. In the years since I wrote that forgiveness post I’ve come to appreciate my feelings towards him. It’s a righteous and justified anger. I have been a good parent to TJ despite our circumstances. My anger towards him drives me to be the best I can be, because she needs a good parent.

“All I can wish for Jekyll is that he gets the help he needs to work through his problems.”

I would still like him to get help, if he hasn’t already, which I doubt very much. “Through his problems” is a very nice euphemism for misogyny.

“We haven’t seen or heard from him in over a year. All I can wish is that if he ever does get the help he needs, he can one day be reunited with his daughter. That’ll only happen when and only when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he isn’t the man I once knew.”

It’s been four years now. I no longer wish him reunification with my daughter. I do not want him anywhere near us. There is just no way that I could ever trust him.

“Unfortunately I don’t see that happening. In the mean time, T Jr will have love and support to spare. And I’ll still be working towards getting better at forgiving and healing.”

I still don’t see it happening. In the meantime TJ has had love and support to spare. I’m working on being the best person I can be. I have gotten better at forgiving and healing because I’ve learned who is worthy of it and who isn’t. He isn’t.

“All I can say to Jekyll is, ‘I forgive you. And as I heal, I hope you heal as well.’

I don’t think I’ll ever heal fully. Some days are better than others but I still bare the emotional scars.
All I can say to Jekyll is, I hope you always have an itch you can’t quite reach. I hope your videos always get stuck at 99% buffering. I hope you always lose a sock from your laundry. I hope your jelly always comes off the sides of your sandwich. I hope that just when you’re drifting off to sleep a mosquito buzzes in your ear.
Most of all, I hope one day you feel at least just a tenth of what you put us through.

Edited to add: I would also tell him “Thank you.”  I hate to use a cliché, but I think of the experiences with him as a “blessing in disguise”. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wouldn’t have been for the shit he put me through. I wouldn’t be as vocal a feminist if it wasn’t for him. Funny,  how in trying to mold me into being a perfect little housewife/mother/slave he created (an even more outspoken than I ever was before) feminist.


Oh for fuck’s sake. I was so focused on being a good victim that I preferred to push away and downplay everything he did and thank him? I didn’t need the abuse he put me through to become who I am today. I was so focused on “moving on” that I decided to ascribe whatever positive spin I could to my relationship with him.

Forgiving someone who has hurt you is often touted as strength; as being the bigger person. I think I’m pretty strong because I’ve managed to survive all this shit. Forgiving him has not been needed.

Forgiveness Isn’t Required

My forced pregnancy

TRIGGER WARNING: Sexual assault/rape. Domestic violence. Reproductive coercion. Instances of victim blaming/shaming. Gas lighting.

I used to be one of those “I’m pro-choice but…” people. You know, the ones that say abortion is only acceptable if the woman’s health is in danger or she was raped. The type that slut shames without even realizing it. “Oh, well she should have used protection!” I was in my late teens; I thought I had all the answers.

At 19, I got together with my abusive ex; my daughter’s father. I never wanted kids. All I wanted was to go to college and work. Of course, in the beginning he wasn’t abusive. He was sweet and caring. He mentioned he wanted kids. I told him no. He never wanted to use condoms and after a while I didn’t fight him about it, because it was either get beaten and have him rape me, or have him rape but not get beaten. I consider what he did rape, because there was no active consent from me. (This may sound obvious but I’ve had people tell me I wasn’t raped because I “let him do it”.)

He would lament the fact that I wasn’t getting pregnant. He thought I was infertile. He was upset. It was my fault, he said. Finally, I became pregnant. I told him that I thought it would be better to abort. That I didn’t want to bring a kid to the world knowing I would struggle to raise them. That he knew I never wanted kids. It wouldn’t be fair to the kid. Then he told me I should have been on birth control, or made him wear condoms. Never minding the fact that when I would ask him, he’d threatened to beat me or worse.
I talked to him about adoption. But he wasn’t listening. I was forced to carry to term. I had to fake being happy. After my daughter was born I was diagnosed with postpartum Depression. My abuser made me feel like a failure because of it. He said I wasn’t a good enough mother because I had a hard time breast-feeding.

I finally got the courage to leave him for good when my daughter was barely two months old. He retaliated by trying to have her removed from my care. He hasn’t been in our lives since, thanks to an order of protection.

I have to say this now:
I love my daughter. Honestly, she is what keeps me going some days. She’s awesome and wonderful and I’ve learned (and am still learning) a lot from her. She comforts me when I’m sad, and when she tells me she’s happy I know I’m doing the best I can. I would like for her to look back at her childhood and know that I did the best I could. It’s why I’m in college. It’s why I’m doing everything I can to get out of the shelter. She amazes me every day. She has the greatest personality. If this sounds like I’m bragging, it’s because I am. My daughter is just great. She’s smart and it amazes sometimes that this kid could be mine. But it took me a while to get to this point and sometimes I struggle with my feelings of resentment, not towards her but of how she got here.

I say this because most think that pregnancy is the best thing that could happen to a woman. That as soon as a baby is born a woman instantly connects to her child. That if you don’t bond well at first, the woman is somehow acking. She isn’t good enough. There must be something wrong with her. Indeed, if a woman wants to be child-free she is fighting her “natural instincts” because all women want kids.

During and after my experience with my abuser, I learned a lot. My views have changed a lot. I believe that abortion should remain safe and legal and on demand. Abortion shouldn’t be only for women whose lives are at risk or are survivors of rape. Abortion isn’t always a hard decision. Abortion is OK. Abortion is good and sometimes it’s the most responsible thing to do. I know now that every woman faces a different situation and that every woman makes the best decision as she sees fit. I said this in one of the earlier posts of this blog, that in my abuser’s attempts to make me into the “perfect” little housewife he created an even (bigger than I already was) feminist. Funny, how that works.

I’ve already discussed it with my boyfriend. I’ll be aborting if my BC fails. He is 100% supportive. In fact, when we were getting to know each other one of the first things I asked him were for his thoughts on abortion/reproductive rights. His response: “I’m pro-choice. It’s not my place nor do I have the right to tell any woman what to do with her body.”

No need to explain why but I will:

My current financial situation

My current living situation

My mental health

My first pregnancy had some complications

I need to stay healthy and happy for the kid I already have.

But, even if I had the money, or the house and no health problems whatsoever, I would still abort. Because I do not want any more kids. That simple; end of story.

No woman should be forced to carry a pregnancy they do not want.

I should add that lots of other women who’ve been forced to carry to term don’t end up loving their kids. I honestly do not know the right words. I struggle a lot sometimes with my feelings towards my pregnancy, and I hate how my daughter came to be here. I attend parenting classes. I’m aware that it’s not her fault that she’s here, and it’s not mine either. I really don’t know how to say it, I guess I’m lucky? The women who do not end up feeling a bond with their children should not be shamed either. This is a difficult topic. I set out to write how I feel, and I’m not sure it’s being communicated properly. The take away should be: we need to get rid of abortion stigma, some women want babies, others don’t. Some women end up with babies they didn’t want and end up loving them, some women end up with babies they didn’t want and the results often end in tragedy. We need choices and our bodily autonomy. Every child born should be wanted from the get-go.

Information and resources if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship: http://www.thehotline.org/

For info and resources on abortion:
http://www.fundabortionnow.org/

My forced pregnancy

On forgiveness and healing (or how this post is crap)

UPDATE:
I’ve written a new post on forgiveness. I no longer feel the way I did when I posted this.

TRIGGER WARNING: domestic violence/sexual assault

Today would have been my third year anniversary with my abuser (known through out this post as Jekyll), whom is also Thinking Jr’s  father.

It’s been a tough three years. The first year and a half were with him. There were good times, bad times, really bad times, and horribly unmentionable times.  After all the physical, emotional, financial abuse, the multiple rapes/sexual assaults, and after giving birth to my daughter, I had finally gathered the strength to leave him. It was one of the hardest, yet easiest decisions I’ve ever had to make. Hard because he had been my first boyfriend (at 19, sue me I was a late bloomer!), he was my daughter’s father; she was only a month old. He was at times the best person in the world. Easy, because I was tired of being isolated from my family and friends. Easy because my daughter and I came first; we deserved better. Easy because without him I could achieve my goals. Easy because I love myself.

Mostly everybody I have talked to about my relationship with Jekyll has said I should hate him. I should want revenge.  They even offered to exact the revenge for me. When that advice didn’t work they would just say “karma”. That would infuriate me. So, if karma does exist, what the fuck had I done to deserve such treatment from Jekyll? That’s when they played the god card. .

They didn’t believe me when I said I rather just move on. I was going to a great domestic violence group, I had a great therapist. I had my daughter. Most importantly, I was free. I won’t say it was easy. I had/have to deal with the emotional scars of the whole ordeal. I had/have to deal with having a baby. I had to get back to living a normal life!

After being with him I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s still hard, because he’s T Jr’s father. But at the end of the day she’s better off without that type of person in her life. I’m better off as well. We deserve better. I’ve realized none of what happened was my fault. And all I can do now is try to pick up the pieces and raise T Jr as best I can, taking the lessons I’ve learned and turning them to good use for her.

I can’t hold on to the hate, resentments, regrets, or what if’s. If I do I feel I’d be consumed by it all. I want to stable in all ways for myself and T Jr. I can’t possibly be a good parent and role model if T Jr sees her mommy is full of hate.

All I can wish for Jekyll is that he gets the help he needs to work through his problems. We haven’t seen or heard from him in over a year. All I can wish is that if he ever does get the help he needs, he can one day be reunited with his daughter. That’ll only happen when and only when I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he isn’t the man I once knew. Unfortunately I don’t see that happening. In the mean time, T Jr will have love and support to spare. And I’ll still be working towards getting better at forgiving and healing.

All I can say to Jekyll is, “I forgive you. And as I heal, I hope you heal as well.”

Edited to add: I would also tell him “Thank you.”  I hate to use a cliché, but I think of the experiences with him as a “blessing in disguise”. I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it wouldn’t have been for the shit he put me through. I wouldn’t be as vocal a feminist if it wasn’t for him. Funny,  how in trying to mold me into being a perfect little housewife/mother/slave he created (an even more outspoken than I ever was before) feminist.

Info about PTSD: http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

On forgiveness and healing (or how this post is crap)