So here it is again, that wonderful season of Festivus (for the rest of us) and with it, the age old ritual of the airing of grievances. I could use this opportunity to voice my concerns about people driving badly, riding my bumper when I’m in traffic, driving up the lane that clearly ends ahead to jump out on front of me when I moved over several minutes ago, or just people being assholes in general. We all know there are plenty out there. However, I have another topic that has been on my mind, a serious topic, which I’ve been thinking about the last few days with the advent of a friend request I received on Facebook last week.
I want to talk a bit about domestic abuse. I think it is important for people to talk about this topic and to discuss this issue with your sons and daughters, both for the reasons that they do not becomes victims and that they do not become abusers.
When I was 14 years old until I was 17, I was in a relationship with a boy from school. As I think most kids were at that age and during that period of time (40 years ago) I was dumb. I had never been given any information about domestic abuse and what was appropriate and not in relationships between boys and girls. I don’t blame my parents for this, I just think it was a different time, and perhaps they didn’t know what was happening to me either. I may not have talked about it and have recently been told by a close friend that she wasn’t aware of what was going on either.
The abuse was not physical, except for two incidences that come to mind, once he tried to put me into a car against my will and one slap. What happened to me was abuse, however. When you are told that you can’t wear shirts or shorts because other boys will look at your legs, and the density of your clothing’s fabric is scrutinized, that’s abuse. When you are not “allowed” to speak to other people, that’s abuse. When you are not allowed to engage in activities that are meaningful and important to you because you might have interactions with others that threaten the other person’s security in the relationship, that’s abuse. When you have to escape your home and stay with relatives for two weeks to escape incessant phone calls and pleading, when you finally have the courage to break off the relationship, that’s abuse.
Thankfully, my experience happened early and I was not involved to the extent of marrying or heaven forbid, having children with this person, so I could escape mostly unscathed. In fact, perhaps I should thank my abuser.
Thank you abuser for helping me to develop my determination which has served me well.
Thank you abuser for introducing me to the particular character traits of an abuser at a young age, so that I could recognize and avoid those later in my life when that kind of relationship might have been more damaging.
Thank you for helping me develop my skepticism, sarcasm and survival mentality.
I’m sure there are others, but I think this gets the point across.
Now, 40 years later, there is more education and discussion on this point, however, I am sure that there are still abusers and the abused, controlling and the controlled, the ones demeaning and the ones being demeaned. The abusers take no responsibility because in their eyes, they’ve done nothing wrong. This attitude has to change because if it doesn’t, we will continue to raise generation after generation of men and women who abuse and generations of men and women for whom abuse is normal.
As to my abuser, if you are reading this, perhaps over the years you have changed. I hope so.