Abuse and Denial

December 15, 2008

I am in an abusive relationship.

It’s “just” emotional. It’s “not that bad”. He would never hurt me on purpose but it’s only happened once and it’s been a year since that’s happened, we’re past that now. Ze “really does love me” and “really wants to stop.” It “was so nice the past few days” “it’s getting better” “it had been getting so much better.” I’m “sure it will really be different this time.”

“I should erase all this.” “It has to be perfect before I can say it.” “If it’s ambiguous and problematic and he hurts me because of it, it’s my fault.” “I need permission to talk about this.”

“But it’s complicated.” “I do abusive things too.” “She’s not the ‘real abuser’ and I’m not the ‘real victim’,” “we both do this to each other, it’s not better or worse, it’s ‘just as bad.'” “I’m not really being abused” it’s “more complicated.”

“I shouldn’t talk about it.” Or, I should, just “not in one-sided terms.” “I’m an abuser too,” I need to be accountable for my violence toward him, “which means not characterizing things unfairly by just talking about how I’m being abused.” I “shouldn’t talk about how I’m victimized, I should talk about how things are equally violent.” It’s not like I’ve felt so unsafe I had to seek shelter elsewhere. It’s not like that’s ever happened before. Besides that was a couple months ago. “If I’m dealing specifically with being a victim, it’s because I don’t take my own abuse of hir seriously.” “Everything’s equal” “so all my conversations should be at least half about my own culpability” and “there’s no room to talk about this as uneven.” “I’d better give up on that, if I press it too hard he’ll break up with me.” “Maybe she’s right.”

“It doesn’t matter.” “This is the only way we can stay together.” “If there’s things that won’t heal this way, it’s worth it.” “It’s not like I’ll find anything better.”

“I don’t get to demand more people being involved.” “There’s nothing problematic about the form of two people trying to sort out an abusive relationship by themselves,” because “there aren’t overarching power dynamics.” “I’m just trying to control how she deals with the situation.” I know things when I’m not talking to you, “I don’t know why” I can’t articulate them to you. “I’m not backing down, ze’s just right.” “I’m not abandoning taking care of myself, I’m just being mature and accountable.” I feel obsequious and frightened of saying anything that will set hir off “but he is probably feeling the same thing” “and that means we don’t need a mediator” “because power and control aren’t playing out signficantly when we negotiate about abuse.” “It’s my fault.” “I’m not assertive enough.” “I should just be more assertive, then we won’t need a mediator.”

I didn’t push for a mediator when we talked today “because I didn’t think we needed one” not “because I was afraid.” “I do explicit verbal consent, I should’ve been able to say no when he asked me about the raisins.” “I’m a failure at explicit verbal consent if I can’t say no.” “It’s my fault.” “It’s ok that we aren’t talking about that.” “It’s not that important” “and it’s just my shit anyway.”

“There were reasons.” “She only did it because he couldn’t think of another way out of the situation.” “It’s not worse than my violence toward hir, just different.” “Trying to say that it’s worse is just a way of avoiding accountability.” “There’s always going to be a situation in which you break a commitment, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have that commitment or isn’t taking it seriously enough.” “It’s not reasonable of me to expect that to change” “it’s just the way she is.” “I can’t expect to have a partner who is never willing to intentionally hurt me.”

“This is the best I’ll get.” “I’m too damaged and fucked up for anything better.” “It’s my fault anyway.” “I should’ve just asked for space earlier.” “I shouldn’t’ve started the conversation:” “she was headed out the door” “I hadn’t eaten yet” “I should’ve waited till I’d figured out exactly what was wrong” “I said the wrong thing” “I should’ve backed down when I knew she was getting agitated” “I should be less demanding, it wasn’t important.” “Little things like this aren’t worth losing your relationship over.” “Why did I have to bring it up in the first place?” “I wish I’d never said anything.”

“I should just say this to my friends.” “I shouldn’t publish this publicly.” “It’s not because of shame, it’s to be accountable for my own violence.” “I shouldn’t publish this where she can read it.” “It’s not because I’m afraid of him” –“it’s because I shouldn’t claim to be ‘the real victim.'” “My need to say what she did Saturday is indicative of a different pattern is just being abusive, is just about not taking my violence against hir seriously.” “I’m throwing away my ability to compromise and negotiate.”

“I’m not in denial, I’m being mature and accountable.”

“I should hide this.” “I’m not being fair.” “I’ll prejudice my friends against hir.” “She’s a good person.” “It’s not as bad as all this.” “It’s not like I was actually unsafe there.” “I’m just being dramatic.” “This isn’t real abuse.” “It’s not as bad as real survivors have it.”

(Statements struck out are statements that recently became untrue, but were problematic to begin with. Statements in quotes are internalized abusive messages, which may or may not be true but are problematic/misleading. All are either things I’ve said recently, or things ze’s said to me, or both. Other statements are intended to be taken at face value, though may or may not reflect abuse.)

3 Responses to “Abuse and Denial”

  1. Hi. I am a long time reader. I wanted to say that I like your blog and the layout.

    Peter Quinn

  2. Ashley said

    Hon, I’ve been there.

    One of the defining characteristics of an abusive relationship is the way it makes you doubt yourself and feel crazy.

    Get some distance between you and talk to a counselor. At the very least, it will give you some perspective. You’re too close to it right now.

    And yeah, you can expect to have a partner who would never intentionally hurt you.

  3. Maureen said

    I’m so sorry that this is happening, and I hope that you’re safe and okay.

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