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I am a survivor of domestic abuse. When most people learn that they are surprised. More than once I have been told that I don't act like a "victim," my attitude is too bad, or I appear to be too strong to let someone hit me. The truth of the matter is, that's not how abuse works. It wouldn't matter if I was Mr. Universe with the will of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, if someone wants to bring you down, they will. It's a matter of how they do it.
With my ex-boyfriend, he would continuously give me backhanded compliments like "I like a guy with some meat on his bones." He would do this knowing that I was sensitive about that weight I had gained. If I complained, he would tell me that I needed to learn how to take a compliment. And so, the cycle would begin. My self-esteem was in the trash, and he could get me to do anything because I didn't know my own worth.
Which brings me to the point of all of this. While researching a true crime article, one story stood out to me. There was a woman who went to save her friend from an abusive situation and ended up being killed. Some of the articles that I read about it went into graphic detail about the abuse that the friend dealt with. It triggered my memories of what I went through, and suddenly I could not concentrate on the task at hand. It was suddenly all too real, and the feeling of detachment that usually accompanies my work was gone. I was in the same situation.
The friend helped her boyfriend cut up the body and scatter it throughout parks in the area. Some of the comments on the articles were calling the abused victim a loser, asking how could she possibly do that to someone who had come to rescue her. The answer is simple. When you're being abused, you have no worth unless the abuser gives it to you. They only give it to you if you do what they tell you to do. The empathy that I felt for this woman was more because I knew what she was going through, and she had the added weight of him threatening to kill her and her child if she didn't do what he told her to.
Often people will say, why did (or do) survivors stay with their abuser? The answer is simple. They don't feel like they have a choice. With my ex, my self-worth was gone, and since my relationship with my family at that point was nonexistent, he became the only person I could lean on. Now I see what he was doing and how he was so easily able to flip everything around on me, but that doesn't change the fact that at the moment, I had no one else. I was an island, and he was the only visitor who would see me. Once he was kicked off, everything became much more clear, but he left pieces of me scattered around.
Getting through the messiness of being triggered wasn't easy. There were many feelings that I needed to deal with, but at the end of it all, I remembered that I am 600 miles away from my ex's last known location, and he couldn't find me even if he wanted to. Even with that, these are feelings that he has stuck me with for the rest of my life. Those pieces will never be reassembled, but I have survived. Now, back to working on my job and detaching once again.