I remember the first time I told anybody about my abusive then-boyfriend. It was in late May this year, and he’d hit me earlier in the day. I went out and drank more than I should have. I wanted to forget him, forget our argument, forget he’d ever abused me — more than anything, I wanted to talk to someone about him, but was scared he’d find out. Even two miles away I felt he was watching me.
One of my friends ended up sitting next to me, talking about how he was going clubbing. He spent five minutes trying to persuade me to join him, with me inventing excuses as to why I couldn’t. Eventually I snapped. ‘Just shut up, okay?’ I told him. ‘Unless you want me to get beaten up when I get home, I’m not going clubbing with you.’
I’ve mentioned the singular Maria Marcello on this blog before, whose editor I’m lucky enough to be. In a new piece, she weighs in on the Ray Rice/Janay Palmer domestic violence case and the idea victims of abuse should simply walk out.
The fact I loved my ex — the fact I would sooner have died than seen harm come to him — is what makes the experience most traumatic. Before I met him, I always said I’d leave instantly if I found myself experiencing abuse: recognising his for what it was meant acknowledging I’d broken that promise to myself. I wanted to highlight my own flaws, to justify his behaviour somehow so I could justify staying with him.
Telling women like Palmer to ‘just leave’ ignores that the first stage of an abusive relationship isn’t violence: it’s making the victim fall in love with you.
Read the article here. Be warned, it contains some seriously graphic scenes of partner violence, emotional abuse, harassment and sexual assault/rape, as well as the resulting emotional trauma.