I’ve been going through my public college memoirs, which are published on my website, along with my private memoirs, to decide what to put in the public version that has not previously been there. Right now I’m going through the July and August 1994 chapter. And I must say…..
That part should include trigger warnings for people who have been raped, sexually assaulted or sexually abused. Over the years since I wrote it all down (1994 through 1998), I completely forgot a lot of it. I remembered Phil’s attempts to guilt and verbally coerce me into anal sex, and the time he tried to force me into it and I tried to push him off me….But I completely forgot there was more. That he repeatedly tried to turn me over, with a stern, angry look on his face like I’d better obey, but I’d refuse and resist his hands. Amazing what you can forget in 20 years.
It also amazes me because over the years, I started to fear that I was to blame for some of his abuse. You mature and start to wonder if you behaved badly at times in previous relationships. But as I go through these old logs, I see the extent of his verbal, psychological and sexual abuse was even farther than I remembered. It must have been some of his “time bombs” being planted in my head, going off years later, making me forget what really happened. I begin to read and remember just how extensively he tried to gaslight me by changing history, telling people deliberate lies about me, yelling at me over things I could not help (like not being able to keep up with his fast walk), then complaining about me at work (smear campaign). Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the hoax he kept up for some eight months, tricking me into believing that he was talking in his sleep and acting out his dreams, including his “subconscious” coming out to tell me all his little secrets. I forgot the extent of the “subconscious” hoax, as well.
I begin to see that, as painful as it may be to review these things and put them into the public, they serve an important purpose and must be put out there. We need to keep educating each other about abuse, because despite decades of awareness campaigns, Lifetime movies and the like, people still get abused, people still feel entitled to abuse.
My story also shows that it can be survived, and that you can eventually break the emotional bond with your abuser. Now, I can be friendly to Phil online maybe, but there’s no way in heck that I would ever get back together with him. I don’t WANT him. The love I once felt, is dead. The emotional bond was completely severed years ago.
My story also shows that I can eventually get to this point with Richard, too. The breakup with Phil was emotionally devastating to me, despite the abuse, and it took months and a new boyfriend to get over it. But it was easy to get over the breakup, compared to the aftereffects of the abuse: They lasted for years. But I did get past them, finally. Now it’s basically a short blip in my life, an episode of only nine months out of 40 years, which no longer affects the present. Well, except for avoiding certain people even on Facebook because they were his minions…
It also tells me that the story of Richard/Tracy needs to stay out there, too, even though parts of it might embarrass me because of my gullibility, or discovering that some people still believe we should control the friendships of our spouses, or discovering that some people actually think it’s immoral to be close friends with the opposite sex when one or both of you is married. (Are you frickin’ kidding me? I thought we abandoned those ideas DECADES ago!) Or that innocent, playful flirting is somehow immoral after you get married. (They’d have a conniption fit if they ever visited my old workplace, which was full of flirty married people, or met some of the SCA people I know!) The full story must continue to be told, because abuse stories like this are desperately needed. They’re needed to warn the young and the naive; they’re needed to educate the public on what abuse is, that verbal and psychological abuse is very real, and that its damage to victims must be respected. They’re needed to educate the public on narcissism and how severely it traumatizes its victims, even though it’s often not physical abuse.
As Lisette wrote in House of Mirrors:
I tell you this because I am damn sick and tired of people labeling truthful blogs, vulnerability, authenticity and righteous anger as a sign of weakness or being “stuck”, or not ”healed” or not ”recovering” or “playing the victim” … blah de blah blah. Does it ever occur to these pinheads that maybe some people are natural fighters, truth tellers and supporters and that’s why they’re writing about this stuff? Does it ever occur to these scaredy cats that these bloggers and commenters are brave? Airing so-called ”dirty laundry” is about exposing the nuances of abuse. It’s about participating in a dialogue and keeping the information on narcissists alive and out there? Does it ever occur to these ”silencers” that the movement to expose the pathologicals among us is bigger than the sum of its parts? When people march in a rally are they doing it just for themselves? No. They’re doing it for the cause, the greater good. I know all of this sounds idealistic. But frankly, I don’t know where the hell I would be if it weren’t for the brave souls who first took to the net to carve the way. A difference is being made. For me, blogging on this subject is about activism.
You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. So what’s the solution? So much exposure that being able to spot a narcissist and run like hell before they bite becomes second nature to all. And if you can’t run before they harm you, you expose their sorry ass because it’s the societal ”norm” to do so. I look forward to the day when emotional abuse is considered a crime punishable by law. –Lisette, It’s a Dark Subject
(I encourage you to read that whole post: It is awesome. And it encourages me to be brave and keep writing, not just for me and therapy, but for all abuse victims and potential abuse victims.)