Abuse is a personal topic for me because of abuse I suffered at the hands of two ex-boyfriends, two “friends” (not together but years apart), and a family member. I was also bullied through most of my childhood at school, singled out as the “weird” one.
“Friend” #1 was Shawn in my Memoirs. The ex-boyfriends were Peter and Phil. The family member and the most recent “friend,” Tracy, who bullied me for the past few years until I finally cut her loose, both would criticize anything I did or said.
The difference between the family member and Tracy, however, was that if anybody was a jerk to me, the family member got mad about it, while Tracy didn’t seem to care. Once, a little girl on the bus scratched my face because I refused to let her take my cat bookbag, and the family member wanted to find her and beat her up.
For more about why I post these stories, see below.
In elementary and junior high, I got a lot of bullying in general because I was different from the other kids. I couldn’t figure out what it was about me that set them off, because to myself I seemed normal.
No matter what I did in public, I began to feel very awkward about it. For example, I preferred to always carry something or have my hands in my pockets as I walked, because just walking made me self-conscious.
In junior high, once some kid put a sign on my back during a fire drill. I never knew what it said because I finally knocked it off, having felt it go on. But everyone around me was laughing–even my teacher!
The teacher, who struck me as being a classic stereotypical nerd complete with pocket protector, should have known better, but he laughed anyway.
High School Sexual Harassment
My freshman year in high school, I was also sexually harassed by three guys, two of them together.
One of them kept making sexual comments to me at lunch, and once even put his penis on the table next to me. I refused to look, but know he did it, because of the reactions of the guys around him.
I couldn’t stand the school’s chicken sandwiches after that because that’s what I was eating at the time, and it reminded me of it.
Now I know that I could’ve switched tables to get away from them, but at the time I felt trapped into sitting at that one table because that’s where I sat at the beginning of the year. I didn’t realize that I could sit at a different table with other kids.
I’m not sure why I felt that I had to sit at that table, but it could have been an NVLD thing: “You can’t change the pattern you’ve already set!”
After lunch we would all stand by the door and wait for the bell; I can remember this guy doing or saying something while we stood in line, so much that I crouched down as if to protect myself. But I just don’t remember what exactly he was doing.
The two other guys, who sat at the table behind mine in Biology class second semester, would spend the class period making sexual comments to me. Once, one spoke so loudly to me during the lecture that the teacher stopped and scolded them.
I don’t know why I didn’t tell the teachers what was happening; a friend told me to do so about the lunch period bully, but something kept me quiet. In fact, in general I was a passive recipient of bullying. I just didn’t fight back.
Religious and Sexual Harassment by a Teacher
Meanwhile, my Photography teacher made at least one such comment as well. (I don’t know why all this happened the same year.)
All first semester he’d been harassing me for being a Christian and having conservative values, even though I don’t recall saying a whole lot about them in class or much of anything, really, unless spoken to.
Other kids in Photography class joined in on the religious harassment, including a witch who told me her coven killed my cat (all I said was he went missing on Halloween and never came back), and one day started yelling at me that maybe God is the liar and the Devil is telling the truth–until a Jewish girl told her to quit it and leave me alone.
Then one day, during a work period, the teacher was sitting on a stool at a large table when I had to get around an obstruction of some type. I don’t remember the details now, what the obstruction was, or anything. But I didn’t want to go behind him to get around, because there wasn’t enough room and I’d run into his butt.
Rather than leave me alone like any decent man would do, he ridiculed me and told me to go behind him.
I don’t know why on earth I did this like an idiot–probably because I had grown up with the mindset that you do whatever a teacher tells you–but I started going the other way to go behind him, like an obedient student.
He started humming or moaning, and a girl said to me with wide eyes, “Better not do that.”
The following semester, I ditched that class and switched to a class on life skills. He was a major reason why, both from this and from his religious harassment.
(We learned about such things as teen pregnancy, whether you should marry the teen father, domestic abuse, and watched movies about tough lives like one about teen runaways and The Burning Bed.)
That year or the next, a letter to the editor of the school newspaper complained about an unnamed teacher who would sexually harass students. I always wondered if the girl who “rescued” me was the writer and if she meant my Photography teacher. (I must have forgotten her name already.)
All these things happened freshman year, and that year I began to get an ulcer from the stress. After every lunch period, my stomach was in a lot of pain.
My junior year, I developed headaches from TMJ in my jaw, another stress-related condition, even though the freshman year bullies had either graduated or were no longer in my classes.
Emotional and other abuse from guys in college
I’ve described parts of my college abuse stories already, up above and in my College Memoirs. Look for the stories of Shawn and Phil in particular, though there was bad treatment by Peter as well.
The bad treatment of Peter, however, mostly came after our breakup, while what I got from Shawn and Phil happened while we were still in a relationship of some kind.
Richard and Tracy, Recent Bullying Experience: The Darkness Engulfs Me: Abuse by Two Narcissists–and Betrayal by a Best Friend and Spiritual Mentor
Online Sexual Harassment
Silence is the victim’s biggest enemy, which is why I’m posting this here, though I’ve given no names or identifying details.
I’m also doing it because of countless other such accounts I’ve found on the web by survivors of abuse, including My Trip to Oz and Back and Real Women’s Stories of Abuse, Survival and Jealousy.
The Boston Globe article A world of misery left by bullying references Alan Eisenberg, who began blogging his abuse stories anonymously to deal with the pain, then finally let the world know who he really was.
Just Google “True abuse stories” to find many. Some do it just to vent, some do it to help others who are going through similar things, to let them know they’re not worthless or stupid, that they don’t deserve abuse, that they’re not alone, and that there is a way out.
Sometimes it takes such a story to realize that you are being abused, that words can be abusive, not just fists.
In any case, rather than being accused of airing dirty laundry or “being a victim,” these people are being called courageous.
Writers and songwriters, especially in alternative and metal, also write about abuse experiences quite a bit. From the above linked website Real Women’s Stories:
Concerning the member’s own personal stories of abuse, survival, and jealousy: For most of these women, just telling their personal story of abuse and/or survival to another trusted person is VERY hard.
Here, they have went a major step past that. They have written their stories for you to read and learn from and to build women’s self-esteem. Some of these women are still enduring the abuse and are looking for a way out.
All of these women should be applauded for their strength and courage to tell their true abuse and survival stories and to help others.
For most of these women, this has made them re-live a past that they would much rather forget, a past full of hurt, fear, anguish, resentment, abuse and real pain. They have written their stories for you and for themselves, in hope.
From The Importance of Sharing Abuse Stories by Rainbow Gryphon:
When we’re dealing with painful experiences, whether past crime or mental illness or abuse, it can feel sometimes like we have an obsession with reading about other people’s experiences.
We go to support groups where we can hear the story of others. We read memoirs about their experiences. We read blogs and lurk on forums.
Society urges us to move past our experiences and not dwell on them like this. If we’re honest with ourselves, though, I don’t think we ever completely lose the need to hear about others who’ve gone through the same experiences.
…With the explosion of the Internet, we now have access to the stories of people in every type of abusive situation, and I personally believe that this is a boon to abuse survivors.
We need to share our stories somewhere, whether it’s a blog, a blog comment, a forum post, or a social network, because it actually helps all of us move out of a state of victimization by reassuring us that our suffering is real because it’s being shared by millions of other abuse survivors.
Tell your mother, father, and friends everything! This actually saved the life of Marcia Ridgeway, the Green River Killer’s 2nd wife.
He had tried to choke her from behind once. She told everyone, including her father who talked to Gary about it.
Years later, after his arrest, he told police that he had wanted to kill Marcia, his wife, but was afraid he would get caught because she told everyone that he attempted it once.
Remember that the next you think you are “protecting” your mate or marriage by not telling the abuse you suffer.
….Keep a detailed diary. This will help remind you when you forget how bad it is and can help you see your patterns. You can also later use it when you want to write a book or if you need evidence in court.
Dated journals are court admissible. (My journal was a god send. When Bob tried to “forget” what he had done, tell me he didn’t say such and such –I would have the date and time that he did!– My journal kept me from believing his words “you’re crazy, it never happened, you blow it out of proportion,” and other crazy-making ways he tried to turn it around on me.)
Write a book and publish it. Do your own web site with your story and pictures. Post all pictures that relate–things he tore up, the car he crashed, all his toys and you have none–whatever pertains and illustrates your life together.
From Top Ten Reasons Why Men Should Expose Abuse by a Woman [link no longer works]:
Exposing your abuser is a liberating experience. Abusers use every physical and emotional tactic to isolate, intimidate and terrify you into keeping your mouth shut–it’s about power and control. When you expose your abuse by a woman it’s an empowering experience….
Exposing your abuser empowers others to do the same. Most criminologists and sociologists feel that domestic violence against men may be one of the most underreported and under prosecuted crimes in the United States.
Police ignore the problem, DA’s often refuse to prosecute the crime, then judges throw-out the charges. If a woman ever is found guilty her sentence is minimal if she receives one at all.
The more information that is out there on these women, the more difficult it is for the justice system to ignore the problem….
It helps other abused men know that they are not alone. When this writer watched the YouTube videos on a Marriage in Plano it caused physical illness.
At the same time, however, it was important to know that other women operate off the same identical script. For the first time, this blogger knew that another man shared a similar experience. There is comfort in knowing you are not alone. [Since this link no longer works, try this one instead, about documenting abuse.]
From Exposing a Narcissist, Dealing with Blowback, and Guilt by Joyful Alive Woman:
For many women, especially victims of Narcissism, exposing their abuser is a very difficult issue. This extends all the way to pressing charges in the instance of an actual crime taking place.
We’re taught to be forgiving, keep our mouth shut, endure our burden. We are literally taught to be martyrs because “that is what good people/good women do.”
This applies to people who aren’t religious as well as those who are. It’s part of our cultural norm and identity….
Unfortunately, a frequent result of exposing and being doubted is that we become even more outraged than before, because people don’t believe us and/or they judge us for talking about it.
This blog post deals with the question of, should we share our abuse stories or is it being drama queeny?
The first commenter apparently thinks it’s being drama queeny. But the response to that commenter is that no, it’s up to the abuse victim/survivor to share the story, please do so, and by keeping it quiet we allow violence to continue–that calling it attention or pity seeking to share it, carries on the abuse.
Another commenter echoes my own feelings: That it’s liberating to talk about these experiences, and she does so because she wants to share her feelings and her life.
In my past I was not physically abused or molested, and was not abused by my parents, making it hard to identify the emotional abuse for what it was.
I’ve heard the stories of or seen other friends and acquaintances go through various forms of domestic abuse. Two male friends–including Tracy’s husband Richard–have told me about their verbally and physically abusive wives, so yes, men do get abused, not just women.
A friend of mine also had a very controlling husband until she finally left him. Even my mother, the one time she met him, did not like him.
I found someone who helped me get over the past and its baggage. Learning about emotional and verbal abuse has helped me to move on. Sure the pain still remains; even if you forgive the person, I doubt that’ll ever go away. Learning about abuse also helps you learn how to set boundaries.
Note that while many of the resources out there deal with spousal abuse, abuse can come from all sorts of sources: friends, bosses, siblings, parents.
Also note that jealousy often tops the list of signs of abuse; for a full treatment of this subject, see my Life page, “Is it okay for me to be jealous of the opposite-sex friends of my spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend?”
As “Dategirl” Judy McGuire writes in her column,
Lest you think that could never happen to you, if you look at any study of domestic violence, you’ll see that jealousy is the No. 1 predictor of domestic abuse.
Some other adjectives used to describe a typical abuser include controlling, overly critical, hypersensitive, and isolating. Sound familiar?
Yes–In fact, these describe Tracy, not just to me but to her husband and children!