Saturday, October 01, 2005

Essay: the darkness passed, 5/2004 (very long)

Sometimes it takes a little love to get them [abused people] to a safer, better place. [...] Do you ever really recover from abuse, or do you just learn to live with the past?
- Journal entry, 5/04

It's amazing how two random statements can define a process that's been in place for years. Love truly does heal a broken heart and battered soul. And the road to recoverly looks alot like acceptancee of the past at times. I'm almost twenty six. it's a little over tn years since the last time N- raped me and a little less then ten years since I sent N- a "dear John" letter when he was over seas, telling him it was over.

Hard to belive it's been so long. Feels like only a few years ago I was hiding bruises on my back from where he slapped me and bloodied underware from his advances. Goddess only know where I'd be today if I stayed with him. Probably in a box six-feet under. That's why I left him. On a subconscious level, I knew if I stayed he'd kill me someday. Even today, my blood runs cold at the thought of him finding me.

You'd figure approximately 10 years of safety and a loving fiancee that'd skin the first person that looks at me funny, along with a host of other things like that, would convince me that N- is never going to bothe rme again. Goddess have mercy, some nights when I can't sleep, I'll shake with fear that he's coming for me.

N- told me that he'd kill me if I left him. He said that I left him for some one else, he'd kill them infront of me. N- was also enough of a b- to say that he'd kill my family too, just to punish me. At the time he had a rife in my face, the business end. To say the least, it stuck with me. Kinda hard to ignore some body holding a gun in your face that may or may not be loaded and they're off their rocker.

Don't think I ever told D- about that. Told him about the kinfe weilding and the choking, but not that, I don't think. D- has been here for me through it all. One time, when I was still with N-, and D- and I were just friends, D- saw a handprint. He threatend to beat N- within an inch of his life if it happened again. Poor D-, he thought that it was the first time and that he could save me. I got beat up later ofr his attempted intervention. N-swore that I was cheating on him with D-.

Funny thing was, I left N- and was with D- not two months later. We're getting married in September. D- has seen me at my worst in all this. During the first few months, he and our mutual friends stopped from walking into traffic several tiems. After that passed, there were the screaming fits and the non-stop crying. It was pretty ugly in spots, but he's stuck with me. I don't know if I'd have made as far as I am today with out him.

When things got bad, he'd hold me, tell me I was safe and that he loved me. Even when I was violent, it was a bear-hug then. That where the love comes in. Love, real love, is relentless. Forget the patient and kind stuff, it's an emotional guerilla warfare. Especially in situations like ours. I did crazy, cruel things to everyone. D- just countered with his own crazy, loveable things, like making me laugh when I was furious. It drives me nuts, he still does it and give me that boyish grin the whole time. It's almost as maddening as admitting when I'm wrong on something. But I have the bad habit of taking myself way too seriously. D- pokes fun at that too.

Somewhere between getting flashbacks undercontrol and coping with my axiety problem, it went from trying to "get better" to trying to integrate these things taht happened into my life. some peeople say that I'm incredibly brave for trying to figure out how I'm going to live with the effect that being abused left. If you're a healthy person, virtually all of the aspects in your life are integrated and it's natural for you to compensate for your unique challenges. What is it about a person that has some psychological trauma that they're expected to reach a point where it is as though it never happened?

It convinces me that we are a truly sadistic people because we have this expectation. You can't expect an amnesiac to remember things any more then you can expect an amputee to regrow the missing limb. Just as a person may have permanent limp from an injury they healed from, so will a survivor of psychological trauma have an effect left on them. It will range from mild to severe, each avhing their own unique characteristics.

At the same time, perhaps it is not sadism but a weful ignorance that causes this expectation. Women and men who are abused face an interestingsituation. on one hand, people expect them to abhor what happens to them, and they expression confusion at how these abused individuals are remaining in that environment. At the same time, there is a sickening assumption that these abused people are enjoying the torture they are put thru and the ones who cry for help are just play acting. The assumption is one of the most vile concepts I have vern encountered.

It is disturbing how common that assumption and it's varients are. Especially on the topic of female victims of sexual abuse and assault. Masochisim and abuse are two very different things. I should know, I'm a survivior of abuse and a bit of a masochist. Abuse and the sexuality of BDSM afficianados like myself may appear to be the same thimg to the casual observer. Many of the popular scenes played with have an echo of the darkness of abuse, even. But there is a stark difference between them. Abuse is nonconcentual and the power in the situation is biased towards the abuser. BDSM and simmilar sexualties involve consentual acts and the power in the situation is shared, usually biased towards the "submissive" or the recipiant of the act, such as flogging.

People often comment on my strength when they hear of the story of my relationship with N-. They make it sound like some superhuman effort. It was hard, as has the years since been, but it was not some impossible task. It all came down to one statement that I got from my mother. If you made it far enough to wake up today then you can make it farther. You're breathing and alive, so they didn't defeat you. Recovery turned the daily battle into if you give up, they win.

Abuse is war. Abusers are fiting a war of attrition with their chosen target. In the end, some one will be destroyed. Even when the abused escpaes, the war continues because of the mind games. If you are sucked back into an abusive relationship, the abuser wins. If you kill yourself or otherwise harm yourself, the abuser wins. The goal of the abuser is to elevate their self image through the debasement, humiliation and maltreatment of another. If they can accomplish te three, then they have a victory.

To destroy the abuser, one must seize power,defend themselves, and keep themselves alive. This breaks the hold the abuser has and defeats them. Some people may think I am odd for viewing this as a war but I see no other appropriate descripion. One wil fight a war to defend their life libery and livelyhood, These are the very things that abusers wish to take from their targets. In the face of this war of self preservation, on will take steps that may confuse others.

Often, men and women stay with their abuser because they see it as the safet route on some subconscious level. Perhaps the abuser has directly or indirectly threatened the life of their targer or those dear to them, such as children. these are thigns that often are not considered in looking at why one would stay with an abusive partner. Fear is often the most powerful tool in an abuser's arsenal. The body can sustain great damage and survive. Fear, howeer, lingers and gradualy builds to a paralyzing force if not promptly dealt with. By keeping the target off balance, the abuser does not give their target time to master their fear. This is way abusers are frequently unpredictable in their modus operendi.

I've been asked why I don't refer to the people who are abused as victims. My answer takes some people aback. The victims are dead. I fyou are alive, then you have survived that day. That means there is hope. A victim is with out hope, there is no tomorow for them. If you have breath in your lungs and a heartbeat, then you have a chance to take back your power. Ultimately, it is the dead who are powerless, and truly with out hope. They can not better their chances or look forward to another day. Perhaps this is too fatalistic of me, I don't know and I don't care.

This is my grim faced truth. Take it or leave it, it is all I know to be true.

My dreams are haunted by the fears that were planted in me. i still wake, convinced that N- is coming or me. from tiem to time, I get a cold chill in the pit of my stomach and I wonder if all a given man sees is flesh for raping. these things don't happen too often anymore. Each day that goes by, I look in the mirror and tellmyself that I am still free from him.

It's funny how reluctant I've been to write down teh story of what happened between N- and I. I don't hae any problems telling it verbally. But the written form has started and stopped more times then I can count. I suppose part of it is based in a fear that my words aren't the truth, that they are all just one twisted lie to justify breaking someone's heart or something. But then I stop and I lok at myself and the core of who I am. I wouldn't beale to sleep at night or look at myself in the mirror if I were to wntonly crush someone's heart like taht.

Being honest with yoursel flike that is hard to do when for so long you found yourself in a position that that type of honesty was dangerous to your wellbeing and safety. It beomes something of a survivial taictic to deny truths about yourself. It is even worse when your are socialized or conditioned form childhood to do so for the sake of making others more comfortable around you.

It is amazing how different things will lead you back to these truths, sometimes dragging you kicking and screaming. C- was a friend of mine. He tried to assault me sexually, noticing that when he made advances, I "checked out" and ran on auto-pilot for a while. When I came back, I generally had no recollection of what happened. I didn't completely check out. Acting on the self defense training I had, I blocked him and told him in a dispassionate tone to stop or I'd befored to kill him. The blustering fool he was, C- said "Oh, how?" I thin lightly placed my hands in the necessary positions to snap his neck. C- avoids me since then. D- had a little talk with him afterwads. I was still too shaken by it all to tell C- to never darken my doorstep again.

The truth I was treturned to was simple, stark and terrifyingly liberating. I have the poer to defend myself and the undeniable right to kill in that name. Nothing is more humbling thento know you hold one's life in your hand, even that of a foe. C-, in that moment, was helpless before me and he knows this. Fear haunts him, but something greater preys on his mind. A question as to why I did not kill him. Mercy is an alien concept to would be rapists and abusers. they fear it, for to have recieved it they must be vulnerable.

Why do I show mercy to men and women such as these? Mercy is an unkind act to one who does not deserve it. Living longer then your blood-foe is a greater revenge then destroying them, especially if you raise them up in some way. For this forces them to compare themselves to those you hold dear and realize they are trapped in a no-man's land between indifference and hatred, never to wound you or face confrontation. In time, you could drive them insane.

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