First of all, I want to say “afraid” is a strong term for this topic. I want people to be aware of what actually happens in the world. Secondly, this is a graphic post. Language and content are adult here, not for kids. You may even hate me a little afterwards. You have been warned.
When I was a teenager, I thought my step dad was the worst person in the world. Still do, most of the time. But I blamed him for everything. He separated my mother from her family, he made sure she didn’t have a vehicle or friends. In short, he put my mother in the classic position of “about to be abused for the rest of time.”
I thought it was all him. But it wasn’t. As I got older, I realized how abusive my mother was. I can remember her stabbing a boyfriend. In the nose. With a steak knife. I remember her pushing one through a sheet of glass. He had so many cuts he couldn’t move without making them worse, because of the glass embedded in those cuts. I can remember her hitting her men, even stabbing her ex-husband in the arm with a fork in an open wound.
Domestic abuse can go both ways. It can take many forms. It can be parents, children, spouses, friends. It’s when a person is abused by someone close to them.
Emotional abuse is the least talked about, in my experience. Using guilt, and obligation, some men, and women, control their partner through emotional manipulation. Sometimes this is playing off of their partner’s ego, and sometimes it is making their partner feel smaller, insignificant, or guilty for wanting things they need. My mother would make her family feel bad for her to get them to do favors for her. She would use her “poor children” as bait, or even hostages, to get things from our family. She bullied my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. They either gave her favors, or they didn’t get to see us. It alienated my entire family. I still don’t know most of them as well as I’d like. She also did it to me, once I moved out of the house. That one ended with her kids split up, living with different members of the family. She knows better than to fuck with me now. #justsaying
Financial abuse is a toughie. My grandfather would give my grandmother her “allowance” to buy the groceries. He would count it out, and when she got home, she had to put the food on the table, with the receipt and change, for him to inspect. When she remarried, her second husband (one of the greatest men I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing) was appalled when she did this with him. He trusted her. He loved her. He treated her like an equal.
My ex-husband abused his parents’ finances. He got them to buy his car, his food, and even to take care of us when we were in college. I tried to work, but it just made things worse. All of my income was “disposable” because his parents would take care of the necessities. Please don’t judge him. He wasn’t doing it on purpose. It was who he was raised to be. He has moved on, and lives on his own now.
Physical abuse is another big one. As you have probably guessed, I have been on the receiving end of this kind of abuse more times than I can count. I have been kicked, punched, slapped, and generally beaten. I have had my fingers smashed, my hands shut in doors, and my feet broken. I have had black eyes, and broken bones. I once couldn’t use my right arm for weeks because of a fracture in my collar bone. I have violent reactions to little shocks. Our daughter can’t even play with toys that “pop” into the air when I’m in the room. I have punched coworkers who have jumped out at me.
Verbal abuse is one that is hard to define. It can be part of, or instead of, other types of abuse. It is one person using their voice to hurt another. This can be yelling, cursing, or belittling. It can be sarcasm, or snark. It can be laughter. It can be lies, but it can also be the truth.
I can’t stand to be told I’m handsome. Call me pretty all day long. But call me handsome, and I remember my mother brushing my hair, telling me how to cover bruises, and telling me that I should be handsome for other people. I obsess over how clean I am because her husband would tell me how gross I am. He would tell me I’m nasty, and dirty. No matter that it was his cheap behavior that kept us from having soap, or shampoo. Sometimes, we didn’t even have water, hot or cold. But I still have to shower, sometimes multiple times a day. I feel guilty when I sweat, and unclean if I don’t wash my hands.
I also can’t be around adults arguing, yelling, or even vehemently disagreeing. I feel guilty. I feel like I have to fix it. When my mother would argue with her husband, he would blame me. It was always my fault.
Here’s the one that makes me want to kill people. Sexual abuse. The victims of this type of abuse can be anyone. Children, parents, wives, and husbands. Yes, you read that right. There are cases of men and women raping their spouses. There have been cases of parents raping their children, and of “children” raping their parents. Too often, society makes males feel like they should enjoy their abuse. That being raped by women is just that guy having mad skills. It’s horse-shit. If it’s not consensual, it’s abuse.
Here’s the bit that makes me afraid. It’s so, so easy to become the abuser. I realized in my marriage that I was not being who I should be. I was sexually abusing my husband. Not by raping him, but by only having sex with him when I wanted it, and he didn’t. He felt like he “had to” because I didn’t always want it, and he didn’t want to “miss out.” I used emotional abuse to sexually abuse him, and it never even occurred to me that I was doing it. I’m not even sure he knows that I think that.
I have been in fist-fights with my boyfriends, and I’ve financially abused more than one, because they used their money to keep me in the position they wanted me in.
It’s not okay, and I feel guilty all the time. I just make sure I don’t do the same to Jenny, or our kids. I make a point to be the person I want to be, not the person my parents were.
It’s a hard path. It is filled with angst and insecurity. But it’s worth it. It always will be. One day, my kids will understand who I was before they came into my life. I just hope it’s long enough that they don’t judge me too harshly, and soon enough that they know what the world can be like, before they learn it the hard way.