CW: abuse, sexual abuse, sexual assault
“She doesn’t have the upper hand anymore”, he had written.
I listened to him tell our mediator that I was the cause of his anger. I could not control my tears as the mediator, appointed by my residential hall, nodded and asked me what I could have done to avoid this.
I froze as I began to realise that this was nothing more than powerplay for him. Seeing these words in his handwriting was the only truth that could have ever convinced me that I really was in an abusive relationship and that, even in plain sight, none of my friends had recognised it.
So I say to silenced survivors:
you are resilient;
your feelings are valid;
your memory is trustworthy.
I wish I had been able to uncover my feelings for him and discover the agony he brought to my life earlier than I did. He had successfully wrapped me in a blanket of dependency, guilt and a feeling of owing him all that I could give. It suffocated me and then some, but sometimes he listened, so I chose to stay. I told myself again and again that this was not a relationship. Love is not doing things out of fear. If they give you a reason to be scared, it is not safe. You are not responsible for their anger, even if it rose when you attempted to stand up for yourself. It is okay if you love them still. It is okay if you are just as scared to leave them as you are to stay.
Tear yourself away from the clenches of their fists slowly, but steadily. Believe in yourself. Confide in the services offered to us, and share what you can with the people you trust. It will be painful, but the further you are from their torment the greater you will heal. Demanding may be dangerous. Gradually taking away their power over you might seem like nothing is changing — but it is. You are growing out of the depths of their control. Take whichever path is safest, and know that you are part of a community. We are listening, and we understand and respect your experience.
I am still trying to grow out of his manipulation of my personality. I am still trying to take away his ownership of me. To them, we are not our own entity. I am lucky to have a safe space, and call on you to please try to reach out if you can and if it is safe to do so.