The #Maybehedoesnthityou campaign has taken hold on social media. And rightly so. It describes emotional and mental abuse that may or may not be coupled with sexual and physical abuse. It opens up the door, that door behind which we silently cry, too afraid or ashamed to share.
I know. I suffered this abuse. For more than thirty years.
I have never talked about it. How could I? I took the blame and shame on myself. I protected my sons.
And I am a survivor not a victim. I have moved on, with the grace of God.
So I do not dwell.
Every time I read a tweet from another person, especially another woman, in the #Maybehedoesnthityou campaign, I gasp. I know it describes me. The me that was. It seems all abusers are alike. I know that, somewhere deep inside the woman who is a mother, a friend, a teacher, a student, a writer, a capable and competent, happy, flourishing person, there lies that woman who was victimised. And to forget that woman, even as I move on, is to refuse to give her a voice.
She needs a voice. The other women in similar situations need a voice.
This is something not to dwell upon, I’ve been told. Sure. I get that. But it is something that must be talked about. Aired. Awareness raised. So our sons and daughters can learn and grow. So those still being abused can know, too, that others have experienced the same, have made changes, have moved to happier places. It is possible.
So this is why I take the first, few, tenative tiptoes to share. Beginning now. For me, in one sense, but mostly for you. You know who you are. You know who needs to hear this.
Hear what? Let me explain a tweet, that I retweeted.
#Maybehedoesnthityou but he’s ruined your ability for trust in future relationships..
He does. He makes fun of your weaknesses, he critiicses you, you are too friendly or not friendly enough, too fat, too involved with the kids or not involved enough. Should work outisde of the home. Should not. Too Catholic. Not Catholic enough.
He takes your vulnerabilities and twists them, uses them against you, all the while showing his public face as a moral, caring, hard working husband and father. So that others believe, too, that you are the one with issues. They believe his ‘press’ and you, you are too tired and hurt and confused and scared to counteract. He lies and cheats. He manipulates. He turns others against you. And now, your trust has been betrayed. Your trust in him and in those ‘friends’ who gave him sympathy and tell you, you are a strong woman, work on your marriage, be better. They don’t know your silent screams and tears, as you curl into a ball each night.
You learn to mistrust. Yourself and others.
Sound familiar? You are not alone.