Catholicism, Life, Maybehedoesnthityou, Motherhood, Women

We don’t talk about it. But we should.

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.

And yet.

And yet.

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.

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.

#Maybehedoesnthityou gives you a voice. As does the virtue of hope.

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12 thoughts on “We don’t talk about it. But we should.”

  1. so sad reading this, Leonie. sad that you went through that. 😥 but happy that through it all you’ve been such a blessing to all of us, and still are. God is good indeed. may He continue to bless you and guide you and heal you.

    much love, stef

  2. Leonie, I am sorry you have had to deal with this. Thanks for being courageous and speaking out. May God bless you and continue to draw you near to Him and keep you strong.

  3. Thank you for this, Leonie. The part about taking it all on yourself to protect your children particularly resonated with me. It was a phase in my marriage — and thank God, it seems to have been *just* a phase, in which the person I had known and loved for a quarter-century temporarily lost his freaking mind. It was short-lived, but awful, and all I could think while it was going on was, “I’ve just got to keep this from touching the children. I will totally immolate myself for the rest of my life if I have to, to keep this from touching the children.”

    And, uh, yes, what even a short experience does to your ability to trust is not pretty, either. My heart goes out to anyone who has lived with this experience, and especially to anyone who survived a much longer experience of it than I did.

    I have not said anything about my own experience to anyone other than a therapist. I’m still in the marriage, my husband seems to have recovered his personality (though I’ll probably always be wary now), there are children involved . . . I can’t imagine, now, putting my full name to a declaration of what happened. Sometimes I think I must have dreamed the whole thing. But dear God, I didn’t.

  4. Thank you for sharing. So helpful to know we are not alone. I’d like to share a book that was a mind saver and lifted the fog for me. Hoping it will help others too. “Why Does He Do That?” By Lundy Bancroft.

  5. Thank you. It is very hard to share such things, I find. I read the comment from S and thought, yes, it’s been that way with me, too. It’s better now than it was for a while, thank God.

  6. I read your blog a few days ago for a totally unrelated post and then read this–I’ve been praying for you and blessings on you for your courage. May God continue to bless you and give you strength!

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