Abusive relationships

Smarts and Beauty

So here I am writing about this topic….yet again. This is a topic that is frequently brought in my courses, particularly in my deviance class. We talk about violence against women and violence against children or how violence affects both groups. I appreciate the way the professor brings these topics up in class. She brings in guest lecturers and also provides stories about the work she has done with women who experience violence. I remember my first year sitting in some of her classes and talking about the same issues.

Without hesitation, I had to leave class several times because of the anxiety of the recollection that her guest lecturers or the stories she shared had re-ignited in my own self. I experienced an abusive relationship. It was a struggle for me to face the reality of what really happened to me. I didn’t want to believe it. I thought it meant I was stupid because I didn’t know what was happening. I learned after a great deal of counseling, it wasn’t my fault and that it wasn’t because I was “stupid.”

Most recently, the last time I had to leave class, to go cry in the bathroom, was when my professor talked about how the abuse begins in subtle ways. My professor mentioned that the abusive partner may try to control the physical appearance or the behaviour of the abused. That means it doesn’t always start as physical abuse. In fact, some individuals can experience an abusive relationship without experiencing physical abuse at all. They could experience emotional, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse, or worse, a relationship encompassing all these types of abuse.

As I sat there in class, the professor began to share a story that it may begin with the abuser saying to the abused, “Oh, I like you much better with natural nails. Why don’t you take off your nail polish?” Sounds innocent right? No? Maybe. With my relationship, I remember I wanted to cut and dye my hair. I used to have long hair right down to my waist. It was virgin hair which meant it had never been dyed. To me at the time, I distinctively remembered I told the guy at the time I wanted to cut my hair and that I wanted to dye it a different color. He looked at me, started to play with my hair and said “No, I like your hair long and natural. It looks and feels so pretty. It makes you look pretty.” When I was sitting in class that particular day, it made me kind of upset again. Upset with myself for not knowing better. Eventually when the abuse started to happen, the one thing that was always there ready for a quick easy grab to pull me around was my long, beautiful, natural hair. If he couldn’t grab my clothing or couldn’t grab my arm or my neck, he could at least grab my hair or pull my hair down, grabbing it by the fistful. As soon as the relationship ended, I went and cut my hair to a shoulder length. I eventually started to dye it different colors too. Blonde. Red. Black. Whatever wasn’t my natural hair color. My mother called it “grieving.” I was grieving all right. Grieving the lost of my old self into a brand new self.

Within the years that followed, I sometimes told myself that I was stupid for not being smart enough, for not realizing sooner and for the better, what was happening to me. The relationship went on like that for about a year and half. Off and on.

Today, I try to tell myself, “Look how far you come… you are smart…you are beautiful.” However, my smarts isn’t about book smarts or streets smarts. It’s about knowing what is best for me and only me. It is looking out for my own best interests. My beauty isn’t about looking great every time I step outside. It is about realizing that I have come this far and I am a stronger person because of it all. That is what being smart and being beautiful is for me. It’s not always about being top-of-the-class or wearing the best clothes and make up but it is about realizing how far I have come and how much stronger I am because of everything, both positive and negative, I learned and experienced.

A poem I wrote…

This is a poem I wrote after I started counseling after being in an abusive relationship. In this poem, I describe (briefly) the nightmares I was having.

Untitled

Flying through the air
Superhero powers
Small doors monster people
Dreaming to see nothing
Upon awakening
Broken sweat dry tears
All by myself
In the dark
Save me from my dreams
My life is a nightmare

A poem dedicated to fear…

This is a poem I wrote after an abusive relationship ended that I was in for about 1.5 years. Before this relationship, I used to be one of those girls that would wonder why girls stayed in abusive relationships, and ask those same girls… “What don’t you just leave?”

An abusive relationship is more than just waking up and leaving the next day. He hits you, calls you names… Then he tells you he is sorry, and will make it up to you. You spend days and nights in bliss and masked happiness. Then, it happens all over again…He hits you, calls you names.

You just hope one day that it won’t happen ever again and that you give him one more chance. You begin to believe that maybe he is right: everything is all your fault. His bursts of anger, really are your fault. You become so broken that you don’t even know what the difference between right and wrong is anymore. You used to believe that violence against women is wrong, but now that you are the one being hit, dragged, pushed, spit on… you believe that what you are experiencing is not as worse as what other women are experiencing–others have it worse. You begin to make excuses for his actions, reasoning with yourself. Yet, little do you know, is that he has you right where he wants you: boxed up, in the corner all alone, no where to go.

I knew that this relationship had a hold onto my life even after it ended. I knew this because living in a small community, we would run into each other every now and then (even if we didn’t want to) and I would experience anxiety each time. My heart would race every time I saw him, and not the romantic-movie-heart-racing type. This would happen even if I thought I saw him, and in the end it was just a stranger that looked like him. I remember one incident, when he came into one of my places of employment. He said to me, “It’s okay, you don’t have to be scared.” Then he smiled at me with a wink. It sent chills down my spine, and still does to recall that incident. He knew. He knew I was scared, and he knew I was still scared of him.

Even after I moved away to a different city, I would sometimes feel my stomach turn over when I see a vehicle that looks like his. I was still scared even knowing that he physically wasn’t around me. Today, I have worked through this hard time and have been able to move forward in a positive direction. This poem I wrote and I dedicated it to fear.

A poem dedicated to fear.

Reaching towards you
In the pitch darkness,
Feeling nothing,
Hearing nothing,
Knowing your there,
Standing,
Watching,
Your eyes piercing,
My chest.
I feel it tightening,
Wanting to run,
Feet glued to the ground.
In one spot,
No where to go,
Fear.

Note: I write this post to anyone who has experienced violence…whether as a witness or a victim/survivor. Male, female. It doesn’t matter. Violence against anyone is wrong. I share my story and my experiences because I want others to know that it is okay to get help, and that any amount of violence no matter how many times it occurs or how many times someone says sorry, Violence is not okay.