Content warning: emotional and sexual domestic abuse
The one thing that we truly own from birth is our bodies. In truth, we own the rights to design and use our ‘meat suits’ however we please. In the modern world, we seem to stray from this fact and focus more on how others play with their being. Society has become a place where individuality is preached but not practised, where we are pushed into sheep pens and expected to suffer to benefit others.
For the most part of my life I lived the way that I was taught, to be quiet and polite – to only speak when spoken to. My mother comes from a very middle-class family and my father was autistic which has ultimately led me to a confused sense of self, along with an inability to understand social cues and my own rights.
For two decades, I would do anything to help and please others. I would put myself through so much pain and misery, because to me, that was how I would find success. I was never encouraged to find my own path or carve my own future, I just had to mimic my predecessors. The problem was that I was unlike my siblings and was far from my peers at school.
I have always been a person of simple pleasures with a desire to just enjoy life, I’ve never aimed for success or riches, only a family and a warm place to call home one day.
Going through a private grammar school only pushed me further away from my identity, I was constantly beaten by the pressures and social norms of middle-class families and Victorian-based values that my school held. I was not rich, nor was I academically intelligent or charismatic, so really, I fell out from the standards and expectations set by the school and pupils. I really shouldn’t have been there.
I found myself finding ways to fit in, spending hours reading magazines and watching videos on how to be accepted by these ‘model’ humans. I was so desperate to just be accepted and wanted that I no longer saw myself as an individual, just a clog in the machine.
This ultimately led me to a very traumatic way of life. I was often bullied by people close to me and by those at school, sometimes it got so bad that I was mentally abused to the point I wanted to die or be beaten black and blue. I would scream for help and would be told to shut up. I started to believe that this was a part of life, that I was just destined to be the punching bag for anyone with repressed emotions that they needed to project.
At the age of 14, I found myself some people who at the time, I called friends. Through this new-found popularity, I also found my sexuality and met my first boyfriend. Really, I just wanted someone to cuddle and hold hands with because I was very prudish as a child, I was not interested in anything of an intimate or sexual nature because I was just not ready. But within days of this new relationship my boyfriend would touch me and say that he “couldn’t help it” which left my emotions in a mess. My body liked the touch of another but I also wanted to vomit and run away crying. This became a regular occurrence to the point that if I ever told him “no,” he would start to cry and guilt trip me, which worked because I had been conditioned to only ever make people happy.
The final straw did not come until my boyfriend declared that we will be having sex, not a question but a statement, and when I asked about condoms, he said he would instead ‘pull out.’ The thought of being a teen mum and having sex with him made me so nauseated that I ended it there and then – sadly this boy still stalked me and stood outside my window for months after, so the abuse didn’t end right away.
I never did report my ex-boyfriend because I felt like since I was his girlfriend, it meant that he had a right to my body, which I know now is simply not true. I also believed that the police would not take me seriously, and honestly, I still kind of think that. I did, however, speak to this boy a few years after our relationship ended. I told him that I did not want to fight, I didn’t want to cause him problems (funny that I still felt responsible), but what he did was not okay and he will never be forgiven.
To my shock, he understood his actions were wrong and he has never denied them when asked about it – though it doesn’t change the past, it does give me comfort knowing he isn’t lying.
At 16, I met the boy of my dreams, and he was perfect. A handsome man who was a year older but was mature for his age. He had flawless bone structure, beautiful eyes and a scent that made me weak at the knees. He was smart and motivated, he acted like a man and not a boy, so I developed feelings for him fast.
However, it turned abusive fast, I was being controlled and his lies got so bad that there was a police investigation. There was a heavy level of emotional abuse but this boyfriend had his way with me in my sleep – something I (again) didn’t report because we were together, I felt I had no right to complain.
In talking to other abuse survivors, it seems that there is a pattern in our behaviour. We are all empathic creatures who seem to attract those who like to take advantage. The fact that we have this huge desire to make people smile and feel good puts us at risk and sometimes it does lead to assault. There is a large pattern of responsibility that victims feel, they blame themselves for not being strong enough or stopping it or will convince themselves that it was their duty – this is almost a brainwashing effect caused by abusers.
I’ve spent many intimate moments in tears with flashbacks. I’ve had to drink before having sex because I don’t want to do it, but I feel that I have to. I’ve felt stalked and watched and like I am never safe. I’ve had to have thousands of showers which never seem to rinse away the scum left on me. I have nightmares still and will flinch even at my husband’s touch on bad days – even though he is an angel.
I really want to say to those of you who may sadly relate to this that:
- Blood is not an excuse for abuse, families can be the biggest culprits of abuse and that blood tie prevents us from putting a stop to it. It took me years to learn, but you do not need to keep family members in your life or even like them if they hurt you;
- You own every right to your body and only you can choose what to do with it;
- You are not responsible for anyone else’s actions, and;
- It is not your fault.