For the last two weeks I’ve blogged about abuse (Why I stayed with an abusive man- part 1 & 8 reasons people stay in abusive relationships). It’s something we don’t talk about often. Maybe we are ashamed. Maybe our definition of love has become so distorted we afraid to face reality. Afraid to admit we’ve been living in a fantasy world we created to help cope with the pain. Society and Hollywood only helps with confusing us more as we attempt to figure out what love is.
We can go back to Shakespeare. Hamlet drove Ophelia to suicide and yet, at her funeral, states that 40,000 brothers could not make up the sum of how much he loved her. Othello kills his wife in a jealous rage and tells us he loved not wisely, but too well. What does this teach us today? That love and violence goes hand in hand?
Abuse can mask itself in many different ways. Here’s 7:
Promise you’ll never leave me.
You need to adjust your behavior and make promises to cater to his upbringing, to his baggage. So your desire to initially stay with him slowly changes to staying with him out of pure guilt. You don’t want to hurt him so the only option is to stay with him.
Him: Hey, you’re not going to wear that shirt out tonight are you?
Me: Why not?
Him: Because it’s way too tight. Guys were looking at your earlier…
He’ll start to make you feel uncomfortable about your decisions. Get you to start depending on him as to what decisions you should make.
He calls every hour and expects you to answer. Do you have a life outside of him? Sometimes this behavior is masked as love, devotion, the fact that you are soul mates… He can’t stand the thought of you having fun without him.
Don’t forget to leave your phone on…
And you make sure you don’t because he will freak out on you if you don’t.
Him: Hey, I’ve been texting you. Why haven’t you answered.
Me: In class.
Him: Well leave it on silent.
Me: I don’t want the teacher to see us talking.
Him: If you love me, prove it- leave your phone on.
He has no respect for rules in general. Then it becomes no respect for the rules you are supposed to follow. And then no respect for you…
My dad was right. You girls get together and you talk trash about guys and tear them down. My ex was a terrible person, always trying to accuse me of stuff and make me feel bad. I thought you were different. If you don’t trust me what’s the point?
You’ll soon see this disrespect toward you is actually hate. But sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow. It requires us to admit we were completely wrong. Not only does it make us doubt our judgment, it makes us wonder if we can trust our decisions ever again.
You begin to cover up for him. After he hurts you, he attempts to paint himself as the good guy, the one that should be pitied.
Him: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Him: I can’t help it, I’m scum, I don’t even deserve to breathe. I didn’t know it was coming. When you started saying that crap about me, wondering if I was telling the truth. I never thought I could hurt you. I still can’t believe I hit you. At least I know now all that messed up stuff that is inside of me because of my dad- I can watch out for that. You could have told your parents but you didn’t.
Me: I don’t understand how everything could have been so perfect…
Him: I had one bad minute, actually 2 bad seconds. It’s not like it was for no reason- you were acting all suspicious of me- you were talking about me behind my back. It hurt me so bad that you didn’t trust me. The way that I love you I’m wide open. I mean you have the power to kill me. It’s worth it for me I mean even if I get hurt sometimes. I mean don’t you feel the same way?
Me: I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I should have thought about what I was saying. I didn’t mean to make you think that I didn’t trust you. Sorry. Sorry.
Him: It’s okay- I’m not mad at you. I could never stay mad at you.
Crazy how the tables turn so quickly…
You begin to piece together the pieces. Maybe you have enough strength after all to leave.
Him: Why haven’t you answered? Can you sneak out? If you really want to be with me you’ll find a way.
Me: I have a lot of homework.
Him: And that’s more important than me. I’m calling you right now where’s your phone. I asked you a question.
Me: I’m breaking up with you.
Him: Are your parents listening?
Me: No. I’m serious. It’s over I’m breaking up with you.
Him: But you love me.
Me: I know but I’m still breaking up with you.
Me: Because I don’t want to be scared anymore.
Him: Why are you scared? I haven’t hit you again.
Me: You call me constantly. You try to control where I go…
Him: Where is this coming from.
Me: It doesn’t matter.
Him: Well then I’m going to kill myself. I can’t live without you.
And then you cycle back to guilt. You start doubting. You start remembering the good times. And part of you wants to go back. Not because you miss him but part of losing him also consists of losing some of yourself since you’ve bound yourself so tightly to him. And sometimes we go back. We dug ourselves in a hole and we feel that we can’t get out. Do we really deserve something better? At least we know what his faults are… But sometimes, if we’re lucky, we may get a text so shocking that it wakes us from our trance.
You are a liar. You just want to be with some other guy. You don’t deserve to live.
This isn’t love. You don’t control, hit, kill people you love.
We aren’t stupid for falling for these guys but I think sometimes we have to be honest enough and ask ourselves- am I sure this is how I want to be treated for the rest of my life?
(Points are taken from the movie Reviving Ophelia, showcasing the subtle, calculated takeover of sweet innocence.)