I grew up witnessing domestic violence as a child, this type of environment was ‘normal’ for me. I have a vivid memory of one incident where I was on one of my parents back trying to separate them from fighting. In my young mind, it was one of my parents who was always instigating a fight; I now see that it’s never ok to hurt another person no matter what. As time went by the physical fighting wasn’t as frequent, but the emotional violence didn’t stop.
As an adult, I thought I’d end up attracting a similar partner, and in a way I did. My first boyfriend, though he didn’t ever physically hurt me, did abuse me in other ways. I stayed with him for a long time, mostly due to low self-esteem. It was an on again off again 8-year ordeal. It took me learning to value myself in order to finally leave that toxic relationship.
Fast forward to this year, after years of not dating, I decided to open up and see what the world had to offer. I only found myself trapped again in abusive relationships with two separate people. I can only say that I allowed the abuse because of a lack of self-esteem and turning a blind eye to their toxic behavior. I started seeing red flags from one of them when they would play off slapping me for doing something else. After a couple of incidents, my intuition told me something was not right, yet when the incidents happened I would shut off and deny that anything happened. I suppose that was me trying to protect myself. When I brought it up to him he acknowledged that he had a problem and claimed that it was under control. The other person, well, he basically stabbed me in the back doing something which I will not get into. He also constantly crossed my boundaries which means he had no respect for me. Yet, in spite of all the signs I still allowed him in my life, this is someone who I considered a friend.
As a responsible adult, I do acknowledge that I could have walked away from these men at any point-which I eventually did- though one of them, due to certain circumstances, is still in my social circle (trying to figure that out right now). I didn’t ever think that I’d find myself accepting any of their behavior, especially the physical abusive kind; I thought I was too smart for that, yet I did. I know that there are parts of me that attracted those kinds of relationships because I haven’t healed from past trauma. I will also admit that there are certain aspects of me that are violent and I must address them so that I stop the cycle of abuse.
What I learned from these experiences is that any kind of abuse is not acceptable, not even a little, abuse is abuse. I am still very much a work in progress, learning to love myself, respect myself, stand up for myself, and speak up when I feel something is not right. There are many things in society regarding relations between people- I say people and not men and women because I acknowledge that, although the majority of abuse is men against women, there are exceptions where women abuse men- that still need healing. The way we have been handling these situations hasn’t been working, it is evident in the way in which our society is currently functioning. I do not wish any harm to these men that I speak of, yet I know that things cannot continue the way that they are, what is the best way to handle these situations? How do we create healing and not separation?
From speaking to one of the men I mentioned, and also from observing the current climate, I know that when a man is pointed out for being abusive there are people that will seek them out and try to socially lynch them. Yet again, as I pointed out, this way of functioning is not working. So how do we solve these kinds of social issues and stop them once and for all? There is too much judgment and criticism and not enough open-hearted conversations to try and get to the root of these problems, to try and really see what is happening. Hate begets hate; it is an unbending equation that some don’t seem to understand. What I want to get to is the heart of the problem, are we too early in human evolution to try and seek heart-centered options for the type of abusive men that I speak of?