Sunday, May 15, 2016

Being a "good" abuse victim

[Content note: detailed accounts of abuse]

I've been pretty scarce around these parts...I'm busy, tired, and uninspired. I mean, that would be why I issued an official notice that I don't blog much anymore forever ago. I guess I should probably stop feeling guilty about it.

ANYWAY...I'm here because a post that came across my dash on Tumblr caught my eye. (If you haven't already picked up on it...I'm way active over at Tumblr and that's a much better way to interact w/ me if you want. If anyone is reading this and isn't already on it :))

The post was about abuse. Written by noctis-nova. It said:
When you say you’re the victim of abuse you are supposed to, by the common understanding, be able to bring up very specific episodes of that abuse in order to “prove its really abuse”.
But a lot of abuse just doesn’t work that way. Sometimes they just wore you down constantly. Sometimes you couldn’t put your finger on it, but felt all of effects none-the-less. Sometimes its so plain awful that you’ve repressed it. Sometimes it was so damn insidious that you normalized it until one day years later you mention it and someone gives you a look of shock and you realize it wasn’t normal. All of you. Any of you. 
You are all just as valid as someone who wrote a whole damn memoir on the thing.
If you've read much of my content here, it shouldn't be surprising that this spoke to me. I've already written about the ideas of "good fatties" and "good rape victims." This quote is definitely talking about what I would call "good abuse victims" and speaking up for people who don't fit that mold.

As someone who is open about the abuse that I suffered from my father throughout my life, I know all too well what this person is talking about. The vast majority of the abuse I experienced was insidious control, manipulation, and emotional games...withholding support and/or affection until I behaved a certain way...requiring me to perform exhausting (sometimes dangerous) "chores" to teach "hard work" (like spending breaks digging a trench around our house) ...strict adherence to following a set of ever evolving, very specific, hard to keep track of and pinpoint rules and, if I deviated from them, them all hell broke loose...pushing me to practice sports I wasn't naturally talented at until I was falling over and crying...pushing me to study until I got perfect grades or I couldn't leave the house...calling me every name in the book...continuously insulting and objectifying my changing and growing body.

This was my day-in-day-out. This was my reality from about 8 to 18, with a less intense version until I cut ties with him at 25. I was always afraid of my dad but endlessly craved the moments I had apparently done something OK and he was happy with me. But I always felt I wasn't good enough. I was always trying to be perfect, and then, when I inevitably wasn't, I was always trying to hide my mistakes and avoid his wrath (like a B on a test or not doing a chore good enough.)

But when abuse comes up, all too often, the only way that I feel I can gain any credibility in the discussion is to talk about the times he hit me.

If I am being honest with myself, the scars I carry now are MUCH deeper from everything I described above, not the occasional physical abuse, traumatic as it might have been.

There is some kind of sick hierarchy that we have built as a society which considers all that other stuff "not really abuse."

Recently I published a submission on FacebookSexism that made me want to delete the whole fucking blog when it took off. It's here. So. many. people. left comments on it saying things like, "You think that's abusive, haha!" or whatever. I blocked and blocked as fast as I could, but more comments popped up than I could keep up with.

It was incredibly triggering for me because my dad saying shit like, "You have it so easy" and "I'll give you something to really cry about" was part of my life. People commenting over and over again felt like that and a couple of nights my anxiety was so high, I couldn't think about anything else. (Side note: I used to think that it was weak or foolish to admit when something like this affected me. Fuck that.)

I kept wanting reply to all these people by saying, "BUT HE ALSO BEAT ME TOO!!!! THIS KIND OF STUFF WAS PART OF A WEB OF *REAL* ABUSE!!!!"

See...I don't think that emotional abuse is any less real than physical. As mentioned, my emotional abuse has more deeply damaged me. BUT the narrative around what is "real" abuse is so strong, I wanted to undermine my own truth to make a point.

I wanted to be a "good abuse victim." I wanted my point to be taken seriously. And this isn't the first time this has happened...I've said a few things before when posts about abuse at FacebookSexism took off and people were all, "that's not REALLY abuse" which threw other emotional abuse victims under the bus.

I'm not doing that anymore.

Coming out of the other side of that whole debacle impacted me in two ways.

1) I realized that I don't have the emotional space to manage posting submissions like that anymore. If someone sends in something that is indicative of emotional abuse and I get a sinking suspicion it will be hijacked by abuse apologists, I'm not going to publish it anymore because it's too triggering for me. (I had a bad feeling that would happen with the current example)

AND more importantly,

2) I had it reaffirmed in my mind that I have to resist the urge to prove myself as a "good abuse victim." As the quote above says, my experience is valid. I don't owe anyone examples and I certainly don't need to further hurt others when I try to prove myself.

I can't stop abuse apologists anyway--"good abuse victim" or not.

Please see the commenting policy before replying to this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog has strict comment moderation intended to preserve a safe space. Moderation is managed solely by the blog author. As such, even comments made in good faith will be on a short delay, so please do not attempt to resubmit your comment if it does not immediately appear. Discussion and thoughtful participation are encouraged, but abusive comments of any type will never be published. The blog author reserves the right to publish/delete any comments for any reason, at her sole discretion.

TL;DR Troll comments are never published, so don't waste your time.