Anyone else a fan of “Of monsters and men”? They’ve got some great music, but that’s not what I’m writing about. Last time I blogged I talked about scribble writing in my journals because, although I’m pretty open, I don’t share everything for the reasons I wrote about then.
(Trigger warning: abuse, domestic violence)
I follow Grant Shimmin on Twitter and he wrote an excellent article this week, which has made me speak out a bit more. If you follow me, you know I’ve had weight loss surgery and as part of the journey I’ve done 2+ years of counselling and am still unpacking the shit in my head. Part of that is realising how awful my first marriage was – something I carefully hid from myself (and others). When we separated most of our friends were completely unprepared because we seemed so fortunate except for my infertility.
My ex-husband wasn’t a monster. He was an ordinary man who could be difficult and had mental health issues (severe, crippling depression). It’s really only this last six months or so I have started to admit I was abused. Not physically, but there are ways to abuse people where the scars aren’t obvious. I am dealing with the impacts of that abuse now thanks to counselling and other support.
Does Tony know the extent of the abuse? No. Will I tell him the details? No. He fell in love with the product of that abuse – I don’t mean he was/is abusive. Far from it; he’s one of life’s gentle supportive people. But the things that make me “me” – behaviours, actions, ways of being – are a product of that abusive relationship and he’s dealing with a changing me. That’s enough for anyone.
As I said, people were shocked when we separated. Because men who abuse others – physically, emotionally, sexually and financially – men who rape and attack – get away with it because of their seeming normalcy. They don’t wear a sign saying “hey, I’m a monster so be careful”. My ex was probably Tony’s best friend, we all used to hang round together. He had some great friends, who are no doubt very loyal and would say I’m lying – one of the reasons I have never spoken up, and also out of respect for his kids.
When the Courts, media etc say men have “acted out of character” or are “good men who suddenly snapped” they are wrong; this narrative enables men to keep abusing, and silences victims. I know from personal experience that abuse is insidious and increases over time, but often remains hidden because of shame and an attempt to maintain a sense of (admittedly damaged) self. When women say they’re abused, believe them. When someone says a good man “snapped” call bullshit…