An important post this White Ribbon Day.
Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence and may be triggering for some readers.
I’m 35 years old, have studied psychology at a postgraduate level and was raised in a middle-class, moderate two parent family. I am a mother, I pay a mortgage, I’m a reasonably health conscious woman. I have the unpleasant experience of a broken marriage behind me and I’ve been relatively and deliberately private about it.
Last week I found myself bruised, battered and underneath an X-ray machine because a man decided to exercise his physical power over me. And I didn’t see it coming.
I am more equipped than most to predict this kind of behaviour. I wrote a thesis on it. I’ve seen it all before. And I didn’t see it coming.
This is the most difficult thing I’ve ever shared…
I’m worried I’ll regret it. I’m worried that this may seem trivial in comparison to what others have endured. I’m worried about what my friends will think, my family. I’m worried about what my male friends will think. I’m very worried I’ll be more compromised (further than my single-thirty-something-mother status) in finding a future partner.
But I’m doing it. I’m doing it because I don’t want to perpetuate the secrecy, and then in some way, the increasing acceptance of the way violence against women has been quietly absorbed into our culture. Women aren’t stereotypically great owners of their bravery but we need to be. We need to be brave to counter the cowardice of our perpetrators. I don’t feel remotely brave but I want to force myself into it, to show that man who assumed I wasn’t and relied upon that assumption that he was wrong. I want to force myself because he was very nearly right.
Because, apart from total shock and upset, my initial reaction was to keep it a secret. I let him stay in my house (for too long) and explain his ‘side’ and crawl back into my bed, lay beside me and hug me close. And for this time I wholly considered staying in the relationship. I was going to share the blame for it (because maybe he had a point…I shouldn’t have left, I shouldn’t have cried, I shouldn’t have stood where I did). He was sorry. He never meant to hurt me. He would never do something like that.