I do not know all the details on the NFL player who got suspended for abusing his girlfriend. I do understand what it is like to be in an abusive relationship. I wanna put a few of my thoughts out there from the perspective of someone who has been in that place in life.
I hate telling parts of my life story and getting the pity filled responses. I am not helpless. I was a victim, I was abusive as well, I’m a survivor and I hold my head high as I try my best to use my experiences to help others. My experience isn’t the same as everyone else’s so I’m not trying to say that everyone who has gone through this should have the same opinion as me.
First of all, if you are watching a video of a man hitting a woman, you are violating her dignity and cooperating in her abuse. Just so ya know. That makes you an abuser too. If you’re insulting her on social media, you’re verbally abusing her. Just because she can’t hear you doesn’t mean anything and if you are using her name, you’re gossiping. And not to mention all of us who have lived in abuse who are reading and being made to feel like we are/were idiots having that message replay in our heads.
Since all the “smart”‘women who would never let a man hit them get to blast an “idiot” who would, I figured that I would speak for the idiots.
I was married to my first husband for eight years. In those eight years there were many times that he put his hands on me. There were fights where I ended up with bruises and black eyes. There were a few times when I thought that I was going to die.
While everyone wants to make this issue black and white, it isn’t. It involves human beings and when we are involved there is rarely black and white. It was wrong of my ex to ever put his hands on me. There was never a justification for that. But there were things that helped each situation escalate to that point. Sometimes it was because I took something he told me in confidence as his wife and used it as a sword to stab him in the back with. That doesn’t justify his actions in hitting me, but I still should never have done that to him. It was not like I was just quietly sitting there being the best wife ever and he smacked me.
There were a few times when I knew that if I kept pushing that he would hit me. For whatever twisted reason that I had, it felt good to get the rise out of him. And then there were many times when he was high. When he was high he was not himself, as aren’t most people.
The thing about my ex-husband is that he is good. He is not a monster. I know him. He is the father of my children. He was and is my friend. I do not condone what he did to me, but I also don’t toss him aside because of it either. He has taken responsibility for his actions, he has apologized and he has owned it and asked me to forgive him. I have chosen to do so because not forgiving him does nothing to help my children.
I know that there are plenty of men and women who abuse their significant other and who never intend to get help. They thrive on the abuse and they will just replace one victim for another. There is a time to take someone out of society for the safety of others. I do not believe that first time offenders, or even those who are arrested for the first time, deserve to be tossed out of society without a chance to get help and change. I believe in redemption. If I didn’t then I would be screwed because I have done plenty of really awful things that I have gotten a second chance on. I was smaller than my ex, but I did plenty of abusing with my words during that relationship. And some of my actions like cheating on him and throwing it in his face in the middle of his addiction.
There are so many comments about how good it is that a man loses his job because he was seen abusing his girlfriend. I’m not really sure how I feel about this for so many reasons. One being that it seems like that is the answer in this throw away culture of ours, we just toss people who we consider as subhuman. Even someone guilty of abusing another still has dignity. It is still our duty to respect that dignity. If they are not in prison, then they deserve the right to work and make a living. I mean what other option is there? Kill them? Because who’s gonna support them if they aren’t working? If my ex gets fired because someone finds out what he did and he can no longer work and send me child support how does that help me or my children? Or my current husband who supports my kids in ever way that child support doesn’t cover, for that matter? It doesn’t. It makes things worse.
Does that mean that justice shouldn’t be served? No it doesn’t. Forgiveness and second chances don’t cancel out justice. I am just not sure that we should be so quick to throw people away.
I am not claiming to have all the answers, because I don’t. When people tell me that I must still be damaged to not hate my ex, it pisses me off. It’s condescending and offensive to say that. Making me feel like an idiot who is too stupid to know what I think is something that plenty of the abusers in my life have done to me. If you are one of the “smart” ones, then for the sake of us “idiots” who don’t love ourselves enough, just shut up. We don’t need any more confirmation that we were/are stupid; we usually have been pretty good at telling ourselves that we are stupid when we are in the middle of our abusive situation. I’ve seen so many condescending comments for days now from women who “would never put themselves in that place”. Because you know, when you marry an abuser the first thing he says is “I’m gonna beat your ass sometimes, k?” And you say “sounds lovely”. That’s not what happens. Each relationship is different. There are telling signs of abuse, but then there are things that are different in each situation, but never does an abuser just come out and say they plan to abuse you and you just agree to it.
If you really care about us, like you claim to, then watch your words when talking about another abuse victim. Even after seven years, it’s so easy for me to get put back in that place where my life is dysfunctional. The truth is that abuse involves two very broken people.
I do not put the blame on my ex-husband alone for that dysfunction. I put the blame of his actions on him, and the blame for my actions on me. Both of us contributed to the pain that those times caused our children. Both of us contributed to the hurt and brokenness of the other. Both of us are sorry and both of us have forgiven the other and are trying to move on. Our children love their father and one of my goals in life is to help them process what they saw when we were married, live healthy lives and to know that both of us love them more than anything.
It is possible to hold people accountable for their actions without turning them into monsters. Everyone deserves a chance to get help and change their life so they can be present to those who love them.