I sometimes wish the abuse my abuser had committed had been physical instead of psychological or emotional. My life would have been different. I would have left sooner. People would not feel sorry for him. But that is the clever thing about emotional abuse; the emotional abuser can hide it. Don’t get me wrong. There is little difference between emotional abusers, sexual predators and physical abusers. They take perverse pleasure in the pain of other people. But with emotional abuse there is little proof until it is too late. Usually the person is dead spirtually or physically.
I understand the awkwardness of my abuser’s friends and his family. After all, until May 1st of last year this person was not an abuser, rather this person was the unblemished symbol of goodness. But abusers force their victims to keep many secrets and when the secrets all come out, and they eventually do it is hard for the friend’s of the abuser to process that they support an abuser. It is easier to turn on the victim, after all if the victim had just kept the secrets like they had for all those years everyone’s life would be normal.
Over the past two weeks we had saw the very human toll that abuse takes. That it can be fatal and no one ever expects it to be fatal.
The first incident happened not so far from where I live now. In fact the first I had heard of the monster Josh Powell was from one of his neighbors. I was at Burger King and she was describing the sounds of the fire . She described the *pop* *pop* *pop* of the fire as it burnt the house. She had something about that guy from the news being in the house. She didn’t say anything about hearing screams. I knew as I overheard this statement that things were horribly wrong. His sons, whom he claimed to love and do anything for (a saying that makes me cringe because no abuser every hurts their victim and says it because it because they hate them) were probably already dead. Normal guy. No one suspected a thing.
The second death that hit too close to home was the death of Whitney Houston. Yes she abused drugs. Yes her ex-husband was alleged to abused her physically, but I have the feeling that the abuse came first and the drugs and alcohol followed. And yet people criticized her being abused. They criticized her for not walking away.
It is not so easy to leave. You love the abuser. You think “If I cry less he will stop hurting me” or “If I accepted his girlfriend as a replacement for my mother then he would have hurt me less because that is what he wants” . And then after enough of that your spirit begins to fray. You stop talking to the very people you need to talk to because you don’t want to live the abuse when you are outside the house. You don’t talk to the people you need to talk to because you are ashamed.
If I was ashamed of being abused, it was because ultimately everyone close to my abuser blamed it on me, literally they would blame the abuse (which they simultaneously denied was happening) on me. I was responsible for the abuse my which was heaping on me, even though , in their expert opinion, it was not happening. To think, these were people who claimed to get involved because they were worried about me and wanted to help me. You can only start to imagine how life with my abuser was.
Being ashamed if you are abused is the worst thing you can do. Go to the police. Go to someone you trust. Go and write about it. But whatever you do , do not be ashamed of it!
Then the question is posed, what does this have to do with writing? Everything and nothing. Writers are always the first to get that 800 pound elephant and drop it right at people’s feet. We have a history of it that goes back to Charles Dickens in England and Harriet Beecher Stowe and Upton Sinclaire in the United States to Vaclav Havel in what was then Czechoslovakia, even with the Arab spring we saw unnamed heroes risk their very lives to get on the internet and encourage people to get rid of despotic rulers from Tunisia to Egypt. In Libya it was writers, and bloggers who accomplished what the mighty US Army could not accomplish in the 1980’s.
I am not saying every bit of writing needs to be a stern lecture to society. Actually I would recommend the opposite. People want to enjoy life. People don’t want every moment to be filled with sadness. If you focus too much on the negative then people get used to it, they drown it out. They stop reading. Then the bad guys, be they abusers of various kinds, corrupt politicians or a cold uncaring society unwilling to help its weakest members will simply do what they do best.
Now I get to bury this demon which has haunted my writing for so long. Now I get to write about greater things ....well more zombies I suppose....now I get to go from being a victim to being a survivor.