Let’s face it, people, I am not the right kind of victim. I am not a fashionable kind of woman. The right kind of victim is blameless in all areas of life; and not only that utterly healthy, both mentally and physically. Only truly clean female machines are needed in this sparkling society, baby. They beat you down, they break you up, and then complain when you get broken. No, only the right kind of victim will be judged suitable for mass-pity and understanding. Even other (self proclaimed better) victims look in and compare their own performance to my own hard won continued existence. “But, I was so much BETTER. I did it the RIGHT WAY.” Seriously. I have a strong and undeniable urge to yell ‘FUCK OFF!’ into the ether fuming and fizzing….but that ain’t the right-kinda-victim way to do things. The right kinda victim never expresses dissatisfaction, frustration or anger. The right kind of victim is self controlled. The right kind of victim is blank and bland. The right kind of victim is sufficiently hurt to not be deemed to be merely bitching, yet not too hurt to be able to express themselves. Be hurt. Just not too much. Function, or else. But don’t function too well, or else judgement is indeed nigh and most of it from other women who will make clucking sounds whilst throwing you in the asylum. Or else won’t believe you at all.
Any excuse is good enough, any reason to dismiss or discard will do. The right kind of victim is careful to say she does not hate or blame all men, and that she is absolutely understands that no, ‘not all men are like that’. The right kind of victim is straight as a die, has never fucked another woman and has no intention of doing so. The right kind of victim is straight and red-blooded, pretty and feminine. Of course, being a lesbian in a marriage to a guy, or not totally into cock could be seen as a reason for a man to get upset and hit the woman he married, so all efforts must be made to reassure that no men were harmed or deceived, and body was given up willingly and regularly, at least to start with. Gotta be fair to the men, amirite? Meanwhile gay men who extricate themselves from marriages to women are called brave and declared to be living their truth. It is always the woman who will have to pay.
Any woman who has ever be a junkie, a whore or a rebel had better be successful and independent in her own right, or there will be hell to pay. Even then, the Courtney Love’s and Amber Heards of this world had better have thick skin; the Amy Winehouses and the Janis Joplins had better be ready for the onslaught. Society loves nothing better than stoning a recalcitrant woman. Rebel women are held both responsible for their own escapades, unpalatability and fates, whilst also being held to account for the fates of the men around them. Don’t forget if you are female then you are responsible for everything. No way out is allowed. Survival is only permitted if it is beneficial to others – either males or children, especially children. Apologies must be made for surviving if ‘only’ you got hurt. To be frank, if no one other than the woman was deemed to have been in danger, then it is game over. No one ever cares about the abused woman.
Meanwhile a man who has been hit by a woman, in those rare cases, is given all the sympathy, every single consideration, every last excuse. Meanwhile a man hit by a woman is coddled and protected, sympathized with and more importantly, believed. Even professionals, even other women, have asked me why my husband hit me. They want an explanation from me, a reason from me. Why ask me? How the fuck am I meant to know? Is there ever a good reason. He hit me because he felt like it, because he was irritated by work, because I didn’t move fast enough, or smile big enough or because, perhaps, he was an abusive person, who got enjoyment out of torturing me. Yes, torturing me. Because that is what he did. He ruined my life. He destroyed my health. He tried to break my mind and spirit. He tortured me. He used my children and my love for them against me.
In one very low period when I realized that I was going to have to return to Japan in order to escape hague charges, and stay with my children (I am so tempted to say ‘to protect them’ because that is what it was, but I am sick and tired of my own freedom and safety always being the last thing to be considered any reason to do anything…), I expressed a feeling to a counsellor, that I felt as if I wanted to die. What I meant was that I didn’t want things to be as they were. I didn’t want to be trapped in this terrible situation, I didn’t want to have to go back. I didn’t want to be hurt, or raped again. I didn’t want to die. What I wanted was control, but the frustration and upset, the fear and the anger exploded from me in the only way I had to express myself. The most likely way to get the attention of someone else. The only way I had of saying just how bad I was feeling, so it came out all wrong, it came out too fast, it came out unconsidered, it came out as ‘I want to die.’ The poor woman looked utterly unphased. I apologized immediately. I tried to explain. This is what she said: “You can’t. You have children to look after.”
I laughed. I laughed so hard it hurt. I split my sides and got a stitch from the deep rumbling belly laugh that found its way out of my mouth from the depths of somewhere beyond despair. Even at this darkest point, where I was faced with a choice that was no choice at all, even at this point where I knew I was going back to be raped and beaten, and maybe killed, I did not matter at all. I only mattered in order to care for my children. I only mattered in relation to them. I didn’t matter at all. Not in the slightest. She didn’t tell me to live for me. To find a reason to carry on that I might be happy. No. I didn’t matter. I was almost incredulous. I slammed down the phone and went to stand in front of the mirror. What did I see? A woman in her thirties, a little past her best, but looking young for her age. Long dark hair. Too much lipstick. War paint. The odd scar in her ditches. A faint line on the side of my face where I had got scarred up by him catching his fingernail across my face as he hit me. Cowering, excessive apologizing, flinching, are all seen as signs of being pathetic, yet I had to take immense amounts of pain on a daily basis. The face in the mirror was going to have to go back into hell again, into a war with no weapons, no back up, no comrades, not allowed to fight back and then be treated like shit at the other end of things and berated for leaving. Worse than that, legally punished for refusing to die at his hands.
The face in the mirror sneered back at me, and flipped me the bird. I almost didn’t recognize her. I almost failed to see myself as me. Something split, something massive ruptured inside. The mirror cracked from side to side and the pieces showed back a hundred shattered Detroits. I packed our suitcases and got on the plane. Time to sacrifice once again. Time to make sure everyone knows that it is a privilege to give everything up for others. Time to not let the resentment show through the cracks.
I was definitely not the right kind of victim. I have never been the right kind of victim. As a bullied child I failed on that account too. I was too strange. Told to be more likeable. To not be so difficult, to toe the line. I could not do those things. Everywhere I turned there were more people mistreating me, beating me, mocking and hurting me, abusing me, and not one person who turned to me and said ‘hey this is wrong. You deserve better.’ I never thought I did, but that was ok.
There was always something I could drink or take or listen to which made it all smoother and less bothersome. Except that is not a tactic that has no repercussions. There is always a price to pay, even if it is only the derision of society. The right kind of victim takes the abuse which cannot be escaped from in any acceptable way, painted into a corner, does so totally utterly sober.
The perfect victim does not have a past. The perfect victim is a victim of circumstance only, it is not a repeated pattern, and is always the first and only time they have ever been abused and hurt. If it is something that has happened more than once, then of course, the victim will be blamed, because they are the common thread in the whole sorry mess. They are clearly at wrong, after all, if not, why on earth would it happen more than once to them! It is unfathomable to that this world is so hostile that abuse and bad things happen to good people, I suppose. There is nothing else for it, nothing else quite so comfortable as blaming people for their own misfortune. That makes the world seem all so much more survivable, rather than it being a random event that can happen multiple times to people, to women, who are not to blame at all.
Self defense is the final nail in the coffin. I never did it. I never hit back. Too dangerous. But those women who try and preserve their own lives are always held to account. The poor man. The bad woman. This tired old trope, this boring old pile of bullshit keeps on piling up. I hate Depp right now for putting me through this having to read people over and over again pitying him and despising Amber. I am not saying I think she is blameless, but I do think her and Depp’s relationship is being used to discredit every single abused woman and continue to baby men, and not only that, but men who more often than not, in the abusive position. I feel all hope of justice, kindness, understanding and being taken seriously fly out the window. Thanks Hollywood. Appreciated. Like I didn’t have enough problems…
I am not the right kind of person. Always outside. Always sound a little ‘off’, a little ‘different’, always foreign, no matter where I am. Heck, I am not even the correct kind of foreign. I would like to say that it bothers other people more than it bothers me, but that is not quite true. Sometimes this eternal ‘wrongness’ and inability to fit in is very uncomfortable indeed. Where is my tribe? My people? Where can I ever be or sit and be ok by everybody else? Where is that place where no one laughs at the abuse I suffered, nor blames me, or tells me to ‘go home’ when I am sitting in my home? Where? Is there anywhere? Anyone? I don’t think so. I find my home in smaller places, and individuals who have been willing to understand. I am at home here on my bed, writing more than I should ever be saying, with my headphones in, listening to Patti Smith yowling into the void. A tourist to the coast of perfection. A fool. A bad woman and a terrible victim.
No. I was never and will never be the right kind of victim. It just isn’t me. I am not Ms Perfect, and was never meant to be. Doesn’t stop me from keeping on trying to please everyone around me, and many who I really could not give a fuck about, but then, some self preserving behaviors are dug in deep and feel almost impossible to unlearn. No, I am not the right kind of victim at all.