The world has got everything so upside down and backasswards that men are being portrayed as the victims, the ones without the power, and those in need of special care to ensure their rights. This is because feminists like me pushed back against male power, tried to dismantle the patriarchy and now we have the inevitable backlash. The beast is never angrier or more dangerous than while it is wounded and the patriarchy is a dangerous beast.
What I have to offer you is some of my bloody mindedness, some of my attitude problem. It is never your fault. No, not if you burnt supper, took all the drugs, fucked his brother, crashed the car or lost the dog. The correct and only response of a reasonable man to any thing you can do is either forgive, or else say the relationship is over and walk away. Hitting or raping is never excusable, nor forgivable.
Which brings me to unforgivable. It may well be that your partner only hits you when he is drunk or high, but that does not mean that forgiveness is going to lead to anything other than more dangerous and frequent attacks. It is never a one off. To treat male abuse upon women as isolated incidents is to put women in danger of harm and death. There is not only never a reason, but also no excuse. It doesn’t matter if he doesn’t even remember hitting you, or denies doing it because he was blacked out, it will not change. Violence is essentially who he is.
It is not gossiping, disparaging or wrong to talk about the abuse and name what he has done to you. Some people will tell you that you should not talk about the abuse while he is not there to defend himself, and these people may well be counsellors and social workers. Ignore them. They are wrong, and they are enabling his abuse. While they will be saying ‘we will learn lessons from this incident’ you will still be dead when he finally does it and your head bangs against the corner of that table, or he grabs a weapon and slips or sees red and finally does it. These people will not pay in any way if he kills you. You will be no less dead. He will probably get away with it, or else take his own life and leave the muttering imbecilic masses who comment on news stories to discuss whether or not you deserved to be killed and to defend his murderous unsorry self.
This is the hardest thing of all. Society does not like a woman who speaks out. The world is run by men who excuse men. There are some exceptional men who see the problems and understand that women are fighting a losing battle. These are good allies. However a lot of women perform the handmaiden dance, excusing men who hurt women, shouting down victims and yelling that women lie about abuse. This is all to do with straight women wanting to prove they are good potential girlfriend and wife material. They are the zebras who feed close to the lions hoping that they will be deemed ‘good women’ deserving of men’s approval. These naysayers and people who seek to silence you, undermine your suffering and sabotage your survival hurt. They even hurt me. They will tell you, if they accept he has beaten or raped you, that your attacker is capable of being reformed and healed. They will tell you that he was ‘sick’ and now he is better after going through their dangerous and gaslighting counselling programs. These men are irredeemable. Counselling the abuser does not lessen the damage he caused to the victim or excuse his actions, and to be frank he will do it again given half the chance. Why shouldn’t he? There are no consequences, society is on his side.
Are you angry yet? I am. I am furious. I am so furious my usually teeming mind struggles to put thoughts together and express my outrage. I am grouchy, I have a terrible attitude and a lot of pep. He didn’t destroy my soul. I am not normal. People generally dislike me, and that is ok. I am not prepared to edit myself and I have a strong and enduring sense of not being in the wrong. It is not easy to persuade me that I should shut up and be quiet and take the abuse, nor feel sorry for the poor menz. No. It helps that I have no attraction to men, no desire for their approval. Part of me wishes that I had never tried to be straight, but I adore my son, and for that I will just carry on. It never occurred to me until later years that it was ok to not do dick. Not doing dick never felt like an option. I am so very much happier for just drawing very clear boundary lines between me and men.
The system is run by men, that includes the social workers, a lot of the DV workers. I have never met one that actually understood, didn’t excuse and was helpful. I refuse to justify my actions, or defend myself, and I sure as shit am not going to wait for professionals to catch up with a reality they should understand before talking to abused women. Do not expect support or help from the system. Go to the police if you can, make reports, but above all else, know beyond any doubt that you have to run and get far far away with any children you may have.
The only solution is to leave, and be aware that when you do leave this is the most dangerous time. Plan it like you are running for your life, because, my friend, you are. Find a space in the day when he is out and you are unlikely to be discovered. He has to go out sometime. Accept that stuff will not be able to come with you. Go to a shelter, because really you have no other choice. He will know where your friends and family live and whisper in your ear that you should return. His pleas of apology and justification are just poison in your ear. Ignore them. Leave. Survive. Thrive. You deserve better. You deserve to live.
My health is ruined because of the many beatings I took. My left side is wrecked from my hearing, my sight, my back, my leg. I am scarred up and ugly. One eye turns in a little and I have verified brain damage on the left side thanks to that chair smashed over my head that almost killed me. The Depp ruling threatens to silence women who speak out about abuse, but I say press forward. Be brave. Yell from the rooftops about the violence and the rapes, the abuse and what men do to women. Demand your spaces. Demand being heard and protected, and above all, get the fuck out of there before it is too late. Get out of there before you end up like me.
I had no choice – I was trapped by the Hague Convention in an international marriage. I know some of you will be trapped too. I don’t have any comfort to offer. It is a hard road. All I can say is run, run run, and deal with the Hague later. Get out of there, take the children and live. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be safe, and the system will attack you too for daring to live, but you will have other women who have been there too, and thanks to Filia’s Hague campaign, awareness is rising (views all my own, and nothing to do with Filia’s campaign beyond offering my story). You will still be confronted by people who have no idea just how hard it is to survive, who will tell you that you just have to go to court and of course it will be fine. They mostly mean no harm and just don’t understand, but that doesn’t mean you need to give them time. It is not your job to educate them.
You are not the bad one. You are going to have to fight to survive and accept that many people will be on his side, but you are not in the wrong. He is. Just get away and stay away from him before anything else terrible happens. You deserve to live safely, to tell your story and to survive. You deserve belief and support. After all, all that some of us have is the support of other women, it is there if you look hard enough. There are people who understand and care and will help if you just make that leap of faith. He might not have hit you yet, but you cannot take the chance that the first time he does, might be also the last in a way which is devastating and final. You can do this. You can get out. You are not trapped without hope. Take heart, there is always a chance. I didn’t want to hear that while I was stuck in my international marriage, because it is not so easy or immediate to be able to get away, but I am living proof there is a future.