“If your husband is really hitting you then why are you still with him?”
This is the question that abuse victims often get asked when they talk about the abuse. When someone brings the allegations of abuse against someone else, people respond by assuming that the victim is lying. They think that if it was “that bad” the victim would have left. When I first opened up about my “abusive situation,” people didn’t believe me. People told me that a strong, independent, career-driven woman like me won’t stay in such a situation. Once when I confronted my abuser after a violent episode, I was told that since I chose to stay in the relationship, the abuse was half my fault. Much like rape, there is a lot of judgment and victim blaming surrounding the topic of abuse and domestic violence.
In my previous relationship, I never consented in any way to the violent assaults, yet the clearly set out boundaries, by me, were violated or looked over. In the abusive episodes, my health, safety, and well-being were put on the line.
Another thing people would often say when I came out about my abusive partner was, “But they are so nice.” Abusers don’t need to be at their worst behavior all the time. Abusers don’t batter everybody they see. Abusers do not violate every single boundary they come across. Abusers are regular people. They can be the sweetest and the most charming person. My abuser was kind, polite, caring, soft-spoken, gentle, and troubled in the kind of way that made me feel like I could fix them. All of my friends loved them, in fact, they were often jealous of me for landing them. After a while, my abuser became short-tempered, neglectful, grabby and entitled. Slowly the facade wore off. One moment they would be loving and the other they would get angry. It was a Jekyll and Hyde situation. My abuser had a different mask that they put on in public and a different monstrous face in private. I could not understand what had changed, I thought maybe I was the one who was at fault. I believed that I might have obviously provoked them since they were so nice to everybody but me. I tried to make all possible amends but there was no pleasing them. They only got worse. The angry grabbing translated to hitting and they slowly even took away my voice. I could not protest. Nobody would believe me because they had seen a different side of my abuser. At the same time, my abuser kept updating online posts, boasting about how good our relationship was. While all the likes poured in, the credibility of my claim was further erased.
“You are so good together, I hope you stay like this forever,” they cursed me. If only the relationship was as utopic as my abuser made it seem. The anger episodes were previously spaced out, but now they became a daily thing. My abuser did all that they could to make each and every day of my life miserable. Every night concluded with some argument and things transitioned to frequent violence.
Abuse deteriorates with time. So, if at all, someone comes up to you and tells you about having been in an abusive relationship, do not ask them to ‘prove’ it. Rather, hear them out and take immediate action against the abuser. Staying silent is no solution and is, in fact, worse than the denial.