ARAVA FOR SALE, [Editor’s note: There is a several month wait list to post on Violence UnSilenced, so sometimes the time lines on pieces are a little confusing. Kelly has posted before on VU as "Kay"--she sent her submission in March and it finally ran in June. Back in March, right after submitting her piece to me, she wrote a second piece and she asked that I post it anonymously; this is the piece that is finally running today. However, over this past weekend she sent a postscript letting me know she no longer wanted to be anonymous, is ARAVA addictive, and why.]
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The fact that I don't have to hide behind anonymous is the gift he's given me today. .
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Thank you for visiting Violence UnSilenced, a speak-out platform for survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and sexual abuse. If you are a survivor and it is safe to do so, we encourage you to share your story here. If you are not a survivor but you want to support those who are, please click around this site and find out more about what you can do.
Now I know why I was reading this website from 3am until I fell back asleep, then woke to this being the next entry to read. I needed to focus on this. I needed to HEAR this.
I just left my husband 2 weeks ago. He never hit me, yelled, broke anything, cheated, and I don't think he was verbally abusive.
But I never felt good enough. I never felt like I deserved his attention which would explain why he didn't give much. The line that said "Why can't I just learn to live with the infrequent...." rang very true. I've beaten myself up over and over with the same question. He's a good man. He loves you. What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you so melodramatic you have to take things so deeply? Need so much? Hurt so much when he's done nothing?
I'm in therapy. Just barely. As of last week. Because ending the marriage with a man I love was going to kill me. But I knew I was doing the right thing.
I may not have been abused. But I can relate to this story, and I did leave. And I would love the link to the checklist.
Wow, you story is truly inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Although I've never had this kind of personal experience, my university started this GlassBook Project to raise awareness as well as bringing survivors of trauma together with students to create books made of glass.
I've had to do a lot of research on survivors stories relating to domestic abuse and how specific aspects of their relationships changed, and of all the stories, yours really spoke to me because while not everyone has visible scars, they are still present, and even once its over, the survivors are left to deal with the aftermath. When you so eloquently wrote: "The parts of me that have shut down and stopped caring, the parts of me that have hardened over time, covered in that invisible scar tissue.." it spoke to me so powerfully, such a clear visual, that it became the source of inspiration for my GlassBook. As a class we're still working on our books, however if you'd like to see last years collection here's the link: http://www.glassbookproject.org/
So once again I'd like to thank you for sharing your story, that it may inspire others to do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like more information about the GlassBooks Project or if you'd like to see photos of book once its completed.
For being brave enough to share your story.
For give that little voice inside my head a loud speaker when she says "Emotional abuse IS ABUSE" when people tell me I should get over it. Just because there aren't marks doesn't mean there aren't scars.
Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you for your bravery. Emotional abuse seems harder to admit since there are no visible marks.
I am glad that you are leaving and that your Husband is realizing what he done. It might be too late for the two of you, but perhaps it will help your children.
Kelly, your story moved me so much, my comment got so long I ended up sending you an e-mail.
My husband & I have been married 24 years. 10 years ago I was ready to call it quits. Emotional abuse, control issues, baggage...it's a familiar history. We found our way to a healthy relationship and I have no regrets. I hope you and your husband can one day say the same. I'm praying for you both.
I am so very proud of you for sticking to your decision this time, when he took a step he had never taken before. I am glad that he wants to get help, and truly hope for all of you, that he means it. However, I agree with the other commentor who said this 'gift' wasn't from him, IT WAS A GIFT YOU GAVE TO YOURSELF. you truly finally listened to that voice inside your head that has been screaming out to all the other victims. You heard her, and you left. I am so very proud of you honey.
Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for being brave and strong and concerned about your own children. Thank you for loving yourself when he couldn't.
Every single comment here means the world to me. I'm staying with my brother right now, and don't have internet access, which is why I haven't responded until now.
I'm safe, and I'm working on piecing my life together. Right now I'm just in survival mode, doing what I need to do, and not giving in to the emotions - because I can't break right now.
The only words I can say right now are so inadequate - THANK YOU.
Oh Kelly. Oh, Honey. Oh God, there's so much I want to say but I can't. Just know, I totally get it. Not in the way people say they get it when they've never been there so they don't really get it, but in the way that so much of what you said could easily describe many days I've experienced. My heart goes out to you, and I admire you for being brave enough to leave. Good for him for getting help-good for you for staying strong.
I lived in very physically abusive situations both as a child and then with my first marriage. The times that my nose was broken, plates smashed over my head, fingers slammed in the door, things thrown at me, being dragged out of a dead sleep by my hair by some drunken mother/husband left marks, bruises and physical proof that someone had assaulted me. Those bruises have healed. Its the other ones that cause the most problem, the rejection, dismissal, psychological bruises, like when they just shake their head at you like you're the stupidist thing they've ever seen or let you know how unstable/skinny/stupid/bad mother or whatever bullshit they come up with for the day.
Its time to change, I don't live like that anymore. I haven't in a very long time. HERE'S A NEWSFLASH::::::NOT EVERYONE LIVES LIKE THIS!!!!! and no one should have to.
I am so happy that you feel confident and comfortable enough to be honest about who you are. So happy that you feel safe enough to do so. I am relieved that your husband figured out what he had been doing, and I sincerely hope that he does make a change, for his sake and everyone else's. For you, for the kids, whether you are there or not.
I'm praying that you can heal now.
While reading what you wrote here, I had to keep reminding myself I didn't write it because the words, the feelings, the entire post felt like my recent history. I left my second husband June 2007 after 6 years of marriage that were in every way you describe - exactly like yours. My only difference is that my exhusband refuses to recognize - even now - his part in my leaving.
I so understand the fight to recognize that what is happening is abuse. And finding the strength to fight for more, for a better life, is so hard but I'm doing it. Like you, I'm doing it.
I'm so glad you were able to find the strength in yourself to walk away. I'm so glad you were able to turn your back on the pain. it's great that he's recognized his problem, too, and I hope, for his sake, he's able to fix it...it's just too bad you're the one he had to practically break before he could come to that realization.
you are a brave, brave woman.
RT @MaggieDammit: Please support today's survivor: http://violenceunsilenced.com/kelly-2/ Please share this brave story
If you read Krista's comment above, she describes me to a "t" (and she should know - I'm her Mom). I applaud you for taking a stand and making a new life for you and your children. Believe me when your children will tell you over and over how happy they are away from the abuse - we don't really hide it from them at all, no matter how hard we try. The scars will always be on the inside, but they can be soothed with self-love and courage.
Bless you for sharing your story and for taking one of the biggest leaps to a better life. Hugs to you.
i hear you, and i can feel your pain. But, you are being strong, moving on, and in the process, he did stop and look and see who he had become. Thats always a good thing. Now you need your time to heal, and move on. Kudos on being brave enough to do what you needed to do.
good for you! I will be keeping the URL to your story for a long time. Who knows? Maybe i'll even send it to someone someday...
Emotional abuse is still abuse. In some ways it is more damaging than physical violence, because it is invisible to the eye and that much more difficult to pin down as something violating and wrong.
It's easy to tell yourself that you are just oversensitive, overreacting. Women are often socially schooled to think that, don't rock the boat, don't make a fuss.
Well done for having chosen you, at the end, and moving away from the thing that was submerging you for so long. And well done to your ex-partner for having the courage to look at himself and connect the pieces.
Change is hard, for everyone, but if you keep going, keep chipping away at things long enough one day they stop feeling unnatural and a new way of being is born.
I wish you all the best in your onwards journey. Take gentle care.
I'm always amazed at the way the writers here often wonder if their stories "count". Are they really "that bad"? I mean put beside some of the horrors we read here are they really so bad? I can see how it would be easy to second guess yourself. After all, you've spent the last 16 years having the idea that your story didn't "count" reinforced for you -- by the one person who should have wept the most bitterly for you.
Every story counts. Every survivor, whether s/he speaks out or not, counts. Every single case matters. Including yours. Both of them. They matter because you matter, regardless of what you may have been told.
In many ways, the verbal/mental/emotional abusers are much more cruel than the old fashioned wife beaters. Because there is no defense, there is no evidence, there is no offense punishable by law. You're left with a short list of bad options: Get out, or get over it.
But you never "get over it". You learn to endure it until as Nicole put it so very well, you "make life just one long 'endurance.'" You deserve better. Your children deserve better. And in light of the most recent events, you're finally starting to get "better".
I'm glad your husband has recognized himself. I'm gladder still that he's taking steps to change. But I feel compelled to point out that this change is one he needs to make by and for himself. That's his issue to deal with, not yours. So I'd caution you not to let him or anyone, including -- no, especially -- yourself make you accountable for his recovery.
Most of all Kelly, I'm so very very happy to see you free of the secret, free of the silence, free of the bondage of abuse. And I hope the happiness you deserve is surrounding you in all the best ways.
first of all...that last sentence?
"it's the gift he's given me today."
you've got it backwards. it's the gift you've given yourself.
i read your story and i hear my mom. she always figured that if she wasn't being hit, then she wasn't being abused. and i grew up in a house with a woman who didn't know her own self-worth. the nasty comments, the belittling, the misogyny, the porn littered throughout the house. i saw it all.
i am so proud of you for sharing your story. and i can tell you one thing for sure:
the greatest gift you can ever give your child is the example of knowing how much you are worth. and demanding it.
you are so brave. you know that, right?
I'm glad that you found the courage to leave, and to share your story. It's an inspiration. You are an amazing woman. Blessings, Love, and Light to you.
There's not ONE of us that didn't think to ourselves, "well man, what was *I* complaining about?" after we thought about it. I felt like a whiny baby after I posted about my story. Sure I got kidnapped with my kid, but it ended well.
I've been there alongside you, and I am so proud that you stood tall and were able to see things as they were and want to fix them. I hope that someone who reads this recognizes themselves--I wish I'd read this 8 years ago--and takes steps to change where they are. You're strong and you're tough and your brave and you can do it.
“It’s not that bad.” I don’t think there ever was a survivor who didn’t utter that phrase at some time or another. I’m sure lots of survivors have uttered it after seeing some of the horror stories played out on this site and almost instinctively compared it with their own.
The truth though is that it’s WORSE than “that bad.” There really is no way to compare experiences because even identical abuse scenarios are felt differently by different people. “Not that bad” is what we all say to steel ourselves for the next confrontation. To avoid putting it out in the open. To survive. What we fail to realize is that by continuing to just endure, we set ourselves up to make life just one long “endurance.” We miss out on things that we should enjoy. On people who would love us – really. On things that matter most. We do this because our sense of “normal” is skewed – as it was for you – by things in our past. Unresolved things that whether they left visible scars or not, the wounds still ran just as deep. You don’t have to be hit or otherwise assaulted to be damaged.
As I read your story, all I could say was “leave, leave, leave!” Apparently that’s what you’ve done. Good. Equally good is that your husband has seen the error of his ways and wants to get help. I hope he does. He’s in a very small elite group that we can only hope will grow over time. Most abusers just move on to the next victim. Hopefully, that won’t be the case here.
For you, I don’t see how you can go forward without first going back; back to that time when your childhood ended. Make as much peace as you can with that. Try to understand that it was not your fault and that you are as worthy of love and respect as the next person. (I think not having this is what perpetuated the situation with your husband; anyone who truly loves and respects themselves could not abide by those terms.)
You're brave to take these steps to not only help yourself, but others, too. Now that you have realized what was done to you, I hope you will continue to see the wide array of things waiting for you and move toward those and toward the peace and happiness that you deserve.
I was in your shoes as well for a long time. I never recognized it until after he was gone. How wonderful that you had the strength to take matters into your own hands. And how wonderful that he has somehow found the catalyst to be different.
Today, I stand strong. I am so glad that you are too. Thank you so much for sharing. Continue to find strength and happiness. You deserve it.
Having been in the throes of an abusive relationship in the past (several), I have been where you are-and I think FOR ME, the emotional is worse than the physical becaause bruises and broken bones heal; words don't. They stay with you, and make you feel like a piece of crap all the time; never good enough. At least for me. I was so glad to read your post-script, and I will pray for you AND your husband; together or not, it is good that he sees that he needs to change, and with hard work I believe it can be done. For you, you are finding your strength and that makes me happy. I am sending a dear friend of mine going through this exact same thing to this post, in the hopes that she, too will find the strength.
I've long said that if I had to choose between the two, I'd rather take a physical punch than an emotional one; I can grow new skin but I can't grow a new psyche. Some stuff gets in there and sticks, no matter what.
Wow. You just wrote my story. Or at least some of it. And that helped me enormously. Thank you for being brave enough to speak out. I have a blog that I used to keep "neutral" all about my children and how "fine" my life was. I moved countries over fifteen years ago to be with my husband, that's how much I loved him. The flags were there from the start, but I THOUGHT I COULD CHANGE HIM. Teach him how to love, cherish and respect me - the most important things in any relationship - at least I now know and believe that they are.
Over the years, I experienced what you have. I was diminished. Critisised. Judged. Called names. Told I was crazy when I had PPD. I too am a strong, passionate outspoken woman who considers my self very outgoing. Over the years that changed, at least internally. I began to believe what I was always hearing and I started to believe it. I gave my heart and soul to my marriage and to him and I was left with a shell of what I am at my core.
He left me, so I never made the choice, but I wanted to. Fear kept me from thinking I could leave, as well as a silent belief that I didn't deserve better, that somehow I was at fault, somehow if only I could change, be a better wife, mother, he would change. I learnt the hard way. He had two affairs, and he expected me to understand. Since he left, he has been so abusive verbally and emotionally that I literally disappeared.
Except I didn't. Time and distance has taught me the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviour. I have empowered myself by starting to believe in myself again and re-discover my own truths. You can do it. You must do it. It is abuse. Plain and simple, no matter which way it presents itself. Either way it is eating away at you, your self-esteem and your value as a woman. NO-ONE should ever have to stand for that.
I was lucky to befriend a woman who had walked the same path before me and gave me a book on emotional abuse. I struggled so much with accepting that this is what happened, but finally the truth was undeniable. It is as painful as being punched. Words sting just as much. I understood you talking about that.
I wish you strength, courage and mostly the ability to believe that you are worth more than this. Whatever decision you make, maybe get help from a professional in allowing you the tools to make a choice. I wish you hope and a resolution. I hope you can find yourself again. I am on the slow journey of coming up out of the hole, but I have no doubt I will make it. You will too.
Feel free to read my blog if you want to compare stories. Starting to be honest about my feelings and the situation was the most empowering thing I ever did. I was tired of secretly living with the pain. You can also email me anytime. My email is on my blog.
All the best. I hope I've helped in some small way.
Courage and peace.
I don't know what to say.. I understand.. I can relate.. and I too find myself measuring my own story against nearly every story here. Feeling like these stories are bad enough that it makes my own somehow ok. Even reading this, knowing the feelings having felt them myself.. daily. But still, I don't have it bad. It's ok.. and I'm fine.
My life is so confusing that I don't know what to think anymore. I just hope that my children can make better choices and have better outcomes in their lives than I did..
I love you, dear. I'm SO proud of you. So very very proud of you.