When It's Not Love
This was not the blog I had originally planned to write this month, but with a certain trial being played out in the media right now . . . I felt a little triggered. Last year I wrote a series of blogs revealing my own personal story of domestic abuse. It was very therapeutic to be able to share my experiences and to show how my bad choices eventually lead to finding the person I needed to love . . . ME!
I really try to stay away from celebrity drama and the media nowadays, but I was intrigued by the Depp/Heard defamation trial. I've loved Johnny Depp since I can remember, so since the 21 Jump Street days. Watching this man, who is so beloved by millions of people around the world for his amazing talent in his craft, listen to the audio of his now ex-wife gaslight him; it broke my heart to see this and it transported me back to my own moment of being gaslit by a man I loved.
When the person you love and supposedly loves you, physically assaults you and then tries to make you believe that it didn't happen THAT way. . . yeah, that's NOT LOVE. Not even close. That's how people feel like they're going insane, especially if this is common behavior from the abuser. As I laid on the bed sobbing, thinking my nose was broken, he told me that if called the police, they wouldn't believe me. I was so twisted up in my head and so mentally broken that I thought he was telling me the truth. I was fully convinced that if I called the police and showed them the marks on my body, the physical proof of his abuse, that I wouldn't be believed. I don't even recognize that girl anymore. Thank goodness. I was so broken from the mental torture of that relationship. Funny enough, our first date was 5/5/2005.
I can only imagine what it must be like for a man. . . since we tend to revere men as the stronger sex; it's hard to fathom a woman, who is much smaller than a man (typically,) having physical power or control over a man. We romanticized "the slap" that old Hollywood starlets would bestow upon their male co-stars, yet we have no problem calling a man a wife-beater at the slightest inkling of abuse. Neither is acceptable. Love does not mean harming your partner physically, emotionally, or verbally. We've heard many instances of men being the aggressor in Hollywood relationships, although it seems to be downplayed when it is a woman doing the abuse. But why? We need to raise awareness about intimate partner violence. It goes both ways.
My Mom left my Dad when I was two years old because he would hit her. She didn't want me growing up thinking it was acceptable for a man to hit a woman. I applaud my Mom for having the courage to leave my Dad. I know it couldn't have been easy to do, let alone with a toddler. Even though my Mom made this brave decision to leave my Dad, I still ended up in abusive relationships, yes plural. I had two different boyfriends in high school assault me. Now, I do have a confession; I have been an aggressor in relationships. I was young and modeled some of those terrible behaviors I watched on the big screen, where the girl slaps the boy and haughtily walks away. Apparently, Hollywood and movies left more of an impression than my Mom leaving a domestic abuse situation. I'm not proud of that, but that is something that I don't engage in any longer. And honestly, I wouldn't want to be with a man that would tolerate that kind of behavior from me. But that's part of the problem; lacking self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-respect. If I wasn't lacking in any of these areas, I wouldn't have put up with that shit from my ex and I wouldn't have felt the need to inflict pain upon my adolescent boyfriends.
I learned so much from that experience. I learned how to be on my own again. I learned how to treat myself well. I learned about self-care. I learned what I didn't want from my romantic relationships, which lead me to discover what I truly wanted from a partner. Hindsight is always 20/20. I'm not sure I would be the woman I am today if I hadn't survived that abusive relationship and I say survive because after that moment when I thought he broke my nose, I realized that he WILL eventually kill me and I needed to get out. Strangulation is said to be a sign of more serious violence to come or death by an intimate partner. Yikes.
The sad part about this whole thing is . . . men aren't believed when they reveal they have been the victim of intimate partner violence. We think it's only women who get abused, but in fact, it does go both ways. It's not always "believe her," because sometimes women lie. And men lie too. It's about finding the truth and not shaming survivors, regardless of their gender, and giving them the supports they need to begin the healing process: talk therapy, yoga, Reiki, EFT or any healing modality that seems appropriate. There is no clear path to healing, but letting your story be told CAN be part of the healing process. It was for me and I hope it helps Mr. Depp to share his story.
Stay well and take good care of your partner.
Your IPV Survivor,