The Seemingly Never-Ending Pain of Abuse

The first time my biological father hit me, it was a spank on the legs. The next time he hit me, it was a slap on the face. The next time was a belt. It ended up with my biological father’s hands around my neck, choking me; what haunts me the most was the look on his face as he squeezed harder and harder, the cold, unemotional stare. He would kill me without an ounce of guilt if only he could get away with it, his eyes told me. He is a drug addict, and for many years, I was trapped by his control. I cut off all contact as soon as I could. However, that hasn’t stopped him from trying to get to me, through other relatives. I’m writing this now, because I’m angry, because I can’t handle the memories of the pain he caused right now.

I am still affected by the abuse. The trauma frequently manifests itself in my low self esteem, in my personal relationships. Anyone who knows me knows how often I apologize in conversation. Even those who don’t know my past notice it. I’m told to stop apologizing so much by pretty much everyone, but somehow I can’t stop myself. I’m not sure exactly what causes it,I was so used to apologizing to avoid conflict in my childhood, I think I see it as protecting myself from getting hit. I have trust issues and I find it very hard to feel safe. I have been with my very supportive boyfriend for two years, and I am lucky to have found a healthy relationship, but anytime I see my boyfriend get angry about something, I become scared for my safety. I know logically that he will not hit me, and I know he spends much time trying to help me work through my remaining issues, I know he has an even, in control temper,and even know he’s angry about something unrelated to me, but knowing all of this can’t keep me from being afraid sometimes.

My confidence is low a lot of the time, and I remember all of the things he said to me, and all of the things he called me: bitch, fat, stupid.  He had me convinced that I was worthless, that I would never have anything good in my life. He would tell me I would never be loved by anyone, and this replays in my head at times of stress and I can’t believe in myself, I don’t know how to love myself. I have a difficult time believing I deserve love and happiness.

I have made progress, and I know that I am a lot happier than I ever thought I could be. But, the residual sadness, the anger, the feeling of helplessness can be overwhelming. The memories make me feel like I will explode and I have struggled with ways to deal with my emotions. I can’t afford therapy, and I talk as much as I can to those I trust when I need to, but the feelings always come back eventually. I don’t know if I will ever fully recover, or what it means to fully recover.

Where do I go from here? Where does our society go from here? Many still believe abusing children and women is just necessary discipline, and that abuse towards adult men never happens, these attitudes damage survivors of domestic violence, and discourage  many from getting help. How do we stop abuse with these ideas in our society? How can we change these ideas? I know the pain I have suffered, and I don’t want anyone else to ever feel the way I’ve felt. I have hope sometimes, and other times feel hopeless. I think the first step to progress is honesty and communication, which will lead to more awareness. We must remember the stories of survivors, and we must give support where we can. It’s not an easy battle, but in the end, I believe I can, and we can, win.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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