Unlike a holiday to Disney, those of us who visit AbuseLand aren’t in a hurry to brag about our experiences. We don’t get wacky hats. We don’t even get a cute t-shirt. *sadface*. What we do get is a bucketload of shame and fear when it comes to talking about our experiences. Being abused means there is something inherently wrong with you that makes you deserving of the abuse. It means you probably come from a low-class, uneducated, trashy family. It means that you’re not the kind of person anyone should trust.
As an adult, admitting you’re in an abusive relationship is akin to admitting you’re defective. Stupid. Possibly lying (at worst) or attention-seeking (at best). Co-dependent. Masochistic. For some people, all they see about you forevermore is that you’ve been abused. No other status matters. No matter what I wear, how many additional letters I earn after my name, how awesome my kids turn out or how big my bank account is, to some people I will always be “that abused chick”.
Being open about being abused means being vulnerable. And most of us survivors hate feeling vulnerable. It’s not a comfortable place…and we thought we left it behind. But, and this is the tough part, it’s important to talk about it. There are a lot of us out there. Abused children. Abused spouses. Abused children who stumbled into abusive marriages.
We weren’t “looking for it”.
We weren’t “asking” to be abused.
And despite being the ones who are acted upon in this dynamic, we feel the shame so much that it can cripple us.
And that’s why I’m writing about my abuse. Because there’s maybe someone else out there who needs to hear that s/he’s okay. That there’s nothing to be ashamed of. That it’s time to get rid of the stigma. The more we open up and talk about abuse, people will see just how common this problem is.
To some people I’ll always be “that abused chick”, that’s true, the person I became as I grew up navigating abuse is still very much “that abused chick”. But I’m trying to learn to gather all the shards of me and form them into one person.