#istandwithalex #accountability #abuseculture
The man who stalked me for years, the man who tried to rape me twice when my body shut down from my illnesses, the man who left me in the middle of the street when my illnesses struck again and rendered me into so much useless rubber, he’s now married with a child.
This man who forced one of my friends to make sex tapes which he then blackmailed her with. This man who burned down his roommates house. This man who invited me to bring my sister along to New York to serve as prostitutes for him and his friends. This man who said he could never be the husband of a female president. This man who, despite my consistent and firm no, continued to hang around my friends in order to keep tabs on me.
In the few short years since he nearly ruined my friend’s psyche, he’s found someone and made a kid with her.
And I am so very afraid.
Not for myself. I could see through his bullshit from the first day he followed me home. I never believed his lies and knew I would end up a battered wife if I ever left with him like he wanted me to. He wanted to run off with me, where no one could ever find me, and he wanted to break me down until there was nothing left and he could finally discard me, most likely by killing me.
No, I always knew better, even if I didn’t manage to avoid everyone who wanted to damage me. I never remained a victim for more than a moment, I survived, and I became a thriver.
But most people aren’t like me. There are still broken people out there, people who’ve lost intimacy with themselves, who will believe those lies. Who think that what’s commonly defined as love really is love. They’ll keep ending up with people like him, who have already destroyed themselves and are now searching for someone else to bring down to their level. Many victims never move past that stage to survive or thrive.
We all know these stories. And we’re finally beginning to understand how complex, long-lasting, and complicated the effects of abuse really are. Yet many of us survivors still run into that same wall whenever we finally speak up and take back our power. It even happens in the poly community.
Yet when all the fervor dies down at the end of the day the typical reaction of others is to continue on in a “business is usual” fashion. People who weren’t witness to the abuse tend to remain friends with the abuser. Some of them even defend the abuser! Those who believe the survivor either say they’re blowing it out of proportion, that they should simply move on, or that there’s nothing to be done.
For so many who’ve survived such horrific events they often soon realize that they are on their own.
Everyone on the outside likes to offer up their own opinions about whether they think the survivor really experienced abuse, and if they think they did, then question why they just didn’t leave sooner. Or even better, they don’t believe that the abuse was that big of a deal. These are the same people who don’t think that words can hurt.
To be a trauma survivor dealing with PTSD is a long, lonely road of healing that never ends.
Survivors end up having to choose between family, friends, and the perpetrator in order to protect ourselves. In The Game Changer, abuse is only mentioned in passing, and even then the survivor is made out to be weak and unaware of boundaries. The main advice is to leave the partner if they won’t leave the one who is abusing them. This is a horrific lack of understanding of the workings of abuse.
While it is important to not play party to someone in the middle of the drama triangle, dealing with abusive behavior and survivors going through it is often dismissed as “you can’t save someone who won’t save themselves” instead of realizing it as an opportunity to change the world.
The reasons that abuse can thrive in the non-monogamous and romantic-sexual communities is because our cultures are set up to support them. Our religions let them hide. Society and dating culture are set up to encourage people to lie, to sacrifice themselves for love, and to accept the one true path without deviation or question.
Our life lessons are crippling us.
We are not taught how to deal with abuse, how to heal, how to prevent abuse, and there are no support systems for us among people who have not experienced abuse themselves. It was only recently that doctors realized they should be checking battered women for concussions! Sports normalize violence and we still think that men are stronger than women and yet these women’s physical and mental health is ignored.
Having the shit kicked out of you can actually give you brain damage, which can make it harder for you to make decisions. Survivors of childhood traumas and poverty can develop immune system deficiencies, chronic pain conditions, migraines, and more. Basically, survivors are very literally physically changed and damaged from the abuse they’ve been through, whether or not it was “violent”.
And here most people are, just simply thinking that its the victims’ job to stop the abuser. Here the culture is remaining silent. Here they are still openly supporting the abuser. Here they are thinking it’s no big deal.
Here they are with no understanding of the ways our history and cultures actively support, encourage, and protect abusers and abusive behavior!
Abuse is not merely a survivor’s problem. It is not some sad, random act of violence that happens because someone just snapped. It does not happen in a vacuum of isolation. It has been woven into the tapestries of human relations for thousands of years through amatonormativity, patriarchy, racism, and labelling.
This view of abuse as the survivor’s problem means that abusers are never held accountable. It means that the systems which are complicit in the abuse are never examined. It means that survivors are expected to simply get on with their lives and that our PTSD doesn’t exist or isn’t as extreme as that of soldiers in war. It means most victims never become survivors and that many survivors never become thrivers. It means that education about how trauma, poverty, and everyday stresses from catcalls to lewd looks affect, distort, and destroy mental, emotional, and physical health goes untaught. It means that solutions focus on maybe stopping one abuser here or there, usually by sending them to jail instead of rehabilitating them.
I am disgusted by the lack of understanding or conversation surrounding abuse in the polyamorous community. The fact that we aren’t having these conversations is the reason why secondaries were treated so shittily in the second-wave poly movement. It’s the reason why veto power ever existed in the first place. It’s why couple privilege still goes unchecked among the romantic-sexual crowd.
I can see why many have left the poly label behind, having become disillusioned with the rampant racism, the lack of transparency and the lack of ethics in what is supposed to be an ethical community!
My stalker might end up hurting his new family because of the ways that our society protects abusers. The lack of knowledge surrounding abuse, its sources, and its effects means that survivors are placed at the end of the bullet. We bear the weight of it all. Some of us even blame ourselves.
Those of us who manage to recover somewhat from an entire world that’s structured against us have managed a monumental feat. Those of us who are queer, mentally diverse, disabled, of color, and read as women are over ten times more likely to be abused, killed, and ignored.
Abuse should be rare. Especially in intimate relationships. The fact that it’s so widespread and is especially present in romantic-sexual situations should tell us something is very, very wrong with our society. Recovering from abuse shouldn’t take decades. The fact that so many victims initially (or still) blame themselves shows where they rank to the rest of the world. If the world gave a damn no one would ever blame themselves for such atrocities. Abusers should be the ones who are afraid of what happened and seeking help for the rest of their lives; not survivors!
Until the poly community and the culture at large figures out that emotional intelligence, ethics, and analysis matters survivors will never become thrivers and abusers will never know the full effects of their actions.
Originally published at postmodernwoman.com on September 8, 2015.