An open letter to those assaulted by the ones they love

An open letter to those assaulted by the one they love

 

The hardest part to accept in some cases is that someone you cared about, possibly loved, could do that to you. There's always that guilt that hangs over, when the relationship is said and done, and you reflect on the behavior you allowed. It’s easy to blame yourself. It’ll always be easy to blame yourself for staying, not seeing the “signs”. No one ever talks about how obvious these signs are until it’s happening to you. So since you weren’t keen on the signs and didn’t act quick enough, you blame yourself. 

In my case, I blamed myself fairly quickly before I blamed others. I’m a smart girl, I didn’t have family issues, I knew what the signs were, and yet I still found myself in such a terrible situation. I thought it could never happen to me because I wasn’t a vulnerable person, I wasn’t a broken person or a weak person, for that matter. I’m still coming to terms with the idea that predatory people carefully pick and craft their behavior and take on a person for those closest to them. Red flags seem non-existent. When you love someone you have no reason to believe that they’d ever be capable of hurting you.

 I had never loved anyone who was abusive to me, so when I finally did, it was strange. My brain, similar to other women, couldn’t process that love had the potential to hurt, how you could love someone so much even though they’ve taken a part of you. Letting go of the anger and blame is hard. It is hard until you remember that most people are assaulted by those they know, sometimes those they know very intimately. A predator/abuser is not always a scary person lurking in the shadows, awaiting the right moment to ponce. Sometimes it is the person laying right next to you, steadily testing your boundaries and love for them. 

For once you’re in love with someone, nothing they do can possibly seem that terrible in your eyes, even if they do something terrible to you. There are the lucky few who get out in time, and seek the help and resources they need, but not all of us are lucky enough. All people experience assault/abuse in different forms, so never compare your journey because you’ll end up throwing yourself back into the stage of guilt. No one who is ever abused is guilty because you didn’t deserve one ounce of what happened. This statement becomes hard for people to process when faced with situations of intimate partner violence. 

Intimate partner violence has become so stigmatized to the point where victims feel responsible for allowing themselves to be abused. Their experiences are reduced to a hustle or trick instead of being a violation of someone's life. The stigma around sexual assault and abuse can make it extremely daunting for anyone to want to seek help. 

Trust, as someone who thought they were “too smart” and “too careful” to get stuck in such a rut, seeking help and reaching out, terrified me. As a Black woman, it may be harder especially when we are expected to be strong and independent. Shed the stigma and reject the blame you unjustly assign yourself. Being told to seek help is easy, but in order to heal you have to believe that you deserve it.