Like most 30 somethings I often find myself mindless scrolling through social media sometimes clicking through random things that may catch my interest. Uh yes I need to know what potato I would be or what do you mean Kylie Jenner had a baby (yeah you better believe I watched that whole video she posted). While most of the time it is trashy entertainment, every once in a while a friend posts something intellectual and makes me think.
This post has been one that has been in my mind since I started my blog, but I just wasn’t sure how to put it into words or when the right time would be to post it. However, with current events and a friend posting what I thought was a well-written WSJ article, I figured now is as good as a time as any.
The article I am referencing is an opinion piece written by Colbie Holderness, the first wife of the former White House staff secretary, Rob Porter, “Rob Porter is my ex-husband. Here’s what you should know about abuse”.
So with a deep breath and a pounding heart let me tell you my story.
I was a victim of domestic violence.
I am pretty sure that is the first time I have ever said that statement out loud or in writing. Why you ask, well for many reasons. First, it took me a very long time to come to terms with this concept. Second, I still go back and forth regarding some of the incidents, was it really abuse. Third, I hate being viewed as a victim or weak. Finally, I very much struggle with the fact that I do not feel as though I was an innocent party in everything and that I also was an emotional abuser at times. So my mind struggles to determine was it really abuse or was it just a vicious cycle that I actively participated in.
Now, the piece by Holderness really caught my attention because of the images that accompanied the title of the article. I have those same images on my computer, except worse. I have grappled with the idea of posting them as part of this blog, but ultimately I determined that posting would be too raw for me. Additionally, I really don’t like making my family see them because what happened was a very dark period for not just C and I, but for my entire family as well.
As you have all gathered C and I were not exactly the healthiest couple. At 20 when I met C, I was just beginning to form who I was as a person and what I wanted from my life. He took this vulnerability and at first nurtured it, showing me the amazing life we could have together. I bought it hook, line and sinker. I truly believed that C would give me the life I thought I wanted and deserved because he loved me. And this people is where it gets tricky because I really do believe C loved me the best he could and I really do think that C never meant to hurt or damage me. However, he didn’t really know how to love me and what I needed and rather went off of dysfunctional patterns that were displayed to him through his formative years. I really do think that C believed that true love was this building up and then breaking down of your partner. Meaning that C thought by giving me “tough love” that he was making me a better person.
The abuse that I experienced was mainly emotional abuse. This broke me down as a person and truly made me believe that without C I was nothing. Honestly, I really thought that I was nothing in general and it made me so frustrated and upset because my rational mind knew it wasn’t true. And, the caretaker in me said “shut-up” . I really thought I was the one that could show C the “right” way to love someone and that if I just muscled through everything that it would be worth it when he pulled his shit together. This issue is so incredibly complex and so hard for me to articulate. I think it is best demonstrated as I think through a fight we had when we first moved to Denver.
Like most fights this one involved a night out drinking. When we got home he was so mad at me and I honestly don’t remember why. We got into a screaming fight and I found myself locked in my closet with him pounding on the door. As I was locked in this closet I was packing my clothes in a suitcase repeating out loud,”Breezy, you are stronger than this, your mom didn’t raise you to be an abused woman you know this isn’t right.” However when the pounding and screaming stopped and I opened the door I was greeted by a crying C who looked at me and said I don’t know what is wrong with me. And this people is why women stay. We stay because we love these men and we truly believe that they will change. It doesn’t matter what our friends or family say, we know them better than anyone else. I lived it, trust me.
Now, I do not want to say that our entire relationship was focused around this type of interaction as we would have long periods with no kind of emotional abuse. I don’t think many people understand that abuse doesn’t happen every day. Again, this is what is so tricky and the piece that literally fucks up your mind. Because, while C may have called me a fat piece of shit that was too fucked up to ever become a therapist, he also told me that I was gorgeous, smart and he knew I was going to accomplish great things. So, what do you believe? Seriously, if you could figure out what to believe let me know because you will save me so much money on therapy! Because much like Holberness, I would often find myself questioning “Am I crazy”?
So, I stayed with C and I elected to focus on the second part of his statements and attempt to ignore the first part. I thought of myself a strong woman who could take anything he dished out. And late the evening of March 31, 2012 I found that I was pretty strong as I took an air purifier to the face after an incredibly vicious fight which broke my eye socket and left me with a permanent reminder of one of the worst experiences in my life. One that I constantly have to explain when dating now. And, in shocking news I don’t like to hold back so I tell the guy the truth. Screw him if he can’t handle it!
I am not going to discuss what triggered the fight, but yes alcohol was involved. And, I honestly don’t want to relive all the details of it not because I am not comfortable with them, but because I don’t think it is fair to C to do that publicly. Here is what I will share about the exact incident. I truly believe that when C threw the air purifier he didn’t mean to hit me in the face. I will stand by that to this day. I do not think he intended to hurt me. I think he was fine with any emotional abuse that he inflicted because he didn’t see the scars of that and could pretend it didn’t happen, but he didn’t want to hurt me physically because then he had a visual, constant reminder of the truly ugly part of himself that he wanted to hide.
So with that, here is what I will say about the “incident”.
- No matter how much I told C I was like Rocky, I am not Rocky. I couldn’t just put Vaseline on my cut and go to sleep. Something I repeatdly said to him as I did not want to go to the hosiptal.
- While it was an incredibly bloody and horrific scene, it also was a moment of beauty. Yeah I know super fucked up. Why beauty you ask? Well as I said previously, C did well in chaos and during this moment he shined. Despite the shit that he had just inflicted on me he jumped into action and kept me calm, drove me to the hospital, despite my rejections of this plan, and then kept me calm as he explained that the police would be arriving soon to arrest him. Yup, this situation was one that showed me the potential of who C could be and how he could take care of me. I know, I know you are all screaming at your computer “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU”. All I can say is, unless you live a certain situation you will never know how you will react or what you will think.
- I did contemplate leaving C after the incident. There was an active restraining order in place as the State pressed charges and C and I could not live together for a period of time. I ultimately decided not to leave because C really did work hard on being better and I seriously thought he changed. I also convinced the state not to press felony charges as I stood by C and wanted him to get help not prison.
- I hated feeling like a victim. I sat in interview after interview and appointment after appointment hearing that I was just “another battered woman” and that I needed help so I could see who C truly was. I will say this to all of those Drs. and police that told me this, you don’t know me and you don’t know what I have been through. Just you like you don’t know the other women or men who may be in your office after me in a similair situation. There is no standard battered woman/man, we are actual people with lives and reasons for staying or leaving.
- My family is very supportive as they jumped into action to help me. This does not mean they forgave C right away and some still hold resentment against him, but for the sake of my happiness they put that aside as I chose to build a life with him.
- C has the best friend a guy can ask for. D stepped up like no one’s business during this incident and due to how he helped us during this dark period I will always have a soft spot in my heart for him. I mean the guy came and held my hand while I got stitches in my face. Why did I call him and not my friends. Well, that is an easy question – I didn’t want my friends to hate C and I wasn’t prepared for their reactions and demands on me aka leave him now.
- Abuse doesn’t just happen to the poor. I mean seriously, on the outside C and I appeared to have it together. We went to work, made good money, had friends and did fun things. Yet, it still happened.
Now there is so much more I could write about this and if people do have questions I am more than happy to discuss as I have come to terms with what happened that night. What I am still coming to terms with are the emotional scars that remain. When I am faced with rejection my first thought is, “C was right and I am not good enough”. When my pants are too tight, I automatically think “shit, I am a fat ass that no one will love, he was right”. This is the lovely after fact of abuse, it takes a long long time to rebuild the person you once were or in my case the person I was trying to become at 20 when I first met C.
And because I can’t say it any better I am going to leave you all with an except from Holderness’ WSJ piece.
“I also never imagined I would be in an abusive relationship.
Being strong — with excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts — does not inoculate a person against abuse. It doesn’t prevent her from entering into a relationship with an abuser. Abuse often doesn’t manifest itself early on — only later, when you’re in deep and behind closed doors. The really ugly side of Rob’s abuse only came out after we married, following three years of dating.
Abuse comes in many forms. It is visited on the poor and the rich, the least educated and the most, people with a strong and deep network of friends and family and those without a support structure. And an abusive nature is certainly not something most colleagues are able to spot in a professional setting, especially if they are blinded by a stellar résumé and background.”
For more information regarding Domestic Violence along with an excellent list of resources visit the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence.here.