I’m The Victim Here

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More often than not, we experience verbal abuse and don’t even realize that it’s happening to us. I’m sure we’ve all had that one friend that would walk all over you, but when you tried to let them know that their treatment of you was offensive it became the end of the world. And how dare you point out their behavior as less than friendly! You owe them an apology now for sticking up for yourself!

We tend to brush off their actions with, “Oh, they’re just very outspoken” or “I was overreacting to what she said”. But it’s not healthy. We teach those around us how to treat us. They know who will put up with their crap and who won’t, and unfortunately it’s the ones we’re closest to.

It probably started out small with them making a rude remark about your home, appearance, family, or job. And they brushed off their behavior with a flaky excuse. . .  “Well you know I had a bad day at work, my boss was on my ass about being late, and my boyfriend and I got into it that morning.” Thus turning the focus from your pain to them, making you feel guilty for your pain. And now they’re the victim, not you.

Then the verbal battering becomes more frequent, and it’s almost as if they are just picking fights. They don’t allow you to voice your feelings openly, and when you do they interrupt or make you feel as though you’re overreacting and have no right to be upset with them. They minimize your emotional pain and hurt feelings with a “how dare you” attitude.

This is text book gaslighting. Manipulation at it’s finest and they are good at it. They are pros at making themselves the victim in every situation. They are pros at never taking responsibility for their actions or words. They are pros at getting their way. This is toxic behavior and just like we urge you to get out of a toxic intimate relationship, we urge you to distance yourself from toxic friendships. They will suck the life from you, eat away at your ability to find joy, and drain your emotional sanity until there is nothing left but a shell. A shell of a person that no longer knows who they are, where they belong, or what to do with themselves.

So, don’t forget that abuse isn’t always violent. Abuse doesn’t always happen between a husband and wife. Abuse can take place in any relationship, great or small. Keep yourself aware of the red flags of abusive people. It isn’t healthy to stay in any type of toxic relationship, your mental state will thank you later. Surround yourself with those that support and lift you up.

~Christa G.

Overreacting

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When it’s “that time of the month” I’m always reminded of my ex.

I got the copper IUD shortly after we started dating. I was done dealing with the side effects of hormonal birth control and didn’t wish to continue experimenting with other forms of it. The only major side effects of the copper IUD were painful and heavier periods.  I had always had painful periods, but then again who didn’t. So I went for it. It was rough at first, the pain was and is unlike any of my previous periods, and at first I had cramps every day. I started popping Ibuprofen like Tic Tacs. I nursed my cramps every night and avoided being active because it seemed to increase the pain.

This was around the time my ex was trying his damnedest to have me go to the gym with him. I believe I’ve expressed my hatred of such public facilities. I would be motionless on the couch, trying not to moan in pain and he would be debating with me about how that he knew girls who would work out to help relieve the cramps. I tried to explain to him that these cramps were like I had the Antichrist kicking my ovaries with boots that had daggers jutting out of their soles, while some other demon was trying to pull out my uterus. And that was everyday for me for awhile. He continued to minimize my pain, saying I just needed to get up off the couch and do something.

When we’d get into arguments about totally unrelated topics, he would angrily bring up how I always complained of my cramps, like it was somehow an excuse to get out of doing stuff with him (such as go to the f*#%ing gym). I started to feel like my pain was in my head. That I was a cry-baby, a whimp, who didn’t know how to handle pain like the other women in his life . . . The ones who liked to exercise when they were cramping.

I didn’t realize at the time that my pain was an annoying inconvenience to him. He wanted a girlfriend who would go to the gym with him, despite her cramps. He didn’t care about the sacrifices I made for both of us to avoid having children. He didn’t care about my feelings or anything about me. Everything always centered around him. How dare I use pain as an excuse to get out of running on a treadmill. I complained too easily. Just like how I complained of that one time when he kicked me in the ankle. He said he barely nudged me. Or that one time he yelled and cornered me in the bathroom when I was trying to leave for work. He said I was being overly dramatic.

One day he said to me, “So you know how I bought those new boxer briefs? Well, I now know what it must be like for you to have cramps. I wore those briefs all day and they did not fit right, they were really uncomfortable and it was hard to concentrate at work. And I thought, that must be how you feel whenever you’re experiencing cramps.”

~Lindsey V.

Moving On

 

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It’s so easy to say, “Let the past be the past. Forgive and forget and move on with your life.” Or “If you dwell on the past you’ll never be able to move forward.”

Wow are these statements true! If we continue to remind ourselves of all the times someone has lied to or wronged us, we will never be able to reach our full potential or full happiness.

Why is it so hard to remove the hurt from those past experiences?! Sometimes I wish I could scrub my brain of all the painful memories that resurface from time to time. The circumstances to which someone took advantage of my kindness and gullible nature. The times that I was too quick to forgive and move on, but didn’t resolve it fully so it still plagues me. The moments that left a scar in my soul and kept me from being able to live joyfully.

I am a shell of “everything is perfect” on the outside, while my mind is secretly working 100 miles an hour to pick apart everything that I’ve ever experienced.

General anxiety at its finest.

These are the emotions of someone that has been abused. And they are dealt with daily.

You’ve been lied to about what they were doing, who they were with, and where they were. You’ve been cheated on, cursed at, spit on, beat on, and blamed.

The survivors that are lucky enough to make it out alive are left with pieces of themselves that no longer fit. We must gently work to put ourselves back together. Healing and learning how to live again. Finding a place that we belong. Finding others that understand us. Finding joy.

We need to find the strength to let go of the past so that we can see clearly ahead. This doesn’t mean that you condone the way that person treated you, it just means that you are going to rise above it and no longer allow them to control your train of thought. I am going to purge myself of the negative impact from situations that are far gone and out of my control. It’s time for us to focus on what lies ahead.

~Christa G.

Helpless

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We’ve all been there. Woke up and it was a perfectly normal, happy day. Traveled to work with no incident. Maybe an hour or two goes by, also without incident. And then, suddenly, without any warning, a customer or a client forces an unhappy confrontation that throws the rest of our day into utter turmoil. Nothing seems to go right. We spend the rest of our day on edge, just trying to claw our way back to that feeling of normalcy.

I have been having these days all too often lately. The slightest offense will drive me into an uncontrollable irritability. I’ll come home with so much anger boiling inside of me, until I finally erupt in a fit of bitter tears for seemingly no reason at all, hiding myself in my bathroom, ashamed to display such childishness in front of my husband. I know, deep down, I’m still not over the manipulation I experienced in my childhood from my church. I’m still not over the years of psychological and emotional abuse I experienced from my subsequent boyfriends. I’m still not over the resulting self-deprecation and fears I carry around with me every day like a heavy weight on my shoulders.

I’m physically free from all of that abuse, but my mental liberation is still a work in progress. I still minimize everything I went through. I am continually holding myself back by recycling in my head every negative thing ever said to me. I can’t even take my own advice when I suggest to others to work on loving ourselves better or to stop abusing ourselves or to practice power poses. It’s so easy to give advice out, but to follow that same advice when you’ve made a habit of tearing yourself down, is something else entirely.

That’s why I absolutely love that quote in its beautiful simplicity. My sister posted this on her Facebook wall today and when I read it, it just clicked with me. A surprising revelation swept over me. Why do I let these outside forces influence my happiness? For a person who needs stability and structure, I take so much stability away from my life by letting unpredictable circumstances govern my overall contentment. Just like when I realized my ex needed to get out of my life for me to take back control, I need to let go of the pull that these outside influences have over me.

Yes, we all have good and bad days. I expect I will never be able to stop the sensation of having a “bad day,” but I want to be able to respond better to those bad moments. I don’t want to feel myself lose control to the emotions raging inside of me because I find myself helpless again. I’m going to take back control. Whatever it takes. If I need to meditate, I will seriously start practicing meditation. If I need to go back to counseling, I will go back. Healing is never just an overnight thing.

If you are also working on healing after leaving an abusive relationship, please share your thoughts. What do you find helps you the most?

~Lindsey V.

Desensitized America

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Donald Trump’s words are not just “naughty” or “dirty” but are the epitome of rape culture, and it’s an insult to women to compare his remarks to a fictional story.

Let me put it simply for those that cannot seem to grasp the difference between talking about sex and boasting about sexual assault.

  1. He boasted about forcing himself on women!
  2. He boasted about forcing himself on women because he’s famous and can get away with it!
  3. He boasted about forcing himself on women!

I can’t say it louder or more clear. Any time someone forces themself on you, grabs you without your consent, kisses you without your consent, does anything to you without your consent, it is SEXUAL ABUSE!

50 Shades of Grey is a fictional novel about a girl and a guy and all the sex they have . . . together . . . consensual . . . not forced. We can definitely say the sexual relationship in this novel is not entirely healthy and there is definitely a power struggle between the two characters. The man is rich and powerful. The woman is not. But we don’t need to go into all the semantics of this fictional relationship and the fictional sex that goes on in this FICTIONAL story. This novel and all the women who have read it, are not on trial here. Trump’s disgusting, perverted behavior is on trial. We have proof of him bragging about committing illegal acts. Why is this okay? The fact that this rapist (yes, I said it, if you have any doubt, read this article) is still in the running for President of the United States just shows how rape culture is a real thing. And the fact that this grotesque blob of a vile human being can’t even give a proper apology without trying to defer blame or minimize his transgressions, shows how manipulative and abusive he truly is.

Let’s recap. He bragged about how his power allows him to just walk up to a woman and kiss her or grab her by the pussy or whatever, because they just “let” him do it. Yet he says he doesn’t even wait. So I have to ask this ignorant little man, in what time between you not waiting to move in on a woman and just straight up kissing her or forcing yourself on her, does she have a chance to “let” you do these things? Oh, that’s because she’s not LETTING you do these things to her, she just has to take it, because you’re a star. No, you’re a rapist and a pervert and need to be in jail.

To compare degrading remarks, blatant sexual assault, and the exploitation of his own daughter to a fictional story is just as insulting to women everywhere. It is the reason rape culture exists. Everyone who is ready to find some type of excuse as to why his actions weren’t “that bad” are also part of the problem. Until we expect men to be held accountable for their actions, instead of blaming the victim for either being too drunk or dressing too provocatively, men like Trump will continue to have “locker room” discussions about exploiting those weaker than them.

We have become desensitized, expecting judges to show leniency on privileged white boys who rape women behind dumpsters. We are growing numb to the continued injustice of it all. Like a woman in an abusive and manipulative relationship, we are losing sight of our individuality and have made too many compromises in order to keep the peace. No more. We must break out of this dangerous relationship with rape culture and start holding men like Donald Trump accountable for their actions.

 

~Christa G. & Lindsey V.

 

 

Tender Hearts

 

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We live in a self-centered society, where a good amount of the people in it refuse to see past the nose on their face. Where selfishness and personal gain outweigh the ability to show compassion and kindness. A society that can be toxic for the tenderhearted.

I have always been one to pour my heart and soul into everything and everyone around me. I encourage friends and loved ones to follow their dreams. I support local businesses and friend-owned businesses, and pour my best into always uplifting and promoting them. I try to be a light in a, far too often, dim world. Unfortunately, when the realization sets in, that not everyone upholds these values at the same level you do… it can be disheartening. You never know what someone is going through at any given time, and social media profiles are the worst way to gauge whether or not someone has it all together.

BE KIND ALWAYS.

Don’t let the callousness of others drain the ability to always see good, from your heart. Don’t allow a bitter spirit to take away your joy. Continue giving. Continue loving. Continue being you. You may just be the bright difference that someone needed in their day. Light and love to you all.

~Christa G.

Better With Age

 

 

I’m a recovering chameleon. I lived mirroring those around me. I dared not show my true colors for fear of being rejected or humiliated. I conformed to my boyfriend’s ideals and lifestyle. So much of my time and effort was spent emulating those around me that I barely knew myself. I had no idea how to be myself and I’m still learning.

I was watching an episode of Grace and Frankie today, on my lazy Sunday. It’s the episode where Jane Fonda’s character, Grace, is trying to impress a new boyfriend by pretending to like golf. Lily Tomlin’s character, Frankie, calls her out on it and reminds Grace how much she hates golf. Grace admits that she is afraid her new boyfriend won’t find her interesting enough if she admitted to him that she despised his favorite sport. This really hit home with me and it broke my heart. Here was a 70-year-old woman (yes, fictional, but definitely relatable) who still feared rejection to such a degree that she continued to lie to herself, as well as others.

By the time I’m 70, I want to be that lady that dies her hair hot pink and says whatever the bleepity-bleep she wants to say. I’ve earned it. Like a mature Cabernet Sauvignon, I will just get better and more unique with age. I want to give wise, no-nonsense advice to poor younger girls still figuring things out. And when I do, I want to sit back, adjust my hot pink wig, and think how damn lucky I am to have lived through all that bullshit, whilst sipping a glass of Bordeaux. Because you see, life is too short to pretend to be something you’re not. And some people are too shitty and petty to waste your efforts on.

So right now, I am going to channel my inner 70-year-old Cabernet self just waiting to be aired out in a glass carafe and say, “How do you want to live the rest of your life? Forever comprising yourself for the pleasure of others? Or are you going to focus on what makes you happy and content and let all that other bullshit follow? Because, honey, when you get to be my age, you’ll wish you had stayed true to yourself.”

*sips glass of Bordeaux and cackles softly*

~Lindsey V.

Through the Cracks

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On June 1, 2011, my friend, Jacque Waller, went missing. While I prayed fervently for her to be found alive, I still had that terrible feeling that something far more cynical had happened. Everyone knew that her soon-to-be ex-husband was a ticking time bomb. I took care of her triplets for a short time, in her home, and always felt uneasy around him. I had heard stories about his outbursts from a few friends that worked closely with him. We suspected him from the very beginning. Two years later, he finally confessed and gave the location of her body and she was laid to rest. Unfortunately, this happens to more and more victims of abuse every year.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2007 intimate partners committed 14% of all homicides in the U.S. The total estimated number of intimate partner homicide victims in 2007 was 2,340, including 1,640 females and 700 males. With statistics such as these, why have we not seen a decrease in these numbers? Why aren’t there higher measures in place to ensure the safety of those that have filed claims against their abusers? What can be done to help keep victims safe from their abusers? These questions are finally being addressed after the brutal torture of one woman by her estranged ex-husband who was arrested, then freed on bond, and given the opportunity to kidnap her again. By then, it was too late, he followed through with his threats in shooting her and then himself.

Hopefully, one day, these abusers won’t be allowed to fall through the cracks. Hopefully our justice system will increase laws to ensure that these highly dangerous cases aren’t allowed out on bail. Hopefully the system will allow higher safety measures to victims that need help.

Thank you to Lindsey V. for the inspiration behind this post.

~Christa G.

Wuv, Twu Wuv

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“Mawiage is what bwings us togevah today…”

Had I been asked 5 years ago if true love really did exist, I would have said absolutely not. Love seemed like a struggle to me. The term “love-hate relationship” was definitely the only thing I knew of. And if so much hate could be prevalent where there was supposed to be love, then it wasn’t true love in my opinion.

Love was a fairytale. A fantasy that could never be achieved in the real world.

Little did I know, the reason I felt that way was due to the fact that love was absent from my relationship. Love cannot be found where abuse is present.

When I was able to free myself from that toxic relationship, it was as though a veil was lifted. I was freed from the thoughts that I was worthless, ugly, and unsuccessful and found a strength I didn’t know I had. I gained true love for myself. It took some time, but I eventually realized that everything I thought a relationship should be like was a lie. When I discovered what love should actually feel like, I was changed in so many ways. Bitterness and resentment were wiped away and replaced with a newfound confidence. When you receive pure love, you are able to give so much more. The best description for love, that I can think of, can be found in the bible…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

When love is present, so is hope, trust, faithfulness, and honesty. There will be disagreements, but compromise should always be achieved with civility. With true love, we respect each other’s time, beliefs, morals, goals, and wishes. Through it all, I have realized that true love should not come at a price to my own happiness and self-worth. Where there is happiness there is love.

 

~Christa G.

Exposure

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I stumbled across this story on Facebook the other day and was inspired by the courage and passion in this woman. Melissa Dohme, a miraculous survivor of domestic violence in which her ex boyfriend stabbed her 32 times, leaving her for dead in the middle of a road. Thankfully, two teenagers heard her screaming, called 911, and managed to stop her attacker, who then drove away and attempted suicide. Dohme now dedicates her life to educating others on domestic violence. She recognized a great need to spread awareness. Luckily her attacker is facing a life sentence with no chance of parole, but other women in similar situations have not been so lucky. Dohme knows that she is a miracle, saved for a purpose to use her voice to speak for those who no longer have a voice. I am so humbled after reading her story, yet also enraged.

Let me explain. I only heard of Melissa Dohme because the article on Facebook was about how she had just become engaged to the man who saved her life. I normally don’t get into stories about grand proposals where the man has set up the perfect stage for popping the big question. I was attracted to the article because it mentioned her surviving being stabbed 32 times. 32 times! And I can’t help but ask the question of why am I just now hearing about this woman and her experience? Did it have to be accompanied by a crowd-pleasing story of her agreeing to marry the EMT who saved her life that horrific night? Why not celebrate this woman solely for her heroism and work with Hands Across the Bay? Yes, it’s an incredibly romantic story of her finding love again under such circumstances. And it is possible that I didn’t hear about this story before because it wasn’t circulating on Facebook. But it doesn’t change the fact that there is not enough media coverage on domestic violence. This is not a topic that is discussed openly at school or at home.

Parents, you need to talk to your kids about abusive relationships. Schools need to talk about abusive relationships. It’s not a complicated subject. It’s quite simple really. Abusers do not actually love you. They do not relate to you as a human being. They cannot empathize with you. You are an object to be controlled or manipulated. Melissa Dohme expressed the fact that no one talked about domestic violence in school. Lack of education on this matter is exactly why so many young girls or boys find themselves stuck in relationships that are destructive. They do not recognize it as abuse. They think that they are the problem. They think that love is something that is a deep long-suffering struggle. And they believe these things because it never entered their mind, until it was too late, that they could even be a victim of such a thing. They believe this because they grew up hearing others condemn women or men, like themselves, for never leaving such a relationship. They believe that the victim is at fault. They believe that they would never let themselves be with such a person. So they clearly are not with such a person. Because it could never happen to them.

~Lindsey V.