Step one, you say we need to talk
You say sit down, it’s just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
The Fray – How To Save A Life
I toyed around with a lot of different titles for this post and I worried that some of them gave the wrong impression… initially, it was ‘THE THINGS I WISH I COULD SAY’ but I don’t want people to think that I’m wishing I could see the person who abused me. Actually, what I meant by it was that I was I were ready to say those things. I wish I was ready to see him, and I wish I was ready to say these things when I did. But when I thought about my fear of people misinterpreting this, I thought that maybe there are other abuse survivors out there who have also thought about what they’d say to their abuser if they could and I really didn’t like the thought that they were sitting there thinking like I was; ‘I can’t say this to anyone because they won’t understand.’ If someone else told me they were having these thoughts and feelings, then I would support them in finding the courage and bravery to speak up regardless of their worries about others. I’d tell them that if it’s going to help them to talk about it, you shouldn’t care what anyone else might think. So why should I be any different? Why shouldn’t I take my own advice?!
I’m also one of those people who find it cathartic to just write everything out. For me, writing about all of my thoughts and feelings is like having a weight lifted from my shoulders; as though rather than have everything constantly whirring around in my head, I can get them out and leave them there on the paper – or on the laptop screen!
So, here’s a few of the things I could say…
“No one knows everything”
There are these song lyrics from a Ke$ha song (Praying) that goes ‘and we both know all the truth I could tell’ and it always makes me think of the abuse. When I first reported it, I told people it had been a one-off because I couldn’t face the thought of the Police questioning being even longer, more detailed and more intrusive than it already was. I couldn’t bear it. Then the self-harm and suicide attempts continued, and it felt like people were looking at me thinking ‘why is this still going on? It only happened once!’ I was paranoid that people were thinking what I told them I’d been through wasn’t ‘enough’ of a reason to be struggling with my mental health the way that I was. Even though it’s terrible that I felt this way, I guess it worked out for the best because it became motivation to talk about the entirety of the abuse. There’ll be some people who think that they now know everything, but I think that the people who know me the best (including my Community Psychiatric Nurse) realize that they don’t - and might never - know the full extent of what he did to me. Of what I went through. Realistically, how could I ever tell someone the entirety of it?! I’d want him to know that he shouldn’t get comfortable with the decision not to prosecute him because that option could come back at any point. At any moment I could tell them more.
“I wish I could tell people it was you”
I’ve said this before but, I wish I could tell him that I want the world to know who it was that did this so that they would know who they should be hating. Who it was that had such an impact on my life. Then there are more lyrics from that Ke$ha song I was talking about earlier, and they go ‘I’ll bring thunder, I’ll bring rain, when I’m finished, they won’t even know your name.’ I hold onto those lyrics because they motivate me to believe that actually, there’s no point in people knowing his name because my success and achievements will completely overshadow it and it just won’t matter anymore. It’ll be irrelevant and for all of those times that it felt like people didn’t care about me; no one will care who it was.
“I’ll never forgive you, but I wish you would say sorry anyway!”
This is quite a controversial thing with abuse survivors; the matter of whether an apology will do any good. I think it should be agreed that it is different for everyone. Some might see an apology as tantamount to admitting guilt and find it a relief in that it could even be used as evidence in a Police investigation. For some, an apology only matters to them and they don’t care whether or not it helps the investigation or whether it helps anyone but them. Then there’s people who don’t want an apology because they feel it would be demeaning and patronizing; like an apology wouldn’t be enough to provide any sort of comfort for what had happened to them. I feel that an apology would be an admission of guilt – something that is desperately needed to prosecute him for what he has done to me. For me, I think an apology would actually bring some sort of comfort because I know what it’s like to be sorry for something and I know how terrible that can feel; so I kind of like the thought of him feeling that awful. However, after being abused by him for six months, I think that I know him well enough to know that he will never apologize to me and not because he doesn’t recognize what he did was wrong, but because I believe that he won’t accept the consequences for what he has done and apologizing would do that because it’d be an admission of guilt. Something I’ve been desperate for since April 2007 when it ‘finished.’
“I grew out of the hatred”
I had been intending to write an entire blog post about hate after recently hearing my Mum say that she doesn’t like using that word because she believes it’s an emotion that can eat you up. I think that she’s right in part; it is something that can be all consuming, but it is also an emotion that – I think – is best suited to describe my feelings towards him. I need a word that is passionate, angry, intimidating, and honest. Something that sums up all of my thoughts and feelings towards him. In time though, I’ve learnt that holding on to the level of hatred that I was experiencing, will eat you alive. Given the chance, it’ll destroy you and it’ll leave you feeling as though your entire body is filled with negativity and anger – something which you can’t live with. You can’t live with so much negativity and anger and still hope that you can live a positive and happy life! It just isn’t realistic! So, when I decided that I wanted to live, I had no choice but to let go of the hatred and develop a much healthier… anger? Towards him.
“Do you even still think about what you did?”
I’d love to know the answer to this question. There’s a few issues around the aftermath of the abuse where people say; ‘how can you know he’d think that?’ or ‘how do you know he’d do that?’ and I say; ‘I think I know him better than anyone!’ This is not one of those instances. Considering this question is murky and uncertain; I can’t rationalize what he’d say or do. I have no clue and it’s something I’d like to know. It’s something I’d like to have a ‘clue’ about! So hopefully it makes sense that this is the only question in this post. This is the only thing around the aftermath that I’m uncertain of.
“Look at my arms and then say you’re innocent to the Police!”
This is one of those scenarios that I talked about earlier, one where I believe I know his reaction. I wouldn’t say this otherwise. If I didn’t think that him looking at the self-harm scars on my arms would impact his denial of the abuse… well, why would I even think about saying this to him?! I hate the thought of him seeing my scars but to think that it would impact his guilt in such a way, makes it actually seem worthwhile.