Apparently physical scars fade but emotional scars remain. It turns out that old cliché is a bit of rubbish too. Emotionally, I’m well. My scars however show no signs of fading anymore. I don’t know how many I have, not many now but I spy them here and there. They’re not really visible to people as such, I suppose nobody is looking but I’m very aware of them.
I’m sure many have guessed, even if I never said it outright, that there was a sinister element to my marriage. The realisation and acceptance of abuse was what I struggled with most post-divorce. I can’t fully explain what happens in an abusive relationship. Unless you’ve been through it, I don’t think it is possible to understand the mind games and manipulation that go on.
I have always been a very head strong, independent and no nonsense type of woman. I don’t come from a broken home and have never witnessed violence in my life. My childhood was pretty normal and the most traumatic thing which happened to me was my pet cat dying when I was seven. My point is that I am the most unlikely person to be perceived as having been abused. I would be the type that you would assume would walk out on him straight away, had he ever laid a finger on me. Yet I never did.
I’ve asked myself plenty of times why I didn’t. To those who have been through it, you will understand. In an attempt to explain, there are a combination of factors as to why one stays in that type of relationship. There is the abusive cycle whereby the abuser plays the victim. There is the unfortunate emotion of love being involved which takes a lot to overcome. Then there is the biggest one, the feeling of humiliation at having to tell somebody you are being manhandled like a rag doll.
I decided after my separation that I would never bring it up. My parents and siblings had been through enough hurt that it wouldn’t be fair. It did come out though, a year later, nothing ever remains a secret does it? They haven’t seen the scars and probably don’t know the extent of the violence but respected what I chose to share.
I hate the word victim. I don’t call myself a “victim” of abuse as I don’t want to be a victim to anything. The sense of weakness which haunted me afterwards has gone but it took work. I wasn’t weak to have accepted it, I was strong for having survived it. That cliché is true. I have the faint remains of scars but I don’t carry them with shame anymore. They are a reminder that the wounds have closed and that healing has taken place.