Most people who have been abused in their early, formative years, whether verbally, physically, sexually or emotionally, tend to form some kind of opinion on whoever abused them. Many books have been written on the issue, and professionals will more often than not spout off similar theories: we tend to subconsciously gravitate towards the same kind of person. It is considered a vicious cycle, and the point of survival is to break that cycle.
The things I think about at night!
I’ve never made bones of the fact that my early years included verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of three major men in my life. My father was a beater, and a most confusing man to try to love. When in school, teachers would preach the bible to us, stating that we must love our parents equally. I wondered what kind of punishment I would endure in hell when God figured out that I would prefer no father to the one I did have. If asked who I loved more, the answer was definitely Mother, not father. (I also remember saying that out loud and being berated by a teacher. But you know, I still feel the same way…)
My grandfather and uncle were sexual predators, and I could see the trend in the family, with extreme overtures from a few older male cousins as well. The fear of being left alone ran deep, and the sounds of footsteps on the stairs when I was alone was enough to make me cringe. Religion class was the place to wonder about a lot of things: namely, how to get rid of those kinds of people from my life.
In the end, I think it was survival instinct. I cannot recall a moment when I wasn’t reassuring myself that I would never put myself in the same position as my mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunts, cousins, neighbors had done. The child inside assumed that it was easy to get in and out of relationships of that nature. I honestly believed that, for the most part, they were all suffering because they chose to stay. Time taught me better – but a piece of that naïve child remains. I still give myself pep-talks – and a lot of those talks include the words “let it go, walk away”.
Hence I am impressed when another toxic cycle is broken. When someone says enough, and walks away, knowing that while it’s hard to pick up the pieces and start anew, it’s harder still to stay and be shattered to pieces oneself. If one person says no more, then it’s an example to others, and maybe, just maybe, someone else sees that as an opportunity to say no as well – and a new cycle can begin. I am proud of my mother for getting up and leaving after 20 years of insanity, and I will never believe it was too late. For all those years she spent physically and emotionally beaten, she got to enjoy her last ten years enjoying the kind of love and happiness she once only imagined existed. She may have been a little woman, who could not sit properly because of slipped disks from when she was kicked and assaulted – but she smiled and kept on struggling, and when the chance came to run, she flew. And watching her soar, despite her struggles, also kept me going. It’s what made me believe. A
ll those years hoping for something better, wishing that things would change: proven right by the one person whose love and strength ensured that I never go through hell again. I hope that like mine, cycles are broken everywhere. But I know that even in this modern world, there are thousands upon thousands suffering the same situation. My story is not unique (which in itself is sad) – and there are so many strong women out there who have made a difference in their lives, and I hope that in the same process, a difference in their daughter’s and son’s lives. I also hope that someday, soon, we can count on spousal and physical abuse as an anomaly and not a regular occurrence.
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