Hey, so…this post has references to my sexual abuse. If you don’t want to read about that, don’t read this post.
We all know, right, that we call people who have suffered sexual abuse - we call them survivors, not victims. And until recently, that way of using the language to empower those who have been so disempowered made a lot of sense to me. I’ve used the terminology ‘survivor’ to describe myself and those I know who have gone through the grueling experience of being violated sexually.
But recently, something about my abuse experience rose to the surface and made it very clear that no matter what I call myself in public or in private, I am and have been a victim for the past 16 to 24 years. I’ll explain the time span later on. What came to the surface was the realization that I’ve been trying to rip power away from my abuser (I still have to see him regularly, we co-parent my daughter) in any small or large way that I could. I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to take back what he took. I’ve been allowing him power over my life for fear of reprisal. I’ve been living in fear of him.
That doesn’t sound like a survivor to me.
As I’m writing those words, I’m hearing Mariska Hargitay playing Oliva Benson telling a recent rape survivor, “You survived, that’s all that matters.” Somehow, her words seem pretty hollow to me right now. Not only did my ex-husband rape and molest me for years whie we were married, but after I got away from him, I have allowed him power over me for the next 16 years. I never actually accepted that I was a victim. I jumped to the survivor part too soon.
This sounds a little bit like my Belgium entry from last week. It is. Others may feel differently, but I feel like the truth of the situation is that he victimized me and then I allowed him to victimize me again and again in different ways throughout the time we’ve been raising my kid.
So what do I do with this new information that I’m still a victim and how do I get to survivor status? Crawl inside a bottle and smoke my lungs out? Write loads of poetry? Long for freedom from within my emotional jail cell?
I’m searching out a sexual abuse support group in my area. I’m talking to my new therapist who seems very gung-ho about helping me through this morass of emotions and complexities. I’ve apologized to my daughter for pushing her to stand up to her father (so that I could rob him of her). At some point, I’ll probably testify as to the exact nature of his crime against me.
I am writing a lot and talking a lot with my friends and with my girlfriend who is being so understanding. This process of moving from victim to survivor. I don’t know where it’s going to take me. But I’ll take you with me, if you want to go.
I have this one memory of him on top of me. It’s really foggy, like there’s a veil over my face But I see him and he’s, I guess he’s pushing himself inside me. I don’t know. I can’t feel anything. It’s like I was there and not there at the same time. And this memory just keeps coming back over and over these days. And I’m trying to reach back through the decades to wake myself up and catch him and charge him and imprison him. I keep trying to reach back, but I can’t do it. And he gets away with it again. It’s infuriating to feel like I’ve been so clearly beaten. Me: 0 / Him: Everything. Fuck.
Let’s see where this goes, eh?