Sunday, April 12, 2009

End games

Amanda Marcotte has this great post in response to the steaming pile of bullshit anti-feminist crap that Linda Hirshman unleashed on the unsuspecting world about how domestic violence victims are just too weak to leave and it's feminists' responsibility to hector them until they do. But this isn't about that, necessarily, it's about this that Amanda said:
When I would get into fights with my emotionally and occasionally physically abusive ex-boyfriend, he would often say to me, smugly, “If it’s so bad, why don’t you leave?” It was a rhetorical question, the intent behind it to remind me, as I was often reminded, that his treatment of me was my fault, that someone who was smarter or less emotional or whatever it was that day would command better treatment.
I dated a guy like that, as I mentioned once before:
Several years later, during a fight with a boyfriend in which I told him he had to stop speaking to me in a certain way or else, he said, "Or else what? You didn't report your rape, what are you going to have the backbone to do to me?" I hung up the phone.
I did not, however, leave. There were fights after that, fights during which he would resort to name-calling if he felt he was losing, fights I wouldn't back down from because I don't do fear (I think that's called "hubris"). There were other things, like being compared to his exes, being occasionally called degrading names during sex and being pressured into being "nice" to people I didn't like, that wore at me bit by bit. It was intense, it was destructive and the drawn-out end of it that had more to do with him wanting to achieve our official anniversary than actually wanting to be with me did a wallop on my self-esteem to the point that I avoided emotional intensity, strong-willed men and being true to my emotional and undiplomatic self for many years.

Anyway, it just struck me that I never coded that relationship, in my mind, as emotionally abusive, but maybe it was.

Anyway, it strikes me today, too, that this and the end of my last two relationships are why I have been operating my relationship-ejector seat rather hastily the last year or so. I mean, I don't think I did so in too much haste or that I should have stayed when confronted with dickishness, but still.

1 comment:

Britni TheVadgeWig said...

I work as a therapist at a battered women's center, and it's infuriating for me when I hear people say "Why don't they just leave?" They're NOT weak. These women are scared, threatened, and so much else that prevents them from leaving.

It wasn't until I began working at the DV center that I realized that I, too, had been in an emotionally abusive relationship. The ways that he manipulated and tore me down had a hugely damaging effect on my psyche and just because he never hit me doesn't mean that he wasn't abusive.