"I would never be with someone who hit me"
I was sitting at a table eating lunch when I overheard the conversation. Three women sitting behind me were talking about their relationships. One woman admitted that her man had slapped her for something she said and she slapped him back. Another woman responded with, “I would never date someone who hit me” to which the woman responded back with, “well I hit him back so it’s okay”.
I don’t know what the rest of the conversation was. I was too lost in my own trigger. “I would never date someone who hit me”. Are there any little boys and girls out there dreaming of a relationship where their loved one hits them occasionally? Does Prince Charming order Cinderella around his house, making her pick up after him since he is the breadwinner of the two? Does Eric slap Ariel across the face from time to time because she wants to go out and have a drink with her friends? Does Snow White keep up on her self-defense practice because she doesn't know when she'll need to use them against the one who loves her?
Come on people. This is crazy talk. NO ONE grows up thinking, “One day I’ll marry that special someone who hits me”. So no, dating or marrying a person who hits you is not something that we asked for, or is something we’ve dreamt of. We didn’t mean to gravitate to it and we didn’t know this about our S/O before we got so entangled with them that we can’t get out.
You see, the relationship doesn’t start with hitting. Oh no, quite the opposite. Abusers know better than that. They seduce you first. The relationship is whimsical and mysterious and exciting. There are late night chats under the stars, surprise bouquets of flowers, movie dates, concert dates, wild getaways, compliments and poems and things that you have been longing to hear from someone for most of your life.
And then it starts. Subtly, but surely, it starts. A comment here. A question there. “What are you going to be doing while you are out with your friends? Who all will be there? How come I’m not invited?” “Are you really going to wear that? You’re sending people the wrong message with that outfit”. Then other things start happening. Bits and pieces of their life start creeping in and you begin to put together what will end up being a 20,000 piece puzzle that you will never quite finish. You realize they’ve had troubles with past relationships. Sure, one woman can lie and say a man beat her just to make him look bad. But if more than one says it…it’s either conspiracy of strangers or... the truth. And you will find out which soon.
By this time it has been months, maybe even years. Things escalate and become disturbing all at once. It’s terrifying because by now you are financially, emotionally, or physically invested. Maybe you have kids. Maybe you have no job. Maybe, looking back, your S/O meant for it to be that way. You are dependent on them. And you are isolated from everyone you love who could help.
Then one day your S/O comes home from work to have dinner and they don’t like the fact that you watched your favorite movie (that just so happens to have a sex scene in it) instead of finishing the laundry and they become so enraged they throw a dish against the wall. Later, they will apologize for “overreacting” and “making a mistake”. They will blame work stress, alcohol or some other excuse. But the reality is; breaking things is an intentional message of power and a way to show you that “this is what I can do to you”.
Now you’re scared to death but you don’t know what to do. You never wanted this. Maybe you were the person who said “anyone who touches me will get their ass beat”. But this is not physical fighting. This is a threat to your life. One which you are not sure will end in your favor.
I am the person who always said I would never marry someone who hit me. I have a nearly completed Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. I’ve held great management positions that pay well. I was a really good boss who used to tell people “don’t let someone do that to you!” and I would help people start their lives anew. All the while I was at home letting someone do those things and worse to me.
So don’t be that person. Don’t pass judgment on your friend because they are allowing something you never would. Because you never know, it could happen to you. And you never mean it to go there but it does and that’s out of your control. And if it has happened to you there is a way out. But first you will have to ask for help and find resources to leave. It can be done, I promise.