When living with emotional abuse, psychological violence is your life.
You’re in for trancheant statements today you will say. But that’s the way it is – in an abusive relationship, and consider than mine was long-distance too, violence migrates from a sporadic episode (and even that is obviously not ok ) to your everyday, your normal, the daily reality to which you wake up and live. Well, in my case it was really waking up with it – his abusive text messages were the first thing I saw every day. But in an abuse context, violence becomes the norm and non-violence the safe haven – the island of peace you crave and want, and that shows up so, so much more sporadically over time.
Normalisation means several things, and there are two that emerge over others. First, you justify it. With yourself, yes, that is for sure. But most visibly to the external world, you justify it with other people. For many months you hide it, because something inside you knows how wrong it is, and so you hide it, you just don’t say. Even he hides it initially. For me it was when he closed his bar for the night – me being in the bar still – the moment the door closed. That’s when he changed (into his real self, one could say). Then even he stopped hiding it, started doing it in front of friends. And me, normalising. Yeah, you know how he is. Yeah, it’s a bit weird but you know, he went through all those horrible things. He needs a platform to vent. So I’m that platform I guess. Yeah, then friend reads his texts and tells me no, no, there is no way this can be ok, this is dozens of insults within minutes, this is abuse and me no, not abuse no, you know he’s just being insecure. You know, it’s a moment. It will go. And then it comes a day you stop believing it.
Second, you internalise it. That belittled person, the one that is worth nothing as he tells you every day, the rightful object of humiliation and violence, it becomes you. You start thinking that after all, you deserve it. That you’re worth nothing more than that and in fact, you are lucky he’s still around – you cling. You cling because he subtly, consciously (strategically in the case of mine) builds it all against you, and then as a result of it all, you cling more. You start living, breathing, existing for those moments of love, those few instants in which he has some mercy. You’re addicted, it’s your norm – again, it’s your life and you have forgotten how it is to live without it. Then something saves you… I was saved by love, but then again different people are saved by different things of life. I didn’t save myself as many argue, often the same ones that call call me brave. But before that, it’s your normal, your life. And you struggle to imagine a different way for things to be.
Normalisation, an abused woman does not allow much mercy to herself.
Normalisation, an abused woman does not leave much space to the external world.
But it also is the case that deconstruction of normalisation – and transition from victimhood to survival – is the first step to rebuilding your life.