Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Blaming women

I hope you’ll all bear with me as I take a slight departure for this post. I still think it’s a scary true story, but in a slightly different way. It stems from something I’ve been noticing a lot lately.

Somehow, women seem to have become the “bad guys.” I watch a lot of true crime documentaries, and inevitably, most of the victims are women. Sadly, most of the perpetrators are men. And even sadder, most of them were men these women had loved–their fathers, husbands, boyfriends, brothers, coworkers, friends.

But instead of the reaction one might expect–horror at the continuing and disturbing trend of senseless, brutal violence against women–most often, commenters blame the women.

“Why was she so weak? Why didn’t she just leave him?”

“That’s what you get for sleeping around.”

“Why was she so stupid? Why did she trust him?”

The vitriol is never directed at the man who killed or otherwise abused the woman, but always, always, at the woman. And perhaps some might find this surprising, but the harshest critics of women are…other women.

“I was in an abusive relationship for eight years, but I got out. There’s lots of places she could have gone. She should have realized she didn’t need a man to be whole.”

I’ve seen hundreds of variations on this theme. If you were in an abusive relationship yourself, you know how innocently the abuse often starts, how the noose tightens slowly and subtlety, until suddenly you’re trapped and you have no idea how to get out. Why wouldn’t you have compassion for someone else in that position?

When I was sixteen years old, I fell in love with an abusive guy. Or, at least, I thought I was in love with him. He didn’t start out abusing me, and there was no sign on his forehead. Sure, he was a bit intense, but at that age, I thought all the letters, cards, and phone calls were romantic. When he got upset about me seeing my friends without him, I took it as insecurity and showed compassion toward him. As he became more controlling, we started having horrible arguments where he said nasty, unfounded things, but he never hit me. After every fight, he showered me with gifts–jewelry, flowers, teddybears. My friends saw the gifts, not the behaviour. Everyone thought he was “so romantic.”

Finally, by the time I was seventeen, Mr. Romantic raised his fist at me after finding out I’d become friends with a male coworker. I knew then that if I stayed, he would hit me. When it came to breaking up with him, I was absolutely terrified. I also felt guilty. But I didn’t have children with this man, which is one of the reasons women often find it difficult to leave. He didn’t live with me. I didn’t depend on him, financially or otherwise. So I broke up with him, and later that night, he tried to kill me, fracturing my spine in two places.

The most dangerous time for any abused woman (or girl) is after she leaves the man, not before. It’s the leaving that often triggers murderous rage.

When he attacked me, I was with another male coworker I’d become close friends with, someone I soon ended up dating. So if it were my story that was made into a documentary, a lot of commenters would say I was a slut, I suppose, and had gotten what I deserved. Or that I should have dumped him when he first said something mean. But even though I left the relationship, I have never once judged another woman. It’s impossible to understand what goes on in these relationships unless you’re in one. So often, these abusers use a victim’s love for their children or other family members against them: Stay, or you’ll never see your kids again. Stay, or I’ll kill your family. And a little piece of paper does absolutely nothing if someone is furious enough to kill you. A protection order is not a bulletproof vest.

In a harrowing episode of the documentary series Evil Lives Here, Aziza Ayinde Kibibi, the daughter of Fugees music video director Aswad Ayinde, talks openly about her ghastly childhood. Her father beat her, raped her for years, impregnated her five times, and used the love she had for her sisters against her: “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll make her do it instead.”

But of course Ayinde doesn’t just abuse his children–he also abuses his wife. In the documentary, Aziza recounts the time when her grandmother called the police because Ayinde had beaten Aziza’s mother. Ayinde was a successful, powerful man. The cop was his friend. The officer shook his hand, chatted with him a bit, and left. What message do you think this sent his wife and daughters?

When the sexual abuse began and his wife found out, she confronted him, yelling and screaming and calling him “Sick.” Aziza watched in horror as her father viciously beat her mother with a belt until she was lying, sobbing, on the floor.

After listening to Aziza recount her heartbreaking story, I steeled myself for the viewers’ reactions, certain that they’d blame Aziza herself for not leaving, for not telling, for not fighting back, etc., even though she’d been a child and she carefully explains why she didn’t leave.

For a change, people weren’t blaming the victim. Finally! They must be blaming the abuser and molester, right? WRONG. They blamed Aziza’s mother.

“That woman should be put in jail.”
“How could she let that happen to her daughter?”
“She’s just as sick as he is.”

And so on and so on. Yet, the person who knows what happened in that house–Aziza–never once blames her mother, never expresses anger or resentment toward her. She watched her mother stand up for her and get beaten almost to death in response. She watched a cop shake her father’s hand after her father had hit her mother. Her mother was a victim too, likely with no money of her own, no place to easily flee to with nine children, and I’m willing to bet her husband had repeatedly threatened to kill her, her children, and her family if she did leave.

Why can’t we just blame the abuser?

Take the controversial documentary Leaving Neverland. People who’ve never once met Michael Jackson or exchanged a single word with him are furiously defending him. Guess whom no one is defending? Yep, the mothers. Even a lot of the people who believe James and Wade were abused appear to be angrier at their mothers than they are at Michael Jackson. (Not the fathers–just the mothers.) These mothers, who were groomed just as much as their sons. Who believed that if something bad was happening, their boys would tell them, not understanding their boys wouldn’t know it was bad. Who honestly thought they had their sons’ best interests at heart. Yes, their mothers made a mistake. They screwed up. But so did the fathers. And so did a hell of a lot of other people, including the people who still defend Jackson (assuming he’s guilty).

However, it’s always easier to blame the women. It’s become almost a default reaction. Where is our compassion? Our understanding? Our sympathy for women who have been abused, raped, murdered, conned or otherwise victimized? Why are we so quick to blame them for the horrible things that have happened to them?

Even though I left my abuser, I never hear about a woman who stayed and think she was weak. I think, There but for the Grace of God go I.

Before we judge other women, let’s remember that

– One in three women have been abused or subjected to gender-based violence in their lives
– In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, between 40 and 70 percent of female murder victims were killed by their intimate partners
– Up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime — the majority by husbands, intimate partners or someone they know
– Worldwide, up to 50 percent of sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16
– As many as one in four women experience physical and/or sexual violence during pregnancy, which increases the likelihood of having a miscarriage, still birth and abortion*

A writer friend recently wrote an incredible article about why she returned to her abuser that’s getting a lot of buzz. It’s well worth a read.

Do you ever catch yourself blaming women when you hear these stories? Why do you think this seems to be the knee-jerk reaction in our society?

* Statistics from Battered Women’s Support Services.

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  1. Random Musings

    It annoys me so much how society are always so quick to blame the victim rather than the abuser. And in particular, like you said, how it’s mostly other women who do this.
    I always wonder what makes women do this is. Is it fear? Some sort of superiority complex where she thinks she’s smarter or stronger than the woman who was attacked?
    Whatever it is, how can we, as women, expect to be taken seriously while this is happening? How can we, as women, expect things to change while we are actively vilifying the victim?
    It’s almost like we want the abuser to think this behaviour is ok – when we place responsibility on the victim, we are basically telling the abuser that what they’ve done is ok, reasonable even.
    And it HAS to stop. We have to accept that people do bad things for no reason other than their own sick pleasure. As unpleasant a notion as that is, until we accept it as truth and lay the blame where it belongs – with the abuser, regardless of their gender – then we remain part of the problem.
    The woman who is judged for not leaving a violent relationship? She might have found the courage to leave if she thought she might get a bit of support, but assuming she’s ever been online or read a newspaper, she must know deep down there’s a fair chance she’ll be blamed.
    The woman who was raped and didn’t come forward and now blames herself because her rapist has done it again?
    She might have reported it if she didn’t know she would end up on trial every bit as much as her attacker.
    It’s time we all stood up and said you know what, this is not ok.
    P.S. Sorry for the rant, as you can see, this is something that really gets under my skin

    • JH

      Bravo, Debbie! And no worries about ranting–rant away. This is worth a rant or twenty.

      Very well said. You raised some great points.

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh

    It does seem the trend to blame victims, whoever they might be. We don’t know until we’ve been in their place.

    • JH

      Agreed, Alex, but there’s a strong trend of blaming women specifically, no matter what their place in the tragedy. It’s highly disturbing.

  3. Kimberly Yerina

    WOW! This is really an eye-opener. I believe you are absolutely correct, and when adding all of these stories together, it makes you question, “Have I ever done that”? Since many of us have been in abusive relationships, I’d like to say “no”, but children bring a whole new dimension to the problem.

    • JH

      Yes, that’s for sure. And yet, so many mothers don’t take children into account when questioning why an abused woman doesn’t “just leave.”

  4. Catherine Cavendish

    Another excellent and informative post, J.H. yesterday evening I watched the first part of a new recounting of the horrific Yorkshire Ripper murders of the 1970s – the majority of which took place not far from where I lived, in Leeds. Back then, the area where the first murders occurred was Chapeltown – a notorious red light district of the city. While it is true that SOME of his victims worked the streets, it was very no means true for all of them – including some who survived. But, in the parlance of the day, the women were (with one exception) labelled as having ‘loose morals’. Their crime? To be out and about late at night, close to their own homes and unescorted. When a young 16 year old became his victim, the police and media concluded the Ripper must have made a mistake. This girl was an ‘innocent victim’. In other words, the rest of them had ‘asked for it.’ I would like to think we have, as a society, moved on from those days when, if a woman didn’t behave a certain way, and conform to certain rigid rules – including dress codes – she could expect to get ‘what she deserved’. I’m just not sure how far we have come, only that we still have along way to go. Here’s a link to an article about the programme I mentioned: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/mar/26/the-yorkshire-ripper-files-can-true-tv-be-ethical

    • JH

      You would hope so, wouldn’t you? But in the 1980s right through to 2002, a monster named Robert Pickton was able to get away with killing multiple women before he was finally caught. (He’s confessed to killing 49.) How did he get away with it for so long? Most of his victims were prostitutes, so less of a priority for the police.

      So disgusting.

  5. Catherine Cavendish

    Apologies for the typos in the above. Hit’ send’ before properly editing!

  6. S.D. Vassallo

    I’m a guy who went through abuse at the hands of his father throughout my childhood. As a guy, I can’t answer for how abused women think and feel as they’re going through the horrors they face. I can only give voice to my experience.

    I can say this: My parents were divorced from the time I was an infant, so I was only aware of them separated. I spent most weekends and a lot of the summertime at my grandfather’s house, where my father resided. I suffered physical and verbal abuse from him.

    Here’s the thing. I never went to anyone for help. Not my grandparents. Not my mother. Not anyone in my mother’s family. Why?

    As a child, it never occurred to me that they didn’t know. Sometimes my mother drove me over to my grandparent’s house. Sometimes my grandfather came to get me. I believed that they knew, and that either they didn’t care, or they condoned it, or maybe they were scared of my father as well. Either way, there was no point in going to them for help. In my mind, I had no one to turn to.

    I was not physically strong enough or big enough to make him stop. I wished I was. My fantasies and dreams growing up revolved around being powerful enough to stand up to him. To dish it out to him. To beat him hard enough and long enough that he would never dare lay a finger on me again.

    I also wished someone would stand up on my behalf and make my father stop. That they didn’t, in my mind, was that they didn’t care. Or were too scared.

    The upshot was, I didn’t think I had anyone to turn to. So, I learned how to survive. I learned how to manipulate my father. I learned what triggered his anger and the subsequent kicks, punches, slaps, being thrown against the wall, being grabbed by the throat, his spitting in my face, and other abuse he would dish out. I learned how to avoid the triggers that would lead to abuse. When I couldn’t avoid it, I learned to endure and survive the pain. When I graduated high school, joined the Army and went out into the world, I broke off my ties with him. And I never looked back.

    Now, as an adult, I know that those around me really didn’t know what was going on. My judgment at the time was that of a child, and was based on fear. I’ve had to forgive the others in my family for what I viewed at the time as a failure, for whatever reason, to protect me. The truth was, they didn’t know, and I was too trapped by my own fear to tell them.

    As an adult, I’ve had many conversations with people who, as you say, blame the victims. Their attitude is, “well, why didn’t he or she stand up to their abuser? Why didn’t they go for help? Why didn’t they tell someone?”

    Their opinions are wrong. But I can understand why they think that way. People who have never gone through abuse don’t understand the crippling fear the abused feel. People who had good parents, who were raised to be confident and strong, who were empowered by their parents, don’t and probably can’t understand the experience of those who were torn down, ridiculed, beaten, and tormented. It’s two different worlds.

    If you’re one of those people who reads about a case of abuse and starts wondering why the abused person doesn’t leave or doesn’t stand up, you need to understand the fear that traps those people and keeps them in the situations they’re in. They’re afraid of what will happen if they try to stand up. They’re afraid of leaving, because they know that their abuser will come after them and will probably hurt them worse. They’re afraid, because they don’t believe anyone can help them. They are trapped, as effectively as if they were physically chained. Probably more so. If my only obstacle as a child had been being restrained by a rope, for example, it would not have taken me long to cut the rope and get out. The shackles of fear, however, are stronger and more unbreakable than any rope or chain.

    You need to understand that fear. And you need to stop blaming the victim for not fighting back. For not seeking help. Your attitude of blaming them for not fighting back, for not leaving, is one of the factors that keep the victims trapped by their fear.

    • JH

      This is such a powerful account, S.D. It took me a long time to think of what I could possibly say in response to do it justice, but I don’t think anything could. Thank you for your courage and resilience.

      You’ve also revealed a powerful truth–a lot of the time, people don’t know. What others may think is obvious–and those others are often judgmental outsiders, not even the victims themselves–is often carefully concealed, both by the abuser and the shame and fear the predator instills in the victim.

      Thank you so much for sharing your story and for speaking up. I’m sorry you went through this, but I’m so glad you survived.

  7. Diane Burton

    Powerful post. You are so right about blaming the victim. Women didn’t report rape because they knew (during a trial) they would be blamed–she led him on, she wore suggestive clothing, she shouldn’t have gone with him, etc. No wonder so many stayed silent. My mother didn’t condone divorce. Yet, when my brother’s wife left him because of violence, my mother told her she was right to leave. No one deserved that treatment. We have to support victims.

    • JH

      Good for your mother. I once dated a dude whose family was Catholic. When their own daughter was being abused, they still didn’t feel she should leave the marriage because of their religion. I don’t think any religion should condone staying with an abusive partner.

      It’s sickening how often victims are put on trial.

  8. Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor

    Fantastic post! It’s shameful how we blame those who need our compassion and understanding. Thanks for sharing your perspective and your own personal story. It’s incredibly powerful.

    • JH

      You’re very welcome, Ellen. I’m glad it resonated with you.

      Thanks for the kind comment. PS – guess what I’m reading right now? 🙂

  9. Randee Dawn

    Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea you’d had such a hard time, and it infuriates me at how easily we point fingers at victims, not perpetrators. Part of it I think is that we don’t want to imagine it could happen to us, but part of mature empathy is knowing that no one is exempt, and that you can’t know how you’d behave in any given situation. The whole point is: Nobody should be allowed to hurt anyone else. The only blame is on the person who perpetrates, not who is the target.

    • JH

      Agreed, Randee. I wish everyone felt that way.

      Whenever someone points out the victim blaming on these threads, people turn on that person and rip them apart. “She’s not as pretty as the actress” is another common comment. She’s a victim of crime and abuse, sharing her story. Who the hell cares that she doesn’t look like an actress? Grr…

  10. Jim Edwards

    These are real horror stories. Maybe I am naive but for me it is obviously the perpetrator that is to blame always. Not the victim. Why people do that I have no understanding. I’m so sorry to hear what happened to you J.H. Sometimes I feel ashamed to belong to the human race.

    • JH

      Thanks for your kind comment, Jim. If that’s naivety, how I wish we were all more naive!

  11. Steve Perrie

    Powerful story, and brave for you to write and share.

    As a child abuse victim, I witnessed when a cousin came forward. I saw how the family rallied around the abuser, called the victim a liar and ostracized her from the family. This kept me silent for a quarter century. But I did come forward and I was believed.

    I’ve thought about this issue my whole life and I believe oftentimes its easier for decent people to refuse to believe the worst, discredit or downplay it, rather than confront it. But I am optimistic that attitudes and culture are slowly changing for the better. It’s a painful awakening to discover how widespread these issues are, but victims are being heard and supported more now than ever, and we need to continue that trend.

    • JH

      That’s such a sad story, Steve. My heart goes out to you and to your cousin for everything you both suffered.

      I hope you’re right about things changing for the better, but I’m sure not seeing much evidence of it online.

  12. Mary Aalgaard

    Powerful post, J.H. I admire you for using your voice, in this case in writing, to bring this to light. I’m so sorry that you suffered abuse, the fear, the humiliation, and the injuries both physical and psychological. Are people in denial about abuse? Do they really think that victims “had it coming?” I think that deep down they fear that they, too, could be a victim, or a perpetrator. My ex-husband was verbally and emotionally abusive, and controlling in many areas, especially money. I still have triggers, and I avoid working with men in financial institutions. After a tirade, my husband would say, “At least I don’t hit you.” I believe abuse is a power play and a person acting out because of their own pain and insecurities. It’s almost impossible for the victim to understand that and rise above it. It’s a strange addiction. The abuser feels better after ripping into someone. Then, they can come back with peace offerings. Words do kill. Thanks for your post today. I hope it helps others show more compassion. I also hope that it empowers someone to leave their abuser and get help. Peace to you.

    • JH

      Thanks for your kind and beautiful response, Mary. I’m so sorry to hear you have an abuser in your past as well, though I’m sadly not surprised. Too many of us do, especially the kindhearted, giving ones. It’s like predators are drawn to the nicest, most forgiving people like bees to honey.

  13. Lee Lowery

    Neverland. So relieved that I am not the only one who wondered “what about the fathers” when the “blame the mothers” riff started. Domestic abusers are snake charmers in public. I’ve got two in my extended family – and yes, the exs have come back more than once. One in particular because her religion considers divorce a sin – any happiness apart from her abuser dooms her to hell. The other left permanently after the kids were grown. But for the grace of God, indeed.

    • JH

      I was so happy to read this comment, Lee. Not because of the women who have suffered in your extended family, but because someone else felt the same about the Neverland outcry. Why don’t we blame the abuser? That would be too extreme, wouldn’t it? Easiest just to blame the mothers.

  14. Misha

    I read somewhere that women engage in victim blaming because it’s a kind of psychological response to something as terrifying as rape or abuse, etc.

    By blaming the victim, they get to list all kinds of things they “wouldn’t have done” and those things supposedly make them feel safe and in control.

    • JH

      Such a sad response to another woman’s tragedy. I really hope we can change our mindset.

  15. Rebecca Douglass

    Wow, powerful post, and some really powerful comments. Thinking about it, I come up with two reasons why we blame the women.

    1. We are just too damned well trained to think that men are what they are, and we have to live with it.
    2. I think this may be even more to the point: we all want to believe we would handle the situation better. That wouldn’t happen to me because I’d be strong and get out. I’m smarter than that.

    If we are to believe we could get out, we have to believe the woman who was killed or injured failed in some way that we wouldn’t.

    Maybe a point #3: Blaming the victim reduces the horror, in a sense. It’s hard to wrap your mind around someone who would murder his wife, or walk into a school and open fire. So we find a reason for him to be so angry, so violent, and too often that reason is his feelings of rejection or whatever.

    Let’s move on to thinking immediately, “too bad someone didn’t hang that snake up by his balls long ago.”

    • JH

      Yes, please, let’s move on to that. I sincerely hope we do.

      I see a lot of #2, even from women who were in abusive relationships. Instead of thinking they were damn lucky not to have been killed when they left, they often feel superior to the women who were. I don’t get this. My survival had a lot to do with my ex not sustaining the same level of murderous rage as those other men, but he easily could have been one of them. In other words, I was lucky.

  16. dolorah at Book Lover

    It is sad that we live in a victim blaming society. No matter how often I hear/read how women are equal to men, all you have to do is read about all the abuses perpetrated against women (and children) and know that it is still a male dominated world. It is disgusting.

    • JH

      Agreed, Dolorah. It really is. We’ve got a long, long way to go, and it would help if we lifted each other up instead of tearing each other down. If women don’t respect other women, how can we expect men to?

  17. James

    Oh wow! Those are horrifying stories! The abusers are most definitely at fault. It’s deplorable that a victim would be blamed – that’s just not right!

    • JH

      Thanks for commenting, James. I completely agree, on all counts.

  18. Denise Hammond

    In my 20+ years in politics, the nastiest criticisms often came from women. I never understood that. Jealousy? Whatever. I cancelled my subscription to the local Detroit News last year when a female editorial writer wrote an op-ed entitled ‘Why it’s okay not to believe victims of sex abuse’. The world is truly going to hell.

    • JH

      Welcome back, Denise! It’s been too long. 🙂

      I’ve never understood it, either. Perhaps we were taught there are fewer positions at the top for women, and we have to compete for them? I don’t blame you for unsubscribing–I would have as well (after writing an angry letter to the editor).

  19. Liesbet

    As other commenters have expressed, this is a very strong and powerful post, JH! I’m so sorry you had to go through that abuse at a younger age (and in a different sense later on as well).

    I think, consciously or unconsciously, girls (and boys) growing up have been brainwashed or conditioned about the two different genders and their roles in society. And, their power, or lack thereof. Our “normal” growing up was seeing men in certain positions or behaving in a certain way that is now (or once we became adults) frowned upon.

    Your post is so timely as I have been thinking about this topic a lot these weeks (without following the news or social media due to lack of internet) and was just talking to Mark about what I mention above. Because of our society and my upbringing, when I think about certain professions, I have an image of either a man or a woman in my head. Why is that, I kept wondering.

    I think this is somewhat related to your topic, as in what behavior has been seen as OK or normal and what hasn’t. Women have always been regarded as the weaker species, or the ones to blame, or mess up, or do what they’ve been told…

    Back to your examples, the perpetrator should be criticized, punished, and blamed. Always. Yet, these people are usually intimidating as well. They deceive and sometimes succeed in turning things around. While I would never blame the victim (a crime is always a crime), I am guilty of thinking that women who dress skimpy or behave a certain way attract attention and get themselves in situations that might not end well more often than modestly dressed women.

    • JH

      Thanks for your honest and heartfelt response, Liesbet. I’m really hoping that kind of thinking will change, especially among women, but anyone who says they’ve never had a thought like that is lying. I’ve also been guilty of thinking, “Why didn’t she go to the police?” Well, now I know why.

      I have to consciously make a point of saying “she” and “her” when referring to CEOs with my students, and “he” and “him” when referring to receptionists, but I hope one day it becomes second nature, and I won’t have to think about it at all. How much damage has been done by the limiting stereotypes we were raised with!

  20. Kalpana

    What an excellent blog post. Like you, I have noticed the tendency of everyone to blame the woman. And yes, other women are the most judgemental, sadly. I’m glad you wrote this. I’ll share it on social media

    • JH

      Thanks for the kind words, Kalpana. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  21. Lisa

    Our world has been “run” by men for so long, this is going to take a lot of time to change. 🙁 There is a song by Toni Childs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYgsVbN96_k
    you might want to listen to. It was the first time, for me, that I had a comprehension. I don’t blame. I don’t always understand a woman’s choice, but I don’t blame. We are brainwashed as much as men are. We are doing something now to change this, but it will take time, unfortunately…

  22. Birgit

    As I mentioned, I believe, in the past, I was sexually abused when I was 7 by my mom’s best friend’s boyfriend. I know he told me, at first, it’s our secret but then it escalated that he would kill me to finally, saying he would kill my brother and my parents and my mom’s friend’s son. I kept quiet and, truthfully, blanked most of it out. I still don’t recall one time but the typical threats and abuse were there and has stayed with me to this day but it has not defined me. i get so pissed off when people blame the woman because they think a mother or woman somehow can “know” what is going on and be able to stop fists. In my line of work, i have often seen abuse and the cops do nothing. The woman, feeling helpless and unsure how to survive on her own, often go back to the abuser because they have been conditioned over the years by the a-hole. Mothers often don’t know, my mom didn’t and felt extreme guilt when i finally told her. I summoned up the courage to tell her when i was 7 or just turned 8 and she told me what to do and I did. She told him if he ever came back she would kill him. he never returned. Let’s hope that people will, one day, smarten up

    • JH

      I’m so sorry for what you went through, Birgit. That’s absolutely horrible. No child should ever have to go through that.

      I’m glad you were able to tell your mom, but I also understand why you didn’t at first. And I’m glad you don’t blame her for what happened. I’m sure she always felt guilty about not knowing.

      Child abusers are the worst of the worst, IMO.

  23. Nikki B.

    I read this a few days ago and just couldn’t come up with the words I wanted to say and still may not succeed this time around. I had no idea about the situation you endured and I’m very thankful you are still here. I was in a verbally and mentally abusive relationship for 2 years. He raised his hand to me once and I told him if he ever did that again he would pull back a nub. But I started to fear that the longer I stayed the more comfortable he would get that he had me under his control. He was very jealous and controlling but I wasn’t allowed to exhibit any of the same characteristics or I was called “crazy” and “psycho”. Even if my jealousy was founded because of evidence of him being unfaithful, it was all still somehow my fault. Any issues we had were because of me, and any behavior he exhibited, he was driven to by me. I have no doubt that if I had stayed it would have turned into a physically abusive situation. The mental and verbal abuse was bad enough and I’m thankful I got out. I’m also thankful I still lived at home and when he didn’t take the breakup well and seemed to lose it, I was safe within my home. He eventually moved away and I am forever grateful I made it through that time with as little trauma as I did. I had mostly supportive friends and family that told me HE was responsible for his own actions and that our relationship was not how a good, stable relationship should be. But I had a few friends and acquaintances that pointed out things that I did that they believed justified his behavior. Things I did that “made him crazy”. Things I expected from him that were unrealistic for a woman to expect from a man she’s in a relationship with because men are incapable of being 100% faithful or not looking at porn so it was obviously my ridiculous expectations that caused him to belittle and berate me.

    I really wish I had answers as to why, as a society, this is so prevalent. Even *if* someone is doing something wrong (because let’s face it, I know I wasn’t a perfect girlfriend and I’m sure I made mistakes) how does that justify abuse of any kind? Two wrongs NEVER make a right. I’ve been watching true-crime series before and noticed the same thing… if the woman was, let’s say, cheating on her boyfriend/husband there is almost this “ohhhh, that’s why he killed her” from some of the people being interviewed or narrating. I’m not sure when the moral compass got so skewed that we think someone cheating or lying or… well, anything, justifies abuse or murder. I’ve always been one, myself, to walk away from things. If I’m done wrong, I remove myself from the situation, but I’ve never found myself thinking… “you know, this would be a totally justifiable reason to commit murder.”

    It’s so easy to see someone’s circumstances from an outside perspective and think we have the answers. But there are so many factors that play into our lives and make them our own. We may never know the bravery it takes for someone to make changes or to walk away from something. And how sad when the brave few do and nothing is done to protect them and their worst fear is realized. I try to prevent myself from even allowing a flicker of those judgmental thoughts cross my mind because, while I may not have all the answers in life, I certainly know that blaming those who are the victims is definitely the WRONG answer.

    • JH

      Well said, Nikki. I’m sorry to hear you were in an abusive relationship as well, but very happy you managed to escape it. Why on earth do “friends” feel the need to say stuff like that? When I was younger, I started seeing this guy I wasn’t too sure about, because he seemed to be afraid of commitment. (Perhaps it was the way he said, “I never want to be in a long-term relationship ever again” that tipped me off.) At the beginning of our relationship, we weren’t exclusive, and I had a brief dalliance with someone else–I told the non-exclusive guy, and not only was he not mad, it seemed to make him more committed to me. Somehow, we ended up in a serious relationship for two years, which ended when I discovered he’d cheated on me.

      My “best friend” at the time thought that–in the midst of my grief and anguish–that it was the perfect time to point out my serious bf’s infidelity was exactly the same as me being with someone else at the beginning of the relationship when we’d both agreed to be non-exclusive. Completely negating the years that had passed in between and the promises that had been made. When I was down, this chick thought it was a good time to kick me. Years later she ended our friendship when I couldn’t drop everything else in my life for her, and it’s been nothing but a relief. Sometimes you don’t see people clearly until they’re gone.

      • Nikki B.

        I will never understand why some people feel the need to make the comments they do, let alone “friends” who manage to kick you when you’re down. I’m glad I got out of my abusive relationship too, and that I refused to settle for anything like it ever again.

        You’re right, it also taught me a lot about the friendships I had at the time. They weren’t the kind I wanted to keep and didn’t realize it until they were gone. I’m glad I didn’t listen to them because I probably would have ended up with just another jerk if I truly believed that there wasn’t more and better people in this world.

        • JH

          I think people like that have their own issues and insecurities, and their lashing out stems from that. In my case, the “friend” was a highly insecure woman who’d only ever been with one man, a man who was unfaithful to her. While I can understand the reasons behind her unsupportive behaviour, I don’t have to keep toxic people like that in my life. And neither do you. 🙂


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