It would have been simpler if you had just hit me with your fist.
It would have hurt less had curled your fingers up and slammed your fist into my gut.
No. Oh no, you would never hit me. You claimed you would never give in to the urge to physically hurt me. You denied that the urge was there, but I could see it. Please. After nine years I can read you like a book.
On the good days we inspired each other, brought out the best in each other. On the bad days we would stand, six inches apart, applying the verbal lash over and over. Flaying one another to the bone, stripping defenses down until nerves were raw and exposed.
Even after all those years, all those fights, all the pain, I never threw that kind of insult at you. I never said anything that literally took your breath away, never dealt you a verbal sucker punch. Don't get me wrong, I'm certain that I hurt you. Intentionally or not, I know that it's true. I know we both bear scars on our hearts. But I never spoke to you the way you spoke to me. I never poured salt on the wounds.
You took every single self-doubt that I had, every aspect of myself that I hated, and threw them all at me. I sat there, wounded, in shock, seeing the rage and pain blaze in your eyes like wildfire.
If you had just made a fist, punched me in the gut, maybe we'd still be together.
No. You had to wound me and then grab the salt and just rub it in there, didn't you?
Fat. Lazy. Selfish. Mean. Bitch.
Those words hurt. Can't deny that. But I've heard them before.
Do you want to know what the last straw was? The word that hit me like a fist to the gut?
How dare you?
How DARE you throw that in my face?
You. You of all people. You who knew how I struggled with that diagnosis, who saw me weep every month, watched me grieve for another lost chance every time I bled.
Four years of a thousand tiny deaths. Every birth announcement, every baby shower, every happy family in a grocery store: they all left a scar.
Countless appointments, driving back and forth to clinics to undergo tests and invasive medical procedures. Always alone because your work schedule wouldn't allow you to join me. Trying to reign in my crazy mood swings from the drugs so that I didn't take everything out on you. Slogging through life on a second-string antidepressant because it would be safer during pregnancy. Drawing fluid into a needle and shooting myself up with hormones in the bathroom, alone, because you're afraid of needles.
If those scars were physical instead of emotional I don't think I'd have an inch of pristine skin left at this point.
You condensed all of that pain and anguish into one little word.
It took my breath away. I felt a chill ripple from the tip of my skull down to my toes.
And it was over. Over. In that moment, we were over. No going back. No patching it up this time.
It would have been simpler if you had just hit me with your fist.
Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now?
Your bandmate needs a sounding board.
It's time to Ask The Band!
I sincerely hope you will take time to read my story. I hope you can give me some help or advice. I am completely heartbroken. I'm feeling worthless and lonely.
When my boyfriend (let's call him Steve) and I met for the first time I was not ready for a relationship. I was at a point in my life where I was completely happy alone and I wanted to stay that way. I also thought he was doing drugs on weekends and was a dealer.
Still, I thought he was beautiful and that I could get to know him. We would be friends with benefits but nothing more. I would not let myself be emotionally attached to him.
We met twice and he was wonderful, not what I had expected. He was so much fun and cute. The third time, we slept together. Soon afterward, I got drunk while out with a friend and had a one-night stand that I didn't tell him about.
We were sleeping together for a couple of months. I was in denial that I wasn't in love with him, but I really was and I knew he loved me too. We kept "just sleeping together," but we also did many things that couples do. We officially started our relationship seven months after we met for the first time.
A few months afterward, he asked me if I had had a one-night stand and I told him yes, it had happened a few months before we met. A couple of months later, I could not bear to hold the truth in any longer. I felt like if he would forgive me and accept me for what I did, we were meant to be together and would be able to conquer all. If not then maybe we should not be together.
So I decided to tell him what had been on my mind for so long. I told him the truth that it had happened after we (Steve and I) had met three times and slept together once. He flipped. He said at first that he could not be with me anymore but he would think about it. When we talked together the next day we decided to make it work.
Four months after I told him he went on a weekend away with his friend to another country where he got really drunk and kissed a girl. He told me she kissed him and that he went away as soon as he figured out what had just happened. I was devastated, completely crushed. I felt betrayed by the love of my life.
I decided to be with him anyway because he was so sorry that he cried and told me it was a mistake. I never screamed at him once for this and never called him any names, I was just sad and cried. We stayed together and made it work.
For eight months after I told him when my incident had happened he called me a whore almost every day. Every time we fought it was because he was thinking about that incident. He told me he hated me, that I deserved nothing good, that I didn't deserve him, that he was a much better person than me, that he should be with a girl that didn't do such a thing, that I was disgusting, that I was a whore, that I should fuck off.
Whenever we fought about this I was scared to death. Three times he grabbed me by the neck, one time he lifted me up on the neck from the floor. Sometimes he grabbed me by the arms and shook me. Many times he held his fist up against me like he was going to hit me but he didn't. He told me "I'm so close to fucking hitting you right now you disgusting whore." About four times he pushed me so hard I fell.
Whenever I mentioned I was sad about the incident that happened on his trip, he always managed to turn it against me. What had started with me being sad about what he did ended with him screaming and me being scared to death, holding my arms around my head in fear of him hitting me.
Every time after we fought I comforted him. I said everything was going to be okay and that I forgave him.
I was never allowed to be sad. He would scream "Why are you crying, you whore? You don't deserve to cry." I was crying because I was scared, because I was sad and felt like I was going crazy. I was also crying because I did not like remembering the one-night stand and he kept on reminding me.
Two days ago we split up.
He told me he could never be with a girl that did such a thing when we had already met. He didn't care when I tried to tell him that it was the biggest mistake I ever made and that I was never going to be emotionally involved with the other man.
When we split, he did not scream at me. We were just sad to be splitting. I asked him whether he thought a therapist would help or if he could ever forgive me. He said that he thinks that a therapist wouldn't help with this, that I disgust him and he will never forgive me.
I was okay with ending things with him because I had been telling myself that I deserved better, that he may have been abusing me emotionally and physically during our relationship. So now come my questions.
Do you think a therapist would have been able to fix this anger and his thoughts about this incident and that it could have worked out for us?
Do you think I'm crazy for asking this question because I am not supposed to want to be with a guy that breaks me down, has destroyed my self-esteem and has complete power over me?
Was I abused?
How can I fix my self-esteem?
Right now I only remember the good things and can't seem to remember the bad things. It is only when I describe this to someone that I realize that this was kind of sick. I never said anything to him when he screamed at me. I was desperate - and still kind of am - to make it work.
The people I have told say that he is not good for me and that I should be happy to be out. But why do I not feel it? Why do I only want to be with him and make it work? I am still so in love with him, even though I am not as crazy about him after all this.
Can you help me in any way?
Three out of four victims of sexual assault are attacked by people they know and trust.
This is her story.
I was so young at 22.
I had never had a boyfriend, had never been kissed, had never had anything truly bad happen to me.
I met him on the first day of law school orientation. He was sweet. He was leaning into my conversations, going out of his way to talk to me. Within a month we were dating. He was wonderful in every way; always taking care of me, listening to my worries, making me laugh. I knew that all the years of holding out for a good one had paid off.
From the beginning he said he wanted to take it slow physically, knowing about my lack of experience. He knew I wanted to save sex for marriage. He didn't agree, but he went along with it. At first, at least.
Slowly he started pushing me to do things I didn't want to do. When I told him no or pushed his hand away, he would persist. These were little things though, in the "gray area," so eventually I would give in. If I didn't, I had to deal with his anger and pouting.
I was becoming more and more depressed, but I didn't know it.
Sure, I cried when I was alone. But I just hated school so much. I was stressed all the time. Not sleeping. Not eating. I just needed to toughen up. He was right there the whole time, making sure I ate, walking my dog, letting me cry. He was a godsend.
It was around this time that he began the emotional abuse.
I never appreciated him enough. I was selfish. There was no end to the ways that his ex-girlfriend was better than me. I spent my days tiptoeing around, never sure what would set him off. He was wonderful, though. We were just going through a rough patch. I needed to be the bigger person, forgive, and move on. He was so good at apologizing after a blow-up. He didn't mean any of it.
Slowly he started pushing harder and harder and wanting to go farther and farther physically. Four, five, six times I would pull away, but he wouldn't relent. What was I supposed to do, scream? He was my boyfriend, he loved me. He just got carried away. I talked to him about it on several occasions, explaining that what he was doing wasn't right. I tried to explain that "no means no."
"Do you know what you're accusing me of?" he exploded.
"I'm not accusing you of anything, I'm just trying to tell you how I feel."
It didn't matter. I learned not to bring it up. I blamed myself for it. After all, a guy will go as far as a girl lets him, right? Each time he pushed, I eventually gave in. It was my fault. I had trained him not to take my protests seriously. If only I were stronger, it wouldn't be a problem. But it was too late now.
I began not to protest at all. I couldn't understand what force was keeping me silent, but I was paralyzed when he touched me. I tried to accept that these were things I did now. I tried to put it from my mind.
One night, he took my clothes off. When it was all over, he said that he had entered me. I was confused. I hadn't felt anything. The next day I talked to him about it. I told him how upset I was. I reminded him, for the thousandth time, that this was not what I wanted our relationship to look like. I told him again, as I had in the beginning and so many times in between, that this was the final, absolute line.
This was not a gray area, this was wrong.
In response, he berated me for "ruining his first time." He brushed aside my distress, telling me how special he wanted his first time to be and how I had ruined it by not being there emotionally. How could I be so selfish?
I begged him that day not try it again. I told him it would destroy me. I told him I would never be able to forgive him or myself. That very same night he pushed me into going all the way. This time I felt it; the pain. I felt so helpless. Silent, paralyzed, horrified at my weakness, I let it happen. As usual, it was my fault.
With the support of my mom and a therapist, I finally left him, but the damage remains. The worst part is not having a name for what happened. Rape isn't quite right. But I felt so forced, so helpless. It would almost have been better if he had held me down screaming. At least then I would know.
I tell myself it wasn't my fault, but when my guard is down that little voice still whispers, "You let it happen. Slut. Easy. Weak." I just want to feel wholesome again.
I'm not sure I ever will.
We all have letters we'd like to send, but know that we can't. A letter to someone we no longer have a relationship with, a letter to a family member or friend who has died, a letter to reclaim our power or our voice from an abuser.
Letters where actual contact is just not possible.
Do you have a letter you can't send?
Why not send it to The Band?
Because of recent events, you are back in my life.
Not physically, but you occupy my brain and I feel angry. I was just starting to move on and there you are. Just like every time I leave. This time is different, though. I no longer want what we had, but I am still very angry. And hurt. And angry because I'm still hurt.
On some days, I wonder if it will make me feel better if I sent you something. Maybe start me down the road of finally forgetting you. Moving on to a life I so deserve. But I know that you still think that it was my decision and if I had only stayed, things would have gotten better.
But I know.
I know nothing would have changed. For 3 years, nothing changed. The empty promises never changed. The looks of disgust you reserved solely for me never changed. The venom you spat never changed. The repetitive but half-hearted apologies never changed.
We never changed.
I hate that I have to live with the guilt of walking away when it was your decision to not take your medication that drove us apart. I hate that five months later, my heart hurts as much as it did the day I finally said good-bye to you - to us. I hate you for loving yourself more than you loved us. Your selfishness is plain to me now. I never was going to win. And that is what breaks my heart.
You finally got me to admit that I loved you. Told me I had nothing to worry about. That what we had was special. Forever. That I no longer needed to be strong, because you would always be there to comfort me and be my protector. I no longer had to run from love but succumb to it, so I opened my heart. Wide the fuck open. But I knew. I wanted to deny it but I knew.
A part of me wept for the day I knew would come. The day you would finally tell me that you didn't really love me. You say that you didn't mean it when you said it. That you only said it because you knew it would hurt me, but you were wrong. It didn't hurt me. It destroyed me.
So here I am.
Broken. Hurt. Lonely. Angry. Alone. Longing for love, and it hurts. I hate that you awakened something that you were incapable of caring for. I hope to my core for nothing but good things for your life, but I also really wish I could tell you just how much you hurt me.
So here is my letter to you that I will never send. Maybe now I will begin to find some peace.
God, I hope so.
I am a young woman who just left my abuser.
It happened today.
As a bit of background, I am American and my fiance is Mexican. We had our cultural differences but I am studying a good bit of Latino studies and Spanish at college, so the culture isn't foreign to me; I am mostly bilingual. I have been living with my fiance and future relatives for about a month and a half.
It was the typical machista stuff. He told me what to wear, how to cut my hair, how to wash dishes, mop floors, do laundry, and any other household chore you can think of. He told me how frequently I should bathe, when I could descansar ('rest' in Spanish), and when I should be working. He didn't ask me to help with dinner, but would instead tell me.
If I confronted him on how he spoke to me he would say, "This is how I am and if you don't like it I'll find another woman who doesn't mind." If I were smart I would've told him to go find her, but instead I endured.
I kept thinking I would convince him that I was good - good enough to merit being spoken to with respect. I thought if I did enough chores, or was good enough in bed, or made his life easier (including getting up at 4:00am to pack his lunch and help him get ready for work), that he would grow to appreciate me. I should've known better.
I now have no friends - my fiance and I got in a fight after I got coffee with my best girlfriend.
By some miracle my family found it within themselves to forgive me for ignoring them for months. I am now back at my mother's house. If I hadn't had a place to go, I wouldn't have left.
I am 21 years old and a full-time college student. For the past month and a half I have been pulling double duty on four hours of sleep or less a night doing house chores and schoolwork. I could only do schoolwork in the morning after he left for work because if I sat for any length of time in front of him he would call me lazy and tell me to go get some chores done. I would get my week's worth of schoolwork done in the morning after he left between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00.
I am not sure how I pulled off the grades I'm getting this semester. He would always ask me what my degree is for if I am going to be in the house all day. If I was ever even ten minutes late getting in from classes he would freak out and scream at me and tell me I didn't really love him, that he was going to get tired of me and leave me and then no one would want me because I am used goods.
Today I had a family emergency. My mother called to tell me my cousin two states away had a stroke and was in the hospital with partial paralysis. I wanted to be with my mother but I knew I couldn't talk to him about it and I needed his permission to leave the house.
When my mother called I sat down on the bed. Tears fell silently from my cheeks as he entered the room. He took one look at me and gruffly asked, "Tu que tienes? No te dije que te apures?" (What's wrong with you? Didn't I tell you to hurry up?)
I couldn't tell him that I was upset or why I was upset because I knew as painful as the situation was for me, he couldn't feel sympathy for anything I might have to say. So I simply answered "nada." There is nothing wrong.
He said, "Then hurry up. We are leaving."
We were leaving to do the week's grocery shopping with the rest of the family, eight of us total. It was my least favorite activity while living with my fiance and future in-laws because I was frequently shamed and yelled at for being culturally incorrect (in my own country).
I knew I just couldn't go on that day. I couldn't pretend nothing was wrong.
My dad, who has been basically absent my entire life except for around birthdays, Christmas, and the odd little league game, had just sent me a series of texts telling me that even though he hadn't really been there, he is proud of who I am and that no man will ever deserve me. I couldn't believe it - still don't - but his messages gave me the nudge I needed to make the decision I'd spent a month agonizing about.
"Hurry up, we're leaving," my fiance called.
I said, "Babe, I don't want to."
He replied, "you don't want to? I didn't ask. We're going; get your coat."
I replied, "I just said I don't want to. I don't want to."
This exchange went on a few times, then he jerked around violently and came closer. I was afraid he was going to hit me. He has never hit me but there have been several times when I thought he might.
Instead of hitting me, he said a lot of ugly things, including several swear words in Spanish - cursing my friends and my family, saying that they were always coming between us and between me and my duties as a wife. I reminded him that he promised when I moved in that I could see my family whenever I wanted. He said, "Yes, whenever you want. Just not now because we're going grocery shopping."
I said, "You go. I'm staying."
And he said, "If you don't come with me, I don't ever want to see you in this house again when I come home." I asked him if he was sure and he said yes - he didn't want a wife that cared more about other people than him.
I reminded him that he shouldn't talk that way to me, that if he was serious I would leave. I wouldn't stay where I wasn't wanted, and I told him he might regret it later when his anger passed. He said he might and left with his family. Then he sent me a message telling me he wanted me to get my things and leave. I asked him again if he was sure. He said yes.
I packed quickly and was out in 30 minutes. I left my ring and the jewelry he bought me. My sister and mother say I should've kept them, but something about that felt icky.
He came home from his shopping trip and texted me - told me he couldn't believe I had moved out. That it hurt him that I left my ring, that it was a gift given in love and that he would flush it down the toilet. He said he would never let another woman make him cry; he never wanted another wife. He said so many things. He is still texting me.
When I write it all out like this I wonder why I was even still there. But when you are actually living it and you love the person and you are accustomed to a certain level of abuse in your home environment, the lines get very fuzzy.
I can't go back, though.
I won't go back.
Page 1 of 52