I received my stats for 2010 from wordpress this morning and they shamefully highlight my neglect of this blog. I’ve made 21 posts this year, they say. Man!
Well, I have my excuses. First, I ran out of blogging inspiration quite some time ago and I have yet to find it again. Second, I have been very busy in work. (For those of you who have forgotten, I am now a lecturer in University of Huddersfield.) Third, 2010 was actually the worst year of my life. I know that many people use such hyperbolic statements about the year just past, but it really really really was.
About this time last year, I became involved with someone entirely unsuitable and inappropriate. I realised about a week into the relationship (after he told me he loved me – eeek!) just how inappropriate he was. Before long he was abusing me (emotionally, psychologically, and sometimes physically). I was terrified and I had no idea what to do. The kicker: he was a work colleague who I had to see two/ three times a week. It was horrible. I became the person I least wanted to be: that scared and confused woman who quickly finds herself in an abusive relationship and is absolutely unable to do anything about it. I knew as soon as the abuse started that I had to leave him but it took me four months (and the back of his hand on my cheek one day in early May on campus) for me to find the strength to get out.
I decided not to go to the police. I can’t really satisfactorily explain that decision to anyone, let alone myself, but I know that it was the right decision. If I had gone to the police, he would likely have lost his job and, while he probably deserved that, I didn’t want to be the person to bring that on. I just wanted to be rid of him. I do know that it was the right decision.
The emotional and psychological abuse continued after May. I was too frightened even then to tell him that I wanted nothing more to do with him (he was adamant that we could be together and make things work) and I spent the summer trying to find the strength to tell him to get out of my life. When I finally did, he didn’t listen, and continued the abuse. Eventually, I told my work colleagues what had been going on (my line manager knew already but was supportive of me not taking it further if that was my honest decision) and that made ending it once and for all so much easier.
At the start of October, I began to ignore him completely. I gave my line manager a series of emails and text messages which I had received from him as evidence of the harassment I had experienced through the months. The department head got him in for a “chat” just before Christmas and warned him to leave me alone and to, under no circumstances, contact me again for anything other than work. Apparently, he completely fell on his sword and accepted responsibility for everything that he had done. Frankly, he had no choice because the evidence was very clear. I also received an apology letter from him which indicated that he would be nothing but professional towards me from now on and that I had no fear of further abuse from him.
(Interestingly, though he has been on “my” campus – he teaches on another campus – about 30 times this term, I have yet to see him face to face. It’s the hand of the Gods or something.)
So, he’s gone, I survived, but there have been, predictably, after-effects.
I know that I was very lucky in some respects: he was not in life for long; he did not do any serious physical damage to me; I had the emotional resources to get out as soon as I felt able; I have had the full backing of my work colleagues and the unquestioning support of my and his bosses; his emotional and psychological abuse while still lingering will not last forever and I am working through it; and, again, I survived.
I am trying to stop blaming myself but that is easier said that done. Society likes to blame victims of domestic violence for “bringing it on themselves” and although I fight hard in both the blogopshere and real life to dispel such myths, it is very easy to fall into that trap. And it is particularly so when you have been involved with someone so manipulative and twisted. And he was very manipulative and twisted.
I will get through it, though it may take longer than I initially thought. I hate him with every bone of my body, and I wish that I had never met him. I don’t wish him harm, but I never, ever, want to be around him again. I would prefer to never see him again but that’s not likely. I hope he learns from his many, many mistakes and doesn’t do the same again to someone else. I latterly learned that he has abused before so it so it is really no surprise.
As a rather outspoken feminist, it’s not what you expect to happen to you, but I’ve learned that that’s a ridiculous thing to believe. And it’s much to close to victim-blaming. So I just don’t believe it. And it’s amazing how much you learn about yourself when you’re on your ass.
And that’s my story for 2010.