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Luckily, he only hurt me with his words.
He only made me feel small and insignificant and unimportant and unworthy with his cruel, biting, heartless words.
Luckily, he only took my trust I had given him so openly and graciously and threw it back in my face with cruel intent and resolve to crush me into complete insecurity.
Luckily. Luckily, he misled me. Threatened me. Manipulated me. Lied to me. Called me names. And abused my trust and love for him.
But luckily, he never hurt me.
That’s what I’ve heard. From people I care about – people I love. Ever since I left my toxic relationship and came clean to people around me about what happened within the walls of this seemingly complicated, sexy, fun, messy relationship, people have told me how lucky I am. Lucky that I was never hurt. Sure, my “ego was bruised,” my “feelings were hurt.” But at least he never hurt me.
“Do you have bruises?” someone once asked me.
When I replied sheepishly that his abuse was “more mental, like verbal abuse, kind of emotional,”I received a breath of relief in response.
“Oh, good. At least you weren’t hurt.”
At least. At least, I would think, would be me, completely unharmed, out of a relationship that just wasn’t my thing, wasn’t right for me. That would be the “least” thing I could imagine. Not being torn down to nothing and being mentally and emotionally incapable of standing up for myself.
It’s taken me years to get used to the indifference people seem to have toward women that were in non-violent abusive relationships. But if you’re not as far along as I am, and are looking for a little hope, I can tell you, it does get better. In fact, their immunity to empathy becomes a little amusing. Unless you have bruises to show for it, it has no business being called abuse. Right? It’s a little laughable. Someone can take years of your life away from you, diminishing your confidence, your ability to make decisions for yourself, and your will to fight back. But at least they didn’t hit you. Because who needs a will to live?
Irony aside, I want to tell my fellow girls that no matter where you are in your life, stand up. For some of you, it will be harder than others. I know. I’ve been there. If you’re in a dark place, if you’re in a relationship where you don’t feel appreciated, stand up. If the voice inside your head tells you it’s not abuse because he’s never laid a finger on you, stand up. Stand up for you. Stand up for your girlhood. Stand up because you’re strong and beautiful and capable and deserving of every chance to be better. Stand up. I know you can. I know you can.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship or needs help recovering, Thehotline.org is a great 24/7 resource to get assistance. Please, please, please ask for help when you need it.