When I meet old friends from my past, I always ask them the same question: ‘What was I like back then?’
‘Then’ refers to when I was still being abused.
Their answer is always the same: ‘You were locked away in a shell. Occasionally, you’d pop out to say something but then zzzip. Right back in your shell. It was common knowledge that you were being abused. It was obvious to all your mates’.
But no one bothered to tell me.
I’ll be honest. That pisses me off!
Shouldn’t I have been the first person to know, not the last? What kind of ‘friend’ sees you being abused and wordlessly turns a blind eye, not offering a kind word nor a way out?
Oh, I know. They didn’t want to shove in their oar and risk offending me. It wasn’t their responsibility. Boundaries and all that rot.
But they were wrong. Far from being offended, I would’ve welcomed their ‘interference’. I would have celebrated finally knowing why life hurt so badly. Instead, I was left to wallow in confusion, shame and self-blame.
Like so many in abusive situations, the abuse was positioned as necessitated by my own failings. If someone, anyone, had the bollocks to open their mouth, years and years of abuse would’ve been cut short. But oh no!
Their ‘politeness’ left me to live out each day after hopeless day in despair. Month after futile month I became more and more trauma bonded to the abuser. Year after year devoted to improve myself until one day my abuser assured me it wouldn’t be necessary to make my life a bloody nightmare. There was no escape.
I was the last person to know I was being abused and discovered it, quite by chance, by myself.
Then all my mates jump on-board with, ‘Oh yes, we knew. So glad there’s an end to it now’. I was flabbergasted. It was a sickening sort-of ‘I-told-you-so’….but they never did.
If you know, or even suspect, that a friend, relative, neighbour, coworker or mate is being abused, don’t be ‘polite’. Don’t keep it to yourself. Open your gob and say something. Anything.
What’s the worst they can do? Get pissed off. Stop buying you pints. But they’ll be a far sight less pissed off than they will be twenty years from now when you say ‘Yeah, mate, I always knew you were abused but I didn’t say anything in case you’d get your back up. Glad you’re free of it now’.
It’s your moral duty to not keep abuse secret – even from the person being abused.
Photo by Editor B