Things that make it harder to talk about my experience as an abuse victim

I am a survivor of emotional and sexual abuse. That is what this blog was made to be about, if I’m honest. But I need to put some content warnings here.

Homophobia against lesbians

Homophobia in Christianity

Antiblack racism

General ableism warning

Mentions of sexual and emotional abuse.

1. We weren’t in a romantic relationship. We were best friends. Since our first official ‘break up’ (break up in quotes because we weren’t romantically involved), I began to realise that my abuser has a view of friendships that is not shared by everyone. He (referred to hereafter is R) forms very close friendships, so called ‘BFF’s, who are valued very highly. When I came back onto the scene (2008-ish, when I was 19) there were two BFFs, one in the country and one not. The distance these people have from R will be an advantage for them. The problem for me was I lived very close by, so from about age 13 or 14, things were like this. I was expected to be by R’s side all afternoon after school. And the evening, until 9:30, later 10 when he was allowed to stay out later. Usually he would be surfing the net, or talking on msn to other people, and ignoring me completely. But I was still expected to be there. If I was to, say, go home, it would be treated as similar to telling R ‘I don’t give a shit about you’. At weekends we would be together all the time. I’d get a call about 10am on Saturday saying ‘come over’. This amount of physical closeness would be unhealthy in a romantic relationship, especially for two people so young, but it certainly seems more plausible than for just a friendship. Though this does make it hard to talk about, because we weren’t dating. Saying ‘my abusive ex’ feels wrong, because ex means ex-partner to people. The phrase ‘abusive friend’ makes things feel weaker because most people don’t have this one, incredibly close and exclusive friend. The phrase doesn’t really get across what it was like. That’s part of the reason I started this blog, to document things and get it straight in my head. I tend to say ‘my abuser’ now. Or sometimes ‘my abusive relationship’ because being friends is a type of relationship. But I still worry that people will find out I wasn’t in a romantic relationship with my abuser and call me a fraud. I do feel like the way R had friendships is relevant, though. Maybe I’ll explore that more in a future post.

2. R is trans. Specifically a trans man, and I am a woman, so when we were teenagers, it seemed like we were two girls in a close friendship. This does effect things because now, when I talk about being sexually abused by a boy when I was a girl, I want to constantly over explain, like ‘oh but it was different, because R is cafab!’ I need to…just stop doing that. If I don’t think sexually assaulting someone is any better because you’re a girl not a boy, or vice versa (as turned out to be the case), which I don’t, then it shouldn’t matter at all. But like a lot of sexual assault survivors I have the instinct to try and minimise, try and assign blame to myself. It took me YEARS to come to terms with the fact that what happened wasn’t my fault, and was in fact sexual abuse. I do not think R thinks of himself as an abuser. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong. That DOESN’T mean he is correct. It doesn’t make sexual assault any less valid because the person who did it will tell you they did nothing wrong, or the person who was assaulted didn’t know it was assault until years later. That’s actually quite common, especially when it happened between teens or even younger kids. One more note: R came out after the last time we spoke. I found out upon looking at his social media after a death in his family. It was about 6 months ago. All my discussion of R as male is retroactive.

3. As a kid, I was a piece of shit.

I’m realising this more and more now. I don’t want to flagellate all over everywhere and be gross, but here’s some things I did:

  • Homophobia. I was a Christian as a child, and growing into my teens I started to read really gross and homophobic books. Well actually it was just the one book, which I will probably expand upon more in future, including a name and shame (though direct quotes, much as I’d like to, may be impossible as it seems to have disappeared from the house, though probably for unrelated reasons). This book was about how to grow into a godly teenager. It said that being gay was wrong, un-Christian, and totally caused by a person’s environment. Therefore when R, afab R, said he had a crush on me (also said ‘I love you’), and was a lesbian, I freaked out. And was homophobic. And said shit like lesbians not being real. I also think I thought R was just saying about the crush and being in love to control me more. Which is possible actually. But that doesn’t make what I said any better. My Christian upbringing and those views, btw, are related in some ways but not all. I was only a Christian because of my parents, but my parents never taught me homophobia. But being in a Christian environment with Christian books that you’re reading, even ones we would consider un-radical, exposes you to the idea that certain things are wrong in the eyes of God. And that, crucially, if you do not also consider them wrong, you will be wrong. It will damage your relationship with God. And we teach children and teenagers that God will make them less lonely. And I was a very lonely child. My ‘sin’ in having someone of the wrong gender attracted to me might be the reason why I couldn’t hear God speak to me. It’s fucked up, I know. It’s wrong to its core. And if I ever join a church again, maybe when I’m old, I want to counteract these ideas the best that I can. I want to say, why would God do this to His children? Why would He create people who are gay and trans and not love them the way they are?
  • Racism. R is not white, is mixed race (3/4 white and 1/4 black) and not white passing. I am white. I remember one time R said something like ‘you people’, meaning white people, and I got pissy and said ‘you’re more white than you are black!’ Which is seriously wrong. White people can NEVER dictate a non-white person’s racial identity. Never. But the other thing that happened is even worse. We met these two sisters down the local park and an argument started between them and R, don’t remember how or why. They were black and dark skinned. R called them the n-word. R is very impulsive and I think said afterwards that he wanted to see what would happen. R is part black but I know enough to know that black people who reclaim the n-word do not use it as an insult. The girls were horribly upset and angry with R and there was a fight. And I fought the older one. To protect R. I always protected R, when I should have run the other way from someone who could do something so awful. They were defending their right to not be racially abused. And I aligned myself on R’s side, the side of the racial abuse of the worst kind, with my fists.
  • Ableism. Captain Awkward has a rule where no one can ‘Internet diagnose’ in the comments, so even if you’re convinced someone mentioned in the letter has, say, narcissistic personality disorder, you can’t name it, because you can’t know for sure. You can only suggest advice that will help either way. Well, sadly I didn’t know that as a kid. I was always trying to figure out why R acted the way he did. Which, certainly, is not my business. I might say something like ‘you don’t understand people, I understand people too much’ (which btw was about me being convinced that everyone hated me. That by the way, is not understanding people, but I thought I knew everything like an arrogant little shit.) or just flat out ‘maybe you’re autistic’. To be clear, it is totally fine for people to say about themselves ‘maybe I’m autistic’. Your friend should not be doing this. I should not have been doing this. I upset R, who didn’t know what autistic meant exactly. I will always regret this.

I will always regret ALL of this. I want to be clear that as you read this, if you don’t want to read anything more I write, I will completely understand. These incidents happened between the ages of 13-15, with maybe some of my diagnosing bullshit happening later but not the other stuff. I’m 25 now, and while I was uneducated and a horrible child, I can never say that things done as a child don’t matter, don’t hurt or don’t cause harm. That is wrong.

Emotional abuse is fucked up. Emotional abuse changes you. I firmly believe the years of emotional abuse changed me far, far more as a person than the few incidents of sexual abuse. The sexual abuse helps me realise that it really was abuse, which is a relief in some regards. But the emotional abuse changed me. There is no perfect emotional abuse victim. There is no person who reacts to the daily control of their life with calmness, kindness, and care for their abuser. We lash out. We hurt our abuser with words in return. We try to escape. That’s not what caused the above incidents. Those are absolutely caused by me being a homophobic, racist, and ableist person who is white, straight and privileged in society in almost every way. But in a future post I will write more about what I mean when I say lash out. And what I tell myself to justify R’s abuse. And what that abuse actually was. And then I will have this record. I will know that abuse happened, whether it was ‘traditional’ in nature or not. And I will have told someone. Just a blog though.

A mossy place, by a clear stream.

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