Rachel's Domestic Abuse Story
Rachel's domestic abuse story started as a simple 'boy meets girl', except this girl missed the warning signs and was soon subjected to intimate rape, beatings and death threats. This is the story of Rachel, co-author of "Real Rape, Real Pain" (see side bar for ordering details):
My meeting with Paul was really just a typical 'boy-meets-girl beginning. I was an eighteen year old single mother. Initially, there was no attraction for him, but I developed one. He was good looking and very funny. He moved in with me.
I didn't know what early warning signs were at the time, but boy, if I had known then what I know now! He was overwhelming at first, courted me with roses, charm and passion. But he was terribly posessive, and didn't like me talking to other men, and had a sort of strutting, stereotypical masculinity. He could be very crude about women at times, and I found myself constantly justifying him to family and friends.
The violence started, as I now know it does, with name calling, which graduated to pushing and hairpulling. It eventually became violent battery. I was ashamed, and covered the bruises. I feared him, but I also pitied him. I didn't know that he used his story of a terrible childhood to manipulate me. All I saw was an abandoned child.
The story of how the sexual violence began is more fully told on my website Aphrodite Wounded. But it was just something that I thought was not real because he was my partner, even though it hurt. Also, I believed I deserved it.
Many friends left me because I would not leave him. Desperate to hang on to the few I had left, I started to lie and say he was not hurting me, that he'd changed. In six months, I was not the young woman he'd met. Life depended on keeping him happy so he wouldn't hurt me.
At first, I believed him when he said he was sorry, and that he would change. I started to not believe it after a while. But by that time, I was terrified. I fully believed he was capable of killing me (he did go on to murder a male).
The sexual violence seemed to utterly despoil all my fantasies of loving and being loved. He would sometimes tell me I was a stupid, prudish bitch who needed a good fuck; he seemed to enjoy desecrating my highest ideals. I wondered if they were worth hanging on to.
I didn't know what to be to stop it; it didn't occur to me to think it was strange that sometimes he said he was doing it because I was a whore, and at other times, because I was a prude. I now know that it was not about anything that I was or was not. It was about him. At any time, I was never permitted to say no. Strenuous refusal met with beatings.
I didn't know then, as I do now, that I was also worth being free for.
But you know, I never stopped thinking about escape. While I was busy telling him that yes, I was looking forward to marrying him so he didn't beat me bloody, I was secretly looking for a way out. Being honest about leaving meant beatings, violent rape, death threats. I tried to leave several times; once I got the police to come and get him out. The lady across the road persuaded me to take him back.
Of course, I sometimes felt that I loved him too ...
The clincher came when I could see what the violence was doing to my little boy, who was becoming more and more withdrawn. I couldn't have it. I had had a child by Paul, too, and I could not have her growing up with it. I didn't know then, as I do now, that I was also worth being free for. I actually made arrangements to be evicted from the flat I lived in.
I told Paul that as soon as I could find somewhere else, we'd move back in together. That was not true; I had no inention of doing that, but did not dare say so. I moved in with a friend. He still came every day, still beat me when we were alone. But eventually I made the break ... when others were about.
I was stalked, raped again and threatened, emotionally blackmailed. I got a court order. I came out so sick, so depleted. I was hospitalized for severe depression; what I now know was PTSD.
But I clawed my way back. I met and married my current partner, who, because of Paul's crime of murder, adopted my baby girl. I went to university because I wanted to get professionally qualified to help other women who'd experienced what I had. Funny, I thought I was 'too stupid' to succeed, but I achieved consistently high results.
It's been a hard slog. I wasn't to understand, until I was in the middle of writing a literature review on marital rape, that the sexual violence, which still sat in me and shamed me so badly, was absolutely real; that all those feelings I'd had (and which are shared at different parts of Aphrodite Wounded) were valid. I kept stopping writing to cry and shake as it all came back ...
I got sad, and then I got mad. I saw what the view of rape in relationships tends to be, and that invalidation certainly did not fit my feelings. I asked myself: what if the feelings of women raped by partners are actually what is real, and not the invalidating views? I knew I'd found truth in that.
I came to understand that I hadn't made him do it - he'd wanted to keep me down, and had known that raping me was a good way to snuff out any rebellion.
I decided I would equip myself with all the knowledge I could on rape by partners, so I could reach out to others and let them know that they are not alone, and that there is healing for them. It hurts me that women experience this in aloneness.
I am a laughing, clever, warm, loved and loving woman who survived. I still have my moments, but I did survive, and in the words of my friend, Jes, I now thrive.
I want others to know they can too.
In This Section:
Domestic Violence Stories
Real Rape, Real Pain explores though the eyes and feelings the actual impact of marital and imtiate sexual abuse and marital rape. A must read for anyone who has experienced this intrusive and long-lasting form of intimate violence. The book does not just describe and explain, but also helps set us on the road to healing:
To order in the US: Real Rape, Real Pain: Help for women sexually assaulted by male partners
To order in the UK: Real Rape, Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partners
Lundy Bancroft has written what is probably the most comprehensive and readable book on domestic violence, the beliefs of the abuser and the dynamics of abuse. This truly is a MUST READ for anyone seriously trying to understand domestic abuse and how to cope with an abusive relationship:
To order in the US: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
To order in the UK: Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
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