And before you start thinking I am going to be judgmental of victims;
I was one of those people. You can hear my story here.
My situation was a difficult one. I had no one, and nowhere, to turn for help. If not for a few good people who recognized the gravity of my situation, I have no doubt I would not be alive, sitting here writing, at this very moment.
But what happens after it’s all done? What happens when the situation no longer controls you; controls your life? What happens when the people who helped you get out, are no longer there for support?
Because of the length of time I spent being forced into BEING a victim, I found the most difficult part was breaking that habit. I found myself going through my days, putting myself into situations where there was an apt amount of potential for me to be taken advantage of.
I surrounded myself with men who were just like my first husband. I surrounded myself with fundamentally religious people.
Not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t realize I was doing it. It was familiar. And with familiarity comes a sense of, often false, comfort.
I spent countless hours crying and feeling sorry for myself. I spent every waking moment with my head hung down, feeling like there was nothing good left here on this earth for me. I was allowing people to feel sorry for me. When I would encounter anyone who knew me, it was nothing but looks of pity and sadness. I told everyone who didn’t know, just how bad my life had been up to that point. There were people who felt bad for me. There were people who were infuriated at the situation.
And then there was me. I had been so wrapped up in, and surrounding myself with, people who were feeling sorry for me that I couldn’t see what I was doing to MYSELF.
It was nearly 2 years after I took my children and drove away that a “church family” decided to help me out with a fundraising event. And when I say help, I mean they decided to use me as a poster child for abuse victims to further their own sadistic cause of bringing in people who were struggling, weak minded, giving up, and who had nowhere else to turn.
In the week leading up to that fundraiser, I was approached by a man who happened to be part of the congregation. He told me he needed to speak to me privately, at the request of the deacon and said he’d stop by my house later that evening.
That conversation changed EVERYTHING. While I will not divulge the specifics of what was said during that conversation, I will tell you that the intent was to completely dehumanize me, to keep me feeling like a victim, to repress me. I was informed that everything that had happened to me was “God’s Will”, and that I would burn for an eternity for my disobedience to my husband.
After playing the part of the victim for so long, out of familiarity, the need to do so to survive just simply ceased to exist at that point.
I was ALLOWING the people who had made me a victim to continue doing so with no effort on their part.
After everything I had gone through, I had finally had enough. No more feeling sorry for myself. No more feeling bad about being married into a horrific situation beyond my control. I had been controlled enough.
My time with George and Betty taught me everything I needed to know to pack up that emotional and mental baggage and drop it off at the nearest landfill. But it took me getting furiously pissed off to see it.
Everyone who has ever been a victim knows full well that we all heal differently. Mental and emotional scarring will be with us forever. I have learned to wear mine with pride. Yeah.. I survived that. I am stronger for it.
Eventually, you just have to get mad. You have to find a way to direct that rampant anger. Be mad at the person who made you a victim. Be mad about the situation. You can even be mad at yourself for not knowing how to deal with it. Being mad is all part of moving past it in a positive manner.
Now that you’re good and pissed off.. What now? Redirection.
A lot of people I know who are recovering victims try to redirect that anger into a positive, helpful situation, like volunteering at women’s shelters, suicide prevention hotlines, etc. This wasn’t an option for me because of my location.
Instead, I found something I was passionate about. Something that had been kept from me during my marriage that I took solace in, prior to it. Drawing. I began drawing anything that sat still long enough. It allowed me time to sit and evaluate where I was while still doing something I took great pleasure in.
I realized there had never been anything “wrong” with me, no matter what everyone else said. I could control my own life, my own direction. I had the ability to remove people from my life when their influence took me down a dark path. I cut off contact with everyone who ever looked at me with pity or who looked to take advantage of me.
I was and am a good person. The abuse did not and DOES NOT define who I am. Fighting back against a mentality/attitude DOES define me. Fighting back against a world full of bigotry and hatred is where I choose to exist. The world isn’t pretty. But it is full of people who are tired of being kicked around, put down, hated on and violated. It will be THOSE people who can make a positive change in the world.
But you HAVE to let go of being a victim. I’m absolutely not telling you to forget you ever were. I’m saying USE that to take positive steps forward. The world will not defend you if you are unwilling to defend yourself, and it shouldn’t. It owes you nothing. You set the rules in your life. YOU decide what you will and will not tolerate. YOU set the boundaries. And YOU decide how you want the world to see you.
Do you want the world to see you as a victim? Or do you want the world to see you as someone who kicked the shit out of that mentality and learned to shine not because of it, but in spite of it.
Sometimes, your world has to be shattered… so that you may find the right pieces to rebuild yourself. In this.. I have found me.
Just be good. And the world will follow.