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As always, there will be a list of helpline services added, if you need help. I strongly urge that you confide in someone you trust in order to help you heal.
Like with anything involving the brutality women face against men, there’s always, inevitably, a discussion about money.
It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor.
If you’re rich, you’ll be labelled as a gold-digging whore.
If you’re poor, you’ll be slammed for not knowing better and are you sure? If you were really scared, you’d go stay in a shelter or something.
Yet, that’s not really the reality.
I touched on the reality on Thursday’s The Ex Files Post: I had to decide – quite literally – between my health and my safety.
Now, before you go stating all the network support of people I have/had in my life at the time I left my ex, let’s be realistic:
At the time I left my ex, I hadn’t really talked about the abuse.
In fact, as I’ve said before, I was still insisting that my ex just “had really bad anger problems”.
It took my mum and my housemate, Joc, to illustrate, through videos and guides, that no, he was abusive.
And then, even after I finally came to terms with the truth years later, I still would paint myself as “not that bad” and “it wasn’t like he was really physical”, before my therapist kept repeating that just because you ducked when he threw stuff, didn’t mean he wasn’t abusive.
If that wasn’t enough, she started asking about whether I classified pushing and shoving and grabbing as abuse.
Would I be okay if my friend said her partner was grabbing and shoving her so much that it not only scared her, but hurt her?
No, of course I fucking wouldn’t.
But I had the image of what a domestic violence victim looks like in my head: That of a beaten, broken, battered woman, who had countless fractures that hadn’t set right because they’d never been able to visit the ER, not without raising suspicion, and I didn’t fit that description.
Coming to terms with the fact that I was severely abused, but not the way I thought I would be, was difficult.
The only reason why my mum immediately believed me, no questions asked, was because she’d overheard, by chance (Ben’s behaviour had become more erratic towards the end of our volatile relationship), the way Ben was speaking to me.
Or rather, screaming in my face about me being a dumb whore.
So when I confided in my mum that I’d left Ben, her first questions, after saying “Good”, was, “What did he do now? Are you ready to talk about it?”
But I was torn: Admitting what he’d done meant so many things.
It meant that if I told my loved ones what he’d been doing, I could never go back.
Don’t get me wrong, when we split, I lept at the opportunity. I was relieved for an out, one Ben had so unwittingly given me in another desperate attempt to manipulate me.
However, there’s this weird safety, in a way you can’t explain, knowing that, in some twisted way, someone “loves” you so much that they’d hurt you, that they’d do anything to keep you.
After all, we’re frequently taught those things are what really makes someone your soulmate.
While I knew I didn’t love Ben anymore – at least, not in the same way – I was frightened what it would mean if I told everyone the truth, because it would mean that no one would want me to go back – not if they knew what he was truly like, and heard the things he’d done.
Ben had spent almost two years telling me that I was lucky that I had him, because no one else would love me.
I was terrified he was right.
After all, the same man who’d made me feel more beautiful than Salma Hayek also made me feel like I was a hideous beast, with scales for skin, snakes instead of hair, and warts instead of freckles.
On the other hand, I was also afraid that no one would believe me.
Everyone I knew loved Ben. Ben was perfect, and I was lucky.
I didn’t even know if I believed me, if I believed I was truly being abused.
What if I was being hysterical and overly sensitive, like Ben had always told me?
And lastly, it meant that if I accepted that my ex was abusive, I’d have to accept that I’d allowed it to happen.
I’d have to accept that I could’ve left earlier, that I didn’t see that I was being abused, that I was dumb enough to not know.
I’d studied legal studies in high school, and then followed that on at uni.
I’d studied criminal law. It was my focus, my dream.
How could I not know?
How could I be that dumb?
I assure you, I’m not alone with these thoughts. Every single domestic violence victim has thought these thoughts, and more.
And the victims aren’t supported, either – because men can’t be abused by women and well, if I was being abused, I’d just leave. It’s not that hard.
What’s my point?
Well, even when you do still have a community network around you, doesn’t mean you can access it.
I didn’t know how to confide in my parents about what I’d been through, because that meant dealing with a situation I wasn’t ready to confront.
My parents also aren’t rich.
They’re not even close to it.
And they spent thousands of dollars helping me out, setting me up.
They could barely afford the money they were loaning me; but I was their daughter, and they’d have bankrupted themselves to save me.
If I were to ask my friends, who were as poor or poorer than me for help, then I’d have to confide in them why I needed the help.
And that was assuming that they could afford it, that they could give it, that they even believed me.
Like I’ve said before, Ben’s friends were aware of his behaviour. They knew he’d stalked and harassed, at the very least, one of their own friends.
And they’d excused it.
Yet, we still ask, “But why doesn’t she leave?” instead of considering the fact that maybe he hits her because you found a way to justify his behaviour, and closed your eyes and ears to everyone around you.
So yeah, money matters.
You can judge and criticise all you want, but at the end of the day, you can’t argue that there’s at least a nugget of truth there.
If you want to argue that “she should just leave”, as fast and immediately and without as many excuses as you deem appropriate, then I followed that. I couldn’t afford to take more time off of work to recover from my repeated asthma attacks. I hadn’t been working long enough for sick leave, and like I said, I’d already taken some time off of work due to a rumbling appendix.
So, technically, once I realised I was in an unsafe situation, I wanted to get the fuck out of there.
But starting over?
That takes money.
A deposit, for wherever you’re going to be renting – which you’re easily looking at a solid minimum of $1000, and that’s probably on the cheap side.
You’re looking at moving costs, which can vary, but at the end of the day, you’re moving, and it’s going to cost you.
I had to replace almost everything, because Ben refused to let me return to collect the rest of my stuff.
I decided that, as Ben was deliberately holding many of my possessions hostage, that my happiness wasn’t intrinsic on material possessions.
It was a smart decision, granted, but it’s not easy starting over.
Think about all the things you don’t realise will add up: I’d lost sheets, blankets, pillows, cutlery, cooking utensils and more basic household stuff that required replacing – it starts adding up quickly, doesn’t it? Even if you pick the cheaper options, you’re not going to be able to walk away replacing most of your bedding for under $100.
And that’s not towels, or household items, or things I owned and wanted.
Just before we split, it was my 21st birthday party.
I don’t even know how many gifts I’d gotten that became Ben’s.
Some of those things weren’t replaceable, not because I could (or couldn’t) afford to replace them, but because of what those gifts meant to me.
Which kind of removes the question about “What about your health?” because you’re already looking at bills you can’t afford, borrowing money you’ll need to return, and all you want to do is live and be free.
So before you start getting too judgemental, consider the fact that leaving could mean the difference between homeless for some, and consider if society has made it as easy as you seem to think it has for victims to leave.
I got lucky.
My asthma wouldn’t improve for a few years, and as asthmatics would know, each asthma attack does permanent damage to your lungs.
But I had my medication – my preventative and my inhalers – and my parents helped pay for my asthma medication.
I found a friend, who was also breaking up with her partner (who was not abusive, it was just a coincidence), and we decided it would be easier to split the costs and move in together.
I had just enough luck and friendship support from the people I loved that I could leave when I did.
It wasn’t easy.
I had half of my possessions piled into my car for weeks while I tried thinking of an alternative – any alternative.
But if I hadn’t been so lucky?
If I hadn’t just gotten a new job where I could afford to leave?
If my asthma was so bad I had no choice but to be forced into a hospital?
I don’t know.
I don’t know if I’d have had the strength to leave, knowing there was nowhere to go.
In Emergencies: 000
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
— Sources —
Bachelor of Education: English and History
Diploma in Criminology and Profiling
Diploma in Forensic Science
Background in law and psychology
Teacher 7+ years
Background in special needs, learning support – other specific teaching fields that required hands-on development.
NB: This is a declaration of the background of my personal knowledge, collected over the years via a professional form of education and development. Some of these take the form of actual degrees and others come in the form of necessary professional development. When doing your own research, you should always try and verify the person’s credibility. My credibility, nor anyone else’s, is not with their education. Everyone has biases and no one is infallible. I am deliberately including some of my background education to highlight this, because you should be questioning information you are receiving.
Is the claim credible? Is the author writing biased? Is the author credible? An elite education doesn’t make someone more or less credible, so you often have to look beyond a person’s education background.
Do the claims fit in to an accurate timeline? Do the claims made by the author reasonably stand up? If you’re seeing a lot of inaccuracies, especially against the timeline the person is creating, you need to consider if the claim is accurate. Context is often key.
Mostly, this comes down to whether or not the person is clearly creating a bias. Obviously, everyone has biases. I try and declare mine at the bottom of every post that I think would benefit from extra sources. I freely admit that I definitely have biases, prejudices and will obviously write in a way that conveys what I believe is the truth. That doesn’t mean I’m always right – which is why reasonableness is so important. Everyone is biased, and it’s virtually impossible to not impose your belief, in some form, while sharing. But if the person is deliberately manipulating facts, or omitting information, then they are an untrustworthy source (here’s looking at you, Fox).
Basically, this comes down to whether or not you can find “support” for the claims made. In anything professional, like an essay or journal article, references are essential. However, information can come from popular media sites, or from TV shows/movies, that might require YOU to do some work. I know that conservatives, in particular, seem to detest this as they seem to believe that the other person needs to do all the work, but that’s not how you actually learn. You learn by taking the information and researching it yourself. If you refuse to do this, which is an important part of the process, you will never truly progress in your own education. Out of everything here, I honestly believe this is the most important. If you are unwilling to research things on your own, and instead demand someone else to do the work for you, you have no interest in learning or understanding a different position. You are looking for confirmation bias. The reason I know the Cassidy Boon thing is a hoax is because I looked it up. It took less than a second on my internet connection for Google to say “Yeah, this shit is a fucking hoax”, and by then, I had seen at least ten people share this fucking thing on fucking Facebook, which means the only difference is that you’re willing to put your intelligence in someone else’s hands, instead of learning for yourself.