This questions is the first on anyones lips when a woman stays in a domestic violence situation or returns to one. It’s a fair question but it is often loaded with judgment and the undertone is “you deserve what you get because staying or going back is stupid”.
I have, on countless occasions, heard someone wax lyrical about how they would leave the FIRST time anyone laid a hand on them. Good for you I say. However, this is always followed by a comment along the lines of “if a person doesn’t leave the first time their partner hits them then there must be something wrong with them/ it’s their fault”.
Domestic violence is complex. Everyone is attracted to people who share common experiences and behaviours. In my first marriage I was very young, a teenager, I was suffering from severe grief from the sudden death of my brother and untreated, undiagnosed PTSD from that and other traumas and I had been self medicating with alcohol and narcotics. My partner was a decade older than me but was of a below average IQ and was also suffering severe, untreated, undiagnosed PTSD from institutionalisation and had serious addiction problems. We had both suffered rape in our pasts, we both had tempers, we both behaved badly towards each other, we both knew what the other had been through, we both wanted to be with someone who empathised with who we were. Two damaged people who don’t know how to heal can do a lot of damage to each other, and we did.
I ended up in a battered women’s hostel. I did not leave the first time he hit me. In fact sometimes after he became violent I would laugh about it afterwards. I secretly liked the bruises and ripped clothes (bear with me I will get to this later). The violence never bothered me beyond knowing that this was socially considered the worst of abuse. For me it was the social, psychological and emotional control that he tried to exert over me with manipulation and verbal abuse that did far more damage. I must admit I have heard of far more severe violence and I do not speak for anyone but myself. To help you gage what I mean I can say none of my bones were ever broken but my nose once fractured nor was my life ever in danger either though it was threatened.
Neither physical or mental abuse made me leave ultimately though. Why? Because I did want to have sex with other people. I wasn’t having sex with others, as he thought and accused me of, but I wanted to. So I felt guilt, shame and responsibility for his jealousy. I had felt this guilt, shame and responsibility since I had first been shamed for masturbating and then for having and wanting sex as a teen. This is when hegemonic monogamy, the sexual gender double standard and sex negativity manifest at their most dangerous. I stayed because I believed I was bad for wanting to have sex with other people outside of my marriage. I stayed because I had a promiscuous past driven by a high libido and I felt like I should expect this behaviour towards me for my sexuality, so incongruous with what a lady was supposed to be like, was naturally going to provoke any partner. I stayed because I was outspoken and would never back down in an argument and be meek or ‘lady like’.
I stayed because I was raised in a two parent family that didn’t separate because of religious and societal mores about divorce. Thus had parents who were subsequently full of misery and depression and parental hate towards each other and resentment towards their children. I didn’t know what healthy love looked or felt like. I stayed because I liked wearing clothes that showed my skin, I liked my skin, I liked that it made people admire me and I refused to conform and cover up. I stayed because I had been told so many times to expect and feel responsible if my clothing caused violent or abusive behaviour in men toward me. I stayed because I liked fighting with him and it felt cathartic because I had always been fighting to be me against something with no face or physical form that was both outside and increasingly and insidiously internalised within. I didn’t know how to fight the weight of a society that tried to insist that everything about me was wrong/bad/shameful so I fought him instead.
I left the first time my daughter saw him do it. He was holding her under one arm whilst he dragged me across the room by my hair with the other.
Three years later I was in another abusive relationship though we never lived together. I was completely besotted beyond anything I had felt previously. The sexual chemistry was visceral, the passion was violent. The level of physical abuse was mild compared to my marriage. In comparison, the good times were WAY better and the bad times were way less. The psychological and emotional abuse was intense. We played mind games with each other that made my feelings so intense and made the sex wild and combative. We played sex games that became sexual abuse because safe boundaries were never set.
We explored an open relationship without parameters or discussion and hurt each other often but pretended not to give a fuck. This time I took him back 10 times after he hit me, pushed me, shoved me, pushed me too far sexually, verbally abused me or tried to break into my house because I wouldn’t let him come over. We descended into something ugly and hateful because we were both hurt, ignorant and foolish yet both still in love with each other. We did not know how to play safely with our sexual desire for sado-masochism. Leaving this man permanently was as difficult for me as getting off heroin is for a junkie. I got a restraining order as much for myself as for him. One year into the order I took out against him I violated my own order and called him. He reported me to the police. I was grateful.
I have had sexual relationships with women before, inbetween and after these two abusive relationships and though there have been recurrent issues they have never been habitually violent and believe me there can be a lot of serious domestic violence in same sex relationships. So I’ve found that I have sado-masochistic desires towards men that I do not have towards women. I have known this for 9 years but I have never spoken of it until now. Through my introduction to rope I explored BDSM play as a masochist. I’ve realised that my desire towards men is firmly ensconced in sadism and masochism as a switch. I am not submissive but I am masochistic. I am not dominant but I am sadistic. In the BDSM community, if I am cautious to avoid those using BDSM as a means to find someone to abuse, I can find men who I might explore this play with safely and respectfully with total control.
I tell you all this and I ask you to imagine if I had been given sex education as teen that included information that sexual desire for more than one person is natural and common.That there are alternative relationship structures and how to manage them. That masturbation is good for you and common in girls. That skin is beautiful and showing it does not mean you are inciting sexual violence. That being a sexual female does not mean that your “no” means less than a more prudish less sexual woman’s no. That your body is worth as much as hers, that your life is worth as much as anyone elses regardless of your sexuality. That there are myriad forms of adult human sexuality and gender and this is all natural. That there are safe ways to explore sadism and masochism and where to find resources and guidance. That abuse is common and complex in sexual relationships and were to find resources and help. Knowledge is power and we deny this to each generation we fail to give full and appropriate sex and sexual relationship education to.
I have done vast amounts of work personally to change my inclinations towards abusive relationships, to recover from PTSD, to end my self medication and to take responsibility and to improve my behaviour towards others in my relationships. I have to be intellectually vigilant about it but it is becoming second nature to give and demand respectful love, communication, honesty and compassion. I have also done vast amounts of work to love my body, embrace my sexuality and to discard the sexual shaming this culture abuses women with. I feel that the societal repression and shaming of female (also LGBTQAI/non-monogamous/kinky) sexuality, desire and pleasure is abuse. In a society that abuses women, the women are more likely to allow and accept abuse in their personal relationships.Tags: Amateur, Feminist Porn, Mature, MILF