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A Letter to My Abuser

“You found subtle ways to destroy me, yet keep me on my hands and knees begging for your love. You cannot play the victim when you were the perpetrator in every sense of the word.”

Dear Travis,

I used to cry in pain and agony, praying one day you would apologize for what you put me through. I used to think if you apologized, it would somehow relieve me of the baggage I obtained during our relationship. However, as I have grown and healed, I have not only realized that I do not need an apology from you, but that even if you did provide one, it would mean absolutely nothing.

That aside, I do not believe that you are sorry for anything. People who are truly sorry for their actions and the impact their actions have had on another person take genuine accountability for what they have done. Even after 3 years, you have yet to own up to what you did to me. I was hoping that being under oath and potentially facing perjury would encourage you to finally tell the truth. But yet again, you chose to lie. This time was different though. This time I was sure of myself. This time I found strength in numbers. This time there was someone in a position of power to hold you accountable.

Your message is beautifully and eloquently intertwined with manipulation, just as our marriage was. You attempt to downplay the bruises, the strangulations, and the mind-fuckery by claiming to be a victim as well. “It still affects me too.” “We both ended up getting hurt and scarred.” “It added more scars to my long list of pain.” “I wish we could have treated each other better.” “You are telling one side of a very powerful and painful story for both of us.” “There are two sides to every story.” Here’s the thing. At no point in our relationship did I ever have the upper hand. You were always bigger and stronger than I was. Not only did I never put you in a life-threatening position, but even if I had, I never had the means to actually end your life. You held that power. You had the means. That night in your dad’s basement when your hands were around my neck and my vision started to go, you could have killed me. I was defenseless. I couldn’t fight you. I wonder to this day, had you not been wearing glasses if I would still be here today.

You see, there is no other side to the story. I took accountability for my role in “Forgive Yourself for What You Needed to do to Survive.” The thing is, the way I reacted during our marriage is exactly how most people would react if they found themselves in my position. Deep down I knew who I was and I believed I could trust my thinking, but your manipulation of my reality literally drove me to mental breakdowns. You know – the mental breakdowns you told me were the result of being “too emotional” and “over-dramatic?” You found subtle ways to destroy me, yet keep me on my hands and knees begging for your love. You cannot play the victim when you were the perpetrator in every sense of the word.

I am glad you “support me telling my story and helping others” and that you would “never ask me to stop doing what helps me heal or stop helping others.” Let’s be clear about something, however. Whether you support me or not, whether you ask me to stop or not, I will continue to survive your abuse MY way. I no longer need your support or your permission. I set myself free from you 3 years ago. Never again will you ever dictate my decisions.

I am not sure why you felt you needed to talk about how great of a person you have become for fourteen sentences. You have always had a way of presenting yourself in a very charismatic and selfless way. Becoming involved in charities and recreational activities doesn’t mean you have changed. Had you changed, you would have taken accountability under oath. Change isn’t about doing things to make yourself look better, it is about having the vulnerability to uncover your worst and admit your mistakes. You are lightyears away from change, but I do hope one day you are able to achieve it.

I am no longer scared of you. My stomach no longer churns when I check my email. My heart no longer races when I go to Eau Claire. My sleep is no longer interrupted by nightmares. In fact, now when it comes to you, I feel nothing. My soul is void of feeling – as if you are a complete stranger. I am here because of my strength and courage. I am here because of the unconditional love and support of others. I am strong. I am brave. I am Survivorhood. Together, we are stronger. Connected, we are braver. United, we are Survivorhood.

Photo: Flickr – Nova

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