Everyday Victim Blaming

challenging institutional disbelief around domestic & sexual violence and abuse

When “I believe her” becomes a problem. (Content note for graphic sexual violence)

Women and feminism are wonderful. This post will never change my view of that and it shouldn't change yours.

I was abused by a woman. This is difficult to say as a feminist because we know that men love this shit. Men reading- you still do the majority of the abusing, raping and killing of women. This doesn't make that ok and it doesn't make anything equal. Women have a right to discuss their abuse.

I had never had sex with a woman before. Looking back I realise that made me attractive prey for an abusive woman. I was easy to target, groom and manipulate. That is what she did. It is a practised pattern she uses I now realise, but at the time I thought I was special I glowed in her "special attention" and her "encouragement" of me. She understood me like no one ever had before. I thought.

I was very vulnerable at the time, even though I didn't acknowledge it, and she knew that very well and knew how to exploit it. She has covered herself in a feminist invisibility cloak and moved amongst feminists abusing them and I didn't see it because she is captivating and magical. She knows it very well.

I fell in love with her. I was besotted. It was a crush. I felt silly.

She would hold my shoulders when we talked. She would hug me too close. Kiss my neck a little when we hugged. Brush her fingers down my back. I wasn't used to the feelings. I didn't quite understand what I felt. It was easy for her to tell me what I felt. It was easy for her to shape my perception of myself. She made me feel like she understood me and would help me. She made me feel like a star. She flattered and supported and had endless chats with me about how wonderful I was and how unappreciated and how she could help me go far in life. She is clever and beautiful and talented. I was sad, troubled, lost and easy.

Eventually she manipulated a situation where we were to sleep in the same bed at a friend's house and she used that situation to it's full advantage. I thought I was consenting. I realise now how this had been an elaborate game for her and my consent or otherwise was not an issue for her. The insistence that it must be kept a secret should have set alarm bells ringing. It didn't. A week or so later she used the same bed to seduce another vulnerable woman. I know this now. I know why there needed to be secrecy. We both kept her secrets.

She told me the things an abuser tells you. She told me to keep it secret or no one would believe me. People would turn against me if they knew. I would lose friends. I kept it secret. For months. It made me feel dirty and worthless at times. Often in fact.

During those months I was miserable. I loved her. She would tell me when and how I could see her. I paid for hotel rooms and meals. She would tell me times she would call and I would be waiting. She would summon me at a moment's notice for sex when she was "sad" and I would go. Little did I know she was doing this to other women too. This is not a revenge post out of jealousy. It is a post of sadness and shame. I am ashamed I was with her. I am ashamed I didn't tell anyone. I am ashamed I haven't written this before. I am ashamed that I lied to and hurt women I loved in order to be with her. I know about victim-blaming and I'm still doing it to myself.

The sex wasn't good. It hurt. I was always left me with bruises. Every time. Bruises and bite marks and painful grazes on my legs. She laughed and told me it was "normal". Once she thrust her hand inside me so quickly from behind and before I could stop her ...that I cried. I thought it was because of past sexual abuse that I cried. I couldn't believe she had intended to hurt me. I was sure it was accidental. Now I'm not. Now I know it wasn't accidental at all.

Eventually came an incident of abuse that was much clearer. She swore at me and threw my bag in my face. She was displeased that I was late. She refused to speak to me for hours though we were forced to be together. I was reeling. I didn't know what I had done wrong. I danced around trying to do the right thing and please her and make everything ok and eventually she kept snapping responses and commands at me which made me feel stupid and clumsy. This continued for a week. A week when she flirted with other women in front of me. When she had sex with me for hours but then ignored me and rejected me when I tried to kiss her the next day. It was awful. I wanted to escape. I was trapped. I could go nowhere. In front of others who were there she behaved as though we were "just friends". It was all a "secret" again. She was attentive and kind and behaved as though she was a caring and loving friend and once alone she flipped and immediately ignored me again. I was confused and lost and hurting.

She owed me a lot of money. I had given her access to my money because she needed help. I didn't think twice about it. I trusted her. I am incredibly lucky that she did eventually pay most of it back. It was hurtful that when my statement came and I realised she had not only been using it for the things she "needed" but had treated herself to clothing and a meal for another woman too.

I was a wreck. My confidence was shattered. I couldn't speak. I was in a daze. When she finally ended it I was devastated. I didn't show it. I walked away with dignity. I wished her well.

It took me a long time to work out that it hadn't been good. It took me a long time to call her behaviour abusive to myself and when I did finally get the courage to speak to a friend I realised it was far worse than I knew. Others had seen what was happening but daren't say anything.

Then I got angry. It wasn't the right thing to do. She is a sociopath.

I challenged her. I challenged her in front of others. This meant I risked outing her as an abuser. A sociopath cannot have that. Little did I know at the time but that put me in incredible danger. She decided to destroy me. She nearly did.

She set about destroying my reputation. She told lies far and wide about me. I didn't know what they were and I didn't know who had been told them. I now know that she named me the abusive one. That everything she did to me she said had been done to her. It was easy for her. She knew what she had done so she just flipped the roles when she told the story.

I was left in tatters. I indulged in some very dangerous behaviour. I wanted to die. I didn't show anyone this. I just quietly put myself in danger in the most horrific of ways. I hoped I would be killed without my raising a finger to harm myself. I hoped a man would kill me. One specific man. I am ashamed of this too.

I tried to tell others what had happened to me but I didn't name her. I should have. I should have screamed her name from the rooftops. I should have continued shouting what had happened. I should have tried harder and I will never forgive myself that I didn't. Other women were harmed because I didn't.

One woman offered to talk to me about what was being said but stated that she believed the lies she'd been told and that there was little I would be able to say-and I blocked her from my phone because I was frightened that I wouldn't be believed even if I gave my side. I don't blame that woman in the slightest. My abuser is more popular than me. She had more credibility than me. She is easier to believe and she is harder to ignore. I am sorry that I did not have more courage as that might have been the time I could have stood up for myself. I wasn't in a fit state though.

I am now. That is why I share this.

My purpose is not to hurt my abuser. It is to ask women to be calm when you hear things about another woman. To settle the information within yourself a while before you take sides. This is incredibly difficult. This really is a case - like Cosby - of She said v She said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said etc.

I was the first to say it. I wish I had carried on and then there might have been no need for any other woman to say a word. I am sorry to those women that I did not fight harder for you.

I am sorry.

 

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2 thoughts on “When “I believe her” becomes a problem. (Content note for graphic sexual violence)

  • Anon says:

    I believe you, sister.

  • catherine says:

    I too have been a victim of another woman, she emotionally and financially abused me . Then when I stood up to her destroyed my life and reputation by saying she was the victim. She persuaded people I had been physically abusive, she then rode the system gaining accommodation and support from DV services, all the while I was treated as an abuser. I lost my job, friends and nearly my children. thankfully even though it took nearly a year she was seen for what she is a liar. I can never got back everything I lost, but I too wish I had screamed harder and longer for all those other she will now go on to abuse. its a careful balance that is required in supporting victims of domestic violence and identifying those abusers who take advantage of the system. id advocate a deep breath and reality check whenever anybody hears a story about another because abusers count on your naivety and ability to quickly judge others negatively this is what allows them to thrive.