Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

How Did I Get Here?

How did I become a victim? Yesterday my friend and I hit upon one answer. Or rather, one question that is actually RELEVANT to "How did I get here?"

I was talking to my friend about “how” smart, confident women (as I was at 19 soon before meeting my husband) get suckered in to abusive relationships. How we ALLOW ourselves to fall for guys who end up abusing us and then stick around for years of it.

Are we asking for it? Are we seeking it? Is there something in our make-up that attracts this type of guy? (Gee, don’t those sound similar to questions rape victims ask themselves? Questions used to accuse ourselves?)

Yesterday my friend and I hit upon one answer. Or rather, one question that is actually RELEVANT to “How did I get here?”

What was going on in my life when I met and fell in love with my abuser? Or gave it one more try?

I was date raped less than a week before I met Will. This guy drugged me (I think, ’cause I know I didn’t drink enough to pass out in a bar – never have). I woke up at least once after he was already inside of me, I remember saying, “No, no, no…” and then going black again.

The next day, he came to visit me. Didn’t mention the night before. I think he was checking to see if I remembered. After that, he started telling people what a good lay I had been. Sicko.

I didn’t report it because my sister had been summarily discharged from the Army for “failure to adapt to military life” after reporting her own rape. I was new to my unit. I was happy to be a soldier. I feared being discharged or having to work with this guy while an investigation was going on. I thought it was best to ignore it.

Nevertheless, Sicko was running around blabbing about the sex. I was “fresh meat” as female soldiers always are upon arrival at a new duty station. When my soon-to-be husband tried to flirt with me at a coffee shop, I turned him down flat.

But something about him aroused me. Whether it was his deep voice, muscular build, or overall “manliness”…he was hot. But more than that, in hindsight, he was protection.

Will was and is “manly”. There’s not a feminine tendency in his make-up. He is strong, forceful, confident, and everything else a woman in my position longed for. He was exactly what I needed, what I wanted.

And in fact, Will helped make the rumors GO AWAY without even knowing it. His presence and his soon-to-be renowned jealousy and possessiveness kept ALL predators (er, men) at bay. I did look at all men as predators at that time. They sucked.

But I thought I had found the one good one in the herd.

When Will’s jealousy and possessiveness began to be problematic, I overlooked it. When he ordered me to throw away the box containing my letters, pictures, mementos and journals, I did. Well, I threw it away the second time he told me to do it. The first time, I just told him I’d thrown it out. The second time, he had seen the box in my friend’s room and confronted me so angrily that I did it.

I threw away the first piece of me. Because I thought doing so would keep Will from turning on me. Prevent him from becoming a predator in my mind and heart.

You see, I HAD to keep Will on my side. I HAD to have protection from those other slime bag men (who, in hindsight I know were not all slime bags) . I had set Will up to be my ALL. My protector, my lover, my partner, my equal, my defense against all bad things in life.

If I were to admit to myself that he was overstepping his role, that his request to destroy my box was irrational, then I would also have had to admit that he was irrationally “protecting” me.

And he was. Jealous rages are irrational protection mechanisms…but not for their victim. Jealous rages protect the rager – the one who cannot bear to “lose” someone whom s/he never really “owned” in the first place. But he thought he “owned” me because I let him think so because I wanted someone to protect me, know me, love me.

So “How Did I Get Here?” is answered with one statement: I wasn’t in my right mind when I chose Will. I was in “survival” mode, crisis mode. I was irrational and didn’t know it. None of my decisions at that time were based on fact…the “solutions” I devised for myself came from FEELING, not THINKING.

Will felt like “the one”. Will felt like my soul mate. And I think that because those feelings for him were SO STRONG, that I overlooked a multitude of signs to the contrary.

I love Will and see no end to that feeling. I sense it changing, morphing into a different kind of love. Without Will, I wouldn’t be who I am today…and I like me today. He was sucked into my irrational world as much as I was sucked into his.

You would have to ask him what need I fulfilled for him 18 years ago. But for me, at the time, his ability to protect me from the outside world was what I needed. I didn’t foresee that same quality morphing into abuse.