Someone recently told me “there are always two sides to the story” referring to me telling the story of how I was treated in my abusive marriage. The person who spilled the comment was a police officer, a friend, but a police officer by trade nevertheless.
Yes, in essence there are always two sides to the story but a comment like that refers to more than that simple fact; at least in my somewhat broken mind. One of my biggest fears is not to be understood and believed, and a statement like that makes the ground under my feet a little shaky. There is mistrust in that statement. There is a sense of maybe you did something to deserve such treatment.
When is it okay to be afraid to come home every day? When is it okay to feel like the ugliest person in the room because he made you feel that way? When is it okay to know you are worthless and you should consider yourself lucky that he loves you anyway?
I ask, is there something I could have done to deserve such a treatment? I am going to give you the answer – Yes, I did do something… I was there… too afraid to tell him all those things were hurting me deep down inside. Too afraid to ask him to stop. Asking him to stop would have led to worse treatment actually.
When a business or person thinks it is a joke to put the slogan “I like my beer as I like my violence – domestic” out on the street, we are facing one of the foundations to why domestic violence is so hard to overcome. It is not taken as serious as it should be.
“Do you really think jokes like this spur people to commit domestic violence?” the person interviewed in one article asks. The answer to that question: “The problem isn’t that it makes people commit violence, it’s that a lot of people who don’t commit domestic violence also don’t take it very seriously. And some of these people are on juries or are judges or police officers”.
As a victim of domestic violence, a joke like that minimizes what I and so many other people have been through. We want to be recognized, understood, and able to reach out for help without feeling guilty, like we are wrong or that we deserved what happened to us.
Would you tell a Holocaust survivor “there are always two sides to the story” when they told you how they were treated? Is the torment of a spouse or child so much different? Did any of us deserve such treatment?
For me, realizing I was living in an abusive relationship took me years. I had no idea and I know I am not alone. There is something valuable in understanding this strange reality. How on earth can you not realize you are being abused?!
Because abuse grows and changes, because your view of what is normal expands and sooner or later your normal is far from the actual normal. Brainwashed and being a victim of domestic violence is pretty much one in the same. You are controlled by fear, and on the outside you do everything you can to prove to yourself and other people you are living a normal life. Domestic violence starts with a whisper that can end in death. I am lucky I got out and am alive to share what I know.
People need to know that an abused person will, until he or she realizes that they are a victim, do anything in their power to blindly deny such fact. It is for sure not the time to compare domestic violence with domestic beer even if it was intended as a catchy joke. When a cop suspects there is another side of the story even when he is talking to his friend then a reinvention is in order… everywhere.