But what if he never beat you? What if you were never bloodied? Here’s another quote from Lundy Bancroft:
Has he ever trapped you in a room and not let you out?
Has he ever raised a fist as if he were going to hit you?
Has he ever thrown an object that hit you or nearly did?
Has he ever held you down or grabbed you to restrain you?
Has he ever shoved, poked, or grabbed you?
Has he ever threatened to hurt you?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we can stop wondering whether he’ll ever be violent; he already has been.
IPV isn’t only about being bloodied and beaten. And once violence is introduced in a relationship, it’s likely it’ll increase and intensify. Let’s stop blaming the victims of IPV. Let’s stop telling them they knew what they were getting into. Let’s stop telling them they weren’t scared. Let’s stop demanding their silence and complacency. Instead, let’s hold the abusers accountable. Let’s demand that they stop intimidating their partners. Let’s demand that they admit their wrongs and surrender their entitlements.
And while we’re at it, let’s applaud survivors. When they finally leave their abusers, let’s not belittle them. Let’s congratulate them. Another common phrase in the world of IPV is, “Well, she should have just left him.” So, if she did leave him, hug her. Tell her you’re proud of her, and gas her up. She needs you. She just navigated very scary and uncertain waters. And your encouragement might just be the catalyst she needs to figure her life out — to understand why it happened and to learn how to love herself without the need for extra attention, so it doesn’t happen again.
And if her life can continue — if, she’s done the work of healing herself and rising above her abusive relationship – she, too, will be able to wake up free. She’ll wake up without a heavyweight on her chest. She’ll go to sleep at night with an empty mind. And she’ll go calmly about her life free from the stress response of her prior years. She’ll learn to make her own choices. She’ll look in the mirror and smile. She’ll be alive. She’ll be loved. She’ll be powerful. She’ll be strong. And she’ll be worthy.
She’ll also probably cry as she reads this because she hasn’t always believed those things about herself.
But she’ll appreciate the chance to experience life her way.