When you hear the words “abuse” and “victim,” you automatically connect it with getting physical.
You immediately see a picture of someone with bruises all over their face and body, with scars, open wounds, and blood all over them.
Well, I’m different and there are many just like me. When you see me, you won’t see marks or any other visible signs of abuse.
However, I was still a victim. Even though my scars are not visible, they still exist.
My wounds and bruises are hidden under my skin. They’re all over my heart and soul. I’m bleeding internally and that doesn’t make it any less painful.
For the first time ever, I’m able to say this painful sentence out loud: I’m a victim of abuse.
My ex never actually raised his hand to me, he was never physically violent, but he emotionally abused me and that doesn’t make my suffering any less important.
Even though I’m not trying to devalue anyone’s suffering, there is this trick with emotional and mental violence all abusers are perfectly aware of: People will rarely see you as a real victim until they see physical evidence of all you’ve been through.
Moreover, it will take you a long time before you yourself acknowledge your abuse. Trust me, I’ve been there.
The first time my ex started insulting me and calling me names, he was also simultaneously convincing me that neither of these things was a big deal. It’s not abuse until he hits you, right?
With time, I started believing him. I thought I was overreacting and exaggerating.
When he began gaslighting me, I started questioning my own sanity instead of seeing this man for the hidden beast he actually was.
I thought I was imagining things and he made me think that I was the one misinterpreting everything, instead of seeing that he was actually successfully playing with my mind all along.
When he started putting me down, I didn’t see it as his attempt to reduce my worth. When he assured me that I was good for nothing, I believed him and adopted the idea that I wasn’t enough.
Nobody saw me as a victim and it took me years to acknowledge my abuse. After all, it’s not abuse until he hits you, right?
I know what you must be thinking right now. You may not say it out loud, but you can’t help but wonder why I didn’t just walk away.
No, I wasn’t financially dependent on him and we didn’t have kids. In fact, the truth is that I had somewhere to go.
However, he did make me emotionally dependent on our relationship. He did cause me to crave his approval and convince me that I was unlovable.
He did emotionally blackmail me into staying with him. He did convince me that I was completely incompetent and incapable of going through life without his guidance.
Besides, every time I tried to leave or dared accusing him of being an abuser, I was told I was looking for too much.
Even when I tried confiding in my closest ones, they didn’t see the real picture.
In fact, everyone implied that I was too sensitive. Instead of advising him to change his behavior, I was told to toughen up and grow up.
Nobody saw me as a victim and it took me years to acknowledge my abuse.
Years for me to see that I wasn’t overly emotional, that I wasn’t the one causing all of this mess because I take everything too personally.
It took me years to finally realize that I was involved with a narcissist who was ruining my life and mental health.
Years before I saw that I wasn’t weak for feeling like a victim because – guess what – I’d been a victim all along.
You see, actually abandoning your abuser is in fact the easiest step. The hardest part is seeing the reality and finding the strength to face your awful truth.
And for the rest of the world? Well, I can just say that I don’t give a damn about what anyone might think.
No, I’m not looking for people’s sympathy. I don’t want them to perceive me as a victim because I’m much more than that. I don’t expect anyone’s approval anymore.
After all, nobody has walked a mile in my shoes and nobody except me has fought my demons.
However, I do hope that one day, the hell I went through will be acknowledged.
I hope that this pain will stop being downplayed and that emotional abuse will finally be classified for what it really is.