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Fuck Politeness

This is a revolution, not a public relations movement

Looks like the SMH has decided that domestic violence is a hot topic. This story discusses a woman kidnapped and beaten by her ex husband  and how, years later, she lives in fear of him turning up behind her.

Again, like the issues raised by police ignoring a woman’s repeated requests for help, this story draws out issues attached to domestic violence that do not get enough coverage: the lasting impact on women of violence directed at them by their partners.

The article highlights the very specific ways in which gendered violence plays out. Yes, men do beat the shit out of men they don’t know…but they don’t routinely think they own another man, following him obsessively, starting a campaign of intimidation designed to break the other man for their own purposes, for daring to make his own choices. Women are far more likely to be beaten and or murdered by their partners when trying to leave than any other situation in life.

It’s something I’ve wanted to write about for ages: my own story is obviously SO much less horrific than this, but it’s now ten years since I left, since I had to take out an A.V.O. I don’t feel physically under threat any more (he lives overseas and when he visits he has too much invested in performing ‘togetherness’ to earn his free ride given to him by his parents that I just don’t think he would physically hurt me) though he is still an intimidating person at 6’6″ with a wildly unpredictable disposition and a complete inability to take responsibility – all anger/fear is directed outwards in the most childish tantrums.

And he doesn’t mind other forms of coercion – he’s all about emotionally guilting you into things, slipping in demands he *knows* are unfair and offensive, but that you can’t call him on since your son knows his deficiencies, but wants to see him while he’s here, so if you want that to happen without an arse-faced ex shit fit you need to keep your mouth shut. He will scream at me at length whenever he’s sufficiently upset (like the day after his wedding when I’d made my son available to be picked up at the school and the ex realised he was enrolled under my name – how utterly unreasonable given I raised him on my own since he was nine months old and the ex moved overseas five years ago) though we mostly play ”nice” and keep everything sterile and at arms length, though I do get a sore face from all the grimacing while attempting to ‘smile’.

But his mere presence in the country, the fact that he’ll be calling and arriving intermittently, the situation of being beholden to his idiocy, unpredictability and demands (ie/ he wants to see our son, but if ‘Mummy has the car’ he doesn’t come since god forbid he’d take the fucking bus like the rest of us, but he needs to see him at X time – never matter if we had plans – so I get to choose between my son getting the time he desperately wants with his dad OR sticking up for myself and my boundaries, cos I don’t get both while this turd is around) is enough to keep me consistently agitated and nauseous.

It isn’t that he’s a physical threat to myself or to my son, it’s that our past, the shame of what he reduced me to (and I *KNOW* the shame is his, not mine, but it’s still there) and of having to allow him a continued impact on my life when he’s here, that the after effects of his abusiveness are still…in my body in some sense…it’s neutralised and latent while he’s away…but his presence triggers it and I’m constantly on edge while he’s here.Because some big dumb bastard had issues, and I tried to help, so he tried to break me for his purposes and when I left he lost his shit and tried to intimidate me but (luckily for me) the A.V.O was enough shock to stop him. But for years he thought we’d get back together. My words, my actions meant NOTHING – he was a man who’d had his toy taken away and dammit, he was gonna get it back.

Again, not comparing my story or being all ‘look at me’, it’s just…that I want to continue to draw out discussions of this at the every day level. He didn’t kidnap me and beat me…but women deserve better than to be a prop in some man’s life, and that is what I was to him. It was convenient to have someone who loved him, that he could use to get out of obligations, that he could guilt trip, that he could scream at and take out his issues on, that he could control by insults and degradations relying on the fact that life with him was so confusing that I wouldn’t be able to see clearly. I want people to understand that men who abuse women don’t walk up, punch them in the mouth and say “How’s about marriage?”. They’re nice enough at first. Then it starts with headgames, and since women are taught it’s their role to look after men, that men have trouble expressing themselves and can be changed by the love of a good woman…well things change slowly and by then you’re baffled, their insults hit home, their threats keep you stuck, your self confidence is gone, and you’re more easily manipulated…and you stay because you *do* care and you think it will get better…

Anyway, that was my experience, I’m sure others have different experiences/reasons for staying. But yeah, obviously any comment that says women stay because they LOVE to be abused, or because they’re a shit judge of character can fuck off, cos I won’t be publishing that. It’s far more systemic and complicated than that…

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