It happened quickly. On our way home we started talking about a topic in which we had different perspectives. Actually, I don’t even remember if that was what we were talking about because it all escalated so quickly. Once home, we were name calling and screaming.
Nothing I was saying penetrated him. I wanted him to hurt as much as I did from the words that were being spoken. I’m sure he did. He just knew it would make me even more upset if it seemed like he didn’t care. I was shaking with anger.
I slapped him as hard as I could across the face. Again and again. That wasn’t satisfying enough. In that moment, I wished I would have punched him instead. He grabbed me, pushed me as hard as he could away from him. Falling backwards took my breathe away. Of course, he was double my size and my attempts at physical pain didn’t even show a mark on his skin. I was already bruising from the grabs and the push.
Just a few hours earlier, we were laughing and telling each other how much we loved the other. Kissing, touching, loving. Now, we were brawling. Like toddlers throwing a temper tantrum, it began to subside as we both became physically, emotionally, and mentally drained.
I was convinced it was over. That all the years spent together were wasted and thrown away. The hatred and shock I felt towards him remained. I was ashamed, heartbroken, and physically hurt. We both were.
After several days of mutually ignoring each other, we talked. We both recognized how wrong the whole situation was. We loved each other. We wanted to make it work.
I wish I could go on to explain how this was a one-time thing, and afterwards we “got better” and it never happened again. But it did. Three more times. Each time was less and less physical, but the words that were said left huge holes of decay on our hearts. How can you be in a committed and loving relationship with someone if you don’t respect them?
We did not respect each other (or ourselves), and so, it continued.
There is nothing okay with violence. There is nothing okay with emotional or verbal abuse. I would never and could never justify it. This just happened to us. It struck us like an illness and hit us hard, and then it left. We both knew we were sick and we both knew it was wrong, so why did it keep happening?
It’s difficult to explain being a female who has been an abuser. I was involved in these interactions and always the first to strike. In the moment, I felt powerful, because I knew that if he were to respond to me with the same force I wished upon him, I could have ended up in the hospital.
If I were to explain why I even became physical, I would have to say it was because it felt like nothing I could say or do meant anything. Every word I said was being rejected and shot down or spoken over. I felt completely unheard and completely ignored. Somehow, in some primal way, I felt heard and seen by physically touching as brutally as I was capable of. It felt like the only option I had left.
I love my partner very much. As I write this, I find myself not wanting to. I have already stopped and started a handful of times. But I need to tell my story. I was physically abusive to my husband. He didn’t sit there and let it happen. He pushed me away. He fought back. If the roles were switched, someone might seem more like the villain and the other the underdog hero.
There is nothing heroic about how we treated each other. No one was right, and we both lost so much.
Our story is still being written, and we are by no means perfect in how we problem solve. We don’t physically hurt each other anymore. How did we stop? Well, we started respecting each other. We started our own types of therapy. We allowed ourselves to be ourselves.
I have struggled with anger my entire life, but hurting someone physically was always something I thought I was incapable of doing. I had never experienced it before with anyone. Why was this happening now? What triggered this? I realized that we hurt each other for the same reasons we loved each other: my partner and I chose one another because of our ability to challenge each other.
For a really long time, we were challenging each other without a foundation of love or respect, and this became a breeding ground for resentment and self-loathing.
Although our relationship has been going on for years, just a few months ago I had the realization that I actually respected him. After months of discovering my own self-love, I could finally recognize his love for me. Through hours of therapy, conversations, and re-discovering who we were and striving to be who we wanted to be, we were able to heal from this ugly and dark time.
It is extremely hard to pull yourself out of self-destructive denial and any form of an abusive relationship. It often takes a lot of help (and time) from the people around you. It takes being undauntingly honest with yourself and with the person you love the most.
We now challenge each other in a way that allows us to grow and thrive, and in this we are both validated by our decision to get help instead of leaving each other.
There are so many resources for the abused, but what about the abuser? How can they get better and get help? Often time, the end result is jail. And nine times out of 10 that doesn’t help anyone or anything but the jails bank account. It is easy to let your guilt and shame control you, and convince you not to tell or to get help, but that only feeds the darkness. I encourage you to talk to someone you trust and make yourself an action plan on how you plan to heal.
Because of the profound healing I was able to discover in the Forgiveness Process that Passion Provokers teaches, I was able to forgive myself for what happened and I learned how to be more aware of why I felt so compelled to react in such a brutal way, and to not continue that behavior. My partner was able to forgive me for the things I felt were not deserving of forgiveness. And I was able to forgive him for his part in it.
Thank you for reading my story. To any and all who have ever felt like I did, or acted as I did, hear me when I say that you can get better. You can overcome this.
Not many stories are like ours, and often times it is unsafe to try to salvage a relationship where physical abuse is taking place. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, you may contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.