In the course of victim blaming, people always want to know why victims don’t just leave their abusers. They have no idea what it costs to “just leave.”
The abused, in many cases, must disclose the abuse. This is harder than most people realize. There is so much shame in admitting it. There is fear of not being believed. There is the actuality of not being believed. There is the real chance of retribution.
When I finally admitted that I had been in an abusive relationship, I had an idea of what it would cost me. I’d already experienced the emotional cost in my past. I like to think I’m better equipped now than I was at 20.
The other cost I assumed was the clubs, and likely the people that I had befriended there. There are acquaintances that are based on convienence and proximity. I go to a place regularly, so I see people there. We talk and become closer. However, there has to be a willingness, interest, and ability to continue that connection.
When I quit going, I expected I’d lose those people. I tried. I called, I offered alternative things we could do – I even made a point of not asking to set up meetings that conflicted with clubs.
Because of history with partner, I have an issue with rejection. I’m ok with strangers or people i don’t know rejecting me, but when people I care about do it – I fall into an anxiety spiral. There’s only a small amount that I can take of it. So eventually, I stopped asking. I understand that life is complicated. Scheduling is always a challenge, but at some point, I accepted that our acquaintance was only one of convenience, but not a deeper relationship.
I did not expect that it would cost me my best friend. It wasn’t that she doubted me, at least I don’t think do. She did ask some questions that made me wonder… I don’t know if it is because her sister is now dating my abusers. I’m working on not attributing motivation or emotion to people’s actions. So I won’t speculate further. In fact, I only include these things out of a desire to be honest.
Regardless of the reasons, after I stopped clubbing, she quickly stopped seeing me.
So when people blame victims, when they say it’s a victim’s fault for staying, those people have never had to weigh the cost of leaving.
I don’t regret disclosing – well I do sometimes. If my friend’s sister hadn’t started a relationship with him, I would not have made my accusations public. I’d have told my partner and friend, eventually.
I don’t know what else I would have done. Probably gone clubbing less. Probably try to warn his next victim.
I wonder if I’d said nothing if it would have let me keep my best friend?