We don’t have a script in this society for healthy responses to abuse. If you don’t talk about it at all, you’re pitied and looked down upon for not being vocal. The other side is to constantly speak about it, be a capital V victim, to have that as your main identity.
I’m going to tell you a story, and you can let me know what your gut level response it to it, and we can talk about why that might be the case. Cool?
From November of 2003 to November 2005, I lived with a man named Corey Smith. The first year was in VA, the second in IN. He was emotionally abusive. Anyone who knows me will know how crazy this next part is – he had convinced me that I was bad with people, didn’t know how to dress or about music, that I shouldn’t dance, and many other things. I was forced into an introverted, mousey personality. Some argue that he was also physically abusive, but I fight back, so that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.
After that was done, he dated and abused my best friend. While she and I lived together. During that time, he also bled many of our friends for money he promised he would pay back, just as he had done to me. When he moved away, we were glad of it. “Die in a fire” was our motto for him – we wished him ill, but he wasn’t worth our time.
That’s not the end of the story, unfortunately. It ends up he was cheating on my best friend with a lovely woman in New York. And she reached out to me for reassurance that she was doing the right thing the day she went to court against him. For beating her head into a way until she lost hearing. We now hang out, and a great friendship has come out of this, but – here’s where things get sticky Script-Wise – he had moved to Baltimore and started associating with people I know.
So where does that put me? I am violently protective of my friends, but also feel very strongly that people 1) can change and 2) should be allowed to form their own opinions. But this one… he is charming, manipulative, and dangerous. What I did was to write an e-mail to my friends in Baltimore that simply said “I will never talk about this again, unelss you ask me to, and then only the facts: You need to be aware that a man named Corey Smith has moved to your city. He has been harmful to me and mine. Please be careful.” And that was that.
Ends up he’s on tour with a long standing favorite band of my social group, Android Lust. Who we’ve all wanted to see. So do we not go? Drama is, of course, the last thing we want. Well, potential harm to people we care for or respect must be balanced with that. So New York Girl went in New York, to dance. And Libby went in Seattle. And here’s the thing.. we know people. A person who had played with the band looped them in on being careful of this guy. And Libby ends up in the greenroom, geeking, they want her to do a photoshoot, all the while, he’s in the merch booth sinking. And at breakfast the next morning, they ask her for actual details.
So tonight, I went to see them in Sacramento. Corey didn’t expect to see me. But members of the band wanted to meet me, too, about their sketchy merch booth guy who’s been “borrowing” money. And I went, in my comfortable clothes with his oldest friend (and one of my dear friends) and another accomplice. At the end of the night, I handed him a lighter tagged with #diaf, so he can light his own damn fire to die in.
Does this make me vindictive? If I smashed his face in (which I am more than capable of doing), I risk going to jail, which is just not worthwhile for me right now. Not over him. But going out to *specifically* confront him in this way. Are there better ways?