Bruised but not beaten

14 Oct

One of my friends last night happened to post on Facebook about an ongoing harassment issue they’ve been having over a period of many years. They’e been continuously targeted online and the person dishing out the abuse appears to have suggested that they will stop targeting her if she agrees to stop mentioning her accounts of the abuse (both on her and others) – something which she has very sensibly not agreed to. For in agreeing to do so “that is trying to coerce me into silence”.

Its a not uncommon tactic for the bully/abuser to engage in – a variation of the ‘I’ll leave you alone if you keep my secret/give me your lunch-money’ mentality. It shames the target of the abuse into silence, which in turn allows the abuser to retain a semblance of control in the situation. Its also a way of allowing the abuser to never accept responsibility for their inappropriate actions. A carte blanche for the abuser which will only incense the abused.

In this instance, the harassment and abuse is well documented, and not just by my friend it seems – I’ve been able to read quite a bit about the campaign of abuse on various websites. Though no amount of public exposure seems to be able to stop this individual.

There are of course two sides to every story, and I have little doubt (my speculation here) that my friend’s abuser has crafted an alternative narrative in their own head, which puts on the blame onto their victim, switching roles and suggesting that they are only acting in retaliation for abuses perpetrated by my friend. I’m obviously a little biased, but when one starts to see the evidence with one’s own eyes a judgement isn’t that hard to make.

My own abuser harassed me, and inflicted various abuses of a physical, emotional/mental and sexual nature. I have an extensive chronicle of the abuse cycle, but I’m not in a position where I want to expose it publicly, name names, or detail the ins and outs. Seeing my friend’s comments yesterday brought much of my own processing to the surface again, and I continue to be left in a numb, frustrated state, angry at myself for allowing myself to become victim. Some of my abuse was played out in public, and some of you may even recall incidents that sat uneasy with you. For the most part, it was conducted in a private setting.

Unlike my friend’s abuser, I cannot say whether mine has targeted others, or to what extent if they have. I have no doubt that they will have friends who either wouldn’t believe what they are capable of, or wouldn’t see it as abusive behaviour. Unfortunately we are all prone to skewing in instances where our friends and family are concerned – because they are loved ones, we give them a pass we wouldn’t permit for others. Loyalty is one thing, but enabling someone to behave in a controlling and coercive manner is not acceptable.

While I may not have the strength right now to publicly document my abuse (and to be honest, I don’t think it would be that helpful to anyone for me to do so), I’m far from silent on the matter. That cycle has had an indelible impact on my life, and I’ve had various authorities and specialists dealing with it and helping me come to terms with what happened. Abuse nearly cost me my sanity, but once you learn to speak out you start to wrestle control of the situation from the abuser. Just don’t give in whatever you do – don’t be bullied into silence because that’s what they want.

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