When I asked my friend about her new boyfriend, she absolutely lit up. This was a good man, I could tell.
“It’s nice not wondering if he loves me.”
Hearing her say this made me light up too. She’s right. That is a very nice thing. And I know it’s a first for her.
We spent some time commiserating over past abusive relationships and as we spoke, I found the timing a bit odd. Here we were, many years later, disclosing the nitty gritty details of our past experiences with abuse. At the time, however, there was no way I was going to tell anyone about the mistreatment I experienced. I felt embarrassed and alone. And I didn’t want to feel judged for staying with my ex for so long.
Another close friend of mine also disclosed past abuse to me, years after the fact. Again, I found the timing odd, mostly because we both dated our abusers at the same time. Yet while we were actually in those relationships, we never once talked about our abuse. Sometimes I wonder what support we could have offered each other had one of us broached the subject. I know in the back of my mind I always wondered if her relationship was okay — if she felt safe. Something seemed off to me about her boyfriend, but I was too scared to ask her because I did not want to make her uncomfortable or mad. So I never asked and she suffered in silence.
So many times I wanted to tell her how unhappy I was in my relationship. The words would be right on my tongue, but they could never leave my mouth. Not until many years later after I healed and moved on was I able to “come clean” to her about my abuse. I suffered in silence too.
In part 2 of this series, I will explore some of the reasons why women in unhealthy relationships remain silent. But for now, I would love to hear your thoughts: what has been your experience talking about abuse?