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Friday, March 25, 2016

I Still Love My Abusive Ex, And Other True Stories

From http://ywcacanada.ca/en
This Ghomeshi trial - specifically his acquittal despite a mountain of evidence, and the now-constant LIAR LIAR refrains about his accusers - has me thinking so much about my ex.

My ex - while having countless qualities that I truly loved - was also abusive. I'm positive that he isn't even aware of this. Even though I've said it to him numerous times, and provided him with examples. He lives in a bubble of his own creation where he is the good and noble King.

It wasn't every day. Or even once a week. From the beginning, it was only occasional negs, manipulation, emotional abuse, and lies all padded with such an intense desire, a passionate longing for me, laughter, fun, hot sex, and an attraction the likes of which I'd never experienced (and never expect to experience again). It was all designed to gain control over me.

And it worked. He became like a drug to me, someone I just couldn't get enough of.

The very first night I met him - as a client who'd booked me for sex - he assaulted me. He removed the condom several times, though I'd told him repeatedly not to. I didn't then, but I now call that what it is: rape. He was rough, even after I asked him not to be. And yet there was this undeniable spark between us.


I absolutely "knew better", and knew that he was no good. But despite this, out of loneliness, desire, a foolish optimism based on seeing tiny flickers of goodness, loneliness, vulnerability, I started seeing him as a lover after about 15 paid sessions.

This went on for years. It got serious at points - on, then off, then on, then off. If you've been following this blog, you've probably read many things about him (in fact he's my most used tag). I've jokingly called him a sociopath numerous times, but based on everything I've read about them, he most likely is one. The good things I saw in him - his humour, his passion, his deep affection for me, his generosity, his beauty, his intelligence - far outweighed the bad. I overlooked his obvious lies, his total lack of respect for my boundaries, his repeated sexual assaults - removing condoms, continuing after I told him to stop, refusing to hear no from the beginning.

I didn't necessarily think of those acts as assault at the time. Another ex, Amir (who, last I heard was applying to the Ottawa police force - and to whom I gave a good reference), once assaulted me in my sleep. I was probably 22 or 23 at the time. I'd gone to sleep not wanting sex, and awoke in the morning to find my inner thighs sticky with semen. He'd just inserted himself there until he'd finished. It wasn't "rape" in the sense that I grew up understanding rape. He didn't force me down. He didn't roughly penetrate me vaginally or anally. I didn't disassociate. He was just my horny boyfriend who got carried away as I slept.

We didn't break up, but I remember being VERY angry and feeling so violated. I remember telling him to never, ever do anything like that again. "Oh, it's not a big deal my darling" he told me, then kissed me. Then took me shopping for new clothes and groceries.

Kind of like my ex always did. This is the first time anyone other than my few closest friends will read about how bad he really was.

I remember the first time he ever hit me. It was Christmas Eve, and I'd just finished celebrating with friends. He was going to be driving me to another friend's far away the next day. I was SO excited to see him. He was all I wanted for Christmas, and his last-minute visit felt so magical. 

He was annoyed that I'd made him wait too long, or hadn't invited him to dinner, or hadn't shown him enough love. Or something. I can't recall. But we were sitting on my sofa, and he got this look in his eye.

We kissed, and I became aroused, then suddenly he was rough. He ripped my delicate red lace shirt open. I'd been saving it for a special occasion, and it was the first time I'd worn it. The pretty satin buttons flew in every direction around the room. I was livid. "WHAT THE FUCK?!" I yelled just in time for him to slap me - hard - across the face. It was the first time - one of the only times - I was ever afraid of him. My ears rang for a second. I can barely recall what happened after that. But I knew I had to end it.

I didn't. He spent the night, drove me to my friend's the next day, and our relationship continued for years. He only hit me one other time - during sex - and that time I hit him back.

Just writing this makes me feel stupid, weak, desperate, and immature, though I know that I'm not. I fell in love with someone who saw my loneliness and pounced. Someone who understood that *I* understood that men like him - conventionally attractive, well-dressed, athletic - don't usually love women like me - fat, hated by society, a sex worker. 

And like every abused woman stereotype ever, I still believe that he does love me in his selfish, twisted way. Every time he got drunk he'd proclaim it. I felt it often (and yes, reader, I can hear you bending space and time to scream "that's not love!" at me). And even though I ended things with him on New Year's Day, I still love him too. I still miss him. I still cry sometimes, usually at night, when I remember his sweetness, his gentleness, the electricity his touches and kisses sent coursing through my skin. 

Even now, while he continues to call me (as though we never broke up), and while he shows at my home (though I've asked him to leave me alone), I still smile at his ridiculous, manipulative voice mails. I still smiled when he walked through my unlocked door that night. I still miss those amazing, fun, sensual good parts. I would have never stayed so long if it had been all bad. 

I'm not a desperate woman anymore. I no longer feel that I need a partner to be complete. I'd absolutely love to find that, but I no longer feel hopeless about a single life. I love myself. I respect myself. I'm intelligent, and I "know better". When I look at our relationship objectively, I see how fucked up it is. I always have. If a friend was in a similar situation, I would beg her to leave. That night he showed up here last month, I let my friend know. Just in case. He got violent. Escalated. How can I love someone about whom I also say "If I'm ever murdered, it was probably him". 

Does me loving him make his behaviour less deplorable? He was abusive from moment one. Before I stayed. Before I committed the cardinal sin of "allowing" him to hit me, to rape me, to violate me, to belittle me. Does me not leaving until 5+ years later mean he won't do this to another girl he meets in a club? No. He almost certainly will and has done it. 

Would I ever report him to the police? No. Unless I was severely beaten, or my life was in immediate danger, I would not. Because while I would have police racism on my side (I'm white, he's Middle Eastern), I also have the story of how we met (sex work), and the truth that I stayed. I'm a "bad victim" who "brought it on herself". If he was abusive, how on earth could I still love him? 

What if I knew there was another woman out there, who'd also been hurt by him, who wasn't believed... would I then come forward? Maybe. But I would do so knowing that this sexist, misogynistic system would completely destroy my life as I know it. I would do so knowing that things I don't even remember doing or saying would be held against me. 

I'm one of the strongest people I know, and I'm just a maybe. Because I'm smart enough to know there is no point. Because the me of five years ago would be conflated with the me of today to a bunch of strangers. 

My abuser wasn't some monster. He was my lover. And I still love him. And I've said countless terrible, loving, manipulative, and gushy things to him. And that makes me unbelievable to most people who've never been in this situation. But none of that changes the basic fact that he is a person who is totally comfortable sexually, verbally, and physically assaulting women. That I stayed with him doesn't make him less dangerous. That I've taken him back countless times doesn't make his current quasi-stalking regimen less troubling. 

It also doesn't mean that I should blow my life up after - more than five years later - finally breaking free of him. Not for a system that is stacked against women. Not reporting him also doesn't mean that I am responsible for his behaviour. I told him it was wrong. I told him what rape was. I told him that other women might call the police for some of the things he did to me. 

Reporting him would more than likely hurt only person: me. 

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