The first time my ex was arrested for assaulting me was July 2009. He was actually arrested for assaulting myself and our toddler son. Like so many other abusive relationships the abuse had been escalating prior to his arrest. He was relentless at screaming at me, at abusing our young son and physically abusing me. Our oldest daughter, who was 7, was telling me that she wished we would get divorced, that she was scared of her dad and wanted all of this to stop. I wanted it to stop too. I would ask him to stop, I would raise my voice, I would stand in between his fist and our son, I kicked him out and he would just come back. It was horrible and there seemed to be nothing within my power that could make it all stop. I felt helpless.
So one evening I dropped our daughters off at a Vacation Bible School and I pushed my stroller, with my young son in it, and walked into our local RCMP detachment. I was met by some officers. I looked at them point blank and said, “You need to help me. My husband is hurting us.” I was taken into a back room and just started talking. I did not know what they needed to know or what I was supposed to say I just started letting it all out, telling the officer every detail of what had been happening at home.
The officer spoke to a Prosecutor and the Prosecutor agreed that an arrest could be made. I was told to get my daughters and not go home until one of the officers called me to say that the arrest was made and it was safe to go home.
I was shaking as I left. I could not believe I had told everything I had told. Perhaps now the kids and I would find peace. I went and picked my daughters up at the Vacation Bible School and then wondered, “Where do I go?” I had no idea. For the longest time I sat with the kids on that church lawn not knowing what to do next. I could not go to my in laws, I did not have a close friend in town to call on, where could I go? I called a friend who lived in the next town over. We hadn’t seen each other in awhile but hopefully she would be ok with us coming to her home. Thankfully she was and soon I was sharing my story with her and her husband in their living room waiting for the RCMP to call.
It was not until 10:00pm that I received a call that it was ok to come home. I was told that he had been arrested, then allowed to leave in our van and that his plan was to go to his moms in a city nearby. I breathed a sigh a relief. It was over.
Or so I thought. It really was not over. I came home to a ransacked house. There were things all over the floor, it was obvious to me that my ex had not gone easily. My friends husband made sure the house was secure and I put my kids to bed. After my friend and her husband left I sat on my couch for hours in silence, just staring at the wall. I was literally stunned. The silence stunned me. I was so used to his endless screaming I almost did not know what to do in the silence. So I just sat there for hours doing nothing. At about 2:00am I wrote an email to my family telling them of the abuse and the arrest. I had kept them in the dark for over a decade. I then finally went to bed.
In the weeks that followed the victim blaming comments started to come my way;
“YOU got him arrested!”
“I know he hurt you but did YOU have to involve the Police? They slammed him into walls and really hurt him!”
“He is so sad. YOU have to forgive him.”
You. You. You. YOU!
But it wasn’t me. It was HIM.
I had a Lawyer tell me, “They will blame you. A lot. But you did not get him arrested. His actions did and in Canada the Crown charges him not you. You did the right thing.”
I knew in my heart that I had done the right thing. I knew that I had begged him to stop so many times. I started to tell those who blamed me;
“I didn’t get him arrested. All I did was tell them what he was doing. The RCMP and the Crown decided that was he was doing was illegal. If it was not illegal they would not have arrested him.”
I don’t know if my words ever resonated with these people. I think they still blame me and when I saw my ex again he definitely blamed me.
Victim blaming happens by the perpetrator to deflect what they have done so that they do not have to take responsibility. It is done by their supporters so that they too can deflect and not admit what really happened. For some people it is easier to keep lying to themselves then face the truth. Unfortunately this behaviour only continues to abuse the victim.
If you have been subject to victim blaming I want you to know that what happened is NOT your fault. It is the abusers. It is highly unlikely that they will ever take responsibility for what they have done. To take responsibility they have to want to change and abusers like the power abusing others gives. In their head, why would they change? I want you to know that no matter what those blamers say, you are not what they say. You are not the nasty names they may call you. They may try to say that it is your fault too, that it takes “two to tango” in a relationship for there to be problems. The thing is that when it is an abusive relationship you are not having regular arguments. It is about one person wanting power and control over another and they are achieving that through fear and intimidation. They are overpowering you, not arguing about what is for supper that night. What they are doing is completely and absolutely wrong and illegal. The abuser is the one who needs to take responsibility not you. Period.
The victim blaming that happened after my relationship continues to this day, but I have walked away from it. I no longer care what any of his supporters say about me because I know it is not the truth and I am confident in who I am and that I did nothing to deserve the abuse that happened to me. It is a freeing feeling to walk away from it all. I encourage you to do the same if you are caught in it.
If you are thinking of leaving your abusive relationship I encourage you to create a Safety Plan. Like a how a fire drill helps you safely escape a fire, a Safety Plan helps you safely leave an abusive relationship. Please check out this link; http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-stop-abuse/safety-planning/ Scroll down the page it opens to download it for free.
Are you a Survivor needing support? You can sign up for a Mentor, someone who has been there, and receive free support and guidance all via email, at :http://verbalabusejournals.com/mentoring-program-for-domestic-violence-survivors/mentor-request/
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