Figures report that on average 1 in 5 women have been abused by a current or former partner, in fact a lot of the research on the internet links domestic violence and women as going hand in hand with one another. But what is the case when the abuser in the relationship is a woman?
This is something that happens rather frequently yet isn’t often talked about. Society still paints women as the ‘frail and fragile’ and men as ‘tough and abusive’ when it comes to discussing domestic violence however in this day of gender equality these perceptions can often be flipped. This issue isn’t talked about that much though because of these social norms and the misunderstanding that men in fact can be domestically abused. So here’s my experience, through talking about these issues – that men can get abused- hopefully it’ll bring to light others who are still suffering. (Despite my role in the argument ‘men can be abused’ being a bit different as I was beginning my gender transition – but transmen are still men so alas I shall continue)
Allow me to describe a typical day with my abuser.
“A day in town shopping with my partner then I’ll come home and make dinner for us, this will be a pleasant day” I told myself, trying to kid myself that today would be different from all the other times we’d tried to have ‘pleasant days’.
After her taking her time to get ready, whilst getting angry about everything that didn’t go correctly, she would turn and say to me what I was told every morning “Ew, you look like a girl today, don’t you dare touch me when we’re out” – Now as someone who so desperately wanted to live as male, thought lowly of themselves as it was and was close to suicide as they couldn’t access hormones this was not something I needed to hear on a daily basis. I could go further into the extent of this mental bullying regarding my appearance as that isn’t all that was said but I think you get the jist.
On leaving our shared home (yes for some unknown reason I lived with this person), we made our way to town where my situation got worse. My partner knew that I didn’t like going into town all that much, as I suffered from anxiety due to people questioning my gender – I only went in as I knew if she didn’t get the things she needed I would be the one to suffer the wrath of it all, it was easier just to manage my anxiety than face that. Yet for some strange, cruel reason she did not make this experience easy for me. Yelling at me the entire time for the smallest of things – one of them, walking slow behind her as she browsed the clothes rails – Perhaps she didn’t realise I was hiding from the people around me that made me so anxious? Perhaps she couldn’t relate to the heat and uncomfortable feeling of wearing a binder that drags you down? Whatever the reason I’m not sure but what I did was try to explain.
“Please, *insert name here*, these insoles you make me wear to look taller are hurting my feet, you can happily browse I’ll just be a bit behind” – I pleaded.
“Well, would you rather look like a short lesbian? Pain is beauty, at least those insoles make you look a little bit more like a boy.”
I would plead my case, meekly stating “You can’t talk to me like that” but it fell on deaf ears. She saw my attempt to to explain why I was doing no harm as an attack. Storming off despite my explanations of why I couldn’t keep up. As I chased after her I would repeatedly ask for her to slow down, until finally, I would reach out to make her slow down.
That my friends, is where I went wrong every time.
I can’t describe perfectly the look I was given as she turned around but picture an intense stare filled with hatred. “Don’t you dare fucking touch me” she would angrily growl whilst gripping my free arm, digging her nails in so hard it left marks on my skin.
“Touch me again and I’ll make you wish you never did. No one will care if a lesbian gets hit on the street.” – I was actually glad this was on the street, at least here she didn’t actually hit me, which wasn’t the case in the house.
At this point, my eyes would be filled with tears, why did it always end in fighting?
“Please let go of my arm you’re hurting me”
One last dig with her nails on the already broken skin so show her dominance and off she stormed.
Eventually we’d text our way to meeting up again, go and get her things, which of course I silently paid for to “make it up for our fight” and then we made our way home.
As I sat listening to her state how hungry she was as I cooked, I presented dinner at the table. She begrudgingly would sit across from me and stated “This better be good after that stunt you pulled earlier” -one bite and returned that intense stare I told you about.
Before I know it, the cup of boiling hot tea I made for her to have with dinner was flung across the table at myself. “This is fucking disgusting” – and once again another storming off occurred, this time thankfully only to the bedroom.
As I sat there crying, from the pain of the tea, the exhaustion of the day along with the fact both our dinners are not soaked in tea. I gathered myself “This isn’t what a man would do”
I don’t honestly know what I was thinking but, again, like every other fight we had I went in to apologise for the poorly made dinner. She would apologise for getting angry and say she was just hungry and girls ‘get like that when they’re hungry’ apparently it was cute? I would be made to order take away as a consolation for the dinner, she would then sit on her phone as we ate our meal in silence.
“Oh look he’s messaging me again, and him, and him” she would proudly state. “You know with how today went I should really give one of them a chance. They’d know how to treat a woman as they’re real men – you’re gonna have to prove yourself to me why I should stay” – she snarlingly smiled.
After a while of preaching to me about all the things I should be doing we made our way to bed. Which would ensue me catering for her needs then being told “I’m not a lesbian” when it came to me and then falling to sleep feeling disappointed.
This I thought was a normal relationship, I thought I was the issue and I was lucky to have someone. As the title, and one of my favourite movies states “We accept the love we think we deserve.” and this is the ‘love’ I thought I deserved. Which now thanks, to the kind and loving Jamie O’Herlihy, I know simply isn’t the case.
So yes, a lot of my friends knew about my ‘crazy ex’ which they just assumed meant the crazy jealous stalker type of girl, which I also had so suffer with her, but I’m sure they didn’t realise that I was also physically and mentally abused by this ‘crazy ex’.
Which, now I’m admitting, as I think people need to recognise that despite the social perception that girls are the innocent ones in relationships – unless of course they betray the man with their body by being a ‘slut’ as this is the only power women apparently have, their bodies, domestic abuse does in fact happen to men.
Thankfully I escaped my abusive relationship, despite the mental damage still being there, and have found happiness with a girl who loves and understands me. I’ve learnt what a real relationship is meant to be like and it’s shown me just how bad my previous one was. If you’re unhappy in a relationship please just leave, for too long I stayed with someone I shouldn’t have because I believed, as she told me, no one else would want to be with me as I was a “freak”.
This is not the case, once I accepted being single I was happy, and it gave me time to realise I don’t need any one but rather can welcome people in to be a part of my life. I’m now currently sharing my life with Jamie and I’m happy shes proud to have me as her boyfriend. There’s better people out there you just have to realise when to let something go to allow the opportunity to meet new people to be there.
So if you’re a man, or a woman, suffering domestic abuse remember you are not alone but you can escape. Just find the inner strength and cut the ties you know should have been cut long ago.
That’s all folks.