I am in an abusive relationship.
I can’t talk about it openly. If I do, I’ll be punished. I’m not supposed to say anything. I feel safest when I avoid confronting my abuser. There is safety in shrinking into the shadows.
I am required to report on every aspect of my sexual activity. Even when I’m forthcoming, my abuser doesn’t trust me. It’s always assumed that I’m hiding something. There’s a list of things that I can do and an even longer list of things that I can’t do. When I step out of line, I’m punished, shunned and looked down upon by almost everyone I know. My abuser makes sure that everyone around me knows when I’ve done something wrong but doesn’t tell them what it was. This lets them speculate and gossip about my wrongdoings. It reminds me to stay in line.
I’m not allowed to have my own voice. I am always in the wrong when I disagree. Falling in line with my abuser is the only acceptable option. My abuser’s moral superiority is never questioned.
My abuser taught me to hate myself, my body and my sexual desires. My body is something that I cover up in shame. My sexual desires are deemed “impure” and “vile.” I desperately wanted to fix myself. I earnestly considered harming my own body as a way to prove my loyalty and rid myself of that part of me that I hated so passionately.
I spent years in this abusive relationship completely unaware of the damage that I was experiencing. I knew that I was the problem. I never allowed myself to question. My abuser left no room in my mind for any other possibility.
I began to recognize this abuse after years of denial. I’m trying to escape now, but it isn’t easy. My abuser asks me where I will go if I leave and insists that I’ll be safest if I stay where I’ve always been. My family and friends choose to ignore the abuse I’ve experienced and insist that I’m making a mistake. They praise my abuser in front of me. I’m pretty sure that I’m being stalked, and if I say anything negative about my abuser publicly, I’ll be in even more trouble.
Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever be able to escape, and that this relationship will stay with me for my entire life. There’s no point in setting boundaries because my abuser doesn’t respect them. More pressure will be applied to me in the hope that I give in and go back to my old ways: never questioning, always obedient, and loyal to a fault. Most days I feel exhausted, broken, misunderstood and attacked.
I would love to move away and never see my abuser again, but it’s not that simple. You see, my abuser isn’t a single person. My abuser is my religion.
I can’t leave my abuser because my abuser refuses to leave me