An Open Letter On Relationship Violence
Anonymous | 10/17/16 5:07pm
| Updated 10/17/16 9:15pm
Jaclyn Merica / American Word Magazine
Trigger Warning: sexual violence and relationship violence.
Over a year ago, you sexually assaulted me. I told you I didn’t want to kiss or have sex until you broke up with him; I didn’t want to be just another body. But you kept pushing—you said you loved me. Over a year ago, I told you it was the first time I ever felt happy after having sex.
“You don’t have to worry about him. I don’t want to be with him anymore. I love you,” you said, and just a few months later, you had sex with him. I didn’t know about that until we were sitting in that dingy taxi on the way to get tested for STDs.
Just over a month after that dingy taxi ride, you made me cry myself to sleep on my 21st birthday. That was, of course, after you went through my phone and hit me for not telling you I smoked a cigarette with another guy over a year ago—when you were telling me, “Don’t worry, I’m going to break up with him soon.”
I can still hear your words ring in my ears as I pull the covers over my head at night.
“Why are you crying? Can’t you just stop so I can sleep?”
Since then I called the paramedics for you because you told me you were going to kill yourself—twice. One of those times was the first time I tried to leave you.
Since then you hit me again. Only this time, it was because you were so drunk you didn’t realize what you were doing. Maybe it was because, like you told me later, everyone was asking why you weren’t at that party with him. Maybe it was because you have some deep-seated hatred for me that I can’t rationalize. Either way, I will never forget drunkenly crying in some stranger’s car as I hitchhiked home feeling like I was nothing. Like I was less than nothing.
Just over a week ago, you sexually assaulted me again. “I don’t think we should,” I said. But you kept pushing because I “seemed like” I wanted it. During this encounter just over a week ago, you tried to manipulate my emotions, telling me to remember how I told you I felt happy for the first time after having sex.
But after the third or fourth time trying to leave you (I don’t remember which it is now), I’m hoping for success. I’m hopeful I won’t have to be with the one person who used to comfort me no matter what, but who now paralyzes me every time I see her.
You abused me. I don’t doubt the fact that you loved me and probably still do, but your love is toxic, and it’s abusive, and it’s killing me.
One in four women in the U.S. will be the victim of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. That number’s just one in seven for men. I don’t really know whether what you did to me was “severe” enough for me to count myself among that group.
What I do know is that the shame, humiliation, pain, and destitute void of self-loathing I feel now isn’t going anywhere. It doesn’t matter how many times you ask me to “think of all the positives” in our relationship. It doesn’t matter how many times you tell me that you’re going to be less aggressive, or that your mental illness won’t be as severe because you’re seeing a therapist. (I stand by my decision to force you to see a therapist.) I carry this suffocating self-deprecation around with me every day, everywhere I go.
You also asked me if I “respected you enough” to keep some details of our relationship private. I can only assume you’re referring to everything above and maybe more. You’re trying to manipulate me into silence. But that’s the thing. That’s how this cycle perpetuates. That’s how you can win and entrench this worthlessness into myself even if I don’t have to be with you. That’s how millions of men come to bear this weight every single year.
I know you’ll tell your friends I’m crazy or that I’m making it up because “this seems like it’s coming out of the blue,” or maybe even that it didn’t count “because it wasn’t closed fist.”
But what you won’t do is silence me. I’m not letting you. No victims of relationship violence should have to live with the crushing weight of silence, and all victims deserve catharsis.
I hope you can “respect me enough” to give me that catharsis.
A note from the editors: Relationship violence and assaults are a major issue on campuses across the country. Sometimes their individual stories are unable to be told. We appreciate the candid disclosure of the writer of this piece. American Word Magazine feels this narrative is important to share with the student body. Due to the anonymity of this letter, we are unable to confirm with all parties involved.