My Abuser and I Were in Love. That Was the Problem.

It’s hard to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship when your feelings are clouded by love

RJ Aguiar

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(This piece was originally published in 2019 and featured in Human Parts, but was subsequently taken down because of legal threats.)

Two hands barely holding on to each other

It’s no secret that we, as a society, are colossally ill-equipped to have conversations about abuse. Even as movements like #MeToo have started to shine a light on the omnipresence of the problem, even as more and more statistics are released, and even as more and more victims have come forth and shared their stories, there are still a number of barriers in place that cripple our conversations from the outset.

There’s the wall of skepticism and willful ignorance that some will put up whenever they encounter an allegation against someone they’re fond of. Then there’s the inability of our mass media ecosystem to sustain complex, nuanced discussion. There’s also the fact that our society still has systems put in place that protect a number of perpetrators. And there’s the simple fact that the topic itself is one that’s insanely uncomfortable for most people. Finally, there’s the fact that all of those previous factors, and many more, trap so many victims in a vicious cycle of silence.

But on the scattered occasions when I do witness the topic being brought up, I see so many people fall prey to a fundamental misunderstanding of abuse that makes it absolutely impossible for them to grasp the true nature of the issue. Worse yet, it’s a misunderstanding that many victims also fall prey to, which can hinder a person’s ability to even know they’re being mistreated in the first place.

I am an abuse survivor; I’m sure you’ve gathered that much by now. I’ve had the misfortune of being brutalized by a romantic partner on multiple occasions. I’ve suffered cracked ribs, black eyes, and multiple head injuries. I’ve been called “worthless”, “stupid”, “a burden”, “an empty shell”, “crazy”, “a piece of shit”, a “fucking evil coward”, and all manner of names you’d never want to hear from a partner. I’ve been attacked, only to have the police turn around and arrest me as the suspected perpetrator. I’ve told my partner on multiple occasions that I didn’t feel safe…

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RJ Aguiar

Writer, producer, strategist, actor, and advocate best known for his work on social media.