Why moving on is the best post-abuse payback

After the horror of domestic abuse, we can believe justice is essential if we are to ever move on. But what if moving on is the only way to achieve justice at all?

This week, on my second date with a guy – yes, someone actually has made it through to a second round! – we got talking about domestic violence. Not usual conversation-fodder for a second encounter, I know, but he was explaining to me why he refused to have anything to do with his father.

In the interest of being open and honest, I gave him a PG-rated outline of my story – focussing on my fear that my abusive, stalking ex may one day try to make good on his threat to abduct our son. The whereabouts of my ex are still unknown, and there is an outstanding warrant out for his arrest.

My date didn’t trot out platitudes, push for details, ask me why the hell I stayed, or run screaming to the hills. Instead, he scored instant brownie points when he asked me if I was receiving any professional support (yes, I am). He then he stuck on his Mr Fix It hat and offered to “sort out” my abuser.

Putting right the wrongs

everything has its priceIt got me thinking of an email conversation I had a couple of months back with my dauntless online friend Americana Injustica  – one of the founding members of the amazing Cut Throat Club and an all-round badass that knows this terrain inside-out and upside-down.

I was sharing my feelings about where I was in my recovery journey: feeling stronger than ever before, but frustrated that my abusive ex continues to evade justice.

I had worked long and hard to get out of the relationship, and to keep him away. I probably know most of the police force in my area by name now, since they’ve had to take statements from me so many times. I gave evidence in a trial which my abuser didn’t even bother to attend.

Some time later, he was arrested and brought in for sentencing. He left the court before sentence could be passed and hasn’t been heard of since, apart from a couple of cryptic phonecalls just to keep me on edge.

I’m glad he’s gone. I hope and pray that he never comes back. But those around me – like my date – think there’s more to be done. Most of us intuitively feel that wrongs need to be put right, that every action must have an equal reaction.

Justice: a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people ~ Oxford English Dictionary

The price of justice

I promised myself I’d paste Americana’s words onto my bedroom mirror as a daily reminder that sometimes the best action is to do nothing at all. She warned me, in her inimitable way, that safety has to come ahead of the desire for justice:

You have come TOO FUCKING FAR, TOO FAST to be vengeful to your own detriment. YOU ARE BIGGER THAN HIM, BETTER THAN THAT. You’ve graduated now, can’t play on that playground any longer these days, Big Girl.

I may call it ‘justice’, but my abuser would see it solely as revenge – and likely, he’d be right. I may have some instant satisfaction from seeing justice served, but it wouldn’t be worth the price I’d pay later. It wouldn’t bring back the wasted years and everything he cost me. It wouldn’t balance out the pain, or give my child a daddy he can be proud of. It wouldn’t make me feel less afraid. It wouldn’t bring me peace. The only thing it would do, is cause my risk level to skyrocket.

The best payback I can think of is to keep safe and to be happy. Justice is rebuilding my life, without the brick wall he constructed around me. And if the price for that is to let it go: I’m happy to pay.

Handful of stars

Photo by xJasonRogersx

What do you think? Can justice bring closure after domestic violence? Is revenge worth the price tag?

Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14
https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com

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30 responses to “Why moving on is the best post-abuse payback

  1. I have had the same epiphany…and revisited the question many times…my work in progress is to let go of the anger and frustration over the injustice…it creeps up every time I find myself needing something that he took/kept… Seeing the kids have to deal with the same gaslighting and lying stirs it up too. Every day becomes a choice…a battle…to keep the anger from freezing my heart. I can’t even bring myself to share my experiences and emotions outside of the blogging world and CTC…other than a very close group of friends-even then, it is hard to do. People in this small town who know my ex warn me to “be careful”… “That whole family is crazy”…. now I know what they mean! I agree with AI, your safety and happiness is much more important than the justice that may never come. It will catch up with him someday…because he will not change-he will always hurt and use others… I think of my ex dying alone…with people secretly rejoicing when that time comes…not just me, but so many he has hurt. I wish you peace and strength…I am with you sista💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your insight, AoA. I can only imagine what it must take to see your kids being used to get back at you, and keep your cool. I truly believe I’m fortunate that my ex has disappeared, it must be so much harder to have to deal with an abuser that is still in your life in that way.

      You have to live with it to know what’s the best strategy to take. It can be hard to resist pressure to act – people are well meaning and have big hearts, but stirring up the hornets nest is opening up a new world of pain. I like to think I’m not an angry person, but injustice makes me madder than anything. You sum it up perfectly when you use the word ‘injustice’ to describe domestic abuse.

      And I understand your point – your abuser will never know happiness and love, but you do. That’s justice, and if there’s ever a winner in this hell, then that’s you my friend 💜.

      Like

  2. Beautiful, we were abused in the name of justice, it is up to us to chose to end the cycle and move on. Beautiful post.

    Like

    • Thank you betternotbroken. It took someone wise to point that out to me, but she’s so right. At any and every point when dealing with abuse, it can help to remember that we are ALWAYS the ones with the power to change our situation, and to build a better future.

      Like

      • Honestly, I tried it both ways. The anger and complete ruin I felt at the end of my marriage coupled with the hypervigilance and I lashed out (not physically) and it did nothing but take away from my own integrity and power. Turning the other cheek does not entail living with an abuser, it means saying good-bye and moving on. Not easy, but the high road is the only way out of hell. Thank you for your poignant post.

        Like

      • You’re right – it is the opposite of turning the other cheek. It is empowering to make the decision to leave, and even more so to be the bigger person. I know from every survivor I have ever met, we have bags more strength and humanity than we even realise sometimes 🙂

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      • And NOT easy but in some ways I am glad I “fell” or was it dragged down? Now I know what has to be done. Peace. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Part of personal power balance restoration is the understanding that you can choose to do nothing but let it go. ‘Doing’ sometimes looks more like ‘being’, than anything else.

    AI has a lot of wisdom, and so do you, for accepting it.

    Shalom achoti.

    Like

    • Thank you very much sheketechad. Accepting that do nothing is the best thing was pretty hard, and I needed to hear it from someone who had been there and done that. You describe it in a very interesting way – like, ‘I act, therefore I am’?

      Making that choice feels pretty empowering.

      Asalaamu alaikum sister

      Like

    • Thanks Mandy – it really *is*! Instinctively, we feel like we need to act to keep our power, but in this case I think the opposite is true. I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of a reaction!

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  4. You are so right with this “justice is rebuilding my life……” Your abuser will ultimately face justice, be it this life {or the next}. At this point, your safety, your child’s safety are utmost important. Yes it sucks to have to ‘look over your shoulder’, but you have to keep moving forward or the fear will keep you planted going nowhere. I’m so proud of you! And congratulations on the date making round 2 ❤

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    • Hi Tela and thank you for your words of encouragement.

      I’m a great believer in ‘what goes around comes around’ but if I’m truthful, I really don’t want him punished or to suffer. All I want is for him to understand the suffering he caused, not just to me but others too. I’m certain that won’t happen in this life, but I know it will in the next.

      And yes, my date is clearly brave man to come back for a repeat! 😉 I’m still nervous, but glad I took the chance all the same

      Like

  5. Nice post. I have had similar thoughts over the years but our happiness truly does lie in our ability to move forward. We will never get even a simple heartfelt apology from our abusers. That can be a difficult pill to swallow. I believe all humans need acknowledgement. That is why sharing our stories with like individuals is so important because they understand the pain.

    I used to think often about the wasted years too. But in retrospect, I wouldn’t have my children without the ex. That always cancels out those thoughts for me.

    I hope you continue on your path and find much happiness. And good luck with your next date. Sounds like one of the good guys.

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    • Thank you so much for sharing, and for your kind words, StillStanding.

      I agree 100% with what you said about a heartfelt apology and accepting that it will never come. You are right to say that we all need acknowledgement. Guess everyone has ever been through abuse of any form realises eventually that our abusers will never do this, so we have to move on without it.

      Like you though, whilst I regret that things turned out the way the did and the fairytale ending didn’t happen for our family, I’m not sorry to have my son. My child is the best thing that ever happened to me – as I’m sure your children are for you too:)

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  6. I’m SO SO SO VERY PROUD of YOU Triple S!!!!
    I have the biggest shit-eatingest grin on my face after reading this, along with a big warm teardrop rolling down each cheek…
    YOU are the dauntless one, sweetie…YOU are an inspiration and a shining example of a nurturing survivor – – – not all of us are that kind of survivor (I’m not)…we’d be dead in the water without your kind…remember what I told you about your day to shine, it’s still up n coming, believe that. 🙂
    I LOVE YOU SISTER…SMILE.

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    • Bless you AI and thank you for your endless support. I’m smiling now, and it does seem like there is a light at the end of this tunnel. It’s terrifying sometimes to step up and forward, but you are doing it everyday, and despite the challenges still taking the time to pull others (like me) up with you. I really mean it, love you x

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I couldn’t agree more.

    Once I fully accepted where I had been, fully accepted why I had been there, and made peace with it all, veangance became meaningless. The best vengeance is no vengeance at all.

    Please be mindful of Mr. Fixit. You may have unwittingly handed him a shiny white suit of armour.

    Stephen

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    • Hi Stephen and thanks for your wise words

      The best revenge is absolutely to build a better life, despite the best efforts of those who want to keep us down so they can kick us more easily.

      And thank you for recommending caution. I’ve posted before (and shared with you in our email exchanges!) about hyper-vigilance and believe me, since that’s the starting point I’ve a suit of armour all of my own 😉

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      • I agree SSS, it is very difficult to know when to let down our guard. It’s all part of learning to trust again, in my opinion, both in ourselves and others.

        I’m guessing that suit of armour of yours may get to be a tad awkward at dinner 😉

        One other point if I may, when we seek revenge, we are still handing our power and a dose of narcissistic supply over to the narcissist. In the narcissist’s world, all publicity is good publicity, so even if you are seeking him out to ruin him, he knows that you are still thinking about him and he still has your attention, which to him, is all that matters. The best thing to do is drop the rope and stop playing the narcissist’s game. Pretending they no longer matter is the best vengeance you can have, because they no longer have your attention.

        Stephen

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Triple S,
    This is an awesome post.
    I found that the more justice I tried to get, the more power I lost.
    The hardest thing I’ve ever done is get up and walk away. I felt I deserved justice, I guess it took too long for me to realize that what I really deserved was peace.
    Still do.
    I’ll have it one day I’m certain of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Tee – I’m glad you like the post, and thank you for sharing your hard-won insight. You express it wonderfully when you say that peace is worth so much more than justice. Not least, because in my view, there is no justice that can possibly redress the hurt and damage of abuse.

      You will have your peace, and you know why? Because you have grit and power and you are going to achieve that for yourself and for your kids. X

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      • Thank you Triple S.
        You are always an encouragement to me. So much of my strength comes from the support I have received here.
        You were one of the first blogs I found when I arrived on the scene and I don’t know what I would have done had I not found you.
        Thank you.

        Tee

        Like

      • Thank you for your kind words Tee, that means more than you could ever know (though I’m not sure I actually deserve them).

        I remember when you first arrived on WP – I was just blown away by your resilience and how much support you offered to so many, right from the start. You’re pretty amazing, you know! x

        Like

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