The Utter Normalcy of Domestic Violence
What do you mean you are a survivor??!? How could YOU (read: meant to be complimentary) have ever fallen for that? No way, you are too amazing to have ever been in an abusive relationship ... or now way ... that wasn't abuse, you are just too sensitive.
When I first started sharing my story publicly 4 years ago ... this convo was non stop in my DM's, comments, texts ... and for the most part I was so there for it ... it was healing in a way. Each year after that I shared a part of my story ... and then the fuck storm of 2020 hit and because older and wiser I have chosen to take care of me this year for Domestic Violence Awareness month.
And as much as I know there is so much going on in the world rn ... I also know that our stories are so powerful, I know that they bring us together, make us feel heard, stronger and less lonely. So I decided to do a mashup of my Face Book posts past ...
If the pursuit equality, justice and freedom are things that make you ... you ... read on ... if feminism and smashing the patriarchy bring you joy ... read on ... shoot if you just wanna hear the chisme about my life ... read on :P Also I post cute pics with my heart shares ... cause why the fuck not?!
October 14, 2017 ... my first time sharing publicly on FB
No one knew I was in an abusive relationship ... shit I didn't even know! We had fun ... road trips, a squad ... he was charming, a brilliant artist and a total Mr. Funny Man! But there were more bad days than good days ... I'm not really sure where to start ... how do u sum up 7 years into a few paragraphs ... ur probably wondering what the abuse looked like ... so here goes:
There were a few violent incidents ... it's weird I feel such a mix of shame and guilt right now ... I see myself saying "well it only happened a couple times ... it's not like I was put in the hospital" and "well I hit back so it's on me" ... I remember one time in particular when he choked me ... I've never told anyone that ... it's so embarrassing ... like what sane woman would go back ... I took a few "days off" after that ... he came over ... we sat on my fire escape smoking cigarettes and he told me how sorry he was and was all "please don't leave me" I remember feeling like I would be worthless without him ... we had already been together for 3 years ... we would make the cutest babies ... and so I stayed ... ughhh ... all the shame, guilt and embarrassment ...
It's been hard to sit down and write this story ... two weeks ago I said i'd share my story for #domesticviolenceawareness month ... and it's been weighing heavy on me ... honestly the other day I was like ... well maybe I should just get shit face drunk (my go to for dealing with pain) an write it ... but I'm happy to report that I am completely sober ... and just took the past 3 hours to write a grip of pages ... as promised I am going to share a part of the story each week with a cute ass pic of me ... cause I'm hella fuckin past being a survivor ... I'm a THRIVER! So cash me outside getting my yoga on ... cause health is wealth and I am replacing old vices with new habits!
October 20th, 2017 ... shit gets real ... post #2
This part is scarier for me to post ... it's made me jittery all day ... I can hear him in my head ... enraged, screaming at me an calling me a bitch for naming him as an abuser ... he constantly told me I was crazy ... always asked me to give him specific examples of what he did and how it was wrong ... and that's the thing ... so much of his behavior was so normalized that I couldn't pin point exactly what it was ... and then I did start feeling like the crazy one ... like it's was totally cool for him to steal my truck, drive it to TJ and go to a strip club as payback cause he saw me hug another man. I was the crazy one when I got upset that he got drunk and grabbed a woman's ass ... cause he was just a man an couldn't help it ... I was standing right next to him ... god I feel like such an idiot writing this ... like really how did I, this amazingly strong, smart woman let this shit go on for so long?!? ... but again ... this was so normal in the community i grew up in ... I didn't really have any examples of what happy health relationships looked like ... his nickname for me was fats/fatty ... I hated it ... like really ... u really gonna call someone who struggled with anorexia fatty?! But yes that's exactly what he did ... constantly making me feel worthless, like I didn't deserve anything better ... giving me just enough love every once in a while to keep me thinking that it would be ok. I remember this one time we were at a restaurant and I questioned him about something, he got upset an was all let's go ... I know he just wanted to get outside so he could yell at me ... I refused ... so he left without me ... I had to walk home. ...
The manipulation, the constant play on my self doubt and the yelling ... I think what really worries me about this post is that folks don't recognize these behaviors as indicators of domestic violence ... I'm sure so many of the women I have in my life have dealt with something like this at some point ... I'm sure a grip of men I kno have done something like this in their past ... I can feel people thinking I'm crazy for thinking these things are signs of an abusive relationship ... I can even hear me telling myself that it's ok for these things to happen every once in a while ... BUT IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT OK!!!
It's taken me years and years of a grip of self work to understand that I am a good ... really good human being ... who deserves someone who treats me with love an respect ... and so I post this weeks #domesticviolenceprevention post with a shit ton of sparkles and giggles ... cause again ... I'm way past surviving ... I'm thriving ... And also ... cash me outside with any pity U have for me ... and be about the change!
October 27th, 2017 ... its been a month ... FB post #3
Folks keep telling me they are so happy I got out of that abusive relationship ... but the fucked up part is I didn't ... he broke up with me ... told me I was too good for him (true) ... I was devastated!!!
A few months later we were talking, trying to "still be friends" when he told me he cheated on me ... I hung up the phone and never talked to him again. I'm not sure what it was about the cheating that I had no tolerance for ... like really the violence and manipulation were ok but not the cheating?! Whatever it was I am so grateful my pop's stubborn gene kicked in and I never spoke to him again. He kept calling for weeks after that ... a friend told me he was afraid he lost me ... and he did!
But I still spent a year after that feeling completely empty, numb ... and completely worthless. All of me was gone! After that year I decided to get my Masters in Education, I taught during the day and went to school at night ... I left absolutely no room in my brain for anything else ... I needed that!
When I had moved to LA all my friends were his ... so I had no one, nothing! I have spent years re-building myself, my spirit and my community! I have been in therapy for 5 years now! Almost the same time I have been training capoeira!! Thus the cute cute full circle in LA pic
A few years into therapy I remember telling my therapist how ashamed I was that I want the one who broke up with him ... she said "oh hunny but u did, u kept pushing back, fighting back ... and he knew his ways wouldn't work on u ... so he left" I can't even tell u how much life that realization gave me!
All this to say Domestic Violence and Emotional Abuse are a total mindfuck! The work I have done and am still doing to undo these patterns has been hella hard, and it's not easy to share these stories buuut I am so very blessed to be where I am at now, surrounded by radical educators, music makers, dancers, capoeiristas and change makers!!! I am so thankful for all the amazing couples I have in my life for showing me what real love looks like ... you all make it look easy ... even tho I kno it ain't
I am one of the lucky ones! I do this sharing to Bring awareness! Domestic violence is an epidemic that almost 800 women a year die from in our country! We need to do better fam! It's gonna take all of us!
A year went by and i continued to heal
October 1st, 2018 ... FB post #4
Hi! Im a Domestic Violence Survivor and October is Domestic Violence awareness month!!! Cheesy intro I kno but this is important!
Last year around this time I shared my story publicly for the first time ... Some of the shares were terrifying, I didn’t know if folks would understand the gravity emotional abuse sprinkled with a dash of physical violence takes on a person, took on me ... but when I took the leap folks reached out, sharing their stories and support, it ended up being really healing, I felt seen, held and valuable ... and what’s more important is that In the past few years I’ve done the work so that I can believe in myself!
This healing journey has been loooong ... and has/is/will take a lot of work! This year I want to share that path ... I want to share ways I literally rebuilt myself and my life, with the hopes that folks can use the tools I found ... to heal ... AND help stop this shitty ass cycle!
So each week this month I’m gonna share part of my journey ... I’m also gonna share a cute ass pic of me living my best life cause a) I worked hard to get here and b) the survivor struggle is real right now and imma celebrate every damn thing I can!
I’ll also post my survivors story in “stories” as they pop up in my FB memories cause I’ve met a grip of amazing people in the past year! As much as it will be eeeeek all over again but it will be a good reminder of how far I’ve come!
Also Also ... pardon me while I’m extra emo for the next few months!
October 8th, 2018 ... thank you friends ... post #5
Oh haaaay! It’s week 2 of Domestic Violence awareness month and time for installment #1 of my healing journey ... takes a deep breath and dives in ...
My ex was super charismatic, funny ... everyone loved him! No one would have guessed I was in an abusive relationship, shit I didn’t even know! I honestly thought there was nothing seriously wrong with the constant manipulation and occasional physical abuse I was dealing with ... shit is so normalized!
It wasn’t until a few years after my relationship ended, when I had started to rebuild my life and made friends with people in healthy relationships, that I realized the one I had been in was abusive and massively unhealthy ...
Shout to Ron, Mel, Antonio, Karyn, Parisa and Mark ... not sure if y’all know how influential u have been in my life for planting the seeds of what relationships should look like ... but I’m mad grateful for y’all! You were some of the first folks that showed me another way of being!
And because it took 7 years of being in an abusive relationship, and another 3ish after to even recognize it for what it was ... I want to share some of the signs courtesy of an article in buzzfeed ... cause the more U kno ...
1. You feel like you don't understand anything, or like you're always wrong.
2. When you don't agree with them, you hear things like "you're crazy," that "this is all in your head," or that you're making a big deal out of nothing.
3. They think they have the right to control your life and your choices.
4. You do things against your will for fear of how they might react if you object. Or they don't respect your wishes when you say "no," even during sex.
5. They "never hit you," but you often have bruises they caused, or they use physical force "to calm you down."
6. They tell you that no one will ever love you, accept you, or want you besides them.
7. They don't react well to your achievements and the good things that happen in your life.
8. They don't like when you talk to other people, especially when they're not there, or they try to make you believe that the only opinion you should listen to is their own.
9. They make you feel like you are to blame for their aggression or threats.
10. Their actions make you feel weird, or question whether what happened was normal.
11. They say that other people shouldn't interfere in a fight between a couple, and that your problems are "a couple's thing."
12. They don't harm you, but they express their aggressiveness by slamming on tables, doors, and other objects.
13. They yell at you.
14. They hit you.
15. They are constantly being aggressive or violent, but each time they promise they won't do it anymore.
If you are in an abusive relationship, or know someone else who is in an abusive relationship, please reach out ... You can talk to someone you trust, or get in touch with someone at the National Domestic Violence Hotline via their live chat option or at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), which is available 24/7.
October 24th 2018 ... Life goes On ... post 6
I don’t really have anyone in my life anymore from when I was with my ex. His whole crew was pretty toxic. When I moved to LA from the Bay, his friends were the only folks I knew. There were a few women in the crew, none of us really realized how fucked up the dudes behavior was ... cause misogyny so normal ... 🤦🏽♀️
One of the most common tactics of a manipulative partner is to isolate someone. I remember very clearly my ex hating on any friends I made. So when we broke up I pretty much had no one! 🙅🏽♀️
For a year after we broke up I just went to work, came home and cried. Then the next year I went to work and then went to school at night ... yay for pain pushing me to get my Masters in Ed! 🙆🏽♀️
The year after that I started to rebuild, that was about 9 years ago! I went to women’s circles, yoga, art and music shows and grew a crew of amazingly brilliant and strong sisters!
Each and every one of the people in these pics has supported me, inspired me and pushed me to grow! I have a strong network of folks I can count on to tell me “girl ur walls are way to high” or “what about lookin at it this way sis” or “fuck the haters” 🤣
And while building true real relationships ain’t always sunshine an roses I am so blessed to have all these amazing women (helluv whom are not pictured) in my my life! Side Note: I am also hella careful about not putting all my eggs in one basket anymore!
November 1st 2018 ... not DV awareness month anymore ... but whatevs ... post #7
Oh Hello Birthday Month!!! But before I say goodbye to #domesticviolenceawarenessmonth one last share about all things that help me heal ... 🤸🏾♀️#movementismymedicine ... and my younger angsty goth/hippie self is totally rolling over in the ground right now for saying that ... but I ain’t mad at it ... as a kid I was into swimming and soccer, but I traded those out for weed and alcohol in my teens to numb my inner hater ... but numbing is different from healing ... an I’m on a mission ... make Amreen great again 🤣
It was prolly around 8 or 9 years ago that I began my whole #doshitthatscaresthecrapoutofyou journey ... I started taking dance classes from my super talented sisters @ladysoulfly and @tatianazamir ... I’ve always felt like I had no rhythm and dancing made me super nervous ... shit it still does ... but I’m getting better about it ... 💃🏾
from there I started Capoeira ... and I’ve been slowly getting my body.mind.spirit back in shape. I’ve always felt like cleanliness is a state of mind ... and that goes for my body too! I’ve noticed over the years that the more I move, the better I eat ... the happier I am! So cash me running around a lake, training in random places, or at my fave ymca ... cause ur girl is still tryin to get a 6 pack by my bday 😉
A year of more healing passes ... Oct 30th 2019 ... tis the season ...
Installment 5 and the first original post of #DVawaeeness month for this year ... throwback pic cause tis the season and my moms and sis are squad goals ... and cause I been tryin to think on what to write this year and family, spirit and baby me have been comin up ... so here goes ...
I worry about what my parents think about all this public sharing around DV and the healing that I do. In our culture we aren’t supposed to talk about these things and I’m sure it brings up feelings of guilt or shame for them
So to my mom and pops ... I’m sorry I was so angry at u for so long! Im so sorry if this sharing brings up a lot of old stuff ... I hope you know that when I was angry at you it was because I was misplacing blame!
I hope you know that I know that u moved across oceans for me, and that you love me. I hope u know that the culture we were all raised in is in need of a major exorcism (keeping with the Halloween theme). The fuckery of colonization, the patriarchy, the internalized racism, it ... our culture and our family ... need to be liberated from all that!
They say healing goes forwards and backwards ... and I def feel like all this work I been putting into me for the past 10 years has it’s ripple effects. I know you have seen changes in me parents, I hope you are proud of me, I hope our ancestors and spirits yet to come feel it, and feel lighter and freer!
I am so grateful you support me .. and I kno that I am really lucky cause not everyone has family like I do ... side note I’ll share about our witchy ways later! All of that to say that I am incredibly blessed/privileged to be where I am and could not have done it without my family! Thank you to the moon and back parents
Oct 31st 2020 ... Moving forward ... looking back ... at it ... :P
I haven't had the emotional space to post about DV or my story this year ... I'm sure folks get it. But if you made it this far ... thank you so much for reading, thank you for letting me share and be open and vulnerable ... thank you to those who reach out ... and those that don't ... thank you to those who send me good energy ... and to those that take their own time to heal. We are in it together <3