Flirtation VS Assault.

After posting “A Very Different World” last week (about the short French film that focused on a total role reversal and challenged viewers’ preconceptions on sexual predators and abuse) I began a discussion with my mother around the subject of ‘boundary breaking’. I am no prude. I’ve always been known as flirtatious. However, I – as many women do – have boundaries. I have personal lines that should not be crossed especially when it comes to the opposite sex.

I posted a comment on my blog detailing an incident that happened to me at the beginning of the year. I told another blogger how that on my way to meet a friend for an evening drink, I fell into a difficult situation. During the winter months in Britain, it tends to get dark around four in the afternoon. I left home at six so it was pitch black. At the end of my road is a little corner shop which slightly lights that part of the street. Outside the shop stood two men. They seemed young but I could not tell their age immediately. I was not dressed provocatively. I was covered up in a very warm coat. I was not expecting them to behave the way they did. Both men were wearing hooded tops. Their faces could barely be seen. They were both standing blocking the path. I felt wary as I approached them. Striding past, a strong and overwhelming gust of marijuana flew past me. Both men were smoking in plain view. Within seconds, they began making kissing noises at me with one even muttering something (I only caught him saying “darling”). I looked up but continued walking. Worryingly, I missed my bus and had to continue walking to the next bus stop which happened to be a bit of a distance away.

I began to feel nervous.

I practically sprinted to the next bus stop. Was it wrong to feel so anxious?

As I approached the dimly lit bus stop I looked back. I was happy to see no one was behind me. I was now by the side of a busy, main road. Cars were rushing by. Surely I would be safe. However, after a couple of minutes, one of the men appeared. Horrified, I stepped out of the dark bus shelter and closer to the busy road; it was the only way to be seen. The man stared at me as he passed by. I tried not to catch his gaze.  Relieved that he had walked by, I started to relax. That was until he decided to turn back. With darkness as his cover, he approached me.

“What’s your name?” He asked abruptly.

I answered. I couldn’t be rude in fear of what he might do. There were many bushes around. He could have easily dragged me into one if I dared to insult him. So I was polite.

“Give me your number,” he ordered in a monotone voice. How he thought this was seductive or appealing I’ll never know.

“No!” I answered jokingly, trying not to show my fear.

“You have got a tight little ass haven’t you,” he said, biting his lip and staring at my behind.

That was it. The words that made me worried but what could I do?

“Let me take you out.”

“You can’t. I’m married.”

“And?”

That is not the first time a man has responded that way when I have replied that I am not single. It is completely disgusting.

Just then, my bus came. Relief can not even begin to describe my feelings. I can honestly say, I have never been so pleased to see a bus in my life.

If that can happen at six in the afternoon then imagine if it was ten at night. I can’t believe that people feel they can say whatever they want to whoever they want! Have some boundaries! What gives someone the right to speak so inappropriately to me, to make me feel like a piece of meat? When does flirtation cross into assault?

My mother told me about a time when she visited New York back in the seventies. She went and stayed with my father’s brother and wife. On a day trip out, whilst walking alone through the Bronx, a man passed by and casually assaulted her, he then walked off again as though he had done nothing. Horrified, my mother ignored it with the fear that speaking out to her brother-law would be met with ridicule. Alone in a big city, it was inconceivable to find help and admit such a derogatory incident.

I just cannot comprehend something like that.

I have flirted with men in nightclubs before, I cannot deny that I have not been physically flirtatious but we all know the unspoken lines. I would not grab a man by his crotch yet why have I had a man attempt to put his hand up my skirt before? Did I invite that? Was I dancing too provocatively? Some people might agree to that. Isn’t that the excuse of rapists, that she was deliberately trying to turn me on or she shouldn’t have been wearing such seductive clothing.

Why is it becoming more and more acceptable to behave this way?

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Self-indulgent Bullshit.

Luckily on WordPress there are filters. Thankfully – there are filters. Unfortunately, you may attract some haters, people that are looking to make a point, to insult and patronise. People who believe they know what counts as “abuse”, that it is as black and white as being slapped across the face. Well it isn’t. I may have not suffered physical violence. I may not have been slapped across the face. However, unless you yourself has suffered from abuse, you cannot dare to comment on what I have been through. To the rude man who decided to comment on my last post, my life, my past is just that. It is mine. If you do not agree with it then do not read it. I am not playing a victim. I do not want that label. I set out on my own journey last year and I do not have to justify it to you – a total stranger. You clearly have no idea what emotional abuse is.

My photos are only a small element of my past. I am not ungrateful for having a life. Everyone is ‘allowed’ to look back. I do not compare myself to anyone else. I am not belittling other’s abuse nor am I expecting anyone’s sympathy or “pity” as you so kindly say. Other survivors on WordPress have been incredibly supportive. They (having experienced it themselves) understand. They can see through the darkness. YOU however, will remain hidden from the light in your miserable little world, looking for someone to attack and criticise for your own personal gain.

Perhaps you have been abused yourself. I hope not. I do not wish that on anyone.

My photos are a part of my old life. My “basic human right” was to eat, not to have a cooker. Clearly that needed to be spelled out to you. Of course food is a human right and obviously there are many people in this world who cannot access that. I am not comparing myself to them. I am born and bred in the Western world. My life would always have been different to theirs abuse or no abuse.

My father had a history of abuse. He terrorised my mother for thirty years. He was a very generous man, so generous that not only did he emotionally abuse her, he battered her too! The man was clever, he learnt his lessons, he never touched me. How lucky for me (!) You are a weak human being. A troll. You do not know me yet you feel free to, behind your computer shielded from view, manipulate my words and condemn my truth. Good luck on your quest to break someone. You haven’t succeeded here.

Now tell me WordPress readers, from the rudeness of this stranger:

Am I “undermining the voices of the real victims of abuse”?

Oh and cheers for your bright and breezy comment that my life is “self-indulgent bullshit”. You really are a pleasant man.

We appreciate frankness from those who like us. Frankness from others is called insolence.
Andre Maurois

The cost of kindness.

I sometimes forget all the things that are free in this world. Kindness is one of them. After being sent a link on Facebook, (35 pictures to prove there is some good in this world) it made me think about how easy it is to take such a basic emotion for granted.

When living with my abuser, kindness was almost forbidden – certainly on his part and especially towards me. His exterior often portrayed a kind and generous man but behind closed doors was a different matter. I ached for an ounce of kindness from him. I wanted him to be gentle and thoughtful with me, to be considerate of my feelings and character. I longed for him to empathise with me and have compassion. These are characteristics that he would have certainly classed himself as having as he did not see himself as ever being without these traits. Many would agree that my father was a thoughtful man but they only saw what he wanted them to.

I will never forget this memory.

One summer evening after a shopping trip, my father was driving us home. It had been a bad visit to the supermarket and we had spent the majority of the journey arguing in the car as we drove back. It was a stupid and dangerous thing to partake in. Arguing while he was driving was my worst place to fight as I never could trust what kind of risks he would take. He was happy to risk our lives and leave me fearing for my life. I cannot remember the subject of our row only that he was attempting to drill in his point. It wasn’t so much of a two way argument; more of a barrage of anger from his end. I had done the unthinkable and spoken back to him. His questions were NOT to be answered. Silly me for forgetting.

I began to feel claustrophobic and tried to avert my eyes from his powerful gaze. Even as he drove he was still finding a way to bury his burning glare into my soul. As my eyes darted from window to window, something caught a hold of my attention. The car slowly pulled up to a bit of traffic as I focussed in on a man lying face down on the ground at a bus stop ahead of us. The day was fading into night and the sunlight had now disappeared into the distance. My father was still continuing his tirade at me but by now, my concentration was fully placed on the stranger.

As we slowly approached the man, I dared to interrupt my father. I could feel his shock and momentary build up of rage. Once again, I interrupted his flow and as I was too frightened to speak in fear of him screaming, I just pointed. I pointed to the lonely man lying face down on the floor.

“Ignore it,” my abuser muttered as he keep his eyes ahead of him.

His comment immediately broke my gaze.

“What?”

“Ignore. It.” He repeated defiantly.

I couldn’t ignore it. I couldn’t fathom his own ignorance. I was horrified.

“There’s a man over there. Pull over.”

“Did you not hear me the first time Babitago?! IGNORE IT!” He shouted violently and slammed his hands on the wheel.

I lost it.

I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I was not that kind of a person.

“He could be dead!” I screamed. “Pull over! We need to call an ambulance!”

“You are a insolent moron! Evil! Disgusting! What is wrong with you? You have no respect for me!”

“This isn’t about you!”

My final comment was enough for my father to release his fury. He let out an almighty roar and I practically jumped out of my seat. The traffic had subsided and he gradually began to pick up speed. I had unleashed his inner monster and it was not about to go into hiding. I turned to see the stranger still on the ground. His lifeless body waited to be found yet no one stopped to help. I wanted to show some kindness, to reach out, to help in some way but the demon beside me was preventing it. He had total control and even when we returned home he made it very clear that I was not to follow through with my plans. Even suggesting anonymously ringing for an ambulance was useless. He wanted nothing to do with it. To him, it was a problem and someone else’s for that matter. That man could have been dying and it did not matter.

I was subjected to an hours worth of abuse and insult when we were hidden behind closed doors. My father reprimanded my concern instead of praising my worry.

I was ashamed to be his daughter.

I never knew what happened to that man.

2013 A review: April – June.

APRIL

This month saw many entries on WordPress taken from old journals and diaries I had discovered from the abuser’s home. I looked back on several noted incidents that affected me in some way. I began revealing much more about my father. Not only what he did to me but how he lived his own life, the values he followed and the life choices he made.

April was the first month that I displayed a photograph taken from my father’s house (Post: And he called me “dirty”! April 17th) It showed the awful way in which we both lived. A way that I hated but it was out of my control. My father put many demands and outrageous expectations on me over the years and this photo was just a small example of his control. The five bedroom house was far too much for one person to look after. Especially a young woman with a full time job, friends and a life. I wasn’t allowed “excuses”. I wasn’t allowed a life. My life was indebted to him. I “owed” him for having a life.

On the 20th, I suffered from a severe Asthma attack where I was taken to the emergency room by my neighbour. I received a lot of support and well wishes from the WordPress community. It surprised and moved me that strangers all over the world showed such kindness to someone they had never met. I was not used to that. Thank you.

MAY

May was a busy month for me. In my general life and on WordPress. It was the first time I shared my poetry on my blog with “Control me”, a piece I wrote during the years of severe abuse.

On the 20th on May, I travelled to Madrid, Spain for a five day trip with three of my colleagues and twelve children from work. It was an experience to say the least! I am thrilled to have done it. To be trusted by my superiors and given that responsibility is something I will treasure. The laughs we shared will be remembered forever. It really was a once in a lifetime sort of thing.

The weekend I returned was that of my one year wedding anniversary with David. Although the wedding day itself holds some upsetting memories (a day that I still can’t bring myself to fully blog about with reasons that no one bar David seem to comprehend), it is always going to be the moment I pledged my love and trust to my devoted husband David and that is main reason why our anniversary will be special for the rest of our lives. I wrote you a letter David on our anniversary this year. Here is to many more my love.

The biggest moment of May was when I made the risky decision to “out” some very spiteful girls. Four to be exact as I began a series of posts retelling the story of their betrayals. C & C, H and N were subject to the truth finally coming out. I received many responses to the series. Old school friends and colleagues who understood whom I was referring to offered their support and agreement. Their thoughts were very welcome. However, I did receive one negative comment from a supporter and friend of N. She threatened legal action at my accusations. All I said was the truth. I did not use names, nor did I say exactly where we had known each other from. N’s friend only landed N in it, she basically announced to the world of Facebook who N actually was. She was the one who broke the rules. Her anger embarrassed her and surprisingly, many of our peers from that time spoke out in support for me. She never followed through with her threats.

A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.
Thomas Jefferson

JUNE

June was a pretty easy month. The weather began to dramatically improve in England and Summer seemed to be fast approaching. I blogged seventeen times this month.

Deliberate Donkey¬†a woman’s story about her journey through domestic violence, generously re-blogged my work. It would be the first time someone had referred to my abuser as a “sociopath” after reading my story. It was a term I began to explore.

http://deliberatedonkey.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/guest-post-freefromhim/

(Scroll up to top of page when opened)

Socially Inept.

When I looked this up on Wiki, I was presented with many different examples and explanations. A term called Avoidance Personality Disorder appeared. I looked further into it. Socially inept was a term I could easily use to describe my father. I had never heard of this disorder before but nowadays there is a name for everything. It describes as similar to social inhibition, something my father often displayed in my company. However, around others, my father reveled in social situations. At his church, he appeared as a confident and friendly man. He never gave the impression that he was really a nervous and frightened little man, incapable of talking to a stranger or asking for help. These tasks were impossible to him. He hated doing them and when possible he would avoid it at all costs.

That’s where I came in handy.

Enduring his endless abuse and insults were the least of my problems, I also had to contend with his incapacity to talk to anyone unknown. I became his voice. I fought hard not to but resistance was pointless. He could argue all night if he had to. He had these problems for as long as I could remember.

The worst social situations that he just couldn’t handle were:

  • talking to women: Women were below him. He had no respect for them even when he liked them. So how could he talk to them?
  • Speaking to the authorities: A genuine fear I think of his. He hated the police yet he never explained why. Doctors were all “idiots” who “didn’t know anything”, dentists were “imbeciles with no qualifications”.
  • Restaurant staff: He never asked for help. In restaurants with me, well it was my “job” to order the food even at the age of sixteen. Worse off – it was my job to find the male toilets for him also at the age of sixteen.
  • Neighbours: The worst social situation for my father.

Many a problem occurred as did many an argument about talking to the neighbours. My abuser would not even give our next door neighbour (a woman he had known for pushing thirty years) her Christmas present! The neighbours that bordered our back garden were the bane of my father’s life. Their garden was incredibly unkempt. Weeds grew freely as did the ivy at the bottom of the garden. The dreaded ivy had made it’s way up the side wall of our house much to my father’s anger. He ranted for months about the “morons next door” unwilling to actually speak to them about his worry. The more he left it, the more it incensed him and the more furious he became. Eventually, enough was enough. My father was at the end of his tether. It was time to face the neighbours. Not him of course but me. He handed me a letter one day to post through their letterbox. It was only two doors down but he was refusing to do it himself.

“If they open the door and see me then they will harass me, they are probably racists you know”.

What do you say to something like that?

“You are young. You are not threatening”.

His arguments never made sense which made it harder to refute him. He lavished in his utter nonsense. He was the only one who understood his madness. I often questioned him, encouraging him to speak to them but he saw it as patronising. I was not the parent. I was not allowed to reprimand him or tell him what to do whatever intention was behind it.

I was forced to approach these neighbours that I had never met to demand that they remove the ivy from our house. Thankfully, they were never at home. I wanted to just pretend I had seen them and lie to my Dad but the cynical and ruthless abuser would wait at the bottom of their driveway to ensure that I was doing “exactly” what was asked of me.

When the letters did not work, my father wanted to move onto the next step. A phone call. He knew the landlord of the property already so spoke directly to him. I was relieved that this was something he was willing to do. The landlord reassured him that he would take care of it.

Months went by and still the careless ivy grew.

My father was seething by this time. Insults would fly out of his mouth towards our thoughtless neighbours. It was time to take action himself. Armed with a large garden tool used for cutting branches, my father decided he would cut them off himself. He would climb over the fence and clean the bottom of their garden too so no more weeds would encroach on us. Excessive? Just a bit. Obsessive? Definitely. That summed him up.

I was horrified at the prospect of being a part of his madness. Again, it was my duty as a daughter to talk to the neighbours.

Every few years, the ivy would grow again and every few years the same arduous procedure would take place.

Even when I left home in 2010, my father would call me up to come back to tackle this unwanted problem. I became sick of it. I did not want this role he had thrown over me. I stood up for myself.

Big mistake.

“You disgusting, piece of scum!” screeched from his mouth. I had broken rule number one. I had dared to disobey him. I had the audacity to say “stop” “enough” or worse still, “no”.

I learnt quickly to always be “busy” when he needed me to save him from his social ineptitude.

Still afraid to tell the truth.

I bumped into someone today on the way home from work. It was a pleasant surprise to see them as we hadn’t met up for over a year.

She asked after my father (she knew from a brief conversation late last year that he’d died) to see how I was feeling. I said I was coping when she asked if it was “difficult”.

Yes, it is ‘difficult’ but for the opposite reasons that you are thinking of. Yet, this is not something I would ever dare to say out loud to most people. I am still too frightened to admit the truth about my father.

It doesn’t help that most people I have come across either have a loving relationship with their dad or their father is the most caring individual in the world. The other thing that doesn’t help is if their dedicated, loving father has also passed away.

Whilst I’m silently screaming with joy and relief, their world has been torn apart. To even mention that somewhere, in the big wide world, there are actual men out there terrorising their children, abusing and demoralising them, mentally ripping their hearts to pieces. It is unimaginable for these people to perceive that any father could set out to deliberately hurt or wound their child. My father was one of those men. He lived life torturing me. He gained enjoyment from seeing me suffer. The emotional scars that filled me were his sadistic rewards.

This is why, in certain situations, I have to gloss over the truth.

I can’t be open and honest in case it upsets them or worse, they question me. I think I hate that the most. I do not expect to have to defend myself to you over a man you have never met. A man that has scarred me for life. Just because that lowlife was graced with the title – FATHER, it never actually made him one. He was never a father in any sense of the word.

Since starting the blog, I have been questioned, judged and even interrogated by friends – new and old, colleagues and even total strangers.

It happened. He did it.

I should not have to justify my abuse.

I want to feel free to tell the truth.

3. Sex and respect, Part 2.

I can’t say my first time was the most memorable, how many of us can? It wasn’t in a perfect relationship, or any relationship for that matter and it wasn’t with a total stranger I’d picked from a bar either. It was just the right time for me and at nineteen years of age I thought it was about time too.

I had nothing to compare it too and it certainly did not give me a taste for more as it was over a year that I contemplated doing it again. I definitely fell into situations that could have led to sex but I never followed through. I was confident yet massively insecure doubting how sexual I was or how appealing I came across. I received plenty of attention in my early twenties but put it down to my attractive set of friends. I never thought I may have been drawing that attention all by myself.

I knew nothing of men.

The only male figure I had around me was my father and that man could’ve put me off for life. I doubted men and was certain they’d betray me. I convinced myself I could never be loved. My father helped fuel those feelings with his constant criticisms and accusations against me. I felt disgusting most of the time. However, eventually, I pushed those deep rooted feelings to one side. I wanted to be loved and found physically attractive. I needed something positive from a man so I went looking for it.

In my early twenties a new found sexiness and courage developed in me. My love of fashion enabled me to flaunt myself and create a new seductive identity. It wasn’t me but it was better than the miserable identity my father had labelled me with. I revelled in it and enjoyed the copious amounts of attention I was now receiving from the opposite sex. My friends admired my confidence and ability to talk to anyone. It was just nice to be free, even if it was only for a few hours.

Soon, I became “addicted”. My lifestyle changed and I was out all the time. I was never a big drinker but my love of music and dancing drew me into the club scene. I was young and wanted a social life. My father didn’t care at first if I was out all hours but eventually it became another thing he wanted to control.

Clubs revealed a specific kind of guy. Ones that were out for one thing. Initially, I fell into this trap and believed their lines and flirtation. I thought I was giving as good as I was getting and still keeping boundaries. But I had never been exposed to the concept of boundaries so my lines were completely blurred. A few one night stands followed suit and many nights were spent anxiously waiting for the call that never came. I foolishly made these mistake several times, thinking each man would be different from the last.

But of course, I was wrong.

In my mid-twenties and in need of a long lasting relationship, I tried out on-line dating. I have to admit, I met some right bastards on that. Yet once again, I believed their lies as they romanced me into bed. Some I dated for a couple of months, others a few weeks and all the time they had the control. I see it now. I allowed it to happen, it was easier that way, it was all I was used to; a man controlling me.

Sex became an escape, a way to be free, to hide from the abuse and feel loved. It was a chance to feel released and become someone else.

Even if it was only for that one night.

Part 3 to follow.