Two months. The first instance of drunken mental and emotional abuse came two months into the relationship with my partner. Three years. The first, and thankfully, only instance of drunken physical abuse came three years into the relationship with my partner.Four years. It took me four years, four big drunken tirades, and countless mental and emotional bumps and scrapes to realize the relationship I was in was unhealthy for myself and my partner.
I only once had actual bruises. He said he was sorry. He told me he loved me. He told me he wanted to marry me. How could it actually be abuse? Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t have been drinking so much. Maybe I should have just let him sleep it off and come back in the morning. How was it his fault? He was nice to me in front of our friends and family. He was silly and goofy when he wasn’t angry and bitter. He didn’t give me a black eye or scream at me in a crowded room. Who would actually believe me?
Five years. It took me five years to realize what I had experienced was not drunken college behavior, or “boys being boys,” but abuse.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford came forward 36 years after Brett Kavanaugh and a fellow teen had sexually assaulted and attempted to rape her when they were drunk at a party at age 17. Deborah Ramirez came forward 35 years after Kavanaugh thrust his penis into her face, mocking her while she was heavily intoxicated at a college party. Countless women have come forward about the sexual assault, sexual misconduct, and rape they’ve faced at the hands of our current president from as early as 1982 and as late as 2013. In the United States, one in three women will face some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime. Almost half of multiracial women and over 45% of American Indian women will face contact sexual violence in their lifetime.
Coming to terms with the trauma experienced in life takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in a couple weeks’ time. It happens over the course of months and years, sometimes with the help of a medical professional. It’s a slow process, much like how a baby bird breaks through its shell. It takes courage to come forward with your trauma. It takes support from friends and family, doctors and lawyers, therapists and psychiatrists.
The abuse I faced wasn’t just drunken college behavior, just like the abuse women across the world face isn’t just drunken misunderstandings. It is an act of violence to show dominance. It is to help the abuser feel powerful and the abused feel powerless. It creates a pain, an ache, a hurt unlike any other.
Believe women. Believe women when they come forward with their traumas. Believe women when they say they’ve been assaulted. Believe women without having to tear through their lives, their medical histories, and their pain for some concrete proof.
Believe women, period.