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A European friend with whom I’ve been engaged in an ongoing conversation about domestic violence and rape sent me this for publication. Even though the events described are well behind her and even though she’s a much stronger person today, she still wishes to remain anonymous for a number of reasons.
Dear friend, thank you for speaking out.
I dreamt it again
I dreamt it again. I dreamt someone stole my backpack – where I keep all my ‘precious’ things, the ones I use for my work, that is actually my life: books, camera, notebook, pens, few money, documents and mobile phone. My ‘safety’ objects, the ones that help me keep track of the people I meet and I work among.
I know this theft is an evolution of an older one – a folder with the content related to my studies in the past, a collection of essays. In my dreams – for months – it was stolen by my former boyfriend, the ‘psychotic bastard’ as I call him now after many years, and I know this time it’s him stealing my backpack again.
He does so because he hasn’t a life by himself. He has no character, nor personality, nor passions, nor interests. He has nothing. He is nothing. He steals other people’s lives, sucking their energy to the bones, to survive. And when he finds a weak, good, sweet one, he destroys him/her – by manipulating, by violence, by humiliation. Because this is his strategy to survive, while conscious of being nothing and so not having any alternative to base his existence upon.
There are some men who continuously humiliate and/or beat their women. Sometimes they kill them too. The amount of ‘private violence’ is unbelievable, and something striking us in our everyday life, among most of the women we know or get in contact with. A man killed his wife in Sevilla yesterday. And yesterday I did also get the information about a new (attempting to be funny?) group on Facebook calling rape a ‘natural masculine instinct’, so that it should be not considered a crime. Everywhere I look around, I see women acting as nurses to men – hoping to lighten their existential pain, allowing them to take it out on them, and repeating “he will change, because of my love and care; he will change, because of my love and care…”
No, he will not change. Because, as he opened his eyes, he would recognise he has/is nothing – so he won’t do it. And he doesn’t ‘have’ you, either: not being in love with you, because he is not he will be twice angry against ‘life’ that didn’t give him the ‘perfect woman’. And he will beat you: you may not be ‘perfect’, but still you are useful for his needs – that means physically absorbing his frustrations.
I rushed away – luckily after less then two years. The damage he left on my body and my soul can’t be counted. It can’t. I still face the physical consequences, 15 years later. Law protects them: as police told me, they can do something against him only in case of a failed attempt to kill me. But who says how deep is the beating you received? How painful is it? What did you think about during and after? And what if he was successful in his attempt to kill you?
I do also think, after so many years of slow psychological recovery, that it was also my fault. I had been a stupid idiot. I have no other words to define my dumbness. I wasn’t able to protect myself from him: I had no idea of what an equal relationship was, and I thought to ‘sacrifice for him’ was a value and a ‘right effort’. No, it wasn’t. It was only a stupid action by a stupid woman in love with a rapist – protecting him from all the ones who had already recognised him as he was. It was my fault to authorize his violence, to allow it to go and to repeat it in the future with someone else.
No, he will not change and he will not stay with his victim/wife/mate (stupid words these last two in this case) the rest of his life. When the victim begins reacting, he will hate her and make her feel deeply guilty. He will cry for compassion. He will ask for pity and assure his love. I remember him crying, and now also his sneer after he was successful once again because of that, and I came back. But the truth is that – at his eyes – as soon as you will react you’ll be guilty of not behaving as his victim and toy anymore. And he will humiliate you and get even more violent, as much as he can, and then quickly and simply find another one to replace you. These people have a strong consciousness of who their next potential victim might be.
He is not helpless. Not even to comfort – no matter what he had to face in his life. An attitude to violence can be explained by previous bad experiences, but not justified by them. These are two different things. Nothing justifies humiliation, violence, insults, manipulations. This is not love. Such as being in love can explain why it took me so much time to get out of this situation, but not justify my stupidity in case I remained, repeating the idiot mantra “he will change, because of my love and care” (errare humanum est,perseverare autem diabolicum).
Differently from many other women, I soon got out of Stockholm syndrome, but it took me time not to be instinctively scared by a caress, and even more time to manage my feelings toward the next men properly. Well, I guess I didn’t reach this last point yet, and maybe I never will. I’m very envious of those persons who never had to face such violent relationships, because somehow they do better than me in this. But I know I will always be a careful person, and, even if not interested, I will be always honoured by being loved by someone – as falling in love with someone means to see some beauty in him/her. And I know I will be careful of my actions toward these persons, knowing the weakness caused by being in love, and will never abuse this power.
This is the only good thing I got from / in spite of that relationship, and I’m not grateful I had it – I would gladly avoid it, if I could. But I couldn’t. No, I correct myself: I didn’t. As I could choose, and I made the most stupid choice for a long time, thinking everybody was allowed to do to me what he wanted, as I meant nothing. Well, I mean something, as I am something. First of all I am myself, with my folders and backpack full of notes, pictures, experiences, feelings and past. I have an identity, and nobody can steal nor rape it anymore. When I wake up, my backpack is still there. And the guy? I have no idea – the last time I met him (10 years after our relationship and 5 years ago) by chance in the train, I went away ignoring him and not even greeting him (there’s no reason to talk, he does not belong to my life, by my choice, anymore – no way, ever!) and kept asking myself “what the hell did I see beautiful, to fall in love with him?” But no reason to waste time to think about it, anyway, anymore…