Every survivor of any traumatic incident would have certain triggers which make them relive the trauma. I’m not good at accepting that I have triggers too. It’s hard to avoid, though, when my head starts spinning, my body shakes, and breathing feels like sucking from a straw with holes in it. Sometimes it happens, and I don’t know the reason behind it. But, this isn’t one of those times.
A few weeks ago, I got a message from someone who knew about the abuse I went through. She was the girlfriend of one of the abusers and had chosen not to believe me, and when forced to confront the facts, had decided to blame me. She told me that guy hit her too and gaslighted her into sex before she was ready. She didn’t ever feel like she could say no. Her words were eerily familiar. She said that she thought that he would never do something like that to anyone else, because he only did it to her because he loved her, and his love made him out of control. Him doing that to me, could either not be true, or be something I made him do. She told me that the #MeToo movement, and the talk around believing women made her want to reach out. She apologised. It seemed sincere. And I was just confused.
I have hated that woman for almost 7-8 years now. But suddenly, I understood her more, and that makes hating her seem unfair. But even that’s not the trigger this time. The trigger is that he, her ex-boyfriend and one of my ex-abusers, messaged me too.
Do you know how it feels to hear from a man beat me to unconsciousness? Whose mouth was on my body while I was tied down? Who forced me to put my mouth on his body? To hear from a man who not only used my body as a mix between a punching bag and a sex doll, but also blamed me for causing his best friend, and the main abuser, to kill himself?
It took me days to prepare myself to read his message. But his name on my Facebook screen was enough to trigger me into a tailspin of panic attacks and desperation to find control. Desperation which brings out a slight recklessness and self-destructiveness that I need to battle alongside the panic attacks, the fear and the depression.
He says that he was a mess back then. A lot was happening which I didn’t know about, and he became a person he didn’t recognise. He says that neither he, nor his best friend was that person and that he tried to stop his friend, and then he couldn’t stop him anymore. He says that he doesn’t know why he or they did what they did. He says that he’s sorry, sorrier than I’ll ever know.
He also said that what they did to me and continued to do for almost four years was a desperate cry for help, at least for his friend. That him hurting me, was actually asking me for help and I didn’t see that, that I didn’t help him. He says that the death of his friend shook everyone in his life and that my decision to tell everyone what they’d done had ruined so many relationships.
I wish I didn’t read it because he said so much, and all that went through my head was snapshots of moments when I thought I was going to die. I thought about how I couldn’t even say my ex’s name for years. He used to force me to repeat his name over and over again to make sure I knew who I belonged to and then sometimes he would get furious if I took his name when he hadn’t prompted me to do so. At times the pain would be unimaginable. Every day I thought about killing myself until my best friend actually did it. I saw the impact of such a death on everyone around. I thought about how he made me complicit in my abuse by handing me a blade and ordering me to cut myself exactly how he directed it and threatened to hurt me if I didn’t.
I remember the moment I stopped crying for help while they beat me, stuffed things inside me, touched me and tortured me. I realised I wasn’t going to get away from this. I remember how after a point I became numb to whatever they did to me and stopped responding with the same level of terror. That prompted my ex to come up with new ways, new tortures, just because it wasn’t as entertaining or cathartic for him if I wasn’t in complete desperate terror.
Ruined relationships, he says. Yeah, because all of my relationships survived scar-free.
He apologised, and all I remember is the pain of my body tearing and the camera clicking because it wasn’t just enough to torture me. They needed photographic evidence to keep and then tell me in detail how they would jack off to it when I wasn’t available to them.
He ended the message saying he was happy I was doing so well in life. But, all I can read is the subtle threat which means ‘I know where you are’. Now sometimes when I’m walking around alone, I expect to turn around and see him, see them. Because one is dead, doesn’t mean the other two aren’t out there, still waiting to get revenge on the woman who ruined their lives by not allowing them to destroy hers. They want revenge because I didn’t die. They believe they are entitled to having their life turn out perfectly, and maybe even to revenge because I dared not to break. Thus, he tried again.
Basically, my ex made me his slave for almost four years. He killed me over and over again, forced me to resurrect myself each time. And he involved two more men because apparently cruelty loves company just as much as misery does. And one of them feels entitled enough to send me a message with a half-hearted apology, shit tons of blame, and a subtle threat. The only reasons I found the will to survive everything is because I saw what happens when someone loses that will. And because if I had died, I knew these three men would have celebrated and that was untenable for me. I survived almost entirely on my own, and he wants to talk to me after all this time? Why? To get some satisfaction out of a new little power play? To get any vestiges of guilt dealt with because ‘he at least tried to apologise’? To just put me in a tailspin which I have to dig myself out of, Again?
I wish I hadn’t opened that damn message because his words don’t even deserve to exist, let alone being read. Honestly, he doesn’t deserve to exist.