One day when I was in college, I sat inside a coffee shop at a bus station near campus with my (now ex) girlfriend. While we were waiting for a bus to arrive, a woman entered the coffee shop sobbing. She approached us looking for someone with a student ID to get a discount on a bus ride to Pittsburgh or Chicago (I honestly forget the city). We eventually found out that she was running away from her abusive boyfriend. At that point, I had wished there was more I could do for her. But not knowing her full situation and understanding that domestic violence victims are ultimately responsible for getting themselves out of a bad situation, I had to watch her whisk away into the unknown.
When we become attached to a person, there's something in our minds that tells us that the person we're with will never hurt us, physically, emotionally, or mentally. We bask in the feeling of love and obsession and let our naivety take over our stream of consciousness and rationality. We let our guards down with the hope that we're letting someone in who will love, respect, cherish, and protect us. Unfortunately, for some of us, this is far from reality. And it's often women who experience a reality in which they're controlled, abused, and taken for granted.
Although men can also become victims of domestic violence, it's far less common than situations where women are victims. Men abuse because of our own insecurities and hunger for power and control. The women who birth us and bear our children are the same women who are met with a backhand on one of our "bad days." The onus is on us men, abusers and non-abusers, to protect and uplift women, and we're failing at it tremendously. To men: a woman isn't your punching bag or your outlet for anger. A woman isn't a disposable toy or trophy that you can throw away whenever you please. A woman is your wife, fiancée, girlfriend, sister, best friend, aunt, mother, grandmother, and daughter. In fact, a woman is your backbone. A woman made you who you are.
To any violence victim (including trans people), it's not your fault. You don't deserve the horrible treatment you get from anyone, lover or stranger. Most of all, love doesn't hurt. It doesn't come in the form of humiliation, bullying, rape, slaps, choking, scratches, black eyes, bruises, busted lips, stab wounds, gunshot wounds, or death. Love is a force that eradicates all of the aforementioned conditions. And when you realize that, you'll be on a new path to freedom.
Fortunately, it's never too late to take action, and there's always hope. If you're a victim of any type of abuse, seek help at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and/or NYC's Domestic Violence Hotline. Please be safe.