Everyone trusted him – unbelievable how he could morph like a chameleon in a hundred different people to become everyone’s best friend; absolutely unbelievable how skilfully he could hide the monster he became in private – to the point that they could not believe the awful things he had done, not even confronted with hard evidence.
I get it: they were so absurd, so senseless that I could not believe them either, even after seeing the monster with my own eyes. For months I tore my brain apart trying to reconcile his two identities, the kind and lovely guy with the horrible things he did, trying to find a rational explanation. I did not manage. How can I expect someone who never experienced it to?
“There are two sides to every story.”
Some might think I’m exaggerating, that they should hear his version – as if in the history of mankind there was ever an abuser who made a prompt and detailed admission of guilt. Do they really think that someone capable of behaving so horribly without ever any apology or remorse can tap into his non-existent conscience and admit it?
Of course, he never will. I already know his side of the story: it’s not true, he didn’t do anything, I’m a terrible person who wants to ruin his life; okay, so he might have “overreacted” a little but it was my fault anyway for pissing him off. According to him, his actions were perfectly acceptable and justified.
I do not know how someone who is objectively doing nothing wrong can deserve to live in terror, to be screamed at and insulted every day, constantly lied to and cheated on; but I understand how hard it is for normal people to imagine that someone might behave in such a horrible way for no reason whatsoever. It’s the same thought process that made me stay and be abused for months as I desperately tried to figure out what I was doing wrong to deserve it.
Months spent trying to behave “better” until I became his dog, his slave, always quiet and obedient. It was never enough to stop the abuse. But when he keeps repeating it’s your fault for making him angry, you end up believing it, and often everyone else believes it too. It’s the only vaguely logical explanation to be found.
“It’s none of my business.”
Maybe some believe me, but they decide it doesn’t matter anyway. They don’t want to take sides, they don’t want to get involved. He’s always been a cool guy to them, fun and entertaining: why should they give up someone who’s a positive presence in their lives because he hurt someone they don’t care about? I don’t have his ability to charm, entertain, and build an adoring fan club everywhere I go: I don’t devote all my energies to conquer every stranger I meet.
It’s typical of abusers, both to satisfy their narcissism and to make sure people won’t believe the victim. So what if it’s all fake? They will never see the monster: I’m nobody, I’m not their sister, so what does it matter what he did to me?
These are good people, outspoken and sensitive to political and social injustice, often calling to action on important issues: I’m sure they would all condemn domestic violence from a comfortable distance. But when the problem hits too close to home – when the abuser turns out to be their friend, their drinking buddy, the fun guy they chat with on Facebook – then things get uncomfortable, and it’s easier to simply look the other way.