Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 02 Feb 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Abuse

Time to break ranks. I have been abused. Not in anything like the vicious and calculated way that children are abused by paedophiles or with the savage incoherence that women are beaten, often to death, by male partners, but there are chapters of my life and one incident in particular that I realise qualify for the appellation ‘abuse’ and I’m starting to get comfortable with the idea myself. It’s taken a long, long time.

When I was at university, I ended up back at a girl’s flat in the twilight time between terms. One term had finished and everyone else had left for the holidays, so by dint of being among the few people on campus, we went out for a drink and I went back to hers. We went to bed together, but didn’t have sex and later on, went to sleep. Well, for a while, anyway.

I woke in the small hours to find that not only was my cock hard, but that she was trying to lower herself onto it. When I’m standing, I’m quite tall, certainly taller than she was, but lying down rather neatly removes this advantage and being half asleep meant that it was a while before I knew for sure, in the darkened room, what was going on. Reacting instinctively, I pushed her off, hard, with the flat of my forearm, trying to make sure that I wasn’t striking a blow, but being firm enough to make my point.

She slid off and went to sleep. Amazingly enough, I did the same. It didn’t occur to me that I had just dealt with, at worst, attempted rape or, at best, sexual assault, because it didn’t fit any of the ideas I had at the time about rape and, most tellingly, I didn’t know that men could legitimately complain about unwanted sexual contact. I thought we were supposed to want it all the time and that, even by pushing her off, I was less of a man.

Months later, I started going out with my first, proper girlfriend. I’d been mortified by the idea of publically having one at school and thought I’d wait until I managed to get away, which I did. It was a fine and lovely thing for the first few weeks until a pattern of what I now recognise was emotional abuse was taking place.

She was hugely short-tempered and capricious, and my life very quickly became about making sure any shocks to her were kept to a minimum. Her agenda needed to dominate everything we did, but I was periodically told off for not having any desires or drive to do anything, which I didn’t. It had all been folded into keeping her happy. The longer this continued, the less I knew myself and the more I gave in to doubt. I was no longer a person in my own right, but a thin and feeble shadow of her.

I came to feel that, by her going out with me, she was doing me a favour, randomly and arbitrarily protecting someone else from having to endure my company. Were we to separate, I would never be able to find anyone else with such a sense of charity. And believing this, time passed and my understanding of intimate human relationships was shaped in a twisted and perverted way.

Anger was building up inside me that could find no outlet. I started self-harming for fear of going insane. I bit myself where my thumb joins my hand on a daily basis, biting hard until I could feel my teeth pressing hard against the bone. Bruises and welts came up, but they generally faded after an hour, which suited my purposes. I had a moment’s release and a period of hiding my hand and then all was fine.

After about two years and when we were cohabiting, she dumped me, but kept on using me for sex of the most leaden and joyless kind, in which she got whatever she wanted and I didn’t. I was sure that if I was good enough, or she had a juddering, back-arching orgasm, she would want to get back with me and we could live happily ever after. No form of self-abasement was too low or too hurtful to consider. I went along with all of it, watched myself get trodden down, week after humiliating week.

In time, she relented, and we became a couple again, limping on until the death of my Nana, the person to whom I was closest in all the world, and her place at university to do a second undergraduate degree finished us off. She was in the south west, while I was in London. At university, she decided that she was a lesbian and started a relationship with her housemate, which even I wasn’t stupid enough to misconstrue. I closed the door and plunged headlong into a welter of grief for my lost relationship and grief for my Nana that has had some long-lasting effects on my mental health.

For this whole time, I never suffered any physical violence at all, so know only the smallest discernible fraction of what women frightened and cowed by violent partners must feel. I could no more have left her when the abuse happened than I could have sawn my own leg off, because the abuse switched to love in the twinkling of an eye and disorientated and disconcerted me. Perhaps she’d be different. She never was. How much harder it must be if you are physically afraid, I don’t know. Add in children for whom you are afraid as well, and the whole thing becomes impossible.

That, for the want of a better word, is part of my ‘story.’ There are other chapters, of course, and I’ll deal with the effect an abusive relationship had on me later, but I wanted to share this for the time being. And it’s worth noting that neither the assault nor the relationship turned me into anything like an MRA. Those two women were damaged in some way that only they know. Women are being damaged, actively and passively, by patriarchy for every second that they’re alive. I’m a man, and I’ve seen none of that.

What I have seen, though, is men who need to speak out about their stories, all of which will be worse than this. Feminism will help us break down the silence that surrounds us, the walls of toxic masculinity that we built around ourselves. In which case, let this be a small kick amongst millions.

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