I believe every woman who claims that they have been abused. Why? Because chances are, their narrative is true. And even if it’s not (which is so rarely the case), chances are their story isn’t going to end the life of the person accused of being the abuser. On the other hand, by sitting on the fence about it or even by thinking she’s lying, it’s possible that it could send her back into a dangerous situation, which potentially could end her life.
Too often, we are told that what we’re saying isn’t true, that we have some ulterior motive to make shit up. I’ve been told that because I looked so happy with my husband, there’s no way he could have been abusing me. The thing is, I was happy for a long time with my husband, regardless of the fact that he was abusing me. Abuse is NEVER constant. Abusers are masters at making sure their victims stay under their thumb and they do that by love-bombing them.
When women escape from abusive relationships or start to tell the truth, they are typically also fighting a continuous battle within their own minds. On average, women return to their abusers 7 times before they are able to permanently escape. I have a theory that it’s not just due to the love-bombing and hoovering done by their abuser and it’s not just due to their dependence on their abuser. I think a large part of it is that they believe they are partially responsible for the abuse. They need people to believe them in order to begin to question those doubts.
After my husband discarded me, all it took was for a friend to send me a message with the words “I believe you” on it. I cried when I read that message because it meant so much to me to hear those words. It strengthened my resolve. While my mind was telling me, “it wasn’t that bad, things like that happen in every relationship. You’re blowing it out of proportion”. Knowing that someone had read my story and believed me was enough to make me question those thoughts.
By automatically believing every woman who claims she’s been abused, I’m telling the ones who are telling the truth that their voice is worth listening to. I’m giving those women a sense of power over their abuser. I’m telling them that the things they went through are terrible and they deserve better.
We need to start standing by the victims rather than the abusers. By not taking sides, you are taking sides. By saying it’s not your problem or not your business, you are siding with the abuser. By saying you’ll need to see evidence before you believe her, you are saying that her words aren’t enough but that his are. These things are damaging to a woman who is escaping an abusive situation and increases the likelihood that she’ll return. It also increases her sense of helplessness and hopelessness at a time when she should be feeling hopeful.
So, if a woman claims she has been abused, believe her and validate her experience. Don’t question what abuse means to her. Don’t expect to see any evidence because in some cases there isn’t any hard evidence to prove abuse.
And if you are a woman who has been abused but feel like no one is listening. Your experiences are real. Your feelings are valid. Continue speaking your truth.
I believe you.