Abuse: Why Telling the Truth Will Set Us Free. ~ Hannah Furr

Via Hannah Furron Oct 27, 2013

Source via Venetia Rahal on Pinterest

Being truthful is an imperative part of breaking the cycle of an abusive relationship.

But being truthful can also be extremely difficult. At the beginning of my relationship with Jesse, I lied. I lied a lot. I lied to myself about how happy I was, I lied to my family about how ambitious he was and I lied to my friends about how well he treated me. All in all, I wanted everyone else to see Jesse in the light that I did. I wanted everyone to see how “cool” he was. I worked hard to justify my being with him.

But I knew, deep down I knew, he was wrong for me. So why did I continue to date him? Why did I keep trying to make it work? Why does any girl try to make it “work” when it’s so blatantly wrong?

While there is almost definitely a deeper, underlying reason, right now I suspect that it was because I was confused. I was confused about who I was, about where I wanted my life to lead and about how to determine my ultimate truth. And to be honest, maybe I still am a little confused about all of these things, but here’s my effort to figure it out; here’s the truth about some of my relationship’s most detrimental times (and the reason behind my pursuit to tell the truth now).

We all have pivotal moments in our lives—moments that change the way we look at ourselves, at others and at the world at large; moments that redefine life as we know it.

The day my life changed was the day I sat in the back of a cop car because I’d finally stood up to the man I loved.

I’d never been arrested. And truthfully, I never thought I could be. I was in my early twenties and I felt invincible—especially in relation to the law. So when three cop cars swarmed my boyfriend’s car in a parking lot outside a ski resort, I told them the truth. “I punched him in the face.”

I had punched my boyfriend, well, now ex-boyfriend, in the face. No one asked why.

To this day, very few people know why I punched him. And I liked it this way. I didn’t want to admit how destructive this relationship was. I didn’t want to admit how badly I’d been hurt—both physically and emotionally—by the man I’d loved because somehow, that would mean facing the reason I stayed with him. And that was terrifying.

It took going to jail, anger management courses and a whole lot of yoga for me to admit that the reason I stayed with him was out of fear. But not fear of him or what he was capable of—fear of the truth, the whole truth.

Admitting that my relationship had taken a turn for the worse meant I had to face the reason it had, and one of the contributing factors was me.

At the beginning of my relationship, I lied. I lied a lot. I lied to myself about how happy I was—I told myself that staying in the relationship was making me a better person; I told myself that I was learning something from Jesse. Over the course of our relationship, lying became my artistry. I lied in an attempt to justify my being with him. I lied to justify my staying with him. I lied so much that I became afraid of the truth.

Living in a lie was like living in a fantasy world where I was protected from reality—where all the horrible things he’d done to me didn’t exist. In this fantasy world, I didn’t have to admit that he’d cheated on me, that he’d done thousands of dollars worth of damage in my apartment, and that he had tried to pull me down a flight of stairs. In this fantasy world, I didn’t have to admit that I too had done some horrible things. In this fantasy world, nothing was wrong, nothing bad existed—there was no reason for me to leave him. In this fantasy world, I was still safe.

Admitting that everything wasn’t “perfect” meant facing the truth—the truth that somewhere along the way I’d lost a part of me to a boy—a part of who I was, before I fell into this relationship. I felt that admitting this insecurity meant admitting that there was something “wrong” with me—and my ego was too big (or too small) to allow me to do this.

But sitting in the back of that cop car I realized that running from the truth was harder, more taxing and detrimental than facing it.

Now, a world away from that lost, scared, little girl, I can admit that there wasn’t and there isn’t anything wrong with me. Though I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve learned from them and grown. In retrospect, punching my boyfriend in the face was the best thing I’d ever done. I had stood up for myself, I’d stood up to the truth. At that moment, I hadn’t run—I’d stood there and fought. And I’ve been “fighting” ever since.

Since that day in the cop car, I’ve learned that being truthful is an imperative part of breaking the cycle of an abusive relationship—whether it be a relationship with yourself or with someone else.

I’ve learned that telling the truth takes courage, conviction, and an ability to hold your head high when it seems like everyone else is trying to tear you down. And I’ve learned that sometimes it takes a mean right-hook to the face for the whole truth to come out.

I’ve learned how the truth is grounding, it is freeing, it allows you to analyze a situation objectively and subjectively. Truth helps guide you in the right direction; it provides a foundation for you to make justified accusations, and it helps you to realize who you truly are in this world.

In certain respects, my relationship lasted three years too long. It tore apart my self-image, lowered my self-esteem, ruined multiple friendships and even landed me in jail. At large, my relationship made me hate myself even more than I may have already. But no matter how spontaneous and out-of-character it was at the time—my decision to stand up for myself and face the truth set me free.

 

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Assistant Ed: Daniel Garcia / Ed: Cat Beekmans

About Hannah Furr

Hannah Furr is a Massachusetts native who believes yoga and art are the most prolific tools for self-discovery. She has traveled around the globe studying and teaching people about the power of yoga and artistic expression. Hannah now lives in the Colorado Rockies and is the owner and lead Yoga Therapist at Yo Yoga, a private yoga therapy practice serving the state of Colorado.

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5 Responses to “Abuse: Why Telling the Truth Will Set Us Free. ~ Hannah Furr”

  1. Gus says:

    Interesting perspective, but I really don't think an act of domestic violence should be glorified as a cathartic victory in a bad relationship. Unless someone is about to punch you, punching someone isn't emblematic of courage, conviction, or holding your head high. Its physically hurting someone else, not a vessel for discovering personal freedoms and truths as you portray it.

    My mother was very abusive to my step-father. He felt he had little recourse in fighting back and eventually fled with most of our money at which point she became increasingly abusive to me and my siblings. To me violence is the trapped outcome of a broken person in a wrecked life, not a victory of courage. I hope you have realized this from your experience and that none of your future relationships have to involve cathartic punches for you to stand up for yourself. Once at the point where violence feels justifiable the relationship should have long since been over.

    I can't imagine a man writing this article remorselessly portraying punching his girlfriend the same way you have. That issue is deserving of scrutiny since I witnessed firsthand how painful abuse by a woman can be. If a man wrote an article that said "here's the horrible stuff my girlfriend did to me- I punched her and was arrested but hey it was a courageous truth-seeking right hook" I can't imagine it'd go over very well.

    I feel that your article perpetuates a double standard about domestic violence that was problematic for me growing up. I remember watching my mother play the role of scared wife while my step-father was questioned by the police. She dropped all aggression and shut herself in the bathroom crying as though she was terrified to come out. I thought if I said anything 1) It was unlikely to be believed and 2) It was certain to inflame my mother's temper. I grew up in a small town and even the kids at school asked about it. I remember wishing my step-father had beaten me since at least that would fit more closely with what people expected. Admitting that my mother hit me while my friends moms left notes in their lunches was embarrassing and made me feel awful. This feeling of hopelessness is what I most closely associate with domestic violence. It may also have been hopelessness that caused you to punch your boyfriend and I understand and empathize with that. I just think the tone you use does more to celebrate your courage than to help people understand and avoid that depth of hopelessness. I learned from this experience that courage should come from within. Not from external actions, especially those of violence.

    Anyway thanks for writing for elephant – this article caused me to do a lot of thinking as it sounds like you've been doing. I hope the violence in our pasts allows us to be thoughtful and at peace in our futures.

  2. KarenA says:

    Well done for being brave enough to finally say "no". I know that is very hard to do when your confidence is worn down rapidly in that sort of relationship. I think perhaps that saying " I can admit that there wasn’t and there isn’t anything wrong with me." except for making a few mistakes, is a little superficial, in that there was a problem with setting boundaries. Not to say it's your fault at all, but we attract people who reflect our self image, and accept what we beliieve we deserve. So both parties have issues stemming from insecurity. Elephant's other article "How a Bad Marriage saved my life" touches on this beautifully. But it is good to see articles on domestic violence, and thoughtful comments like Gus's too. Thank you x

  3. Hannah says:

    Gus,

    Thank you for your comment. You shed light on the very issue I struggled with throughout my relationship—my involvement in the abuse. How much of what was happening to me was my fault?

    I have chewed on this question to the point of exhaustion and no matter how deep I delve into the shadows of my past, I continue to come to the same realization: ‘I, a quiet and otherwise unassuming woman, have the potential to be an abuser in her own right.’

    I am not trying to excuse my actions. ‘If I sit here and say I never did anything to hurt the man in question I would be lying. I played my share of mind games, flung out my share of insults and even gave back some of the violence I was given. I realize that. And that is the part that haunts me most of all.’

    But it is this very realization and fear of myself that I hoped to portray in this article.

    In order to break the cycle of my abusive relationship, I had to come to terms with the fact that ‘…one of the contributing factors was me.’ I came to this realization when I did the one thing I feared most—I hit the person I loved. This is not something I am proud of. This is not something I would ever try to justify, at least in the context of my situation. This WAS the most detrimental contribution I made to my abusive relationship. However, what I may have failed to emphasis in my article is that this was also the very reason I gained the courage to walk away.

    Up until that point, I had never physically fought back. I knew how to “survive” verbal and physical berates—not how to dole them out (at least not to the extent in which I was receiving them). My ability to reciprocate [in that moment] the violence I had received terrified me. And it was in this fear of myself that I found the courage to walk away; I did not and I do not want to be a perpetrator of violence.

    The cycle will end with us because I am courageous enough to make it—this is what I am celebrating.

    I hope this addresses some of the issues you’ve shed light on. Abuse is a fragile subject—it’s often too hard to find the words to describe; thank you for sharing your story.

  4. Gus says:

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply Hannah. I've thought about this some more and think that I was initially troubled by this post and didn't really try to understand your perspective beyond that first reaction. This prejudice caused me to read what I wanted to read and made it about my experience rather than thinking compassionately about yours. Re-reading my first comment I feel bad about how angry I was. I've learned a lot from this article and your reply.

    • bonanza says:

      Gus, as I began reading your first comment my first thought was "Here we go, another ignorant mysoginist with no understanding of the dynamics of family violence completely missing the point…" By the second paragraph I was ashamed to have judged so quickly. So now I must offer my deepest apologies for my kneejerk reaction and say that your comments demonstrate insight, compassion, respect, humility and eloquence and suggest that, despite having good reason to harbour bitterness and anger, you have instead gleaned deep healing and wisdom from your experiences. Deep bow.

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