A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Violations and Villains and Apologists. Oh My.

Image via morgueFile.

Image via morgueFile.

“Violation” is a word that keeps coming up for me around dealing with betrayal. When you secretly bring a third person into a committed two-person relationship, you violate not only loyalty and trust, but you eliminate informed consent. Would I have consented to sex with my ex if I’d known he was having sex with someone else? Absolutely not.

My ex created a situation where any intimacy between us happened essentially without my informed consent. I consented to intimacy with a person who had committed to a monogamous relationship with me. I did not consent to share my body with someone who was sharing his body with another person while pretending I was the only one. So, in effect, he did not have my consent. He removed my ability to consent.

Not that we were having much sex. As I’ve said before, he told me he lacked drive. I got complacent. He went out and got laid. But at the time I learned of the affair he’d been having for months, he was actively trying to “work on our intimacy” which means he was actively working on having more sex with me while he was having sex with someone else in secret. The sex we were having, then, was not entirely consensual, was it?

So yeah, the more time passes, the more grave his crimes seem to me, and the less able I feel to forgive him. The more I process, the more I realize that what he did—that what people do when they perpetrate this violation upon one another—was abuse. To me, he is a villain. And that means that when I encounter people who tell me that they want to be my friend, but that want to be his friend too, and they hope I understand, I don’t. I just can’t.

I’ve tried. I really, truly have. I’ve done my best not to feel resentful, but the resentment is there and I’m starting to realize it’s there for a reason.

When I was raped at 12 years old, my neighborhood split down the middle. There was the “Me” camp: the people who believed me when I said I’d been raped, and there was the “him” camp: the people who just couldn’t believe that a guy they considered a friend could possibly be a rapist.

When an ex beat the crap out of me and I ran away to my dad’s place halfway across the country, my dad joked that I’d probably pissed him off and when the guy called, he put me on the phone so I could, you know, face the music and resolve things. A few days later—before I really knew what happened—I was back with my abuser.

A while back Sid wrote a story about how it felt when one of our friends dropped my ex from Facebook while maintaining a friendship with her abuser–a guy whose abuse had never turned physical and so even she hesitated to use the “A” word.

Here’s an “A” word for you: Apologism. It’s what half my neighborhood engaged in when I was raped. It’s how my dad dealt with the fact that the guy who beat me up was a lot like him. It’s what our friend did when she told Sid her abuser wasn’t really like that.

It’s what people do when they decide that a person who abuses other people is essentially just a good guy who made a mistake (or a series of them—hey, he had a tough childhood) and let him off the hook for bad behavior. And more and more often I find myself asking why it is that people insist on apologizing for my ex simply by reminding me that they feel they must maintain friendships with both of us.

Of course, I have no way of knowing what sort of consequences my ex may have been subjected to at the hands of our mutual friends. But I do know that I’m aware of no consequences dire enough to satisfy me, and he has certainly made no amends where I’m concerned (except to throw some money at the situation). And some of our friends were his friends first–I know that some will feel the need to maintain loyalty to him, and I totally understand if that’s the choice they need to make. (I recently took the liberty of unfriending his whole family on Facebook, not because I don’t love them, but because I know they are unwaveringly loyal to him and it hurt me too much to see them there.)

sandI also know that I need my close friends–the people I hang out with–to be people who do not feel the need to maintain a friendship with my abuser. I don’t have the energy to deal with the strain of spending time with people knowing they probably just hung out with him last week.

So, I guess this is just to say that I’m working on my boundaries. Some people in my life might notice that I’m a little quieter, a little less likely to socialize. Or maybe they won’t. But I will be spending my limited energies not on people whose choices say that my abuse doesn’t really count but on those who bolster and uplift me and remind me that I am truly loved.

PSA: Abusive commenters will be deleted and banned, so kindly piss off in advance. (Comment Policy)

14 responses

  1. Pingback: It’s Not a “Mistake” If You Plan It | Make Me a Sammich

  2. Ticklish Villain

    Really hoping you have a moment to consider Part 2 of your response and post it soon. Thanks, Rosie.

    August 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm

  3. Ticklish Villain

    Hi Rosie,

    I have a few responses to your post. They address some hard things, but I’m going to lay them out here honestly, and I really want to hear your honest response. I’m a little cautious about this because I don’t want to put you on the defensive. I just want to relay a few observations I’ve been mulling over since I read your post, and get your feedback, if you have any. And, I have a question I would like to hear your thoughts on.

    First: It seems like you are applying the word “abuse” to behavior that most people would not consider true abuse. This guy cheated on you, and lied to you. I understand your “informed consent” argument, but I feel it is a tenuous logical jump to call being cheated on the same thing as abuse. If he gave you an STD, I might agree, but as far as you’ve told us, that is not the case. Yes, what happened to you is sad, and hard, and unfair, and disloyal — so much so that months later you still are hurting — but just because someone is hurting does not mean they experienced abuse. I have a feeling that before you framed your experience under the rubric of “abuse,” if you had come across a blog post or article written by someone who found out her man was two-timing her and she chronicled that period of her relationship saying “when I was abused…” and “as someone who has suffered abuse…” and “my abuser…”, you would react very differently, even indignantly, being someone who has been choked, and beaten, and raped. It’s just not the same thing. I know you are someone who cares about language. If you choose to apply the language of abuse to your ex-guy’s infidelity, I think you should do it with eyes wide open and understand that some of your readers may see it as belittling the experiences of people who have experienced truly harrowing emotional/physical/sexual abuse, or got beat up, or got raped.

    Second, I have a question about the practical application of the concept of “informed consent” as you apply it to a cheating partner. There are women who know their man has a history of cheating on their previous girlfriends/wives, but they choose to have a relationship with him. Some are essentially forgiving his infidelity on behalf of his prior partner(s), and allowing him to start over with them; others are totally sickened by infidelity, but are lovestruck and in the throes of cognitive dissonance, lol. As time goes on, some of these couples marry, and these wives (rightfully!) expect their man to abide by their commitment to fidelity once they’re married. Others maintain a status quo of steady or live-in girlfriend; some of these elevate the relationship in their mind to life partner, even though their man has made it clear that he doesn’t know if he is cut out for life-long commitment to one person.

    ALL these women go in to the relationship knowing that their man may step out on them at some point, whether he made a commitment to them or not. But different women deal with this possibility of infidelity in different ways.

    Some women understand that everyone has self-control struggles of some sort – whether it’s food, or alcohol, or shopping, or saying things they wish they’d thought through first. They recognize their man’s tendency to become restless in his relationships is part of his wiring. These women know if their relationship is going to succeed long-term, they need to keep the lines of communication open about where they stand with each other. These women don’t shy away from talking about their sexual relationship with their partner, and even encourage their man to be honest about attractions to other people. They strive to work through these issues with maturity, without springing jealousy or other emotional punishment on him, and an appropriate amount of respect and love for both themselves and their man.

    Other women never admit to themselves that their man may be restless or have a wandering eye, even though they might notice it. Having calm, caring and rational conversations about it may be within their emotional capabilities, but they prefer to keep their relationship even-keeled and conflict-free rather than risk heated confrontations about attractions to other women, suspected fleeting trysts or situations of ongoing infidelity. These women may even going so far as to tell their boyfriend/partner/husband, “If you ever cheat on me, I don’t want to know about it.” So here’s my question: are the women who tell their man this effectively waiving their right to informed consent, as far as consenting to have sex with their man even though at any given time he may also be sleeping with someone else?

    July 18, 2013 at 11:33 am

    • Thanks fir the thoughtful comment. On the road, so responding in parts. Part 1: Abuse

      Having suffered the abuses you list in your comment, I feel ok using the word, and I didn’t do so lightly or without thought. Many people don’t consider verbal abuse “actual abuse” and yet domestic violence orgs disagree. And yet, there was a time when it was accepted as just the way it is. My aim here is to point out that cheating is currently accepted as normal and it shouldn’t be. I truly believe that this behavior is abusive, no matter who perpetrates it.

      July 21, 2013 at 5:50 pm

      • Ticklish Villain

        I hear you. I respect your right to your own POV.

        Still curious as to your thoughts on my question.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:56 pm

        • Dealing with tech problems, but will get back to you on Part 2 soon. Thanks!

          July 29, 2013 at 10:50 am

    • Ok, I’m on a loaner laptop, and ready to try to tackle this.

      Are they waiving their right to informed consent if they say “If you ever cheat on me, I don’t want to know about it”? It would seem that they are if they are sincerely saying, “I understand that you may cheat on me at some point and if you do, I don’t want you to tell me about it.” If this is the agreement they’re making, however, then they are in effect *giving* consent for intimacy to happen with their partner regardless of his potential intimate involvement with someone else.

      Although you haven’t asked me to address it, the rest of your comment hits home for me as I was aware that my ex had cheated in the past. I foolishly believed that this was due to the fact that he had been pressured into marriage with someone he didn’t love and wanted out–and that may have been part of the reason it happened repeatedly in that relationship, but I now believe it had more to do with him than his circumstances. Anyway, it gives me self-blamey feelings because I should have known that if he could do it to her he could do it to me.

      Thanks for your patience. Let me know what you think.

      August 15, 2013 at 10:12 am

  4. Wow, Rosie, that’s a serious troll you have there.

    Danny, don’t you think that if it was unfair for the women in your life to abuse you because you were male, it’s also unfair to verbally abuse and attack women just because they’re women, or just because they’re feminist? I’m sorry you went through something so traumatic, but you’re only buying into the same generalization and hatred that fueled your abuser(s). In that way, they still control you.

    July 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm

  5. Danny

    Why don’t you take your own fucking advice bitch? You just used your own “tough childhood” to gain sympathy & excuse stereotyping & labeling males like you do in every post. “It’s what people do when they decide that a person who abuses other people is essentially just a good (guy) who made a mistake (or a series of them—hey, (he) had a tough childhood) and let (him) off the hook for bad behavior.” Without saying it out right, you vilify all males & excuse female merciless behavior as a rarity or claim its nonexistent. Its because of vile bitches like you, that I was abused & hated for having a penis, so fuck you! You’re an enemy & I wish nothing but the utmost abject misery for you & your misandristic gaggle of feminazi bitches!

    I hope you get with another abuser & the pain, fear, misery & hopelessness of it all just breaks your will to live & you blow your putrescent brains out! You’re a foul lying deceptive bitch who toys with peoples emotions. I’d really like to hear what YOU did to this guy. Oh gee, did you have to hear that again? Fuck you! Fuck your rape & fuck its battered violated soul hollowing. Oh wait, I’m sorry dear, only females are allowed to say that about males woes & scars. That is why my abuse went unnoticed, ignored & progressed in severity, even to stockholm syndrome. Women, feminazis, sexists & crazy bitches like you are a monstrous disease plaguing boys (& girls) everywhere with your cathartic misandry guised as equal rights. I hope feminism goes down ablaze & I will do everything within my ability’s to fan the hellish flames. There is no reasoning, accord or remorse. There is your side & my side. It is war, period! And diplomacy is dead.

    July 7, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    • Oh, boy! Danny’s back! On the very day I hid all your comments as you asked me to, you come back and spew this shit all over me? Get some help, Danny. Also, your comments are all going public again.

      July 7, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    • Dear Danny,
      You may have noticed your comments are no longer going up. In fact, they will now go straight to Spam. I have decided to forgive you because you are obviously a very sick boy and I honestly think the person who contacted me asking me to remove your comments was a saner version of you who really wanted to get better. I’m sad to see that you have declined again, but you are not my problem. I sincerely hope you get the help you need, but you no longer have a platform here. You can rage all you want–I won’t know about it. This will be our last communication. I hope you get better. I mean that.

      July 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

  6. I don’t know how I feel about people who can forgive their abusers. I’m not even clear on the real definition of “forgive,” really. To some people it means to let off the hook, to absolve of wrongdoing, to essentially say, “What you did was wrong but it’s okay now.” To others it just means that you no longer have an axe to grind with that person, to no longer be angry with that person even though you still think they were wrong. Personally, I’ve never managed either definition, not with exes who have been abusive, that’s for damned sure. I had one abusive relationship and I still wish nothing but evil on him.

    As for you, I’m glad you’re hanging in there. Do what you have to do to feel safe and comfortable. It’s all okay.

    July 4, 2013 at 1:09 pm

  7. Much strength to you, Rosie.

    July 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

  8. You do what you have to to help yourself navigate the healing process. No one else is allowed to tell you how to feel or what to think about what happened.

    Also remember that you don’t have to forgive anyone. People tend to act like forgiveness is some sacred, non-optional thing. That if you don’t forgive someone then you’re not really “over it” or you’re a bad person. This is BS. If you can’t forgive someone, then you can’t. If you don’t want to forgive someone, then you don’t. He doesn’t automatically deserve your forgiveness and you don’t owe forgiveness to anyone, ever.

    I’m glad you’re doing what you need to do for yourself.

    July 4, 2013 at 8:48 am

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