Every time I tell my story, I risk extreme judgement from people who try to wrap their minds around the ridiculousness. While I have received an overwhelming amount of support from friends, family, and even complete strangers, there is still too often the person who needs to “explain” what about ME put me in this position and how I can avoid being a victim in the future. While this judgement from (sometimes completely well-meaning people) continues to hurt on some level, there will still always be a part of me that wonders if there is SOMETHING in my personality that made me such an easy target. Moreover, why is it that I stayed even as long as I stayed when there were certain things about Luc that never added up?
Today I went to lunch with some co-workers and the topic of conversation became centered around the book “50 Shades of Grey”. While I admit I have never read the book (nor want to now), this conversation struck a cord with me that I don’t believe it would have before I was a victim of a psychopath. One of the “supporters” of the book mentioned that the main character is a successful businessman who enjoys a deviant sexual lifestyle. He went on to describe (without flinching) that the main character talks a college senior (he stressed that she was a virgin) into signing a contract that dictated what she would eat, that she would allow him to hurt her, etc.
As my coworkers were discussing the various aspects of this “relationship contract”, I felt as if I was going to throw up. I couldn’t believe that this sanctioned form of domestic violence was being glorified in pop culture and revered as anything other than an example of a relationship with a psychopath. What was even more disturbing was that the few at the table who actually found this a bit disturbing (myself included), seemed to be judged as “prudish” and not open minded.
What I find interesting about this book and its popularity is the fact that society is becoming desensitized and almost idealizing these characters to the point where when women (and sometimes men too) see people like this, they don’t immediately recognize the danger. This book is not the only example we have of this in pop culture these days. Many movies also show the story of these “aloof and emotionally shallow” men (James Bond for example) and the woman who hang on their arms as sex symbols. Many people look at the James Bond character and hold him on a high pedestal of manliness and “cool”, but if you really unpack the character – he is a womanizing jerk who appears to be overly concerned about his appearance.
During the lunch with my co-workers, I realized just how much this experience has changed me. I no longer look at relationships the same and I don’t ever believe its right to make excuses for abusive behavior. I also wonder to myself if society’s glorification of overpowering and abusive men predisposed me and desensitized me to what was really going on with Luc much earlier than I even realized. When Luc was demanding that I rub his feet when I was 8 months pregnant, commenting on what I ate on a regular basis, and constantly tearing apart my self-esteem – would people think it was ok for him if he had announced that this was “just what he liked” or somehow talked me into signing a contract of abuse? Someone who says, “Honey, I really enjoy raping people – don’t be upset…it’s just my fetish” – is this ok too as long as the guy admits it? After being labeled as a “prude” for being uncomfortable with these things that have become so pervasive in our society, I remember wondering if I was being unreasonable when I should have been running for my life.
(Note: “Sexual deviance” is a very common trait amongst psychopaths and Luc was no stranger to this term.)
Just three years ago (before I met Luc), I was young and naive. I was that woman who felt safe believing that women who ended up in abusive relationships must have something wrong with them. Realizing that any woman – even if she is smart AND beautiful – can wake up one day and find herself in an abusive relationship is a terrifying realization. The thought that I could have been so fooled to fall for someone who was capable of the things Luc turned out to be capable of, would have rendered naive Cappuccino Queen completely paralyzed. It is for that reason, that I try not to judge those who judge me – no matter how much it might still hurt.