American actress and cosplayer Chloe Dykstra’s article on being in an abusive relationship has garnered a lot of attention on Twitter. While Dykstra has chosen to not name her former partner, she still made it clear that her intent is not to shame, but to find closure. Writing for the Medium, the actor said that coming forward with allegations of abuse may also put her personal and professional reputation on the line.
Several times when women come forward with allegations of long-term abuse at hands of boyfriends or husbands, they face criticism along with sympathy. Why did you stay back? Why did you not walk out sooner? For many, it is hard to digest that women would willingly choose to be in long-term relationships with abusive men. But it is not that easy to just walk away.
Abusive relationships are like all-consuming sand pits
Such relationships don’t just lead to physical harm but affect the overall well-being of women. Controlling men often force women to isolate themselves from the society. They demand that women alienate themselves from their family, friends and well-wishers. Survivors of such abuse develop a low self-esteem, which leads them to believe that they deserve this harsh treatment.
Physical, sexual, emotional and psychological- domestic abuse is a multi-faced monster, millions of women face on a day to day basis.
As Dykstra puts it, “I believed that, to borrow an analogy from a friend, if I kept digging I would find water. And sometimes I did. Just enough to sustain me. And when you’re dying of thirst, that water is the best water you’ll ever drink. When you’re alienated from your friends, there’s no one to tell you that there’s a drinking fountain 20 feet away. And when your self-worth reaches such depths after years of being treated like you’re worthless, you might find you think you deserve that sort of treatment, and no one else will love you.”
It is hard for people who have never had an association of any kind with a controlling person to imagine how toxic such people can be. Such love relationships are like parasites which feed on your happiness, self-confidence, a spirit of autonomy and independence.
So an independent, confident vivacious woman transforms into a timid, dependent, quiet person with low self-esteem.
This lack of confidence, along with dependency on the dominant partner of any kind (emotional, monetary and even sexual) prevents many women from walking out. They need our support to gain their lost confidence. Besides, it’s not as if there was no love or attachment in these relationships. Which makes moving on even more difficult.
Criticism for being unable to leave sooner comes easily to us, however, we must not forget that we may be further pushing down these survivors in the sandpit. So for once, let’s just applaud these brave women who found the courage to gather the remains of their being and walk out before it was too late.
Photo Credit : Outsider
Also read : New form of Domestic Abuse: Economic Abuse
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.