Dear Readers, this post is very hard to write about. I am not sure I will keep it. The intention in writing this is to bring awareness. It is to help others who might be suffering — maybe they can learn from my pain. Abuse is not always obvious, which is why many survivors will endure years of abuse until they take action of leaving the situation for good.
To anyone who has been subjected to abuse, please know that: You can heal. You are already perfect as you are. You are not alone in your suffering. Healthy love and kind people do exist and you are worthy of it. What happened was meant to happen and the goodness of why that happened will be realized later. Have patience. Be easy with yourself. Don’t give up.
The above photo is from director Deepa Mehta’s Videsh (Heaven on Earth, 2008). A poetic film that portrays a young woman’s experience of domestic violence.
Idealize, Devalue, Discard
I was in denial. Sure, I had heard about the abusive cycle, but it didn’t occur to me that I was experiencing it. In the aftermath, it all makes sense now. With him, I experienced the narcissistic abusive cycle (idealize, devalue, discard) multiple times over the past 3 years. In other words, multiple times in three years he would come back to me after discarding me, and would declare he was now ready to be serious, he was sorry for his past behavior and he was madly in love with me. The pattern became predictable towards the end. Our ending itself proved everything that I came to suspect towards the end — that he is abusive, he does lack complete empathy and therefore, there was never any love at all.
A Short Summary of My Experience:
In the beginning, he mirrored my personality so I would find commonality in him. He would love-bomb me with affection to make me feel we had something special and shared endless commonalities. He seemed intellectual, he seemed cultured, he seemed non-conformist and uninterested by typical trends in Western pop-culture. Looking back in retrospect, it was a lie and a tactic for him to make me feel he was someone I would find interesting. I would have never liked him nor welcomed him in my life if I saw his true persona beneath the mask he put on.
Then once ‘in love’, his actions shifted dramatically. This was the devaluation stage. In an abusive relationship, this shift occurs because the abuser got what they wanted from the “love” stage. For my ex, having a woman fall in love with him fuelled his fragile ego and filled him with confidence, but sadly not in a wholesome way. I now know that he, a narcissistic abuser, is incapable of reciprocating love in a wholesome form — they are only looking to benefit themselves. After the ‘ideal’ stage, his abuse always started off subtle, eventually becoming more severe and obvious. Abuse, anger, threats, intimidation, lies, hypocrisy, projection.
Now, the irony is, I am not a submissive type at all. I consider myself quite resilient and intolerant to being mistreated. However, my ex abuser really had me confused, and I later realized this was a very common experience among other abuse recipients. When the abuse gets severe during the devaluation stage, an abuser will throw in breadcrumbs of affection/kindness to confuse their partner. The purpose of doing that is to excuse the abuse that occurred, and also to instil hope that the abuser has good intentions after all. During these tiny moments of kindness, the abuser will do things such as future-faking, which could be promises of marriage, declarations of ‘true love’ or the infamous, “I promise I will get help and change.”
It was always at the times when I was convinced my ex was being abusive where he would throw in his speckles of kindness and affection. I recall a day when my ex and I had a public altercation, which led me to break down in tears and hurry to go back to my home. We went to my home together. Once back at my home, his previous hostile attitude turned soft. While I was crying and rather traumatized, he began apologizing and caressing me lovingly. He then started trying to pleasure me in erotic ways while I was in that traumatized state. It was extremely strange and confusing, but I wanted to believe that he was sincere and really cared. I accepted his apology. The next day he raged at me in anger, screaming at me that I had the audacity to break down in public, run away from him and “cause a scene.”
Reacting to the abuse and defending myself was a way he could manipulate things and blame me. I had never been with an abusive man before, so I would defend myself and say often, “Men who truly love a woman do not behave this way.” He would then break down and say I am attacking his manhood by comparing him to all the other men I had — I felt really guilty for making him feel that way. Defending myself always resulted in me apologizing to him for causing him distress. I made excuses and justified his abuse — he, himself, admitted he mistreated me, yet he later would justify it because I was “a prostitute” or because I reacted ‘crazy’ in response to his abuse. Back then I didn’t realize this was his tactic of gaslighting (psychological manipulation). Gaslighting was a way for him to deflect from the fact that he was abusing me.
At the discard stage, like a typical abuser, his attitude towards me became the exact opposite of the Idealize stage. The “I love you for you are and I don’t care that you are prostitute and have had every man in the world! I want to be with you for the rest of my life” reverts to “You are a whore and you will never change. I can’t trust a woman like you. Go back to whoring yourself.” By the discard stage, I was always partially destroyed by his endless campaign of devaluation — it harmed me not just emotionally, but I would physically begin to feel unwell. At that point, an abusive narcissist see’s their partner as useless, so they usually discard their partner or treat them incredibly cruel so the partner walks away themselves. The reason for this is because the abuser needs new supply to fuel his ego– a destroyed lover is useless for his ego that constantly needs inflating — so as such he will seek out a new supply (a person) to idealize.
Why Did I Take Him Back?
I had empathy and patience for his “I will change” declarations. He was very convincing in the love-bombing stages where he went to all lengths to convince me to take him back. He would send me money to prove he was serious in caring for me. Beautiful flowers. Sweet words. He apparently wrote poetry about us. I foolishly believed his declarations of love and his “we are soulmates” claims. But more than anything, I had hope in who he claimed to be as a person. He told me he suffered from severe anxiety and other mental health issues, which made me want to help him and not give up on him. I believed that he was sincere deep down, and I thought his own pain would make him a better person in the long run. I didn’t want to believe that he lacked empathy. It was only until his repetitive abusive patterns became so apparent and destructive that his mask truly came off. Everything was a lie. Words truly mean nothing. The entire three years was a fraud. There was NO love at all. His intent was to destroy the confidence and strength I built for myself, which he lacked and craved.
Why Did He Gain?
For a sociopath, the gain is sex, power and ego. They wallow in self-hatrid. The sad part is a sociopath cannot overcome their insecurities. It is normal to have low self-esteem and insecurities — but there are wholesome ways to gain confidence. I knew my ex was insecure, which is why I loved him and wanted to care for him. I thought he was simply a product of his circumstances and was battling to be become a better person in a healthy way. I thought loving him and showing my affection would help him. This simply never worked because he was devoid of emotion. He was incapable of introspection, incapable of empathy. His true character was hidden, so I fooled myself in the end by thinking compassion could cure him. Normal people do not destroy others to fuel their self-worth. His love-bombing tactics were all a ploy to get me to lower my guard and trust him again, which would make me consent to giving my body for love. Falsely claiming love and promising a woman a future (security) to get sex is an utmost cowardly act.
Hypervigilance. Fearing to trust anyone. Depression. Stress. Wounded. The negative physical effects of emotional trauma and pain. What a woman should feel the most excited for is now something that fills her with fear and pain.
I worry more about other women that experienced what I went through. What is the fate of women who have been harmed and whom cannot cope without numbing their pain? How many women react in self-destructive ways in response to being harmed by an abuser? How many women blame themselves for the abuse they endured and believe that they were “not good enough?” The truth is many abused women are not coping. Most abused women I met suffered severely from being harmed by others. Many develop a very poor self-image and self -esteem. Often, they get plastic surgery or take drastic cosmetic measures to appear more superficially beautiful. They end up attracting the same type of shallow, unempathtic, conformist jerk. In some extreme cases, some women will seek revenge on all men, thus perpetuating the cycle of abuse. So how does one cope with just feeling the pain raw? The answer is: invest in your SOUL. Take care of your soul. Your soul is a garden that needs proper care and nourishment. It takes time, it will hurt, but you will heal.
For any male reader — if you are wondering why some women are starting to view ALL men with fear and mistrust, ask yourself WHY did she become this way? I completely denounce Feminism, because indeed good and decent men do exist. However, the abusers are giving decent men a bad name. It is time for MEN to start calling out indecent men who think it’s “cool” to brag about the number of women they’ve slept with or discarded like an object (which is essentially bragging about exploitation and abuse). The normalization of sociopathy and soulless attitudes needs to be exposed. Silence only allows harm to continue, which, in the end, hurts everyone in society.
Many years ago I used to work with other escorts. I noticed a sad phenomenon that, back then, made no sense to me. Many escorts I met were in relationships with abusive men — pimps and/or controlling, manipulative, abusive jerks, for lack of a better word. I used to feel sad for these women, and I couldn’t understand, “Why do these girls stay with men who treat them bad?” Back then, I felt lucky that my partners were very loving and compassionate men.
But now, I understand those women. I understand why they resorted to drugs and other harmful means of numbing — they were hurt and in pain. I understand why they tolerated abuse — trauma bonding. I understand why so many went from vibrant souls to empty shells — depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, hyper vigilance (ie: fearing to trust anyone).
I understand now the behavior of so many fellow escorts I used to know. I remember my sweet former escort friend ‘Parisa’ who was once a vibrant flower. After many months of absence, she came back to the brothel. She was no longer the vibrant flower — her eyes, once alive and filled with life, clearly indicated she was broken. She told us girls that she ended things with an abusive ex. I remember when she broke down at the brothel in tears, when she began drinking excessively to numb the pain, when she broke down and confessed how she was suicidal. Broken women — these are the women who find themselves in prostitution. And then to think there are some (not all) men who brag about how they ‘conquer’ prostitutes as if we are objects to be claimed — soulless demons.
I now realize — the last three years of my life I became one of those girls — I was with an abusive man. I justified the abuse. I made excuses for his abuse. Very typically, I believed things would get better. I blamed myself for defending myself. I thought his apologies would eventually become sincere.
During the painful ending, earlier this year, my ex abuser was completely unmasked. I feel disgusted and completely violated at realizing whom he truly was. Since his recent abusive episode which resulted in our ending, he has since attempted to repeat the whole cycle of abuse again – -apologizing, telling me he will change, pretending to care about my well-being. No more. The mask is off. The pattern of his abuse taught me that whenever I began to heal, he wanted to reappear in my life only to break me down again. Nothing fuelled his ego more than breaking down a strong, resilient woman like myself by exploiting her biggest strength: my heart.
In my religion, Islam, we have a saying for all situations that occur in life — we are thankful always in all circumstances (good or bad). We say “Praise to the Creator” Alhamdulillah. This was my fate, and I know this happened for the best of reasons. Allah deals justly. SubhanAllah.
That’s Not Love
Love is imperfect in the beautiful sense that it has ups and downs —but love is certainly not abuse. Love is not supposed to harm. Love is uplifting and gives a sense of tranquility. Sadly, as noted in my blog, we live in a world where love is now grossly abused. The reasons are complex, and I hope to elaborate on this topic in further posts (ie: How Porn has dehumanized women and enabled the normalization of exploitation).
Resources for those Being Abused
The following books “Why Does He do That” and “Psychopath Free” provide great clarity to very traumatic and confusing abusive relationships. It can also help one refrain from going back to an abuser by explaining their false tactics of idealization, or guilt-tripping.
Great Explanation on Narcissism (starts at 1:13):
For my dear fellow prostitutes or readers, please feel free to share any experiences you have had with individuals who violated, abused or conned you. How did you heal or cope? Or did you heal at all?