# The abuse equation

I’ve been going over this scenario in my mind. Rolling it over and over and trying to make sense of the aftermath. Not all things can be made sense of. Sometimes I think that if I overthink it enough, I can come to a brilliant solution, resolution, to this baffling psychological maze that is created after a trauma. The fault in my thinking is, there is not always a perfect absolute answer to every equation. In math, maybe. 2×3=6. But what if 3 turned into 43 and then switched back and then 9 stomped on 3 and then the other 3 ran away and then the equal sign turned into a negative sign? Trauma is JUST like THAT and not just as simple as 2×3=6. Because 2 (me) x 3(abuser) = 6(trauma).  That leaves my answer as trauma. I don’t like that equation. I don’t like the abuse equation.  I want my answer to be resolved, or settled, or fixed, or overcome. It just isn’t freaking clear! And my mind is a 2×3=6 kind of mind. So when I roll around a scenario that doesn’t end with a definitive answer, box checked “resolved”,  I get more and more frustrated with the end result. I confronted the man who abused me and it didn’t = what I thought.

I had this idea in my mind that if I stood up to this man then I would face my fear. If I stood up to him I would show him that I was strong. If I confronted him then he would know how pathetic I thought he was. And maybe he DID see those things. I played it in my mind, though, with an end result being marked “resolved” with a huge red pen! Case closed! Victim stands up to abuser, victory for all. So why was I still left with a sick feeling in my stomach? Why after 10 years does thinking of him make me feel nauseous? Why does writing about it now make me feel faint? I thought that facing this abuser would fix everything. I thought the equation would end with a definite answer and that answer would mean that somehow I would feel like a winner. I would feel I defeated a monster. I won in the end. But I didn’t feel that way. I don’t feel that way. I am amazed at the strength I had to face him. And I did learn that I had a rage inside me that I didn’t even know existed. But until tonight I did not have an answer to why I didn’t feel better after confronting him.

Here is the problem with my original equation…2 (me) X 3 (abuser) = 6(trauma). I thought that after I confronted the abused, I could create another equation that erased the trauma all together. I thought it could be 2(me) X 3(abuser)= 6 (confrontation and victory).  But I left out the trauma. The trauma happened. Facing him, yelling at him, didn’t take away the trauma. The only way I can try to  “fix” this is changing the equation all together so that 1(me) + 2 (abuser) + 2( trauma) + 1( choices I make to move towards recovery)= 6 (healing). With trauma sometimes 3×2 doesn’t equal 6. With trauma nothing is as it should be. There should be no trauma IN the equation. The equation pretty much got scribbled all over soon after the first number was written. I cannot “fix” in my mind what was scribbled over by someone else. I cannot erase it. I can only reframe it in a way that includes healing. I can only reframe the abuse equation so the result is my healing process.

Even if I face my abusers, put them put them in jail, shout out to the world that they are pedophiles, sex offenders, etc,  I am still left with me. I am still left with what they did to me. I am left with the memories, nightmares, and flashbacks.  David could be sitting in jail right now, which is where he should be, and I would still be left with me. Even if all the justice in the world came to fruition, all the wrongs were righted, all the people who betrayed me miraculously did the right thing, I would still be left healing from the trauma. I’m not sure what my final equation will be. I am not sure which steps, or direction, or path will be the one that equals peace for me. But I will keep trying.

Someone asked me the other day if I would want my abuser killed or tortured and I didn’t. (ok maybe a quick punch to the face… but that’s all). Ironically, during my rage at David I tried to will myself to punch him in the face, but he had glasses on, and somehow..I don’t know, I just didn’t. That is not who I am. I am not violent. I am not vengeful. I have no desire to hurt anyone. Tonight I understood why. It doesn’t have to do with them anymore. Focusing on them just takes me down a road that ends in victim. I’ve already been there. I cannot erase them nor will I deny feelings that come up about them. I can only change my purpose. Focusing on me takes me down a road that ends in survivor. It’s the only equation that makes sense to me now.

## 18 thoughts on “The abuse equation”

1. Wow Bethany, this is pretty powerful. I too believe all we can do is feel our pain and focus on healing.

I once had a similar experience in my place of work with a man who was being disrespectful to me and would not leave my office when I asked him to. My husband worked at the same place. I marched right past him following this man telling him to shut up, and that he had said enough and now he needed to listen to me. And that he was to never even talk to me again unless he can do it with respect.

Like you, I saw no one else, nothing. Afterward I was shaking and scared. I didn’t know what just happened. Everyone there including my husband and boss, when he finally heard about it said, “She did what? That isn’t possible! He must have done something huge for her to react this way!” And they all supported me. I have never done this again on this scale. But yes, I did discover the rage inside of me.

I heard once, being bitter toward someone else is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. We are left with the aftermath of what happened to us. Nothing can change that! It is unjust and unfair. But acceptance of this reality is important.

What you described here is what I felt in my post “No Amount Of White.” When I realized white walls were not going to take away this pain, I knew I needed help through therapy.

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• … there’s a sense in which we seem to abuse ourselves all over again. Not quite sure how to convey it but it reminds me at picking at scabs (disgusting metaphor but it does say what I’m trying to convey). We pick at scabs and we kind of know it’s sabotaging our healing but we go ahead and do it anyway…Don’t know if that makes sense?

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• Yes! I think it is difficult to face how being abused makes us feel about ourselves. I think fear, anxiety, the inability to trust, and the inability to handle anymore pain causes us to react in ways that are hard to understand for us or those around us. Which only compounds the problem.

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• Im not sure i understand how it relates to what i wrote

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• Blue, i loved your white walls post a lot!

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2. Thanks for this. It really reminds me of me confronting my father–not sure what I expected that to achieve. Anyway, “it didn’t”. Your words also remind me of the bargaining part of the 7 stages of Grief. “If I do x then I get y”. Have a look and see what you think? When I think of trauma it is like grief and loss–something happened that changed us for ever. Try this site for example just for an overview. As I say, it’s not just about bereavement. http://www.stages-of-grief-recovery.com/7-stages-of-grief.html. Also I reckon that we don’t pass neatly from one stage to the next and end up with acceptance. We keep going round and round and round all the stages. I wrote something about grief and what have I lost on my blog as well but I may be going off track here!

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• I understand and agree that loss and grief are all a part of trauma!

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3. I don’t understand why this man wasn’t in jail rather than the grocery store! I ran into my abuser when he was supposed to be locked up. Turned out he was a “trustee” and was allowed to sit in the parking area of the courthouse/jail house where there was a large overhang area that was always dark. I walked into that area to go to an office down there not knowing he was there or allowed to be there. I suddenly hear him call out my name. One of the worse feelings ever! I won’t go on. Just know that I understand what you are dealing with, not sure how to change it either. Still working on it myself, wonder if I’ll ever be past it. Bless you!

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• Thank you for sharing. That mustve been so scary feeling secure that he was in jail and then being shocked by his voice! Im so sorry that happened! Thank you for understanding!
Maybe this guy will be in jail one day he was a university of florida professor phd kind of guy. Seems like he has a get out of jail free card

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• Infuriating!

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4. hmunro

You are amazing, Bethany. Your strength and courage are awe-inspiring. Love and peace to you as you continue to heal …

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• Thank you!

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5. Wow, what a post! I could feel your rage just reading about it. Part of me is so glad you confronted him. I can see that it didn’t really change anything for you. But maybe it did for him, since it forced him to acknowledge it in a public way and has made him afraid (if not regretful?). You may also have modeled for other people in the grocery store that it is possible for someone to stand up to an abuser. Maybe you just gave a girl permission to shout at a potential abuser in a way that might spare her the abuse. One can always hope.

For you, well, it wasn’t helpful directly. But it seems like it clarified for you something we all have to somehow accept: we can’t erase the trauma or its effect. But we can incorporate it, over time, into our lives in a way that no longer prevents us from being healthy. That’s my hope anyway. And I think you expressed it so well in this post.

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• You helped me very very much by what you have said here. I never really thought about what i did in a way that could affect him or other people there. This has given me much more peace over the situation. Thank you so much for taking the time to tell me your thoughts.

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6. Very powerful! Thank you for sharing.

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7. Wow, Bethany, what an amazing story. You were so courageous to be able to stand up to him and make him afraid of you!!!!!! Bravo, Bethany, Bravo. The thing is, even if you had done to him what happened to you, it would still not bring any satisfaction because even then he would not be able to “get” what you went through. Keep going, it sounds like your healing journey is working 🙂

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• Thank you very much for your encouragement!

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