Physical abuse is a different kind of pain. Many people don’t really have an understanding until it happens to them – you can empathize but you can never relate.

Once a man raises his hand against you there is nothing left there.

The safety is gone, the respect and you staying is screaming you can do anything to me I’m not going anywhere


Don’t give anyone that amount of power over you. That’s easier said than done, because regardless of how openly hateful and disrespectful the act of someone intentionally hurting you is, they impose their power or show you that they can in fact hurt you and yet you don’t immediately hate them or leave them.

In fact, I felt like I finally got to see the real him meaning he truly loved me to show me the depth of his darkness. A twisted reality I know, I cared, I hated that I cared and had some sort of sexual connection to the whole thing. I barely knew what I was getting into.

It’s not like how it is on tv, in reality it feels a little like a dance. Have you seen how beautiful a fire is, it keeps you warm and provides light, cooks your meals and even gives you a hot relaxing bath. That’s how it is with a dangerous hurtful man. His power can go from pleasure to pain in a short span. I refused to look too closely because I cared, but gradually everything changes. You start to look at him closely; the sound of his voice, you guys still laugh, kiss and he is still beautiful, but is he?

So many questions linger in the back of your mind. Was this just a mistake? He isn’t a monster, he is different from those crazy drunk abusive guys who do it all the time. He isn’t like that, he just lost control. I also talk too much, I should probably change.

The internal monologue never gets silent. It’s a different animal, you love a beast and you hope your love will do something to him. You hope that somewhere inside you lies a cure for this rage but instead, the first time was an introduction to a new chapter in the story. I think it’s hate but he said it wasn’t. So, what is it? He remained silent and he said: “It’s got nothing to do with you.” That was our last conversation.

Was I free? No, I still loved him. The thing about Stockholm syndrome is its sick, for both participants. I don’t know when I began to see the monster but it wasn’t when he busted my lip for me. It was when he walked away and never came back because he knew that if he stayed one of us was probably going to get deported or hospitalized. I battled with myself, having to rewrite history because I had lied to myself so much and the truth was too painful to face. I had been honoring the villain as a hero that I was still in love with someone who didn’t exist but he did.

Separating the act from the person and the love from them is painful. What a task, I had to accept that I loved someone who was not good for me, accept that we had incredible times together and our beautiful moments were real. I wasn’t imagining it. However, he might have not always been very kind to me and acknowledging that doesn’t mean that I’m saying he is a horrible man. He is just flawed and I hope he finds the help he needs.

It’s difficult for women who have been in abusive relationships that have ended because they can’t tell people that they miss their ex because everyone assumes that it’s an indication that they are going back or people take it as an opportunity to remind you of your busted lip and your black eye. Yet not understanding that we know, we went through it. I don’t hate him I never really did. Angry certainly, now I say hi when I see him. He doesn’t deserve too much energy from me, I still find him attractive, I don’t think we are compatible but I know that I learnt a lot of lessons from him. I am grateful for him. He taught me what love wasn’t.

I still don’t know what it is because I have been wrong really loudly twice.

The desire to be loved and to love correctly is really one hell of a drug. It’s addictive because it’s so complex: the emotions we feel inside our bodies and the way they choose to materialize in the physical, the lack of vocabulary to express ourselves, the fears, emotional availability and fears. In the end, one person appears as though they want it more and the other becomes the manipulator or player. I don’t really see it like that, well not anymore.

I believe that in some cases of physical abuse, there exists an imbalance of emotional control from both people. For the back and forth to occur it takes two to tango. I’m not romanticising it. I’m just reflecting on an experience and acknowledging the truth of my experience. It was magnetic, the energy, drama, the explosions. When it’s happening it’s scary but with every event, it felt like something we tend to do every once in a while.

Having to deal with the shame of not leaving sooner or the shame of missing the beast.

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Lebohang Dlodlo, Lebo for short is a South Africa studying in Ningbo, China. When she is not slaving at the pen and paper, as a story teller and poet, you can find her outdoors laughing and enjoying life or in the gym sweating and enjoying life.

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