When You Don't Hate Your Abuser

If you have the privilege as a woman to never have been sexually abused or assaulted, it might be difficult for you to understand the mixed emotions you might have towards your abuser. Let me explain better. When someone you love or admire assaults you, you might not hate them immediately, heck, you might never hate them at all. It's difficult to go from admiration and love to hate. It's also a very exhausting process. When my favourite person in the world, outside of my nuclear family assaulted me when I was barely 8 years old, I didn't know how to feel. I was pretty close to my mum so I just had to tell her. Before I did, I made her promise to not flair up. I didn't want my abuser to feel ‘bad'. Obviously, she flared up and banished him from visiting or sleeping over. This was very difficult for all of us because we really loved this person. His mum (of blessed memory) was my favourite aunt and my mum's closest sister. My brothers also didn't know what happened at the time so they didn't understand why he was banished. The next time I met him at a family function, I was worried sick that he would hate me. To give context, this man is about 20 years older than me. I remember how relieved I was when he smiled at me. It meant he didn't hate me. It's been about 15 years since this thing happened and although he took the time to apologize to me when I was much older, I almost can't stand him. It was like one day, a switch flipped in my head and I instantly became angry. But even then, sometimes I still admire him. It's really exhausting. While interning in a broadcast outfit when I was 18, I went to get this exclusive interview with a (now dead) well-known and loved musician. Apart from the fact that he was loved by the general public, I also really loved his music. The interview took place in an apartment. First, we watched him play his instrument and I videoed the whole thing with a smile plastered on my face. I couldn't wait to show my father. I was watching this man play live! This legend! Throughout my stay there, this entertainer kept looking at me funny and making inappropriate sexual comments. I was starting to get uncomfortable but we were so many in the apartment so I didn't really feel threatened. While trying to leave the apartment, this man rushed behind me, held me behind and groped me. I tried to get away from him but he held me firmly. I almost had to be forced away from his grip after I raised an alarm and I immediately ran outside. I really admired this man. I loved his music but I was highly irritated. When I got home, I still showed my family the video before I dropped the bomb. I went to bed that night watching the videos of the talented musician that I really admired with mixed feelings. The days that followed weren't any better. I had to conduct vox-pops on this man, asking people what they loved about him. I didn't even know how to feel. When he died and I kept seeing the news everywhere, all I could remember was the humiliating incident. My best friend asked me if I was okay, and my mother told me how uncomfortable she felt seeing everyone worship the man and was wondering how I felt about it. How did I feel? Was I glad that he had died? Did I hate him or dislike him? Honestly, no. Do I still think his music is great? Yes. Would I listen to his songs? Maybe. Sometimes I think about these unfortunate experiences and I'm angry with myself for not hating my abusers. I should hate them right? Imagine not knowing how to feel about a terrible thing someone has done to you because you remember all the good that they have done. If you're feeling this way, I just want to let you know that it's okay to feel what you feel. Sometimes you hate them and sometimes you don't. But don't ever beat yourself up about feeling any type of way. If you feel like you can forgive them, it's fine but if you can't forgive them, that's equally okay. I've heard people talk about how it is impossible to heal from abuse if you don't forgive your abuser but I've also read too many articles that say otherwise. People shouldn't tell you how to feel about these things, it's pretty complex so it's okay to heal at your own pace.

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Krister Axel

Music Blogger and Memoirist at CHILLFILTR.com

Ashland, United States