I want to explain it to you. I want to put it into words so that anyone who has never been through it can understand.
But I can’t.
All I know is when I hear about other people going back to their abusers, I don’t wonder why like I used to once upon a time before it happened to me. All I know is that despite all logic, I did the same thing. I kept going back, when I had no reason to believe it would be any different.
I wish that I could explain it to you.
I wish, too, that I could explain it to myself.
I look back, and I remember continuing to go back. I remember following his orders, and I want to scream, “Don’t you know you don’t have to? Don’t you know what he says is only words? Where is your free will?” I can’t explain how it happened, but I lacked any ability to disobey him. It’s scary to look back, when the rest of my life has been a series of stubbornness, of independence, of self-reliance, of hard-headedness to a fault. When it came to anyone else, if they told me what to do, even if I was about to do that very thing, I wouldn’t do it. I needed to take credit for every decision I made. But with this man, he told me what I could and could not do, what I must wear, who I could and could not talk to, and I obliged obsequiously.
I look back, and I don’t remember making conscious decisions to follow his orders; I felt I had no choice. I begged him to let me confide in someone, anyone, about the sexual encounters between him and myself, and I made a case for each prospective confidant. All he had to say was no, and the option was off the table. I can’t explain how unequivocally the thought did not occur to me that just because he banned me from doing something didn’t mean I couldn’t do it anyway. And there is no other point in my life, before or after, that I have found myself so utterly unable to rebel.
I sometimes wonder if some of the memories I’ve repressed offer an intelligible explanation for how he was so thoroughly able to control me. I wonder if he did threaten me or my loved ones, and I’ve blocked it out. I wonder if he gave me anything to fear besides losing his friendship, because although he meant so much to me, it seems unbelievable I would sacrifice and endure so much at his hand for the sake of keeping him in my life when all reason suggests I should have hoped to lose him. But maybe it was enough that he convinced me he was precious to me before he showed his true, abusive colors.
But if that doesn’t feel like explanation enough to you, don’t worry, it doesn’t to me, either.
Most of the time I try not to imagine the content of the memories I have lost or the reasons they remain unreachable. I try to focus on what I know. More importantly, I try to remind myself that it doesn’t matter why I went back. It doesn’t make it my fault that he abused me just because I should’ve known better. I wish I had known better. I wish I had stopped going places alone with him. But at the end of the day, the undeniable fact is, he is the one who continued to force his penis inside of me. He is the one who continued to hurt me. He is the one who would punch me in the stomach as his preferred method of birth control. And I can question my choices, my sanity, my culpability for showing up to places with a person who had done those things to me already, but I can never be blamed for the choices he made to violate and harm me.
Even if the explanation that made the most sense was that I made poor decisions, I did not deserve to be abused.
Ultimately, while the question of why I continued to place trust in a person who continued to assault me is an interesting one, I think the better question to contemplate is why did this person continue to assault me?