If you yourself are the independent, strong, alpha female type — or if you know someone who is — you need to read this. This is not a “I may seem strong but I’m really crying inside” type of article, although those are just as important; this article is about how the strongest of women are viewed after any type of domestic violence
Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse are extremely common in today’s society, but there seems to be a lack of understanding that a strong, independent woman is just as susceptible to this as anyone. Yes, your best friend who rides motorcycles, performs more sit-ups and pull-ups than most men, is also susceptible to this type of violence.
Every woman is.
Of course, I never really considered myself to be this “strong, bad-ass woman,” but after continuously hearing comments about my physical strength — and emotional strength — from friends and family I went along with it. After all, I am quite independent. I know I can handle anything life throws at me, and I’m not afraid of sh*t (excuse the language). I don’t dwell on negative feelings, I’m confident, and I say what is on my mind with no reservations.
So maybe, yeah, I am an alpha female but therein lies the problem.
I am a domestic violence survivor. The abuse I endured was mostly verbal and emotional abuse, until one day when it became physical and I ended up on the floor with his hand on my throat. That day, I remembered something my grandma had said to me, when someone else in our family was physically abused, she said, “I know if that [abuse] happened to you, you’d beat (spouse) with a baseball bat.” Did I beat him with a baseball bat? No. I did try to fight back, but I lost.
As strong as I am, nothing could prepare me for trying to protect myself from the one person who swore to always love and protect me. The look in his eyes that night wasn’t love, and it was something I will never forget.
If your strong, independent friend/sister/daughter opens up to you about any type of abuse, there are a few things you and society needs to know.
- We’re not freaking lying to you. For “strong women” like me opening up is already hard enough, but opening up to you about what we’ve been going through? It’s nearly impossible. Why? Because it has likely been going on for a long time, and we never mentioned a single word about it. Not one word. So if I come to you, listen and remember: no matter how strong I am physically, how much I can weightlift, and how fast I can run, this happened. I’m still a woman, who was overtaken and hurt physically and emotionally by the person who was supposed to protect me. Do not assume that I am lying just because you think I can “take him” in a fight. So wrong, so, so wrong.
- We’re telling you because we need you. Yes, we are a force to be reckoned with, and we like to handle most situations on our own, but if I’m breaking down telling you about the abuse, I really, truly, need you. I might need you to hold my hand and drag me to the hospital to get pictures of the bruises. I might need you to drive me to a therapist’s office. I might need you to tell me what to do. (I know I needed this). So please, use your common sense here because right now I don’t have much, and your friend/sister/daughter needs your support.
- Letting people down is one of the hardest parts. At least it was for me. Feeling like I let my friends down who stood by my side while I married this man. Feeling like I let my father down. These feelings aren’t easy to deal with, and it coincides with my first point: I was afraid to tell half of my family because I knew they would assume that either A) I’m exaggerating the severity of what happened or B) I will just get over it. I needed reminding that friends and family can provide unconditional love and support, especially during one of the most difficult situations any woman can go through.
- Don’t forget about me because you know I’m strong enough to get over this. Many women in this situation do not feel strong enough to move on. We need a lot of help, and even the strongest women need support. Sure, it may be true that, because of who the “alpha-female” is by definition, we can see the situation from a new perspective and realize that we are worth so much more, but not everyone can do that on their own. Ask me to dinner, go on a hike with me, but remember to be yourself. I don’t need or want fake sympathy, I just need you.
- We all handle this differently. This is perhaps the most important point. Am I a strong person? Yes. But I am still a person. I hid the emotional abuse for so long that it tore me apart inside. Remember that you absolutely know someone who has gone through abuse, or is going through it now. Everyone handles things differently, but I needed the world to know a different perspective. I NEVER would have imagined that people would assume I am lying or exaggerating just because they think I can hold my own and that I am not susceptible to abuse. EVERYONE is susceptible. Never forget that!
If you or someone you know is being abused emotionally, verbally, or physically, seek help. Nothing hurts more than being abused by someone you love, and feeling alone.
If you’re one of these strong women who is afraid to seek help, get your best friend by your side and get the help you need! There are insurmountable resources for survivors of domestic violence, I refrain from saying victim because the term “victim” represents defeat but we won’t be defeated by the actions of someone else. Get up and act like the alpha that you are, and grab this situation by the balls.
Written by survivors and best friends S & L.