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There’s More to Rosie’s Story

Published: April 30, 2024

The sound of a motorcycle sent me down memory land the other day. Not every motorcycle has this effect, just a specific kind of road bike with a higher-pitched sound, the changing gears as the bike comes to a stop, rumbles for a few seconds, and the engine turns off. It’s been almost a decade since the person I attach to that sound has been in my life.

Looking at me today, you wouldn’t know that I experienced abuse. If you know me, see the way I move about in the world, I don’t think you would guess. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? So many life experiences – particularly the bad ones – aren’t visible, aren’t evident to outsiders. Even during the years that I was suffering most, my friends and colleagues didn’t know. If they suspected anything, nothing was said.

At the time, I didn’t seek help. I didn’t think I deserved it. The abuse I experienced was psychological, not physical. In my mind that made it lesser, not worth reporting, not worth worrying other people about it. I was always trying to explain it away, mostly as internal dialogue or desperate late-night text messages when we were apart and fighting.

Over the course of four years, I unraveled. All of my friendships from college faded away, I abandoned hobbies, stopped being creative. In the earlier years, I was working on a Master’s degree, broke, and using work as an excuse not to hang out with my peers. Later, the few colleagues I saw at my office job didn’t know how desperately I wanted to be included, to hang out after work. It didn’t take long before they just stopped asking, chalking it up to me being anti-social or busy. But the truth was that if I was late getting home, it would spark an argument with my partner. So I just went home, only saw him and his friends. Then just him. I didn’t know who I was anymore. 

During this period of my life, I drank too much and slept too little, exercised non-stop and dieted or binge-age. Arguments always got heated, with many nights spent wandering around downtown at three in the morning to clear my head. 

But there were a couple of bright spots. Two friends, a couple, were less threatening to him, so I saw them occasionally. They didn’t try to force me to leave him but they made sure I knew they were there. Then, during one of our many breakups, I ran into an old friend on the bus, then again a few days later. It felt like a sign. She ended up being a lifeline, someone I could finally open up to and find a new way forward.

Today, almost a decade later, I wish I had known that there was help, that people who are victims of psychological abuse are equally deserving of support. I wish I had known about Family Services of Greater Vancouver, about victim support work.

I work in this sector in part because I want to help people like me. I don’t know what they look like, walking by strangers on the street. Because most people back then didn’t recognize what I was going through. But there was more to my story then and I know there’s more to everyone’s story today. I think it’s important to remember that as we go about our days and our lives. It’s important to talk about it. 

 

 

*Please note that this is not a picture of Rosie, whose name has also been changed for privacy.