Even as a bright young woman with confidence and a strong personality, I found myself falling for a man who emotionally and physically abused me. How did that happen—and to me? As I look back, I see where I went wrong. And I can’t reiterate this enough: a woman is never the cause of a man hitting or abusing her. I say this because through past and recent choices in relationships I had to reevaluate my definition of love.
To accept abusive behavior is to believe you’re not worthy of anything else. And let’s be perfectly clear: abuse is never the victim’s fault. If you’ve accepted this to be true, you probably resigned yourself to a false perspective of what love is—you believed you were not worthy of respect and adoration because an abusive partner told you so.
When it comes to domestic violence, much of the attention is focused on physical violence, but equally as deadly are emotional and verbal abuse which almost always precede physical violence.
There’s a certain predatory manipulation that happens to make us accept cruel and violent treatment. Victims are first isolated, slowly but methodically separated from family and friends or anyone who truly cares about us and our wellbeing. Victims are made to believe that our abuser is the only one who cares about us, and we falsely think that’s love. But that’s not love; that’s control. We interpret rage-filled jealousy as passion, but that’s not passion—that’s possessiveness. And possessiveness is not about love. It’s about control. You’re not a possession. You’re a person worthy of love!
So, how do we know what love is and what it is not?
As a child, I never had a front-row seat to healthy marriages and relationships. No matter how bright and happy of a childhood I had, love was on a completely different stratosphere. Every song and movie depicted love as a battlefield or a challenge you have to suffer through. So, logically, I started to believe that love is supposed to be hard. I believed the lie that relationships go through good times and bad times and that verbal and physical abuse are simply part of the love journey. I accepted the bad days because I believed the good ones were around the corner. But I soon recognized that the good days were no longer visible because no matter how happy I found myself, I knew a violent trigger was coming. And I accepted it because I had a flawed perspective on love.
As a woman, I was taught to be the one that holds the man up, and if I did what I was told, I wouldn’t get hit. But the biggest lesson I learned (and recently relearned) is that when a man loves you he protects you, your heart and your reputation. He doesn’t harm you emotionally or physically. And if he’s harming you, that is not love. No matter how charming and nice he may seem, if he’s being verbally or physically abusive, you should consider that perhaps he’s not the right person for you.
Love is not violent. Love is kind. And to me, abuse provided an exit out of a relationship that was not meant for me. Abuse in my case, was the exit I needed to understand what love was really about.
About Annie Apple:
Annie Apple is the founder and president of Raising A Pro, a 501c3 organization. She is a mother of four, including Eli Apple of the New York Giants and joined ESPN as a contributor to Sunday NFL Countdown in 2016. Annie manages and contributes to her lifestyle blog, SurvivinAmerica.com.