Growing up in school listening to Manson was a right of passage. I even once stole a much music mix tape just because it had a song of his on it – thirty years later? I have no idea what song it was, but I stole the tape because the music helped.
It helped me to clear out my head and the trauma, and I as a 13 year old girl, had no idea that the same person who was helping me to escape my trauma, was someone who was abusing women in far worse ways than I was and had been abused up to that point.
Tonight an article came out in Rolling Stone about the evil, heinous things that men did to women that we know and respect, women that we look up to and love. Knowing what I know now about men, I’m not even remotely surprised, but I wonder, a lot about those women, those kinds of women.
I am watching Red Notice, listening to the rain in my messy apartment, wondering if somewhere in Hollywood there is a woman crying herself to sleep in the epitome of luxury.
ABUSERS DO NOT CARE ABOUT RACE, CREED, NATIONALITY, RELIGION, ORIENTATION, SIZE, OR COLOR. They ONLY care about destroying your life to make them better.
We aren’t that different, the women he abused, and myself. We were held against our will, starved, beaten, raped, tortured for years, and all through the article only one question appears in my mind: “Why didn’t they leave?”
Because it never starts out that way. No guy slaps you in the face on the first date, they wait. They wait until you feel safe and comfortable, until you feel like you can trust them, and then wham! They lock you in a room and they laugh while you scream for freedom, for what is rightfully yours by law, by all the laws of this entire universe.
And then someone looks you in the eye, as you try to hang your head with shame that doesn’t belong to you and has the fucking nerve to ask you why you didn’t leave.
I am going to go into all the reasons that we don’t leave when we know we should, why we wait until they get bored, until they move on, until they decide that they’ve seen what they need to see, and can move on without worrying about how their treatment of us will affect us for the rest of our lives.
They don’t give a flip about our emotional state after they’ve disrupted the peace some of us have spent entire lifetimes trying to cultivate, they don’t care that their interruption in our lives teaches us to sleep the same way people in prison learn to sleep, with one eye open, and a desire to remain frozen in place until they vanish the same way they broke into our lives again.
I have a stalker. He was in my house. His hand was on my fucking head. I felt him touch me, I heard him talk to me the way a normal man might talk to his daughter, I heard him ask why I scream during the day and cry at night, I heard him, and I didn’t move a muscle.
I stayed perfectly put, and then just as soon as he showed up, he was gone. A doctor might call this paranoia, especially because I exhibit all the signs. I scream randomly for no apparent reason, I shake when I try to close my eyes, and I do all of the things that people do when they are fucking terrified, because they KNOW their abusers are back, and no one is listening when they call for help.
Too many people – women specifically – but sometimes men also, end up dead, and then their stories turn into movies for our entertainment.
In Red Notice Ryan Reynolds details a moment with his character’s father – dad thinks kid has stolen his watch, watch goes missing, dad doesn’t speak to kid for year. That hit hard, because my mom’s ex-boyfriend once slapped me on the face so hard he left a full man sized handprint on my face for over a week.
He was told to go to anger management, and that was what it took to get him out of our lives, still I forgave him, because that’s what I do. I always forgive the men and even the women who neglect and abuse my pain for their pleasure.
Too many times people come out when an abuser is brought to light and there are always only two groups:
- Why didn’t she/they/he/them leave?
- Well are you surprised?
Both these groups of people deserve to be punched in the balls. Yes, I said that shit, and no I feel no shame about it.
Neither of these responses are helpful. It’s not helpful to hear “why didn’t you just escape?” Because you fucking pansy ass fuck, if we’d been able to cut the hand ties, break through the brainwashing, ignore the fact that we’d had a needle stuck in our arm, while being beaten up by SEVERAL people at the same time, and on TOP of all that, get over the fact that some of the men in those rooms were once friends and allies, we fucking would have.
If No one Teaches YOU how to create Healthy Boundaries, YOU have GOT to choose to teach yourself.– Devon J Hall
No one, on this planet, or any other, chooses or decides to be a victim of actual rape – which does not include the forced kink sex which is perfectly fine with respect and boundaries.
The problem with abusers is that they have no off switch, they don’t give a flying fuck about your boundaries, or respecting your safe words. They don’t give a shit about your needs, desires, or how you’re going to feel about your experience with them afterwards.
And because inevitably everyone who finds out is going to at SOME point ask you why you didn’t leave, in a variety of ridiculously stupid ways, you’re stuck feeling ashamed, because hey, why DIDN’T you leave?
In my case, after that horrible night, I became the CIA agent that I’d always wanted to be. Quietly watching, quietly waiting, quietly sitting in the same spot, acting like everything was fine, until I made my abusers so uncomfortable, that it was just easier for them to shun me than it was for them to tell me to get lost.
And months later, almost a full year and a half actually after the last rape “session,” I went on a trip to Winnipeg, after asking if I could go – yes I’m serious – and came back to men who were so utterly confused by my suddenly submissive in their face behavior, that they demanded I leave and never come back.
It was that year that I started Loud Mouth Brown Girl, both middle fingers up. I made a list of names, in case something happened to me, and I sent it to a friend in the USA. I also sent several others to friends in Asia, Europe and other places, and did everything I possibly could to ensure that if something DID happen, then someone was going to be watching my back.
My phone has been cloned and is being tracked – and while this may sound paranoid, it’s also the benefit that comes with being a former member of Anonymous, who deliberately doxed herself, in order to start taking steps to escape the abuse, knowing full well the cops wouldn’t help.
That’s how many times I reported what happened to me, once to an undercover cop, once to a fireman, and 3 times to actual police officers who stopped returning my phone calls, before they finally decided to take me seriously after reading 6 journals written over a 3-4 day time span. And then they had me committed.
I had to go to Vancouver, lose my shit in every single way, and threaten several cops before screaming until I couldn’t breath, before people started to listen. All because just when I thought I had escaped, I learned that the man who had become my counselor, and one of my confidants – my only one at that point – worked for Fraser Health, was well trusted, was also one of the men who’d been there the night I was gangraped.
“Why didn’t you leave?”
When you are in the kind of situation that I was in – that Manson’s victims were in – where the abuser has money, access, privalege, and the ear of several police officers who actually know what’s up and are getting paid to keep their mouths shut, you are called crazy. You are called psychotic, you are told that your voice doesn’t matter, by people who know you better, because they’ve hung out with you for a month or two.
I remember one night several years ago, when he came back, and I’d woken up KNOWING he had been in the house while I’d been asleep, I had a panic attack and called 911 because I couldn’t breath and I was alone.
My neighbor – a woman who I loath who is the niece of another woman I loath – told the paramedics that I drink. The attending officer (no joke,) told me if I didn’t calm down I’d be arrested, during a panic attack.
Shortly after that I’d had another on an airplane, and we all know how that went.
BUT WHY DIDN’T YOU FUCKING LEAVE?
We are conditioned to believe that our safety is our responsibility, that we are the only ones who can save ourselves, and to a certain extent that’s true in some cases, in other cases however, our safety is entirely dependent on the people who know, or knew, and chose to remain silent.
We get stuck in patterns of abuse because we know what happens when we try to leave. It has been more than five years since I left my abusers behind, and five years later they are STILL harrassing me. They see me in the streets and they shun me in ways that let me know “I” fucked up.
It doesn’t matter that I was kidnapped, drugged, and beaten, in an effort to prove my loyalty to people who legit wanted to murder the SAME people, who call me a rat today. It doesn’t matter that I was burned, beaten, and tortured for years on end by their fathers, or their bosses.
It doesn’t matter that I was turned into a child sex slave in my own home. ALL that matters is that I “DID” leave, and that I DID escape and that I did everything I possibly could, to ensure that no matter where I go, whether I am online or off, there are people who know where I am, what I am doing, and what I am wearing at every moment of the day.
I am quite literally the most protected woman on the planet because of the amazing society of people that the internet has provided for me, but the average victim? The average victim wouldn’t have made it this far.
Call it luck, call it Jesus, call it the divine intervention of a thousand ancient entities or more, I am still here, and I’ve had to fight like hell to get this far – to get to a place where I live openly with depression. A place where I can barely function most days unless I am writing about what I’ve been through, so that if anything ever does happen, there is a catalogue of information to lead the cops – if they actually end up giving a fuck – to who might be my final, killer or whatever.
THIS is why we do not just leave.
We have reasons for not leaving, and honestly sometimes it’s purely because our lives are easier to save when we stay. Some days it’s easier for us to keep being beaten down, then it is just to walk away because we know that often times walking away means that we will end up deader than dead.
The next time someone shares their story with you, try:
Thank you for trusting me.
I have people who came back from first grade when they found out what happened to me, the show of support and love has been mind numbing, and scary, because I’m not used to it.
I’m used to screaming inside my head or privately at home, not being sure if anyone can hear me, and constantly feeling like at any moment he might return and slit my throat. I am not planning for a future anymore. A few weeks ago I had all kinds of plans for my future, and for the future of this website, and now once again I am fighting for survival.
My bank cards have to be replaced, my identification, even my bus pass and vaccine passport have to be replaced, and it took me a REALLY long time to gather those items, to see my face on ID and to let myself believe that I, Devon, J, Hall, exist, outside a world filled with trauma and abuse, and now I have to start all over again.
There are people who know what happened, and so no, I’m not calling the police, because I don’t have time or energy to face being stuck in a hospital again, instead of having cops actually investigate. I’m not telling them because I’m too fucking tired to deal with the “well are you sure you didn’t just misplace your keys, your wallet, and maybe imagine that he was in your house and that the broken door jam is actually your fault?” Yeah, he broke my door jam, but if I tell the cops do you know what they’ll tell me? That I did it myself.
Cops used to be a place you were supposed to go when you needed help, but too many times, especially in my town, cops are stuck in the “us vs them” mentality, and when they see how much money flows through the hands of men and women that they arrest, it’s difficult to resist temptation.
Can I prove that there are crooked cops in Surrey? Absolutely not, but do I know for a fact that corruption exists in this town? Without a shadow of doubt, and yet if I say something, if I reach out to the press, if I talk to other cops, they’ll tell me that I’m paranoid, that gunshots are really just fireworks, as if I can’t tell the difference.
So I choose the tenuous grip that I have on my mental health, over the perception of safety that cops are supposed to provide but rarely do.
Sometimes it’s not about our safety, sometimes we don’t call the cops, because not calling the cops is just fucking easier, and when we fight back, when he breaks into our houses and we kill him in self defense, we go to prison for murder, even though we’ve been talking about this man being an abuser this woman being an abuser, for more than twenty years.
I have used this site to document my experiences with abuse before and I will forever continue to, but I’ll say this once and for all: Never, ever, ask a victim or a survivor why they didn’t leave, and if you do I hope you get punched in the face.
We don’t leave because leaving ends up with us being stalked, harrassed, and murdered, after years of being told by everyone in our lives, that we are nuts.
I am a very lucky, blessed, loved, and protected women, but too many women and children don’t have the Krisya Ohana that I have, they don’t have the support, and the understanding of the amount of people that I do, so to every single person who has ever come forward. Who has ever shared their story, or who has just escaped, and managed to build a new life for yourself…I see you.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall