“Relationships can be very traumatic. But being in a healthy relationship can be very empowering.” ~ Kangana Ranaut
Trigger Warning: This post talks about abusive and toxic relationships.
I am interrupting my (scattered) regular blog post scheduling for a topic brought to light thanks to The Bachelorette. Yes, you read that correctly. Even I am shocked. I have always thought of the Bachelorette as that guilty pleasure, the show I watched when I needed a distraction, a laugh, and yes even feel better about my love life. A show I would gather round the television with my girlfriends, drink rosé and have a fun light hearted evening.
This season was not so light hearted. Because of moving and travel, I couldn’t watch it religiously nor could I have Bachelorette nights with girlfriends. Thankfully it was almost a relief. This season showcased a misogynistic, narcissistic, psychopath who did not understand the word no, did not listen to Hannah, (The Bachelorette) and furthermore tried to manipulate her into his version of HIS perfect woman.
In a nutshell he was that guy most of us have dated and now have PTSD from.
After weeks of manipulation, getting physical with some of the guys in the mansion, and blatantly lying to her face, the catalyst came when he not only ignored every word she was saying during an important conversation, but slut shamed her in the name of religion, which resulted in the sound bite heard ’round the world, “I have had sex, and Jesus STILL loves me.” Realizing his manipulation tactics weren’t working, he tried to backtrack and Hannah in an I am Woman Power Move kicked him to the curb.
You would a thunk that would be the end of it. But not understanding no means no, he showed up at the rose ceremony and tried to mansplain his way through it. Hannah was having none of it. Neither were the three other gentlemen who were there. Neither were any of the guys at the Men’s Tell All when multiple guys schooled Luke P on how to really treat a woman, and honestly just human freaking beings.
My Own Luke P
I am one of the first to admit this show is scripted and edited to fit the producers’ vision. It is “Reality Television” with quotes. Yet, this show brought a few home truths to light. Important ones. The irony of it being The Bachelorette where many feminists would argue it does NOTHING for feminism is not lost on me. But Hannah B did exactly that. Feminism can and is a former beauty queen in a tiara, and she stood up for anyone who has experienced abuse, stalking and any and all forms of an unhealthy relationship.
She stood up for me.
I won’t lie, watching this season flared up some major emotions in me that I
tried to ignore thought I had dealt with. Watching last night, as this guy disregarded over and over again what Hannah B was saying, manipulating her words, and pausing to think how best he could weaponize his words to get what HE wanted so he could control her, threw me right back to five years ago when I was dealing with my own Luke P.
A guy who emotionally abused, gaslit, stalked and attempted to control me for over a year. It was a year of misery, self loathing, blaming myself, and becoming a shell of the person I once was, because I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know what I had done wrong to cause this to happen. How my words which included no repeatedly, were not respected and if that meant I really was this horrible person who deserved to be treated this way by a man.
That year, and even years later, I was constantly looking behind my back, screening calls, and frequently changing my name on social media and any and all handles as a way to hide myself despite trying to establish a public career that needed me to be front and center on social media. Unknown or blocked numbers would send me into a panic attack less it was one of the thousands of nasty voicemails and text messages I received from “Him.” I still get anxiety when I don’t recognize a number or see a gazillion messages which is why to this day I have everything on mute.
There is no denying the scars I still have from that year of hell, which have had a major impact on my relationships and dating life. Aside from a handful of people who had my back through the whole ordeal, I only recently started talking about this, because part of me still blamed myself and felt alone in what happened.
But it isn’t my blame or my shame nor am I alone. I unfortunately know to many people who have been in some form of a toxic relationship. Who have been stalked by men (and women) who think they have the right to control and manipulate someone else in the hopes of molding them.
Last night Hannah B not only called out Luke P, but she called out any guy who ever felt he had the right to treat a woman like crap. Furthermore she stood up for herself without any guy needing to rush in and play the white knight. Not that there weren’t twenty guys willing to, because there were. But in a true show of respect and a direct contradiction to Luke P’s actions, they deferred to her and not only listened but RESPECTED her decisions. Yes, there are way to many men like Luke P in this world, but last night the Bachelorette men showed their were twenty to his one.
Last night Hannah B, in this post Me-Too era world, not only stood up for all of us, but opened the dialogue to an important conversation many of us have experienced, but few have actually opened up about. It is a conversation we NEED to continue to have and know there is no shame in it. Everyone deserves to have a partner that instead of “leading” holds your hand as you walk side by side. THAT is what a healthy relationship is and that is what each and every person deserves. To be loved as we are, flaws and all.