I Dodged a Bullet: Big Little Lies, Male Aggression and MeToo

I’ve just finished watching Big Little Lies, a TV miniseries that doesn’t shy away from the topics of domestic and sexual violence, the patriarchal control of women and emotional abuse. The overwhelming feeling I have about the show is one of immense sadness at some of the characters’ suffering at the hands of violent and controlling men. I am also grateful that these issues are being explored openly, no matter how sad they make me, because they need to be discussed, confronted head on, and hopefully eradicated from society. The recent paradigm shift that is the MeToo Movement also deals with similar themes: women sharing accounts of sexual violence, abuse, and misconduct, and refusing to stay silent about what is happening to them any longer.

Another feeling I have after watching Big Little Lies is one of immense relief. Why? Because I know from watching this show that I dodged a bullet. The character of Perry, a good looking businessman who sadistically controls and beats his wife Celeste, subjecting her to sexual and psychological violence as well, reminds me very much of the man I wrote about in my last poem, I Christen Thee Asshole. The person I wrote about will, as I stated in the poem, remain nameless, as his abuse of me (both sexual and psychological) over a two year period, renders him undeserving of a real name, a name so common it is no doubt shared with men who are much better human beings than him. It’s not fair to them either.

I realise now, both after writing my poem, and watching Big Little Lies, that this abusive man was displaying traits back then, at age 18-19, that were real red flags, signs of a man who may well develop into a woman-beater. He punched holes in walls in his family home, repeatedly. He was jealous of me, isolated me from friends, tried to control and wear me down with criticism and emotional abuse, cheated on me repeatedly, and used and abused me sexually in countless disturbing ways. He also raped me. Sure, there was some shit going down in his family around then, but that, coupled with the kinds of control and abuse he subjected me to at the same time, point to a serious disrespect of women, and a need to control and relieve his pain through violence, aggression, and sexual assault.

I suffered a great deal at the hands of this person. Until the MeToo Movement came along — which made me completely rethink my sexual history — I thought I was somewhat past this experience. However, upon reflection in recent months, I realise that he damaged me in ways that may never resolve. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, since then, he has turned his violence away from walls and towards women. There was already so much violence in the way he treated me sexually, that surely this would be an easy progression. Back then he wore me into submission and I aimed to please. I hate to think what a more assertive woman might encounter with this man if she dared to say no to him. I can’t help but thank my lucky stars that he never hit me, and I wonder if it was only a matter of fortuitous timing; that the beast hadn’t fully developed yet. I dodged a bullet, but only partially and only just. It grazed me and left a wound that hasn’t yet healed and probably never will.

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