After leaving an abusive relationship, Lukshana Gopaul discovered the power of gratitude.
“I’m grateful that even though someone tried to make me become a victim, instead, they killed their own humanity.”
I remember my childhood quite vividly. My father would take my sister and me to a kids’ corner every Sunday. We would get prizes and we would feel like special little princesses. Growing up, we were loved.
One time when I was 6 years old and my sister was 3, I inadvertently hurt her while opening an umbrella and my mom scolded me. I ran to the basement and stayed there to sulk for some hours. When my dad came home from work, he was outraged that my mom had scolded me. He comforted me throughout that evening.
In short, as a child, I knew nothing but love.
In my teens, I was rebellious and gutsy and my parents let me have my space to grow, to experiment with fashion and music, to become an individual. But their attitude had changed; what to me looked like helicopter parenting to them was simply parenting. Because in my society, not only was violence against women tolerated, you had to take precautions to never bear that onus yourself.
There were a slew of warnings. I would only get to realize this much later in my life.
He was my first long-term boyfriend. I met him when I was 19. Even then I remember being revolted by his sexist ways and his natural proclivities toward slut shaming and bullying. I was at the acme of my naiveté. My evolution never really included suspicion of others. I thought people would be naturally inclined towards goodness. I was too busy imbibing the beauty of art, literature, and music to even give a thought to people's ulterior motives.
For two years I endured his sempiternal grievances which led me to believe that he didn't want a girlfriend, he wanted someone he could own. He was beyond insecure, to the extent that this insecurity was the only trait he displayed. That others had the same freedom as he did was a foreign notion to him.
The thing about abusers is that they hold onto that thin line where you can translate your pity for them as love. To think that I let him in my world, unguarded, still makes me feel icky. The first sign of an abuser is that they thrive in filth, and I made the mistake of extending my altruistic principals toward the inherently filthy. I had resolved to leave him many times, but this time I was firmer in my stance. I couldn't see a future with a person whose entire identity reeked of negativity.
The day I left, the day he brutalized me, my petite frame was hurled around and it felt like I nearly drowned in my tears. I lost my child-like faith in humanity as he looked for ways to torture me. His 7-year-old brother bawled, shrieking in agony as he watched me being bludgeoned repeatedly in the place he called home. His screams still haunt me; how anyone could tear a child away from the sweet comforts of innocence is beyond me. Whilst it is my story of physical abuse, it is also the story of the callous theft of a child's innocence.
I accepted my fate with stolidity, because I couldn’t dwell on what happened. Honestly, it was neither interesting nor thought provoking. Someone who beats a vulnerable person is generally confined to the realm of one-dimensional personalities: the age-old troglodyte trope and the criminally insane. I mean if anything, it shows that that person has the aptitude of a deranged animal. There was nothing I could do to change what happened to me, and I was neither broken nor depressed. I was just happy to close the lid on the filthiest aspect of my life. I escaped and therein lies all my glory, none of his, though. I shudder to even think what it must be like for him—and others like him—to live with the cries of hapless victims as the background sound to one's miserable life.
While I have made my peace with what happened, I can only thank God for opening my eyes to this side of reality. I'm beyond grateful that violence was never the norm in my life; I'm beyond grateful that my parents raised my siblings and me in a secure and loving home. I’m beyond grateful that I didn’t learn a cycle of abuse and perpetuate it even further.
I’m grateful that in my house, the only thing that echoes is laughter. I’m grateful that when I love it’s not only visceral, it’s cerebral. I’m grateful that my standards are high, and that I do not have to browbeat people into not leaving me.
I’m grateful that even though someone tried to make me become a victim, instead, they killed their own humanity.
This story was published as part of the World Pulse Story Awards program. We believe everyone has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller!Learn more.