Lauren Mayberry, lead singer of CHVRCHES, wrote an incredibly powerful essay about an abusive ex for Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter series. I’m going to say this up front: regardless of how you might feel about Dunham, Mayberry’s letter is important. It is a gripping read, one that illustrates how easily one can slip into an abusive relationship.
Stereogum shared an excerpt from the essay, which goes live tomorrow:
We were arguing, again. Like most times it happened, I wasn’t quite sure why he was so upset. I had tried to placate him; I had tried to reason; I had tried to apologize, but nothing seemed to be having any impact other than making the situation worse. Then he backed me against a wall and slammed his hand repeatedly on the surface above my head. When I broke down in shock, he said, “Oh, don’t act like I hit you.” That moment was the final wake-up call I shouldn’t have needed.
Things like this had happened before but to a lesser extent. He would pull me by my arms and wrists when he was frustrated and thought I wasn’t listening (and then say he was sorry). He would slam doors on me (and then apologize). He once grabbed at the steering wheel of my car when I was driving so we could pull over to “talk,” then shouted and beat his fists repeatedly on the dashboard when I didn’t stop the vehicle.
At the time, it felt like things changed slowly, like I woke up one day in a relationship and a reality that I did not recognize, but I’m sure the signs were there the whole time. When we met, he seemed charming. He was smart, passionate, creative, and caring. But after the first few months, he became increasingly paranoid, insecure, jealous, and depressed. Everything became my fault. I was careless. I was stupid. I was selfish. I was not trustworthy. I was a weak person who would fail at anything she tried so I shouldn’t bother. He hated me, but then he loved me and I was the best person in the world — until I wasn’t anymore.
Mayberry’s experience is one that, sadly, a lot of people share. If you’re even tangentially aware of CHVRCHES, it’s likely that you’re aware of Mayberry’s own vocal stance on misogyny, both online and off. For her to share her story like this displays an incredibly vulnerable side of herself, one that usually only shows up in the music she creates with CHVRCHES.
What’s especially poignant about this letter, and this excerpt in particular, are the warning signs of an abusive relationship that we all too often ignore. It’s important to be honest with yourself and look at what’s really going on. Make no mistake: relationships like these are dangerous, and it’s so hard to be honest with yourself when these warning signs pop up. If Mayberry’s story can serve as some kind of high-profile example, then take it as such. Learn from it.
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