Hunter finally can say what he wants to Belos without fear of punishment.
But Belos was never just physically abusive, and there are plenty of ways for him to hurt Hunter without touching him.
CW: Emotional abuse/manipulation
“Hunter—you don’t have to do this. We can just leave him here in jail forever.”
“You said he’d been wanting to see me.”
“Y-yeah, but you don’t have to see him. He put you through a lot—if you want to walk away and never see him again—that’s good. It’s great. He can’t make you do anything anymore.”
Hunter took a deep breath. “Thank you, Luz. But… I want to talk to him. I need to talk to him. There’s stuff I need to say.”
Luz nodded and stepped away from the door. “I’ll be out here. If you need me.”
Hunter took another deep breath and pushed through the door. There were bars between him and the man inside.
“Ah, Hunter. I see the human passed along the message.”
“Her name is Luz.”
“Hm. You’re here, though.”
Another deep breath. “You still want to have some kind of relationship.”
“Of course I do, Hunter. You’re my family.”
“I… I need to get some stuff off my chest. And… it might hurt, but if we’re going to be talking again, it’s something that needs to be out in the open instead of pretending it’s all fine.” Hunter pushed on before Belos could respond. “It felt like I was more invested in the relationship than you were. It felt like I put more work into it than you did, and it always seemed like… no matter how hard I tried, you never seemed to notice, and when I really, really tried, and reached out, you just… didn’t care. And—I know you said it was okay that I was powerless, but every time it came up, you looked disappointed, or you acted like it was something that you could ‘fix’ by giving me a fake staff.” Hunter felt his hands clench into fists at the thought. “There is nothing wrong with not having magic, and you had no right to act like that! And… wild magic. You always treated it like it was lesser, even though you knew I was interested in it. And I know it took your family, I know that, but it isn’t all bad, and it was something I loved, but you treated it like dirt, and that was—it was wrong, and you were horrible for doing it.” Hunter blinked back tears. Don’t get upset. “I just… I’ve had this on my chest for a really long time, and I think we can repair this, I do, but I can’t just go back to the way things were.”
Belos stood up. “And here I thought we were family, and that I could reach out to you. Obviously, I was wrong, and you’re not who I thought you were. I put so much into our relationship! I kept trying to meet you there, kept trying to extend chances for you, and you always decided you’d rather side with palisman and wild magic! You wanted them more than you wanted me! Do you know how much that hurt, Hunter? That you’d choose them over me, even though I kept trying to reach out to you? As for your lack of magic—I tried so hard to be supportive! I never made a big deal out of it when it came up! I always considered you my nephew, even despite your lack of powers!” Belos shook his head. “I didn’t know you could be so hateful, Hunter.”
Tears streamed down from Hunter’s eyes, and guilt roiled in his stomach. “I—I didn’t mean to be hateful,” he whispered, “I’m sorry—I’m sorry, I wasn’t trying to hurt you, I—”
Belos turned his back to Hunter. “I could say more hurtful things, like you’ve done to me. But I’m not going to do that. I wish you the best in life, Hunter.”
No, no, no, you’re losing him, part of Hunter’s mind screamed, while the other part sighed in relief, he’s cutting it off. It’s over, you don’t have to continue this charade.
Hunter rubbed his arms. “Okay. I… I understand. Thank you for telling me how you felt. I just… tried to speak from the heart. I… I never meant to hurt you, but I know that I did, and I hope that one day, when it isn’t fresh… that you can realize that, and that I was just trying to make you understand how I felt. I’m sorry I hurt you—I wasn’t trying to. And I’m sure you were never trying to hurt me. So… I guess… goodbye. I hope you can be happy. I’m going to try to remember the good things. But… goodbye.”
He stepped outside, closing the door, his shoulders shaking uncontrollably. Luz wrapped her arms around him. “Hey.”
A sob burst out of Hunter’s throat, and tears streamed out of his eyes. “I—I thought—we could fix it,” he sobbed, “I thought—maybe—I would tell him what he did wrong—and he’d tell me what I did wrong—and we—we could make our relationship better. But it—it’s over. It’s over.” He cried into Luz’s shoulder. He felt sick, sick, sick, sick, and he couldn’t stop shaking, and he felt sad and angry and relieved and guilty all at the same time, and he was dizzy and nauseous.
“Oh, Hunter,” Luz said softly, rocking him back and forth, “Okay. Oooookay.”
“And he said—he said it’s my fault that our relationship was bad, and—and—”
“It wasn’t,” Luz said quietly, “It wasn’t your fault, Hunter.”
Hunter’s chest heaved as he sobbed, and Luz let him cry himself out. “Okay. Ooookay. Come on. Lets get you back home, and get you some tea, and I’ll get you any book you want. Any book. Amity will help. And I’ll make some light glyphs, and… I don’t know, what do you want to do?”
Hunter sniffed. “That sounds good,” he said wobbily, “I want to—to try a couple of new glyph combos?”
“You got it.” Luz led him outside and they started back towards the owl house. “I know it hurts. But it’s over now, and that’s what matters.”
It wasn’t over.
Hunter kept thinking about him, and every time he did, he just felt guilty all over again, and sad, and angry.
And he was with Luz, and Amity, and it was fine, and then Belos was there.
“Them? You chose them, over me? That’s really what you want?!”
“They’re better than you,” he whispered, “They’re ten times the people you ever were.”
“You chose them?!” Belos repeated in a scream
And Hunter woke up sweating, and feeling sick again, and he spent the rest of the night staying up.
And then there was the trial.
Luz told him he didn’t have to go.
But he did anyway.
Belos wouldn’t even look at him.
Hunter couldn’t stop looking at his uncle, feeling sick, sick, sick.
If I hurt you, then how come your eyes don’t immediately find me in a room?
If I hurt you, how come you don’t seem to be affected by me being here?
You hurt me—so if I hurt you, how come you don’t seem to feel the way I do, how come you don’t seem nervous or scared or sick to be in the same room as me?
How does someone who’s hurt you act like you don’t exist?
How do they act like they didn’t leave such a huge impact on your life?
If I hurt you, why does it seem like I didn’t impact you at all?
And even afterwards, even though he hadn’t seen Belos for months, even if it seemed like everything was FINE, and he had FORGOTTEN, and he hadn’t thought about Belos for a while, Eda would say something, and it wouldn’t even be about Belos, but it would still make Hunter think about him, and then the argument would play in his head, over and over and over.
He didn’t even apologize.
I apologized so many times for hurting him.
He didn’t apologize once.
He didn’t even acknowledge that he’d hurt me.
I didn’t put any effort into it.
Hunter threw a boot at the wall. Eda, Luz, and King were all out. “I WENT TO THE BAT FOR HIM,” he screamed, “I DEFENDED HIM, I GAVE MY LIFE TO HIM! EVEN IF I DIDN’T REACH OUT, EVEN IF I DIDN’T TRY TO BOND WITH HIM, HOW COULD HE SAY—” a sob rose up in his throat, cutting off his next words. “How could he say I didn’t put any effort into it?” he whispered
He was horrible to you.
Just move on.
Forget about him.
You have better friends, just leave him behind.
“Why does he still make me upset?” Hunter demanded to the air around him, “Why do I still feel horrible when I think about him?! How can he make me feel bad without even talking to me?!” He collapsed to his knees, tears tracking down his face. “Why can’t I just move on?
If you've ever had to deal with an abusive person in your life - like an abusive parent or partner - you've probably wondered what made them treat you that way. If you understand why abuse is happening, the thinking goes, you might be able to figure out how to make it stop.
So why do abusers do what they do? Do they have anger issues? Drinking problems? Past trauma? Personality disorders? Do they just need to get in touch with their feelings and learn how to communicate better?
Abusive behaviours come from abusive beliefs. Abusers - whether consciously or unconsciously - hold specific beliefs about relationships that drive their behaviour and allow them to justify the horrible things they do. Even if your abuser has never put their beliefs into words, you'll probably recognize a lot of these abusive beliefs:
You are responsible for my emotions. It is never my responsibility to reflect on my emotional reactions or learn better coping skills - it's your responsibility to stop doing things that make me angry or upset.
I must act on my emotions. If I am angry, I am going to lash out. You have no right to criticize me for that, and it's not my responsibility to learn to manage my emotions - you have to stop making me lash out at you. Asking me not to act on my emotions is controlling and wrong.
You will always be responsible for my emotions. Even if the relationship ends, you will continue to be responsible for my emotions, and I will expect you to continue to prioritize my feelings.
If I have feelings about something, it's my business. If something you do or think causes an emotional reaction in me, then I have a right to get involved or tell you what to do. My feelings must be the priority. You don’t have the right to tell me that it’s none of my business.
You must judge me on my intentions, not my actions. If I didn't mean to hurt you or scare you, then you don't have the right to be hurt or scared. No one has the right to try to hold me accountable unless I meant to hurt someone.
I get to decide what your intentions were. If you hurt me, you meant to hurt me. If you make me jealous, you meant to make me jealous. Nothing you do is ever accidental or unintended - everything you do is intentional and malicious, even if it was a response to something I did.
My feelings are genuine; your feelings are manipulation. If I'm upset, my feelings are real and important. If you are upset, you have an ulterior motive - you're just trying to be manipulative and get attention or sympathy for yourself.
You have freedoms because I allow you to. Every freedom you have in your life - like wearing what you want - it's because I generously allow it. I expect you to be grateful to me for that. I have the right to take those freedoms away whenever I want, and I expect you to obey.
If you set boundaries with me, you are mistreating me. If you really loved me, you wouldn't set boundaries with me. You are doing this to intentionally hurt me, which means I don't have to respect those boundaries.
You holding me accountable for hurting you is worse than me hurting you. My pain at being called out is worse than your pain at being mistreated. If I feel bad about something I did, I have already been punished enough. You trying to discuss the issue or hold me accountable is just your way of abusing me.
If I apologized for something, you have to forgive me. If the relationship has ended, you have to reconcile with me. You don't get to ask for more time apart or more discussion of the issue - once I've apologized, the matter is closed for good.
The relationship is not over until I say it is over. So long as I want a relationship with you, you must have a relationship with me. Your feelings are irrelevant. Even if we have broken up, you must remain available to me so we can get back together in the future. Not wanting a relationship with me means you are mistreating me or being immature.
I am the authority in this relationship. I am smarter and more perceptive than you. I know what is best for both of us. My version of events is always the correct one. I have superior judgement, taste and opinions. If you question me or disagree with me after I've given you the correct answer, you are disrespecting and mistreating me, or you are simply immature and incapable of knowing what’s good for you.
I have the right to control you. It is my absolute right to decide what you do and who you associate with. You have no right to disobey me. I am owed obedience and control; if you don’t give me those things, you are wronging me and cheating me out of the relationship I deserve.
If you resist my control, I am allowed to do whatever I think is necessary to get it back. Once you’ve resisted me, I am justified in whatever I do to regain control of you. I am not responsible for my actions when you resist my control; you forced me to do it, and it’s your own fault.
I should be your main focus. Everything else in your life comes secondary to me. When you make decisions, my feelings should be your first consideration. You are expected to make sacrifices for me and put me at the center of your life; I am not obligated to do the same for you.
If I spend money on you or do something for you, you are in debt to me. You spending money on me or doing things for me does not erase your debt to me, and I am never in debt to you. You are indebted to me for as long as I decide. I may decide that your belongings and earnings also belong to me, since I allow you to have them. I may also decide at any time that you owe me for gifts I gave you, even if they were meant to be gifts.
I am not abusive, and you are not allowed to tell me otherwise. I know what abuse is, and real abusers are significantly worse than me. If our relationship has ever had any good times or positive moments, it can’t possibly be abusive. If you accuse me of being abusive, you are the one abusing me, or you have been led astray by bad influences.
Relationships should be effortless (for me). I am owed a relationship that is peaceful and requires no real effort from me. It is your job to make sure we have that kind of relationship. If there is any tension or conflict in the relationship, it is your fault, and you are depriving me of the relationship I deserve to have.
Abusers and victims alike often buy into the narrative that abuse is rooted in anger issues - after all, abusers are frequently angry, and anger is an issue that can be treated. But this narrative just isn’t true. Abusers aren’t abusive because they are angry. Abusers are angry because they are abusive.
A non-abusive partner is not someone who has learned how to control their rage whenever you spend time with your friends or get home 15 minutes late from work. A non-abusive partner just doesn’t feel any rage in those situations. An abuser’s rage is firmly rooted in their beliefs about relationships - they feel entitled to a relationship that meets their impossible expectations, and when they inevitably don’t get it, they bubble over with fury. Whether they know it or not, they have firmly entrenched beliefs about how relationships should be, and those beliefs are at the heart of their abuse.
Can abusers stop believing these things? Maybe. If they can acknowledge that they have these beliefs, accept that these beliefs are dangerous and unreasonable and let go of these beliefs, maybe it’s possible for them to no longer be abusive in the future. Maybe. But it’s not your job to hang around and find out. If you’re in an abusive relationship of any kind, you deserve better. There are many people in this world who don’t hold abusive views of relationships, and you deserve to find happiness with them.
This applies to anyone, but I really want to emphasize this to my fellow survivors who went through trauma as children and/or teenagers.
I’m so sorry you lost part, most or all of your childhood. Please give your inner child what you can. This includes comfort but it also includes doing the things you didn’t get to if you can.
Play the fun games. Buy the tasty treats. Go on adventures to the park and swing on the swings. Watch cute movies. Make crafts. Blow bubbles. Or any things like that! Embrace your inner child and let that inner child enjoy things they never got to or didn’t get to enough.
It’s not too childish or too late. You can’t get your childhood back but you can still help your inner child.
Don't engage abusers. They thrive off of argument and making you flustered. You will not convince them to see your side. You will not convince them to consider the possibility that they could possibly be wrong.
Bold if you experienced it, italicize if you're not sure. If you read a line and it rings true for you, but you think 'that's my fault because I never said anything', bold that line! This is about your experience, not blame assignment. (tw for painful content ahead)
I couldn't count on having clean and decent appropriate clothing every day.
I couldn't count on having decent meals every day
It was my responsibility to make food/assure there's clothing even at a very young age, or there would be none
I couldn't count on being taken to a doctor when I needed it
I was not receiving proper vaccinations/medications as a child
I was not taken care of for my injuries, flu's, fevers, or health issues
I was left alone and ignored when sick
I felt guilty, ashamed and/or scared when sick
Nobody noticed if I was injured, sick, or scared of something that was happening to my body
It was safer for me to keep my sickness/injuries/medical fears to myself
I felt it would bother everyone, or make everyone mad with me if I admitted to being sick, hurt, or scared about my well being
I had to take care of other kids as a child, so my physical well being felt like an afterthought, it was something I was supposed to take care of myself
If I was taken care of physically, it was used as a blackmail later, I would be required to allow myself to be controlled as a return 'favour'
My medical issues were neglected to the point where they turned into long-term issues later
I haven't felt it was safe or welcome to open up to my parents or caretakers as a child
I was not encouraged or supported in expressing my emotions or experiences
I was not encouraged to speak about my passions, desires, or what I wanted from life
I was repeatedly attacked, shamed, ridiculed or manipulated with any private information I would share, forcing me to learn to hide
I was not welcome to speak unless I was somehow entertaining or giving out vital info
It was communicated to me in subtle or direct ways that it doesn't matter what I want or need, and that nobody cares
I was shamed and accused for wanting/needing attention
I was not receiving supportive or warm physical attention as a child (encouraging pats at the shoulder, affectionate hugs, being stroked in approving/affectionate way)
I felt uncomfortable receiving physical attention from my parents as a child because it communicated ownership and non-consensual enforcement, rather than approval and pride
I felt completely alone in any hardship and pain as a child, and knew nobody would stand by my side
I didn't feel safe asking for help, explanations, reassurance, comfort, physical attention or to be listened to
I felt like a burden if I wanted for someone to hug me and tell me it's all going to be okay
I was never comforted or reassured after crying or having a breakdown
I would get ignored, laughed at, humiliated or punished for crying, breaking down, or exploding in rage
I was taught that what I feel is irrelevant, and I would do better to stop expressing it
I was taught that expressing any painful emotion would get me nowhere, and it was better/safer to hide it
I spend hours crying or breaking down in pain/terror/stress/anxiety/catastrophizing alone with no comfort and nobody who cared or wanted to hear what I was going thru
I was to take the role of comforting and emotionally caretaking for my parents, or other children
My parents didn't notice I was depressed/anxious/psychologically unwell
My parents failed to provide me with a diagnosis for adhd, autism, or similar struggle, and I had to live and deal with it all on my own
My parents failed to believe me I was mentally ill or struggling with any kind of disability or trauma, leaving me to endure it all on my own
My fears about my value, or my future, were only intensified by my parents behaviour; I never felt reassured and secure in my current living conditions, and even less my future ones
My parents failed to acknowledge my sexuality, gender, world view, and pretended it wasn't there
My parents failed to notice I was self-harming
My parents failed to notice I was engaging in other self-destructive activities that could have, or did, cause long term damage to my life
My parents failed to notice or do anything about changes in my behaviour that signalled trauma (becoming aggressive, clingy, dissociated, numb, closed up, bed-wetting, nightmares)
My parents failed to notice I was missing school
My parents failed to notice I was failling into addictions
My parents failed to notice I was suicidal
My parents failed to notice my suicide attempts
Lack of protection
I was unsupervised for long periods of time as a small child
I was exposed to physical danger as a child without my parents noticing or reacting to it
I was exposed to physical danger and physical violence, by my parents
I was exposed to pedophiles and child predators as a child and was never warned, protected or removed from their influence
I was introduced to pedophiles and child predators by my family members
I was never given protection from bullies, or any unfair treatment during my education
I was never given support or comfort after being hurt by a stranger or a peer
I was bullied/abused/sexually assaulted by another child, and nobody noticed
I was bullied/abused/sexually assaulted by a sibling/neighbour/relative/teacher/peer, and nobody noticed/nobody stood by my side or tried to protect me
I was groomed by a predator (who could even be a family member) and nobody protected me or stopped it from happening
I was exposed to and groomed by a cult, and nobody seemed to notice, care, or help me get out of it
I was not given the knowledge to recognize a sexual assault on me, or grooming or any other predatory behaviour from strangers or other adults
I never felt protected from any outside danger, or felt like I was worth protecting; instead I was taught to feel guilty and ashamed for getting hurt at all
If you have bolded more than 4 of these, you have experienced neglect, and you were forced to struggle alone thru experiences that you were not meant to handle or survive on your own. Neglect is the type of abuse that will have the most disastrous consequences on your trust in people, your relationships, self worth, feeling of community, and will ensure that everything you were put thru is unexpressed, unresolved, and weighing down on your life. You did not deserve to be neglected like this, and none of the above is the result of your behaviour. You were not supposed to be put thru any of this alone, much less as a child.