I read the report of the woman who broadcast a cheater’s picture on Facebook with equal parts understanding, shame and revulsion. When I first decided to go public with my story, I wanted to use his name and his image. I rationalized it by the fact that his arrest records and mugshot are public documents and that I wanted to protect others from a run in with someone so skilled at conning. Luckily, leveler heads in my life talked me out of it.
That was part of my motivation, but I was still angry at that point and I was also motivated by a desire to get revenge. That’s where the shame comes in. I’m uncomfortable with the fact that I felt the impulse to “out” him. Regardless of what he did, that’s not my role. Furthermore, that’s responding from a place that I don’t want to be. That’s playing by his rules.
Some see it as retribution when I discuss what he did. I’m puzzled by this.
He left me with a text message.
I never spoke with him again.
He stole money and ruined credit.
Fact (backed up by the IRS)
He committed felony bigamy.
Fact (and there is a warrant for his arrest)
Those things happened. Am I only being a “good” ex-wife if I keep my mouth shut and never divulge what he did? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t sit well with me. Would I also be expected to protect him if he had been physically abusive? When we keep secrets like this, we give the abuser more power and reinforce the victim role.
I’m not acting to put him in jail but nor I am allowing him to keep me in one.
Vengeance is mine but it is not about shaming him and plastering the internet with his visage. Rather, my revenge is finding a way to use his actions in a positive way. It’s not motivated by a chance to get him back, rather I’m driven by a desire to right some wrongs and create meaning and purpose from the whole thing.
And that’s vengeance I can feel good about.