Chuck Palahniuk created a memorable character who existed in the imagination beyond the edges of sanity. If you haven’t read (or watched) Fight Club, I’m about to ruin it for you.
Tyler Durden is an abuser. He is controlling, violent, unpredictable, and rules by domination. And, like any abuser, he confounds reality; the reader is thrown into an uncanny swirl as it gradually unravels that Tyler is a personality split of the insomniatic narrator.
Marla is real, maybe. Bob probably is too, I think. As the novel progresses, as Tyler is revealed, Marla and Bob remain consistent, and the narrator’s only connection with reality, while the support group, the members of fight club, the perpetrators of Project Mayhem can no longer be trusted as real, not to mention, they can no longer be trusted.
Enter Domestic Violence, stage surprise. The gradual realization takes hold and the reverse rabbit hole unravels reality. It is unsettling, disturbing, and deniable. Just as the reader tries in vain to prove Tyler is real, to find a passage where Tyler, Marla, and the narrator were together, in the same room, seeing and hearing each other, an abusee tries in vain to prove the abuser isn’t, to find a reason, an excuse, or a validation that settles the unsettled. What was so convincingly real, isn’t. What was certain, isn’t. Who was the real support, can’t be discerned.
The narrator stands on the roof of an explosives-laced building with Tyler pressing the barrel of a gun against the fragile flesh of his skull. Swoop in the 2 connections to reality, and the narrator is rescued.
The personalities visit the narrator in the hospital as he recovers from attempted suicide and they ensure him the mission continues, and urge him to believe with them: Tyler Durden will return. (Unless diagnosed) the narrator is powerless to prevent Tyler from returning. (Even after an escape) an abusee is powerless (it’s important to note, I have children, so a true escape, an actual never-have-to-see-him-again esacpe is discouraged heavily by the courts).
Enter victimization, stage sucks. If Tyler was such a bad guy, why didn’t the narrator just move out?
If the narrator participated in, and learned to enjoy, the fighting to the point of forever destroying “a beautiful thing”, then what makes him such a victim anyway? What took the narrator so long to stand up to Tyler, and how come it had to be something so massively destructive to get the narrator to stand up? Why didn’t the narrator call the police and report the violence, either inflicted by Tyler on the narrator or Project Mayhem members on the community?
Once the abuse was eliminated, why did the narrator still feel his only option was death?
Just as Tyler and the narrator fit the definition of domestic violence within the novel, the novel as a whole allows the reader to dive into the emotional upheaval an abusee suffers. For readers who enter the world they read, maintaining stamina through the Fight Club initiation is exhausting, disconcerting, bone-breaking, and mind-numbing. The reader denies Tyler isn’t real, becomes angry at the deception, bargains with the plot, and then becomes sad for the narrator before accepting the narrator is a victim and Tyler is the perpetrator.
Enter the next level. Fighting against Domestic Violence feels like punching yourself in the face. I consulted 2 lawyers, 2 court advocates, and a shelter counselor before making the decision to leave. I verified the information I received, except I only received part of the information. I made plan A, B, & C based on that. Eventually I decided to return to my hometown, my family, and my friends. I decided to return to my support network. I stayed in a domestic violence shelter more than an hour away from them for six weeks. Very few people knew I was home. It was safer.
I filed for divorce under a new statute for emergency jurisdiction for victims of domestic violence. Donkey filed a motion to dismiss. Donkey filed for custody, and I answered with a motion to dismiss. Donkey won his motion to dismiss and I lost mine. The divorce filed was his. Hearing 1, loss. Hearing 2, loss. Mediation was also a loss after Donkey walked out. I lost the restraining order hearing. I lost custody. I’ve been assured an appeal would also land in the loss pile.
Since I left without Donkey’s knowledge or permission, or a court order, and since I left without a police report, the abuse I suffered was determined as non-existent. Tyler Durden doesn’t exist, and yet the narrator fights against him. The courts say my Domestic Violence doesn’t exist, and yet I fight against it.