I want to pause from going through my past for tonight so that I may talk a little bit on abuse and it’s many faces. I hope to also provide some resources through this piece but also at the very end in case any one needs some help.
I get angry when people down play abuse. I equally get angry when people use abuse as an excuse to hurt their SO when going through a break-up or divorce. Both of these examples typically happen in extreme forms and it is what creates the bad, embarrassing, shameful stigma around abuse. I also want to express that abuse can happen in any form of relationship. It doesn’t have to just come from your partner or you parents. Your siblings can be abusive. Your friends can be abusive. Even your coworkers can be abusive. Abuse does not discriminate. I don’t wish to explain all the facets and faces of abuse. I mostly want those who can relate (because I, too, can relate) to domestic violence or abuse within intimate relationships. I also want it to be noted that even financial abuse can be a thing.
Abuse – in my opinion- is when behaviors are not only continued and repeated, but also, taken too far. You know, it’s kind of like that one friend we had when we were teenagers who “took it too far,” either with their joke, or prank, or argument, or what have you that made you feel inferior, belittled, demeaned, less than, embarrassed, ashamed, etc. And remember how they did it more often than you’d have liked them to? Yeah, even that in my eyes is a form of abuse. It’s subtle, but it’s abuse nonetheless because you were made to feel anything less than yourself, that you were not appropriate, important, valued, etc.
Ok, so, the types of abuse I want to leave here for you are as follows:
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Verbal Abuse
- Financial Abuse (or known as Economic Abuse)
Unfortunately, a lot of these forms of abuse are truly tied in to one another. And they are also a learned behavior (most of the time any way) since statistics say that victims often become abusers themselves. Also, please let go of the stigma that men don’t get abused. That is completely false. It happens to them and I’ll explain why another time, but you’ll see one of my new found traits in becoming a better person come to light: self accountability.
Alright. While at work one day about a year ago, this extremely sweet, kind, and funny gal began working with us full time rather than being our sub. She had a laugh that was contagious and she truly truly enjoyed spreading joy. I very much miss her. I miss her wisdom (I work with older women, usually 20+ years older than myself and I’m 32). She had a few careers in her life that were of significant power or were considered important at the least. They were jobs that were to be taken seriously on a daily basis. I think that’s why she enjoyed our menial job as lunch ladies. She was able to let loose and be less serious, less stressed. She was also a woman who was definitely spoiled by her man. The way she speaks of him in such high regard, you could just tell he has been a man in her life that truly takes care of her not just physically, or emotionally, but spiritually and any other way possible. It’s the kind of marriage you hope to hear about these days to cling to for hope. Well, one day she really threw me for a loop. She started gossiping and was being very judgmental. Seeing this side of her instantly made me distance myself and boy was I glad I did or I would not have been as calm as I was when she said what she said at the lunch table that day.
A few of the ladies were discussing a gal that worked at the high school as a para educator. They always made fun of her by mocking her voice and repeating things she revealed to them about her life that were admittedly a little odd, but nonetheless proved she is a little “slow.” And when they were questioning as to whether or not she gets beat, this gal decided to bring a new story to the table about watching a new tv show she liked (I don’t remember what TV show it was because when people start gossiping, I tend to draw my thoughts away from what is being said). On this show they reveal battered women and they equally investigate those who were subtly abused over a period of time. Well, this gal decided to call this one woman, “stupid as a jay bird” for having stayed with her husband for 25 years all the while getting beat to a bloody mess. It was a story from the 40s or 50s so I would imagine abuse wasn’t something you talked about just like my grandma said divorce and family issues weren’t discussed outside the home back then. Any way, when those words came out of her mouth, all I could do was slam my fork on my lunch tray, get up, and walk away.
First of all, absolutely NO ONE is stupid for winding up in an abusive relationship. When one is being abused they are also being manipulated in ways that train our brain to think less than and worst of worse. They train our brains to equally think as manipulative as the abuser. I say that because of my own experience. I wasn’t with my ex long, but it didn’t take too long to do some serious damage that has caused me 12 years of agony in my own head. That fight or flight response is a very real thing that can become an involuntary response almost. These abusers are basically con men/women. They not only use manipulation but they use coercion as well as a tactic to get the victim to stay in their cycle, stay in their control. Have any of you seen the series “Making a Murderer?” If you have and you have seen the interview tapes with Brenden Dassey, then you very well know the way coercion and manipulation can break a person down (you don’t have to be of slow capacity to be broken down. Navy Seals are trained this way too and they have high IQ’s) emotionally, physically, and spiritually to a point that the victims are then able to be rewired and reprogrammed to think differently; to be able to be controlled. That’s why I say victims learn to be manipulators themselves. It, in turn, is also why some of them continue the cycle of violence by becoming abusers themselves.
Secondly, if someone is undermining the severity and sincerity that is domestic violence, they don’t deserve your time or your attention. It is simply that they cannot fathom, nor do they believe it to be real because they haven’t seen it for themselves and they can’t understand the process.
Back to my coworker and after I left the table. I will say this… This gal is twice my age. She used to compliment me all the time about how I was too good for this job because I needed to use my education to get a real career, that she thought highly of me. That all changed in an instant. When she approached me and asked me why I left the table so angrily, I calmly pulled out my phone, went through my photos and found the picture of how my ex husband left me the night I knew we were officially done being married. I showed that to her (and trust me, her and this other gal continued a conversation about how stupid these people must be to get abused and not leave and laughed and laughed for a good 30 minutes while everyone else was quiet). She was shocked. She was dumbfounded. She asked if that was me. I said, “Yes, that’s me. That’s 12 years ago when my ex husband beat me to a pulp. I was a smart girl who graduated with honors. I had as much common sense as any normal teens/early twenties people would have. And I am not stupid for having gotten mixed up with the wrong man who was everything I had wanted in a man initially until the facade fell and the smokescreen cleared and I saw his true colors. Shame on you for laughing at others misfortunes just because you can’t see past your own nose. Don’t you ever do that again.” She didn’t speak to me for a week. No apology, no hello’s, no nothing. I’m positive she felt ashamed for doing what she did. I’m positive it took her a week to find the courage to apologize for her small minded behavior. She did apologize, though.
Now, what else gets me fired and gets my panties in a bunch and up my ass are those women who use ‘abuse’ as a means to an end. I’m talking abuse that didn’t exist, but the word itself was used as a vindictive behavior because they were ready to check out of the relationship but had no real excuse to do so. If you want to check out of your marriage or relationship but find no real excuse to end it, just end it, period. Stop making the men take the blame and carry a label for the rest of their lives simply because you didn’t want to deal with the consequences of divorcing (like that fact that you’d have to pay for a lawyer all on your own with no monetary winnings to pay off said lawyer because no judge in their right mind would make that man pay for your legal fees). Also, it’s clear to me by observance that you also seek pity. Why? Because AGAIN you had no real excuse to end the relationship/marriage and therefore, you had to make up an excuse to get out scotch free. This is why other men who enter your life find it hard to believe ANY woman when they have been abused in the past because you throw that word around like it’s candy coming from a parade. I thought I had a lot of pride to hide behind, but clearly not as much as some women.
Now, let’s get to the tougher portion of this light read tonight. I have suffered for years because of abuse. Maybe it’s because I am a person who finds fault in myself when situations are not ideal. I have always been this way. I find blame and accept my portion of it. I allowed my ex to abuse me. I am going to own that and no one can take that away from me. What good would it be for me to not accept responsibility when there were so many red flags and I could have easily withdrawn from the relationship in the beginning of it? It sure as hell doesn’t allow me to forgive myself and move on right? It doesn’t get me out of victim mode and in to survivor mode. I will also admit that for a lot of years, I have played the victim role, or was rather sulking in the victim mode for far too long. It wasn’t until about two years ago when I slapped my current husband (story behind it coming later) did I realize that I was playing the pity party for far too many years. I realized nothing was going for me because I was playing the victim for everything. I can’t be a victim forever. I can’t expect people to tiptoe around my feelings forever. And my husband didn’t want to communicate that to me because my pride and wall were so high I would have never heard him any way. I would have found some way to manipulate the situation to make it seem like there wasn’t anything I could have controlled in whatever situation was occurring at the time, and it was all his fault or always someone else fault. Being a victim of abuse is real, but we can’t be victims forever. We’ve got to deal with the trauma by reliving it with our friends, family, counselors, therapists, pastors, strangers. We’ve got to accept responsibility for what we allowed to happen because there really was a time when we didn’t live in as much fear and we could have controlled our own actions by leaving at the first sign. We could have taken back our power, which is what I’m doing by doing this.
I’m going to continue to give you pieces of myself, glimpses into how I played that victim role for far too long. I can’t keep allowing my ex husband to take more pieces from me. HE’S NOT HERE TO DO THAT which means, it’s really just me doing it to myself. It’s not any one else doing this to me, it’s me, one hundred percent, all the way, me. I can only rise up from here, right?
Now, I really found it genius when it became a thing for battered women to place an order for pizza that was code for I’m being abused, I’m in immediate danger, please send help. I wished I could have used that a few times while living at Rick’s parents house. When his mother would get on the physical abuse train, I really wished I could have gathered my thoughts enough to say something to one of my old high school friends who had happened to move to the area, and I was able to catch up with on a few occasions. I could have went with Rick to purchase their beer and stuck a note in their beer while handing it to them. I could have said something to them when I would see them at the grocery store from time to time. Why the hell didn’t I!? It would have been so much easier than sucking it up and dealing with the consequences I thought I deserved for marrying such a man. I’m sure they would have caught on right? Yes, they would have and guaranteed had they gotten help for me, those cops would have walked right in the middle of one of their ganged episodes too because any time they would drop by, I would get beat up. Regardless, I’m so glad that people pay attention to what is going on. I’m so very thankful for even the simplest forms of getting help is by ordering a fucking pizza. Unless that man doesn’t have you doing his books, or having a hand in the finances. That might be more difficult to obtain. I did see a video once of a girl who brought her dog in to the vet and handed the receptionist a note while her husband parked the car. If only all of those who are being abused could think so logically while in a mode of panic. I was more like a deer in headlights, (and if you don’t know what that is because it might just be a Midwestern thing, but deer tend to just stand there and stare at you while you’re driving or about to hit them. Most of them don’t run away at the first sign of headlights. They stare and stay still) all thought and logic went out the window for me.
Alright, I’m pretty sure I’m done giving my opinion on Domestic Violence/Abuse. I hope it was worth the read tonight. I really just wanted to hone around my experiences and thoughts that still remain. If you know someone who might be in an abusive relationship, there are many ways to help these people safely and subtly. First and foremost, most Sheriff offices or police departments have ways of getting in touch with a victim’s advocacy program. These programs can help a victim and children get out safely. They can provide cell phones to the victims at no cost so the victims can hide them and use them in an emergency. That isn’t always possible especially during an outburst. But if the police or sheriff office are made aware, then they know how to tactfully reach out to the victim so that the victim doesn’t reap the repercussions. Otherwise, there are plenty more resources than the one’s I’m going to provide below.
To those who are being abuse and are reading this: I remember how impossible it felt to leave. I remember how scared I felt to be on my own without someone to watch out for me. I remember trying to find excuses (like my step son) to not leave. I even rationalized in my brain that I couldn’t leave my job, they needed me. Everything that you are telling yourself right now is NOT true. You are capable of leaving. You are capable of making a living on your own. It IS scary, but it is nonetheless possible. Reach out when you can and where you can. Do a google search. Pretend you have to go to a neighbors house to borrow something or return something and then proceed to that neighbors house and calmly stand at the door, ask them to be subtle with their actions as what you are about to tell them could be dangerous to your well being. Don’t take too long, I understand. Quickly tell them that you need help in escaping the abuse. The first step is to always do something even if it’s a small, tiny step before it’s too late. More so in your situation, tomorrow isn’t promised when you live with a person who is capable and has threatened to kill you. Below are some websites I’ve provided that may be able to help you begin this process.
To View the sources I’m providing, please visit: ncadv.org
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1.800.799.7233 or http://www.ndvh.org
- National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1.866.331.9474 or http://www.loveisrespect.org
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1.800.422.4453 or http://www.childhelp.org
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.4673 or http://www.rainn.org
Please stay safe my friends!