Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thoughts from a survivor

The last two posts were very graphic about what abuse can be like,more specifically,mine.

For each victim there will be a different story however threads of similarity run through each one.

It starts out benign. A comment made here and there;almost could be taken one way or another and if you were to call the person out they would make you believe you were wrong.

Later,a slap or some other physical manifestation of abuse.

Money is controlled because money is power.

Time is controlled;the abuser wants to account for your every minute even during times that should be private like in the bathroom.Knocks on the door,"what are you doing in there" or "how long does it take"?

Your way of dress or even buying clothing is questioned.Your makeup,hair, jewelry and nails are brought into question.

Your friendships are questioned. Slowly, you let each one fall by the wayside because you are convinced there really are ulterior motives behind each one.Or,it just isn't worth it to argue over anymore.

Sometimes,even family relationships fall by the wayside because the abuser finds fault or you are hiding the awful truth of how you REALLY live.

You are suspect at your workplace.You must be having an affair.

You are timed to go shopping and the mileage checked.You must be having an affair.

If you talk to neighbors without the abuser present you must be telling them "our" business.

You start hearing nothing you do is right.The way you cook,the way you keep house,the way you talk, the way you care for your children and the way you are a lover.

No one could be as incompetent as you.

You are called names.The mouth of the one who professes to love you can spew such hatred and venom you don't even recognize this person.

You are humiliated,embarrassed, and invalidated.

Meanwhile your self- worth is diminishing.

Your self-esteem is almost nonexistant.

You are so tired.Extremely exhausted and fatigued.

The daily barrage of hatred and abuse is taking it's toll.You muster up whatever you can to get through each day,wondering how you will find what you need for tomorrow.

The physical abuse starts. You are shocked that the hands of one who once treated you as a treasure now can hurt you so bad. It's actually a surprise at first.

He promises it will never happen again and you believe it.But,it does happen again.And again.And again.......

It never relents.

In some cases the abuse can take years to escalate and others months.

The only fact is it DOES escalate-always.

We stay because after the abuse there is the honeymoon phase or cooling off period.

There can be absolute bliss. It's as if the abuse never happened.And,we easily want to forget it.

We desperately want to believe it will never happen again.But,it does.We think we want to stay together "for the kids sake".

What we don't realize is the kids are severely impacted by our choice.

They are witnessing violence on a daily basis.

We would give our life to protect them from an outsider harming or hurting them but we subject them to violence daily.

We protect them from violence on TV but they see it played out in their home.

All in the name of love.

We want to hang on because we remember the good times.And,maybe everyday isn't a bad day so we fool ourselves.

What we aren't realizing is it isn't the relationship we now have we want to hang onto but the dream of what we wanted it to be.

We lose respect for ourselves.Our children lose respect for us. Our extended families,friends and coworkers lose respect for us.

They love us and are fearful for us but respect is nonexistent because no one understands what is really happening.

We live in fear. Fear of when the next incident will happen.Fear of letting down our guard. Fear of what those close to us will think if they knew. Fear of the family disintegrating.

Fear of the unknown if we changed our circumstances.

We make excuses. We make pacts with the devil. If this happens again I'll do...

Next time.... If he ever hurts my kids.... I'll never.... If ever... and so on.

And we always break our pact and then our self-esteem lowers and lowers.

We say will make some calls to find out our options and then don't.That would be admitting it was out of hand and we had to do something about it.

We see PSA's on TV and secretly we listen carefully,making a mental note but still do nothing.

We go to our doctor's appointments and see pamphlets about the subject.We quickly throw one into our purse intending to read it later but we don't.

We hear news reports where someone is murdered during an act of domestic violence and say how sorry we are for the victim, maybe even offering a prayer.We speak out about what a sorry S.O.B. the abuser is not wanting to admit the one we live with has the same potential.We may even be arrogant enough to think it will never happen to us,or, it only happens to poor people or uneducated people or drug users.

The fact is it can happen to anyone of any race,economic or educational background.Domestic violence is an equal opportunity scourge.

Who is an abuser?

He can be your clergy,your doctor,your attorney,your letter carrier,your mechanic. He can be your next door neighbor,your cousin, your brother,your son. He can be your father and yes,he can be your husband,your lover,your confidante,your so called soulmate.

And there can be instances it can be your mother,your sister,your teacher,your nurse,your secretary.Men are abused too and are victims of domestic violence.

In some ways,it's worse for them because society expects them to be macho,strong,head of the house.

What do you mean "your old lady beats you up.I'd kick her ass if it was me". That's even if he has enough guts to admit it 's happening to anyone.

It happens in gay relationships.

It can be sibling against sibling.It can be roommates.

Domestic violence has no boundaries. Only you can make your own boundaries.

If you see yourself in any of the situations I've described I can only encourage you to call a crisis hotline for help.Tell someone.Your clergy.Your doctor,Your nurse. Just tell someone who will help you.

It will be frightening when you hear yourself say the words to another person.It will almost be foreign to hear the words spoken you have only thought about inside your own head.

It will seem incredible to have a voice in the matter.

It's almost gut wrenching to know once you speak it out you can never go back to keeping the secret,to pretending.

If I accomplish nothing more,I want you to know once you go through hell you can come out on the other side intact.

Easy, no. Worth it, yes.

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Break the silence; make the call.

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