Before I even get started, let me say this. DISCLAIMER – there are many situations wherein a woman is abused. She is the ONLY victim. She has done what she can and should do legally and otherwise. My heart goes out to you. What you went through was wrong, terrible, and I pray for your absolute healing and that someone will come along beside you and help you get through this difficult ordeal. If you are the parents or family of someone who was abused or perhaps even murdered (as our clients have been), my heart goes out to you. THIS BLOG is NOT for you or about you! Close this link now.
I am NOT a mental health professional, a licensed counselor or a lawyer and am IN NO WAY telling you what or how to leave an abuser if you are, in fact, a victim of abuse. Yes, that CAN be deadly and I have personally worked with women who were murdered during the process of taking the steps they are supposed to take to leave an abuser. I AM telling you though that you MUST and SHOULD contact the crisis center, contact the proper professional, and go get help. That is NOT an option.
Now, disclaimers said, I’m going to make a confession. This is the kind of conversation that I have with my closest friends, ladies from church, etc. who are being abused. And after hearing the same story again, and again, and again, and again, I’ve decided to blog it. Well, I decided to blog it, knew I’d get reamed over my views, decided not to blog it, and then a friend said “hey I’m waiting on a blog” and so here it is. I understand it is controversial. But it is, nevertheless, another view of abuse. An outside view. From the outside looking in, and with 10+ years in family law experience, here is what has been bugging me. And this Blog is to address that nagging thought I have in the back of my head every time I encounter an abused woman. Ready? Here is the thought.
Do you ever feel responsible for any of the abuse, after a certain point? Not that the abuse itself per se is your fault, but do you ever feel like you should protect yourself and your kids? Does failing to act bother you? Or are you frozen by that time? You’d probably need to read my blog The Great Omission to understand what I mean by that by the dangers of failing to do something.
I have a teenage daughter and we have talked about domestic violence, controlling and/or abusive boyfriends, and the dangers of extreme jealousy. And I have taught her (and her friends), that there are warning signs to abuse. Most hard-core brutal abuse doesn’t start out that way. MOST of the time (with exceptions of course), a woman will have the opportunity to handle it right up front, but doesn’t handle it, and may even enjoy the drama and attention they receive after the fact. So, my child is trained as follows: “girl, if he even touches you out of anger one time, that’s it, game over, you address it RIGHT then. If it happens once, that’s his fault. But if it happens over, and over, and over, and over, that’s YOUR fault”. As a mother to a daughter, doesn’t that sound reasonable? When does accountability all on the woman?
Now I understand that if you are a victim of abuse, any kind of hint that anything could ever possibly be your fault is often offensive. But I have worked with women whose children have been allowed to grow up in that environment for so long that they now have new fears. Fears far greater than the fear of leaving the abuser. New fears that their daughter will grow up thinking it’s ok to be abused or their son will grow up beating on his girlfriend or wife. I asked one of my abused clients, how would you handle it if a boy treated your daughter that way? And the reaction time and time again is that the client would do a lot more if their daughter was being abused than they are willing to do for themselves as a victim of abuse. I think by that point maybe they don’t love themselves anymore but still love their children. I am not quite sure. But I do know that the abuse victim does not follow their own advice (the advice they give their daughters). They no longer see themselves as valuable.
So, the first time I heard the song “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem, I WAS FURIOUS! I told my teenager to turn that garbage off, proceeded to vent about how wrong domestic violence is, and blah blah blah…. Mom went into full rant mode. My poor daughter. She gets to hear all of my maternal rants and passions. Ha. Anyway, then I heard the WHOLE song. I can’t remember where but it was where I couldn’t turn the station. And I LOVED it. I loved the message of the song. I said to my daughter, I know that girl. I’ve met her a dozen times at the office. The lines that got to me were: “Now I know we said things, did things that we didn’t mean; And we fall back into the same patterns, same routine. But your temper’s just as bad as mine is; You’re the same as me. When it comes to love you’re just as blinded. Baby, please come back; It wasn’t you, baby it was me. Maybe our relationship isn’t as crazy as it seems. Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano; All I know is I love you too much to walk away though…”
I realized that I know the girl in the song well. And if “thats your song” you just might be that girl. too I’ve met her a hundred times. She did get caught up in the moment, in the drama, loved the fights, maybe not how far it escalated, but loved the fight nonetheless. She prides herself on being able to hold her own against him. The tornado versus volcano aspect. His “passion” and anger is a result of his overwhelming incredible love for her. Yeah, that’s it. It’s because he loves her so much and she loves him so much. And because the make up sex is amazing. (More about love in Part 2).
Back to the original thought…. As most people know, I’ve been a paralegal in the family law realm for over 10 years. Not by choice. I love litigation but am far more geared to personal injury and wrongful death. But my boss handles a lot of family law so it is what it is. And I personally sit down with victims of abuse and draft their affidavits so that I can notarize them and get them to the attorney so that he can file for a restraining order or protective order etc. And without fail, 99% of the time, here is what that affidavit looks like. Well, it started about 10 years ago (or some other long period of time ago). The first time he was just mad and wouldn’t let me leave the bedroom…. The second time he ….. the third time he….. then there was the time he choked me…. I never thought he would hit the kids…. Now this time…. And the kids saw it… And the police came out and ….”.
Working in the legal field I work with the abused person (often but not always the woman) who is there to file legal documents against the abuser. But, I also work with the abuser (often but not always the man). The attorney may bail someone out of jail and defend them on domestic violence charges. And then we get all of the facts from the police department, district attorney, victim’s statement, etc. And then I sit there in shock and awe.
Then you see and hear about the worse case scenarios on TV. And that’s how this blog started. My husband wanted to know how some guy on TV with prior domestic violence convictions was out and about, not in jail, and then murdered his ex-wife and kids. And my response was “well, you wouldn’t believe how common that is because more often than not the victim helped the guy stay out of jail.” The same woman who called the cops in anger may have shown up and testified that they were just in a fight, it was partly her fault, he’s now getting help, he’s way better now, he’s great with the kids, and so forth. Then years later he finally snaps and kills her. Usually after she’s finally figured out how crazy the situation is, wants to get the kids of that environment, or has met another man, and is trying to leave him.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why people passionately protect their abusers and I think it is one of the leading problems as to why abuse crimes aren’t taken as seriously as they could and should be. I’ve seen so many now that I am almost convinced that some women enjoy being in an emotionally dangerous relationship. They may not enjoy how far it escalates when it truly gets very physical. But some do seem to like the emotional drama, their friends overwhelming support and pity parties, the attention they get from the people they confide in (often the WRONG people to confide in and not professionals that will actually help the situation), and so forth.
So, woman to woman….. here is my food for thought (in case you are “that” woman) and the questions I have asked my closest friends who have been victims of abuse. It’s GREAT if your answers are NO by the way. Do you find yourself protecting your abuser? Do you sometimes enjoy the emotional drama? Or sometimes enjoy the attention you get from it? Do you enjoy the control and power it gives you to threaten to call the cops even if you won’t call them? Do you make excuses for his behavior? Your behavior? Do you feel guilty because you too have committed family violence against him and don’t want to get in trouble yourself? Has it ever gone too far in front of your kids? If so, are you a partner in teaching your kids the abuse cycle? Do you truly want help or to get out of it? Can you imagine your life free from abuse? Are your influences and friends hurting or helping the situation? Do you get angry when someone tries to get you help? If you don’t like it anymore, are you avoiding the triggers that instigate it? Do you ever provoke the fights or try to make him mad? Are you using what he’s done to you in the past against him just to keep him with you? (Yes, I’ve seen women who want to keep their abuser so badly they threaten to turn him in if he leaves them. And that woman can’t be the only one out there who feels that way). Are you seeking any help from a professional? Do you WANT help?
If that is NOT YOU and you are livid that I would even ask such a food for thought question to my friends (real and blogging friends), THANK GOD! And YOU are not my intended audience. But if that IS YOU, and you DO want help, PLEASE GET HELP!
Again, I am NOT a mental health professional, a licensed counselor and am IN NO WAY telling you what or how to leave an abuser if you are, in fact, a victim of abuse. That can be a recipe for disaster if not handled properly. But, I do want to put this out there because I have found myself hardened. When I hear of severe domestic abuse violence, I want to know the rest of the story. I automatically have questions in my mind when I hear that someone was killed. Especially when children get killed in the process. And I wonder just how many warning signs there were in advance and whether anything was ever done about the warning signs. I now always wonder what the WHOLE story is.
And Part II of this blog is on the way. I’ve asked my hubby to help me draft a Christian response of “what the Bible says” about this topic. But that’s for another day.
I hope you aren’t too angry with me for these thoughts and I thank you in advance for giving me a safe blogging place to blow off steam on this topic. If you have been abused, please get help. If you are an abuser, please get help.
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