Tonight, I’m putting on my Wants to Be a Therapist But Can’t Remain Neutral hat in order to lay a little groundwork for talking about domestic violence. It’s a largely misunderstood thing… People get a mental image of a hugely pregnant girl in a dirty wife beater with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. And sometimes that’s true. But by and large, the victim is your sister, your mother, the nice lady next door. It’s not about poverty… you just hear it more in trailer parks and apartment buildings because the walls are closer together than they are in the ‘burbs. The very brave survivors who are sharing their stories are doing it to help other victims. Talking about it helps chip away at the shame and the stigma, both of which keep victims from getting help.
Yes, I believe that victims are responsible for their life choices. NOTE: they are not in any way responsible for the actions of their batterers. It’s a double edged sword, kids. Sometimes, that’s life. We stay in these relationships for a variety of reasons. Personally, I stayed with my first batterer because I was young, dumb and afraid… and I didn’t have any place else to go. It wasn’t until I was afraid for my firstborn that I packed it up and left. Sometimes you stay because it’s the safest thing to do… More victims die trying to exit the relationship than at any other time. If she says it isn’t safe to leave, for fuck’s sake, respect that. Nobody knows him better.
So… tales from the psyche of a battered woman. Heaven forbid anyone should know how wretched you are… you’re fat, you’re stupid, you’re ugly. You just won’t listen. If you were a better (insert title here) he wouldn’t have to do this. It’s all your fault. You make him do this. It’s all your fault. Got that? It’s all your fault. Except it isn’t. A normal, rational person doesn’t hit you forty-three times because you broke the egg yolks. A normal person doesn’t need to make you cry to feel big. The failing is within the batterer. You were only naïve enough to be taken in by his charade. Being naïve makes you human, it doesn’t make you a stupid bitch who deserves what she gets. Nobody takes a person out and clocks them on the first date. It’s a process… It typically starts with little disappointments, little cutting remarks. They have to build up to the first ass-kicking. By the time the typical batterer puts their hands on you, they have destroyed your self-esteem and many, if not all, of your relationships.
It’s called grooming. Makes you kinda squick up inside, doesn’t it? Pedophiles groom their victims, too. Yummy. You sick fucks are in good company. It takes a very little man to beat his woman. It also takes a very big man to acknowledge being victimized.… male victims of domestic violence I hold in special esteem, because it’s harder to talk about and to get help. No one deserves to be beaten by their romantic partner. Love is not supposed to hurt.
There are warning signs. See them here: DV Warning Signs If you see signs and ignore them, Miss Shannon understands. Sometimes, it’s been so long since you felt cared for that you’ll tolerate just about anything. That’s how Miss Shannon located the last fellow that was abusive to her. He never laid a finger on me… but he called me names, he threw things and I had more panic attacks in the year and a half we were together than in the last twenty years. I knew very quickly that I was in a bad situation. I was ashamed to have allowed myself to be in the mix with someone who is verbally abusive. So… I pretended that everything was fine. Nothing was fine. Nothing. Then I had to say it out loud and publicly admit that once again, I had been taken in. That’s misplaced pride, my friends. It’s hubris, really. I finally had to ask myself if I cared what people thought or about my quality of life. I’m telling you this so you hear that even a not entirely stupid, adult woman can get sucked into a really hellish situation. Oh, the humanity of admitting when you’ve made a very large miscalculation!
In case you don’t already have this information, there’s more than one type of domestic violence. Which anyone, male or female, can fall victim to. You have your beaters… pretty self-explanatory. This includes pushing, hair pulling, pinching, biting, generally any sort of physical intimidation or infliction of pain. Emotional abusers are sneakier… it’s name calling, a general effort to break the victim’s spirit. Breaking your stuff. Isolating the victim from loved ones… that’s your support system, cupcake. You need those people, they’re the folks that are going to save your ass when it’s time. Financial abuse is denying access to resources. It keeps you under their thumb. Ooh… don’t forget about the carrots they dangle… little nuggets of awesome designed to make you work harder. In order to really effectively abuse someone, you have to treat them really well some of the time so they know how good things could be. That’s where flowers and candy and evenings out come in. Otherwise, the victim would grow inured to the whole process. Where’s the fun in that? And the batterers are having a good time. They like it like this… they love your pain more than they love you, have no doubt.
Finally, darlings… Nobody knows the monster in your bed like you do . I feel ya, sister. FYI: Your babies will not be taken from you because you have fled a dangerous situation to a DV shelter. That was the lie that kept me with my batterer long after I was ready to run. Babies and pets makes us afraid to leave. What I hope you will take from this is the following: You are a valuable human being. You do not deserve to be hurt by your partner. You do not deserve to be called names… you matter. For those of you who are being battered… there are services available to you. There are people and agencies that can help you. Decide. Choose you, sweetheart. The ties that bind don’t always choke… and there’s life after love.