This anonymous guest post was written by a member of the Women’s Center community.
Yes, this is a very complicated and broad topic for a blog, perhaps not so ideal for a short blog since this topic delves deep inside the psychological interplay of the domestic relationship. However, I’d like to share my two cents, how I feel and what I know. It’s very unusual for people to spend the time and energy seeking to be in love with people who will abuse them–psychologically, physically and even verbally. For example, when the good times happened, we were on Cloud 9! Never had I found myself waiting, in anticipation, for bad times. Not just rough times, I mean BAD times. Am I just naive to think my partner would never want to hurt me? After all the love we shared and experienced together, was I not valuable in his eyes? I thought we were creating a relationship built on trust, an investment for the future.
One always poses the question: why (did I) stay for so long? I absolutely loved him and I thought he would change. I thought love would heal all things (a delusion?). I believed him when he said he was sorry and would never hurt me again. After some time, I grew silent and succumbed to the notion that he was right and I was not. Strictly avoidance behavior. Avoiding the beatings, the yelling, the trauma. I was under his spell. He broke me.
Like a mother to an over-grown toddler, I put up with his tantrums, his tirades, and his anxiety, which was usually the culprit which threw him into a rage. I did the best I could to understand this man. I thought that’s what any good lover would do. I lost much materialistically, as he desperately (as if there was no other means of communication) destroyed my possessions on a whim, to intimidate and/or put me in my place. I allowed this behavior to continue for a while, still patiently hoping for the best. It never came. I became his outlet for all his pent up anger towards the world. He was fiercely protective of his reputation while he enjoyed leading the oppressed people of the world into “enlightenment” with the help of his medicinal cocktail of psychedelics. Sounds strange, right? Here is a man that speaks to the world with a mouth like Jesus Christ. He exudes an air of understanding, compassion, equality and genuine concern for those oppressed. Yet, in his inner world, to the people closest to him, he plays the role of the oppressor.
In the name of cognitive dissonance, this dance spun my head into confusion. How could this person actually behave like this? As an innocent, well-meaning person who simply got caught in a spider’s web, today, I would call this pronounced deception. Sometimes it helps me to think of him as a person with antisocial personality disorder. With the help and therapy from The House of Ruth, I’m clear now on the characteristics of an abuser/predator. Supported by empirical evidence, there is actually a list of criteria and a well-defined persona pertaining to this category. Women have been in oppressive domestic violence situations for eons. As the research has been collected, especially since the dawn of the women’s lib movement, more education, awareness and prevention has been applied to the general public.
It is meaningless to blame the victim when intentions for happiness apply to one’s decisions in staying in toxic relations with another. Until one can truly understand, define and communicate the process (of the relationship) by which one is caught up in, one is respectfully innocent. There are predators in any society looking to prey upon the innocent. There is no shame in falling into a violent intimate relationship . This can happen to anyone. The important part of the journey is to recognize the symptoms of an oppressive relationship, such as alienation, low-self-esteem, and general anxiety. There is a way out. There is a way to peace, safety and satisfaction.