What an awesome article! LINK
Here are some snippets! I would encourage you to read the entire thing!
I feel an urgency, almost a fury, to send out this call across the nation. This is not written as an appeal to your emotions, to evoke sympathy nor even compassion. The purpose of this writing is to state facts, to uncover the secrets of abusive relationships and to reveal the nature of abuse-induced instability, causing the mind of an abused woman to be incapable of thinking realistically and making rational decisions.
It's as if society expects abused women to think and act as mentally healthy, stable human beings, while scoffing at what could possibly be wrong with such a person who would stay in an abusive relationship. She's already fully aware that no one understands her and that she is judged and ostracized. Yet, she is expected to courageously and confidently embark upon a whole new life for herself in a society which looks down their noses at her, whispers and laughs behind her back, and avoids contact with her as if she has the plague.
WOW that was very powerful to me!!
Unless you have lived with a person who suffers from a mental and emotional disorder -- be it alcoholism, drug addiction, schizophrenia, manic depression, personality disorder caused by childhood abuse, the list goes on -- you have absolutely no idea the impact. Insanity is contagious. Unfortunately, sanity is not. We start out being sensible, rational human beings, attempting to deal with the sick person as if he were mentally sound. We try to reason with the unreasonable. We do not have the education and training it requires to effectively communicate with a mentally ill person and therefore treat him as we would anyone else, expecting him to respond as anyone else would. Of course he doesn't, but we are at a loss. We don't know any other approach. Periodically, he behaves as a sane, rational individual, exhibiting sound judgement, and we forget it is fleeting, or we believe he has finally stepped out of the fog. Certainly we hope he has, for this is what we are giving our lives for -- dying for. We who have lived with such a man know there is something more to him. Had we not seen goodness and love in them, we never would have married these men. To this day I am still uncertain if the goodness and love I believed I saw in my abusive husband were real qualities, true to his nature or merely manipulative tactics to control and dominate me. We hear over and over again that he will never change and there's probably only about 2% that actually do. Yet, we feel it so unfair to make such a judgement of another human being. We feel it would be playing God to decide such a verdict, believing there is always hope. What we cannot see is that staying with him is where we are playing God, attempting to be his savior, healer and redeemer. If he is to change, God is certainly the only one who can do it -- through his willingness to change -- and we must first get out of the way. Until he has run out of people, places and things to use, abuse and blame, he will probably not become willing to change.
None of us know what we would actually do in any given emergency situation. We know what we hope we'd do, what we believe we'd do, but are deciding those things in a calm, rational state of mind. We don't know how our minds and emotions will react in the face of an actual crisis. Living with an abusive person is like creeping silently through a darkened jungle. We are aware of the possible dangers awaiting us but comfort ourselves with a belief that we are careful and prepared. If we follow specific guidelines and take certain precautions, we believe we'll be safe. Even with the ever-present sense of peril, we still feel in control. I could also equate domestic violence with a sudden tornado ripping through your house, being trapped on the 20th floor of a burning building, or being awakened in the night by the sounds of an intruder breaking into your house. If you've never faced the adrenalin-induced panic of such an instance, how can you say what you would do? If your home is burglarized, will you automatically move to another house? A different city or state? Or will you assume preventative measures and believe it probably won't happen again?
What an awesome way of putting it! I mean its true! We never know HOW we are going to react to an emergency, etc do we?
Abusive people honestly believe they are victims and always take every destructive outburst and turn it around so that they are the helpless and hurting party. Suddenly, the perpetrator is the victim and the recipient is the savior. Quite insidiously, without our awareness, the abnormal becomes normal, as we make excuses for his behavior and minimize the impact. Simple acts of considerateness are seen as shining stars of promise, illuminating the darkness of depression and cynicism. For a few days or weeks, he is full of kindness, bringing us flowers or presents, complimenting us, taking us out to dinner. Then suddenly, sometimes without warning, it all blows up in our faces as we're accused of expecting too much, of being selfish and thoughtless. We certainly don't want to be those things, so we apologize and tell him we're happy without all those "extras" -- the extras being mere kindness and common courtesy. All we want is what we see others enjoying and taking for granted -- a peaceful, loving family. Is that too much to ask? And we are willing to pay any price to attain the treasure. Dreams die very hard. We truly believe we are in love with these men when actually we are only in love with the illusion we so cherish and desperately cling to.
We read books, listen to tapes, even attend marriage seminars and earnestly apply what we learn to our own situations. We are told the promises and guarantees of applying these principles and hear testimonies from successful others. With our spirits revived and strength renewed, we gain fresh confidence and determination, believing we have now found the solution. We are recharged with that false sense of power, thinking we know what to do to make it all better. Everything we learn is true and highly effective in the average marriage. There's only one thing missing -- a sane, rational partner. It doesn't matter how fluently or eloquently you can speak English if you're trying to communicate with someone who doesn't know the language. We continue to treat them like normal adult human beings, expecting them to respond as such. When it doesn't happen, we try harder, applying still more patience, effort and understanding. It's like expecting a man with no legs to get up and walk. But we keep expecting, praying, hoping.
WOW - how many have walked down this road huh? Do we expect the person with no legs to get up and walk? At times I think the church in some ways does tell you that! Its hard to show them that we aren't dealing with a sane person on most people's level....heck its hard for US to understand it and we live IT!
The reason we cannot stand up for ourselves is because we daily live with his defensiveness and paranoia, falsely- accusing us and refusing to acknowledge our goodness and sincerity. We are determined to prove our worth, to make him see and admit that we are right and he is wrong, that we are good and he has been bad, that we have been saints and he has been a devil, and that he owes us the return of all the love and loyalty we have invested in him. If we do or say anything to make him mad, that will only give him a reason to defend himself and say that's proof that we are not loving, good- hearted women. We mustn't give him any real grounds to base his accusations on. We must always prove ourselves worthy, nobel, honorable. As a result, we are driven to give, do, be, and sacrifice anything in order to prove our worth. We lose our self-worth in trying to prove our worth to him. But it's never enough and we are human -- we make mistakes, we sometimes blow up from all the tension, and these things are unforgivable to him. He waits and watches for us to slip up and make one little mistake or to show one negative quality so he can swoop down and devour us with accusations, insults, mockery, and blame. Unknowingly, we sell our souls in becoming more or less than human, disallowed human needs and emotions. Only he has the right to his feelings and needs while we do not have the freedom to feel any differently than what he wants us to feel or to feel nothing at all.
or to feel nothing at all I bolded myself. Its very true I do feel abusers wish we didn't feel. That we were some pet dog and was wagging our tails and always waiting to give them our individed attention. We must be that dog that doesn't bite or nip back tho. It may be a bad example, but if you think how most dogs are in homes. THEY LOVE to lavish you with attention, and they love the attention they receive in return no matter what it is most of the time. I mean you could really be annoyed and turn to the dog and say, "YOu know what? LOL you can really be a royal pain the butt!"....and what will the dog do? Wag their tail! When we get excited - they get excited. When we cry they want to cuddle. They are in our world, but detached enough.
I think one problem is that the outside world cannot possibly comprehend that any human being could be so cold, calculated and mechanical as the abusive person is. No one, they think, could be completely void of conscience that he could be so abusive without provocation. It must be the woman's fault, at least partially. Thus, we stay for the very same reason.
I think this statement can be approached towards both genders. I also think when the author states how the 'outside world' cannot possible comprehend is the BIGGEST problem........I mean most that live it have the same issue no?
These men value only possessions, property and material things. They are interested only in their own needs and desires and we, the wives and children, are possessions, prisoners, expected to be there for his convenience and to be put in the closet when we are inconvenient. We are to satisfy him and to take the blame when he is dissatisfied. These men are so disconnected from humanity that they are barely human, themselves. Other people are merely extensions of themselves, not different, unique individuals. To them, everything in life revolves around them. Everything anyone does, says, feels, or thinks is centered around them -- in their minds. They cannot comprehend that people do what they do because of who they are inside. They believe everyone does what they do because of them. They are like a two year old child who has not yet developed the capacity to realize that other people have needs and feelings, too, independent of themselves. They are self-consummed, self-obsessed, and completely self- seeking, with all people and things being merely the means of self-satisfaction. They cherish possessions because material things have no needs, make no requests and haven't a will. Possessions can be bragged about, to make him feel more like a man and they can be blamed, likewise for his inadequacies. We are to be like a pet, requiring only food, without a will of our own, loyal, obedient and affection, regardless of how the master treats us. If we get out of line, we are beaten into submission, whether physically or psychologically.
If he gives us a place to live and food to eat, we are not supposed to want or need anything else. Even those provisions are inconvenient infringements upon "his" money. Everything is "his". His money, his time, his house, his vehicle, his feelings... He will rarely refer to anything in the marriage as "ours". If the wife has a car, it will be "her" car, meaning she is completely responsible for the maintenance and condition. He will not contribute time nor money to her car. The children are "hers" too, unless he needs to use them as trophies to brag about, and then they aren't our children but "his". Practically speaking, they are her children and she is completely responsible for their care and for their behavior. There is very little he will label as "hers", but the minute she gets out of line, he will take what is hers -- the car or the children -- away from her, to punish her, threaten her and thereby put her back in her place. They will almost always use the children to keep a hold of their wife.
Others are seen as completely responsible for the way he feels. If you make him feel good, he loves you. If he feels bad, it's your fault and he hates you. They expect wife and children to run to them with open arms, lavishing them with love, devotion and praise, making him feel like a god, and they are to treat him this way regardless of how he behaves, never asking nor needing anything in return. Sometimes, he offers attention and affection, which we are so hungry for that we rejoice and feel satisfied. Our hopes are renewed with the vision of how it could be, having been given just a taste. Pathetically enough, we have been reduced to the family dog, sitting at the master's feet, waiting for crumbs to fall to the floor. We are so hungry for love that we thankfully lap up any crumbs we can get and hope for more. This is his control. We are starving to death, managing to survive on the few crumbs he offers, while awaiting the grand feast he continually promises.
No one can understand why so many of these women go back to their abusive husbands after finally leaving, and they believe she must have some sick, masochistic desire for punishment. That couldn't be further from the truth. We have learned to monitor his mood, taking his emotional temperature before we know whether to talk, laugh, be attentive, or to be completely still and silent. We may need something from the supermarket, but we must first determine his state of mind before we even ask to go. The children may have a problem or a need, but we don't dare bring it up until we are certain the coast is clear. There is a tremendous problem with building and centering your life around someone else. We do not crave the excitement of crisis, the heartache, turmoil nor abuse. Even after we leave, we do not know peace. We cannot hear the silence nor feel the tranquility in his absence for the raging storm which continues to blow like a hurricane in our minds. We have lost ourselves in basing every decision and action on him. We have become conditioned to think, feel, and behave according to what we believe someone else expects. We have lost the ability to act independently and base our decisions solely on our own needs and desires. We have learned to base everything we do or don't do on what we believe or hope his reaction will be. For those women who grew up in abusive homes, they have thought and behaved in this manner all their lives and have never known how to be an individual. Without intense, professional help, we cannot learn to function as whole human beings, separate from another. Thus, many go back.
As a thirty-nine year old woman of a small town in Oklahoma, I can witness to the fact that girls of my generation, of my culture, and those of so many others, were not raised geared toward college, career and independence. We were raised by a mother who stayed home with the children, who cooked and cleaned, and spent her life being of service to her husband and family. I was so very fortunate to be raised by loving, caring parents, who taught me to be kind, compassionate, loving, and loyal. I am so grateful that I was taught these morals and values growing up, but they were also a great handicap to me, making me a prime candidate for an abusive relationship. Abusers intuitively seek out women who are kind, loyal, sympathetic, and understanding, because they can use these assets against us, until they become our vices. They tell us the heart-wrenching stories of being abused, abandoned, unloved, and we, the care-takers, feel their pain and instinctively want to love their wounds away. We try so desperately to show these men the love and devotion they were deprived of, to prove that we are trust-worthy, where others weren't, that are sincere, where others were deceptive. The more we are falsely accused of being liars, whores, manipulators, and thieves, the more we double our efforts to prove that we will never leave them nor forsake them. You see, we understand that these men are only striking out at us because of their own fears and self-hatred, and more than ever, we feel the call to love them. We become their god, feeling completely responsible for their well-being, even for their very lives, as they tell us over and over that they cannot live without us and even attempt suicide, if we leave. It is the abuser who is the most dependant, while the abusee becomes dependant upon the feeling of being needed, of being so important to someone else's life.
No, we are not weak and spineless. Far from it! We have the strength and fortitude of a dozen people. We have to, in order to do all that we do in any given day. Those of us who have lived in abusive marriages are not victims nor antagonizers, and neither are we inadequate wives. We have done our part to make the marriage work, but it cannot be done alone. If it were possible for only one spouse to create a successful marriage, we are the ones who could do it, as we have carried full responsiblity for the quality and content of the relationship, as well as obligations to the children, family members, friends, and finances. We have done everything in our knowledge and power to be the best wives and mothers we know how to be, and we are the ones who have fulfilled our marriage vows. We have paid a debt, for crimes we never committed, and continue to pay over and over through the stigmas and misconceptions of society.
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