Monday, November 09, 2009

When people don't know what to do? They do nothing!

Posted by Hannah at 7:58 AM

I have been reading about the interview with Rihanna that Good Morning America did with Diane Sawyer. I haven't seen the interview, but from what I have taken from clips and quotes? She speaks very well of a dynamic of domestic violence that most people hear about, but you don't truly see represented within the church.  Nor do most people even recognize as part of the dynamics of the relationship even within the secular world.

Rihanna also dealt deftly with the elephant in the room: why she initially went back to Brown after the beating.

"It's pretty natural for that to be the first reaction . . . to go back and start lying to yourself," she told Sawyer. Her love for Brown certainly factored in. "I fell in love with that person . . . so far in love, so unconditional, that I went back." When Sawyer said abused women go back, on average, seven times before they leave, Rihanna corrected her, saying it was typically eight or nine times.

Chances are when women go to their pastors or the church they have already done the 'go back home and submit harder'. Matter of fact they have done the 'hit and hug' dance many times in different ways. Most people think when I say HIT its physical, but anyone that has been in an abusive relationship (man, woman or child) knows the controlling behavior, emotional abuse, and verbal abuse were very heavy smacks as well.

When it first happens you are stunned, and 'hug' part of the dance gives you hope that this isn't going to be a regular part of the relationship. You slowly start to break down when you realize it will be part of the relationship as you master your new skill of walking on eggshells as part of your unconditional love towards them. Your show your honor by apologizing, and allowing the controlling behavior because its something they 'need'.

...a visibly emotional Rihanna explains to Diane Sawyer her thoughts and feelings about the assault, saying that she is "embarrassed" to have loved someone like Chris Brown.

I realize some would take that as an attack on Chris Brown, and if I were guessing Chris Brown most certainly would.  In all the defensiveness they completely miss the peephole into her world.  That could be one of the reasons why the world has no clue as to HOW to deal with an abusive relationship.

She mentions a portion of the shame that victims do feel, and when in church you are reminded of the unconditional love due to the unbreakable covenant of marriage.

When people concentrate so much on, "How could you NOT see it before you married them?" I guess they don't realize they have added to the shame they are already dealing with, and because of the dynamic of relationship?  They fall deeper into the hole, and fills it up with more shame.  They realize these people are basically calling them 'stupid' just like their abuser does.

People will say that is NOT what I meant!  For those that seem to make intelligent and smart choices for their life compared to you?  You certainly realize very quickly they aren't as safe as they claim to be.  To deal with them means more shame, and someone else to bow down to before getting help.  Why?  They don't understand the abusive relationship.  They may not have meant the victim was stupid with their choices of spouse, but when dealing with someone that is scared and is trying to hold things together the best they can?  That is what they hear.

I remember a lady from my own domestic violence group that was dealing with an aspect that many are truly offended by, and that is the outright anger and rage that a victim feels after they come out the fog.  I will make a up a name for her, and call her Laura today.  Laura had been married for over 25 years, and most of those years had been marked with very violent physical abuse.  When you hear her story she mentions numerous times in which she reached out for help.  In the past you truly didn't deal with domestic violence like you do today, and in the past?  She was turned away because her husband wouldn't cooperate.  Its hard to believe today isn't it?

When people don't know what to do they tend to do nothing.  We see the blaming of the victim very often, and that is just another sign of this.

(I want to mention to those struggling now to keep what I just said in mind!  It doesn't make things better, but it does give you an answer as to WHY!  Its not justified, but it is reality.  Look at human nature in history, and you will see people doing nothing when they don't know what to do with all kinds of situations.)  

Laura came to group one day a bit bewildered.  At this point she was separated from her husband, and was struggling just to keep her head above water.  He had abandon them, and taken all the sources of income, etc.  I remember she and her children had the utilities turned off, no phone, no money and no food.  He made sure he turned off all these things before he left, and removed her access to any martial funds completely.  At this point she was just starting to put services together, and finding another job, and learning how to deal with the pain of her children.

That day she mentioned she had a visitor at her door.  It was a neighbor that had once lived next door to them.  The gentleman came to her at the request of his wife whom had recently passed away.  He wasn't there to inform her of his wife's death, but to pass along a message from his wife to her.

It was a message of apology, because they both knew she was being beaten and abused.  She also knew she had done nothing to reach out and help her.  She would see her in the backyard gardening with bruises covering her body, and would hear the violence next door.  The whole neighborhood knew, and the police were called a number of times.  No one would speak with this family on any real level, and they were left to themselves because no one knew what to do about it.  In truth I do believe that is why domestic violence continues so often.  It is because no one knows what to do about it.  Knowing its wrong is one thing, but having the knowledge to learn to deal with it?  That is completely different.

It seems the guilt of all of this was laying very heavy on this woman before she died.  She had her husband promise that he would seek her out, and apologize for her to Laura.  It seems it wasn't something small or a passing thought for this woman as the husband spoke of this with her.  I think the guilt was also within him as well at the time.  He handed her some money, and gave her his number.  He told her he wanted to help where he could, and all she had to do was ask.  Laura said God sent this man to her, and this money was badly needed at the time.  I don't think she ever called the man for help.  Shame was also a factor in that decision, and also I'm sure doubt that he could truly do anything was in Laura's heart as well.  You can't blame her if you look at the history.

Laura was dealing with a bit rage within her once she got out.  Its strange to watch such a small woman, and be almost intimidated by her.  She was mad at the world for knowing, and not doing a darn thing to help.  She was mad at the excuses they handed her, and also the hurtful comments and advice she received.  She was mad that her children were suffering, and that she had nothing to turn on the utilities with for example.  She was mad that her husband that was hiding from them, and had hidden the family funds in such a way that left them destitute.  She was mad that the threats had not stopped, and that his family was stepping up to make things even harder.  She was mad at the world for all kinds of things, and her rage towards almost anyone even in group was recognized by us all.

For the first time in her life for YEARS she was allowed to feel things that she had to stuff in the past.  I think at first we all felt she just needed to get it out, and we gave her a little leeway at times.  We wouldn't let her go wild with those expressions of rage, but if you looked around the room?  Some participates were afraid of her.  They were dealing with this own messes, but beyond the fear they were impressed with her 'I will NOT put up with it ANYMORE!' attitude.

I remember one day another woman came to our group very sick, and she needed to go to the doctor.  She lived near by the group location, and had no way to get there.  She also had no one to watch the children if she did go.  It was more fear of if she had to stay in the hospital that meant her children were going to have to stay with her molesting soon to be x husband.  The church stepped back from to much help because her husband's family were pretty powerful, and her own mother lived in her selfish little world and didn't wish to bothered.

Laura not only took her to the hospital for help, but got on the phone and shamed her mother into doing what was right.  She reminded her that this was her child and her grandchildren.  She reminded her that she was retired, and it wouldn't kill her to help in this awful time of need instead going to card game that day.  She made the woman feel so badly she did indeed stay for almost a week.  Why?  A hospital stay was needed, recovery time, and the threat of Laura coming to stay if she didn't do what was right. 

I realize her approach to some would look at like she had taken on some of the abusive traits of her marriage in the past.  Heck I would even agree with that if you saw HOW she handled some of the situations that day.  What surprises me is how people can't realize that was the only way of dealing with life that was available for her for YEARS.  She didn't push it as far as the abuser, but it was IN YOUR FACE type of approach none the less.  Why it surprises people that she repeats the pattern of behavior that she lived with for over 20 years?  Laura did learn to deal with life better in time, but I think part of that rage she needed to get out - and it helped her move pass some of the pain.

The domestic violence shelter removed her from our group one day once they realized that she needed more one on one care, and it truly wasn't a good idea to have her in a group with other abused parties.

I was talking in group about how I was taking a trip to meet some people I knew for years from a domestic violence online support group.  My group had heard about them forever, but Laura was new to our domestic abuse group at the time.  They were excited for me regarding this camping trip, and actually getting to meet people I had dealt with for years at that point.  Laura got mad at me, and then started to push for answers like, "What you are the ONLY one that can GO?"  She was telling me how dumb it is to go to a camping site with strangers, and if it was for domestic violence then SHE wanted to GO!  She just kept pushing me harder and harder.  YES it was irrational, and I just kept my behavior calm and stood my ground.  I knew she had no way of getting there, and I told her if she wanted to come - then DO IT!

At that point she was removed from the group, and by the next time we met?  We were told that she wasn't coming back.  I guess the verbal attack on me was the last straw, and they had attempted to speak to her a couple of times about her approach of others.  She was now getting a separate type of help to address this behavior.  I was glad she was getting help, and they didn't throw her out completely.

I found out that at times victims do struggle in this area, but they also have a better chance of working past it.  If you can get people to own it, and want to change it?  It can happen.  Laura did get the help she needed, and I think within a year or so she had worked pass that phrase in her life.  A friend of mine from that group from years ago I'm still friends with?  She was out at a business lunch, and ran into Laura.  Laura asked her to apologize for her, and handed my friend her phone number so I could call so she could do that personally.  She humbly realized she was completely offensive, defensive, and behaved badly.  It sounds like her life has indeed moved passed the anger stage.  I think for some people?  Its part of the path to healing, and I think I have spoken of my own anger stage I dealt with as well.

If people had just blown us off, and told themselves that the chances are in our relationship with our spouses we were both abusive anyway?  If they use the 'anger' stage as you see others do?  Its another roadblock towards the healing that people do indeed need.  It also shows they don't understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship.  Some - not all - deal with fallout of those relationships like Laura and I did.  It happens, and I'm glad we found people that helped us grow past it.  They didn't tell us we were abusive, but saw our behavior for what it was, and the reasons why.  If you look at those that have been hurt badly - and YES at times that even includes abusers when they will admit it - the almost contempt for the world phase does happen to some.  When I dealt with it at the time it wasn't as bad as Laura, but that truly doesn't mean squat.  I mean we all deal with things differently.  This is hardly a competition or comparison.  We are custom beings just as God made us.

When I was surfing the internet about the stories of Rihanna recently?  I saw alot of really mean comments.  Why did she wait until now?  Strange how she is coming out with her new record, and NOW she wants to talk!  In the Larry King interview Chris Brown wouldn't speak about the dynamics of the relationship out of respect for Rihanna.  I wonder if they noticed he decided to do an interview about that period on the VERY same day as Rihanna?

When people don't know what to do with domestic violence?  When people don't know how to handle domestic violence when it happens?  They tend to do nothing, but they sure like to blame, make accusations, excuses and the rest don't they?  It seems to me education needs to be more than a list of behaviors from the abuser, and how to deal with and what to look for in the aftermath would be smart.  I wonder how many people will take advantage of that peephole that Rihanna is showing to others about living with domestic abuse?  I pray that church does as well even if it is secular!  They dynamics of the relationship is there, and gender, race or any other excuse doesn't mean a hill of beans.  Its there and I think most of the time?  People suffer because the world doesn't know what to do with us, and they basically?  DO NOTHING over all!

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Waneta Dawn on 9:22 PM said...


I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with your conclusion. A lot of people do much more than nothing. As you mentioned, they blame the victim. People are very active at that. It seems to help them feel better or something. Granted, not all people do that--at least not out loud.

Another thing people do is AVOID the victim. To do this, they often have to pretend the person is not right next to them, or pretend the person doesn't exist. Frequently, they will quickly turn and start talking to someone else, or do something else to make themselves look very busy and preoccupied.

And then if they are unable to avoid the victim, they try to keep the subject on the weather or the lastest ball game, and keep the conversation as short as they can. If they feel too guilty to do that and actually ask how things are going, they very quickly suggest the victim go to counseling. Each of these endeavors is to get the person to stop talking about such a painful subject, or to shut up altogether when around peers. The implication is that the victim should PAY someone to listen to them, because it is just too hard for peers to listen to.

The message abused women gather from others is that they do NOT want to hear it, that the victim is not valued by others--except for what the victim can do for them.

Hannah, we live in a very selfish society. Some people do even worse than I mentioned. I think of the 15 year old who was gang raped and beaten and a crowd gathered, reporting to others what was happening and cheering the rapists and beaters on. That crowd, too, did more than nothing.

I do agree with you, on one level they are doing nothing. But on another, they are doing WORSE than nothing. Sometimes what they are doing is downright evil.

I want to know: Are the avoidance and the subtle unvoiced putdowns evil, too?

Hannah on 9:29 PM said...

I think some cases they can be. It depends on the person and situation. I think its ignorance when people don't do a darn thing, and the avoidance? WELL to me its sin!

We don't have clear cuts rules as to what you should do - or ones that will be acknowledged anyway. To me they are doing the same thing as in the Good Samaritan story - some with the same attitude and some not - they just walk by and ignore. Its terrible.

Amy on 10:05 AM said...

That has been my experience as well. People avoid me. At first I thought it was me, but then it started becoming more obvious. People I know that have always been friendly with me will literally turn their backs towards me just as I would go to wave or say hi, or they mumble hello instead of wanting to talk like they used to. :(

It has been very painful. A very blatant statement that they can't handle what I'm doing (divorcing my h after 20 yrs of abuse) or don't approve.

I even had one person say to me after she found my h and I had separated and I gently explained why, that it was hard for her to believe that he was abusive because he is so nice and personable...the she patted my arm and said, "no offense". And to this day this woman who always talked with me quickly turns away from me and will only mumble a quiet hello when I try to talk with her.

If I have learned anything from people acting this way towards me, especially Christians, it's that I need to be less judgemental and more compassionate with others.


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