(A note regarding the following conversation… know that there are many out there who suffer and need understanding. What looks golden isn’t always gold.)
What is abuse? Why discuss it? There is a lot of violence that goes on all around us. There are parents who abuse their children. There are children who abuse their parents. There are men who abuse women and women who abuse men… This world is full of people who make themselves feel better by hurting people who are weaker than themselves. All of these “stronger” people are really just insecure, immature, pathetic bullies.
So, what makes one thing abuse and something else not? Abuse is something you don’t get over. It’s something, that if you survive, that if you get out, still haunts you twenty, thirty years in the future. Abuse makes you scared. You may not be scared for your life but your scared just the same. Physical abuse is the easiest to see on yourself. You can see the bruises and feel the pain afterward. But it’s not usually obvious to others. An abuser will take the time to not mark his or her victim. He will only leave a bruise under the clothing, often making sure her face is not damaged. How does he get away with it? Why does she continue to allow the abuse? Many reasons. He has taken the time to convince her that he loves her or that he was just angry and won’t do it again. He will truly be sorry, even acting as though he hates himself for hurting her. He will make sure she knows, without a doubt, that she deserved the punishment. If he needs to, he will threaten those people or pets in her life that are important to her. He will describe in detail how he’ll hurt or kill those she cares about. She will believe him because she already knows how he hurts her. She will stay because she doesn’t know how to leave and because she actually cares about him. She’ll stay because she is more scared of leaving and being found than she is of not trying at all. She stays because she thinks she must. She will stay because she doesn’t want any one to know what a failure her marriage is. She doesn’t want anyone to know. She is embarrassed.
What else is abuse? Is it abuse if there is no violence? If the abuser maintains control of his victim only by his words? It can be. An abuser will carefully, methodically, tear down his victim’s defenses. He will degrade her, accuse her, discipline her, withdraw from her, withhold from her. He might remove her ability to leave or to buy things. He might choose to watch her, follow her, check up on her, all in the name of making sure she is safe because he “cares” but instead so that he can catch her in a lie to prove to her that she “needs” him to stay safe and honest… He will remind her of her worst faults, never forgiving her, always telling her she’s lucky to have him, she’d never find some one else who could possibly put up with her as well as he does. He would never allow her to criticize him, the moment she does, he would turn the words around to make her at fault instead of him. He is a master manipulator. Jealous because of love, never trusting. He will never forget a wrong she did and actually imagine wrongs that never happened, she is unable to defend herself against him because she is left wondering what was it she did wrong. Her spirit is broken, like a horse that gives up on shaking his rider off. When questioned, she defends him, “he was right”, “he has never hurt me”… She is left believing that she is worthless, left believing that “he’s not so bad.” When it started, it was cute, sweet, his jealousy. After several years she learns that his jealousy is what hurt more than anything else. He didn’t trust her and so she believed herself untrustworthy.
A small taste of freedom, and she begins to believe in herself again. He notices her confidence beginning to blossom and so in his effort to control her he tries every trick in the book. He tries demeaning her, it almost works. He tries to win her sympathy, it backfires and he wins her pity instead. He tries religion, “what God put together, may no man tear apart”, to remind her that she belongs to him. He tries being “nice”, but his acts are so predictable that she begins to see. The problem, though, now, when she is ready to be free, when she finally has the courage to stand up for herself, the courage to leave, his duplicity and his manipulation are at their best. With friends, or church, or any one in public, he “behaves himself” he acts contrite, sorry, upset that she wants to leave. Yet, alone, at home, he is as cutthroat as he can be. His scorn for her is apparent in all of his actions. He spends 20 minutes on a soliloquy telling her all about her awfulness. He says he “loves”her, yet doesn’t care if she gets home safe after work, leaves her crying to defend herself in front of others, he abandons her. He continues all of his previous ploys of controlling her, doubling down, in a last ditch effort of convincing her she is worthless without him. It would be easier for her to leave if he just hit her, once is enough. The psychological control he holds over her is harder to prove than a single bruise would be. It hurts much, much more too. Still, she reminds herself, she could be beat and cursed at the same time. There is always some one who has it worse, and so the cycle continues because again she makes an excuse, why should some one help her when others need the help more. She’s strong, and proud, and finds no one willing to tell her…”NO! YOU ARE WORTHY, YOU DO DESERVE TO BE HAPPY, YOU DO HAVE THE RIGHT TO NOT BE BULLIED EVERY DAY, YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON, GOD DOES NOT CONDONE YOUR SUFFERING, YOU DO NOT DESERVE YOUR PUNISHMENT, YOU DID NOTHING WRONG, YOUR HUSBAND IS WRONG AND HE SHOULD PAY THE PRICE OF HIS INSECURITY NOT YOU!” But who will tell her? Who will believe her? She has no proof. She is helpless, or at least believes herself to be.
(Again, please do not assume that what is golden is gold.)
Thanks for reading,