I Cannot Tell You Why I Stayed

The Janay and Ray Rice controversy sparked an outpouring of support for victims of domestic violence and has motivated many survivors to tell their stories about why they stayed. It also has many people who are unfamiliar with domestic violence wondering why anyone would stay in an abusive relationship. As a survivor of domestic violence I will say I am not entirely sure why I stayed.

Several years ago, I was almost murdered by a boyfriend and afterwards, I stayed. It was not a violent relationship initially. After the first six months, he increasingly shouted and yelled at me, but he never put his hands on me until the night he almost took my life.

Family members ridiculed me and called me stupid for staying. I thought it was cruel to call me stupid. Intelligence and emotional intelligence are two vastly different things. I cannot tell you why I stayed. I cannot pinpoint an exact reason or come up with a clear answer to that question, but after looking back on my life and some of the things I’ve lived through and witnessed, I understand what may have contributed to my tolerance and acceptance of abusive treatment and behavior.

As a young teenager, I survived rape by two “friends” who were never prosecuted or held accountable for this crime. The only person I told about it, a boyfriend, invalidated me and called me a slut.

Going even farther back in time, as a young child I was exposed to some seriously questionable behavior within my family. Crazy relatives. Abusive ones. I remember arriving at my relatives house on Christmas Day and seeing my aunt’s face bandaged because her husband punched her. I recall on more than one occasion taking a ride with my mother to a pawn shop to pick up my aunt’s wedding ring (that her husband pawned again for God-knows-what-reason). I had a grandmother who took beatings from her son, hid it for years and gave him her life savings to keep him out of harm’s way and from getting in trouble. Furthermore if anyone confronted her about this or tried to call the cops on him, she would turn on them and make them sorry for trying to help her. I saw her lie to law enforcement on more than one occasion to protect him from being held accountable for his crimes against her. It is no wonder I never ran away at the first or even second sign of abuse in unhealthy relationships after living through all of this and more.

Clearly the recurring theme here is the normalization and acceptance of abusive behavior and the long term effect it had on me because I witnessed it as a child. Then later in life as a victim, blamed again and again for being raped probably contributed to my tolerance of these dangerous situations and caused me to blame myself for what was happening.

It is understandable why a person who has never experienced domestic violence firsthand is confused as to why someone would stay. They are trying to reason with and make sense of this behavior, but it is not reasonable and it does not make sense. Even after living through it, I don’t pretend to have the answers. I can only share with you my personal experience and reasoning processes during those times. There were a lot of feelings of confusion, helplessness and also a lot of irrational justification.

To help people understand why women and men stay in abusive relationships and to show support for others in these situations, my book I Know Why They Call a Shell a Shell: Tales of Love Lost at Sea will be available as a FREE download via Amazon from September 12th to September 16th. The book is a creative non-fiction story about the empty existence that is life inside an abusive relationship told firsthand by me. By sharing my story, I hope to reiterate to those who are currently in an abusive relationship that they are not alone and to give insight to those who may not understand why someone would stay a snapshot into the mind of a domestic abuse victim.

FREE copies of my Ebook I Know Why They Call a Shell a Shell: Tales of Love Lost at Sea are available until September 16th so please get your FREE download available here.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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Downplaying Abuse

The after the arrest, Emma Roberts cries in battered boyfriend's arms

Only July 7th, 2013, Emma Roberts (niece of Julia) was taken into custody for beating up her boyfriend. The boyfriend, Evan Peters, was found with a bloody nose and alleged bite marks. Not long after, Emma Roberts publicists went into overdrive downplaying the incident.

“It was an unfortunate incident and misunderstanding,” Emma’s reps told Entertainment Tonight.

“Ms Roberts was released after questioning and the couple are working together to move past it.”

This was not an unfortunate incident or a misunderstanding. Bite marks and a bloody nose? That’s pretty brutal.

This is not something that can be “worked past.” This is something that will only get worse. Usually in abusive relationships, violence and abuse escalate over time. Her publicists attempt to play it off as a random and unfortunate incident is pretty weak.  The fact that the abuse was so severe- that she punched him in the face- says that the escalation of violence in this relationship has already reached a very dangerous level. You can bet money on it that this is not the first time nor will it be the last.

Most incidents of domestic violence are not reported and this one wouldn’t have been reported if someone in a neighboring hotel room hadn’t called it in. The press got a picture of Emma the next morning sobbing in her boyfriend’s arms. Is she crying because she’s sorry she hurt her boyfriend? Or is she’s crying because she got caught?

“Emma is very dramatic,” one source said. “They will not break up. When they are good, they are crazy in love.” When they are good? And when they are bad she unleashes her inner Chris Brown?

The way sources and her publicists tried to downplay this incident is scary. This person needs some serious help, though it is pretty unlikely that help would actually help. Abusers don’t reform. In fact, there are literally no statistics regarding such a thing. None. Nada. The best bet here would be for the boyfriend to leave, but he likely won’t do that either (they are still together after the incident became public). It usually takes a victim seven attempts to leave before they step away from an abusive relationship for good. Seven times! From what I’ve seen, I suspect it is an even higher number than seven…

It’s horrible that her publicists are downplaying this abuse. Domestic violence is typically “downplayed” by the abuser to begin with. Outside sources doing the same only enable and uphold the violent behavior. There is a lot of secrecy and brainwashing involved in an abusive relationship. Often the victim does not realize they are being abused because the hierarchy of the relationship is a tyranny in where he or she is being brainwashed and oppressed by the abuser.

Abusers are so sly that when confronted or questioned by the victim the abuser minimizes and denies his or her actions. This is a term referred to as “crazy making” where an abuser will flat out deny an action that the victim knows happened. As ridiculous as it sounds, crazy making confuses the already disoriented victim more causing he or she to question his or her own sanity. The confusion and belief in the abusers minimizing, crazy making and lies happens because there are usually no witnesses. Abusers are cagey like that and can be extremely charming and nice around the victim’s friends and relatives. So nice that sometimes the family doesn’t believe the victim or downplays the victims role as a victim— maybe they are over reacting or being too sensitive…

What do you think? Do you think it’s wrong that the publicists are downplaying this incident?

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The Royal Baby Blues

I have the Royal Baby Blues. Yesterday, my mother and I tearfully watched the appearance of this new born royal on the public stage. Why am I crying? I wondered. An easy question to answer. In my brain I was calculating that Kate dated William for six years before they got married and had this baby. I am single and the last few years of my dating life has felt like I’ve been a stumbling zombie going bar to bar through some mediocre pub crawl. Sure it got me out of the house, but was it worth it?

Age is a factor. My fear of being single forever has really kicked into high gear in the last year as Prince Charming continues to elude me. I’m back at the pub crawl, I can’t just sit there and enjoy a beer as we go from bar to bar. I’m slamming down shots. I have an objective. I know what I want in the end and I am trying to get there as soon as possible. I no longer feel like time is on my side. I don’t have time for guys who want to “take things slow” because their idea of taking things slow still entails sex, companionship, and getting together yet no commitment. That was cool when I was 22 and the idea of marriage literally made me nauseous, but I’m not 22 anymore. Unlike what their packing, my eggs cannot live forever.

I never really wanted children. I was all about the career. I’m a career woman! I wrote a book! I have awards! I have all those things, but try cuddling up with a book each and every night alone. I’m starting to hate reading. I am thinking realistically. It is not that I want children, but I want the option to have them if I decide to want them and with no steady relationship in sight, it is scary that I don’t even have the possibility.

Well, it’s another day at the office. I am slamming perv guys who are emailing me on Plenty of Fish in between finishing up my work. One guy messaged “when are we gonna sweat together.” At this point I have no expectations, but I was curious if he was truly just being a perv.

“Sweat together? Where?” I asked, giving him plenty of rope to hang himself.

“Go hiking or something over near me,” well the guy lives the next state over. If he thinks I am driving to see him he is crazy. And a hike for a first date? Not only dangerous, but cheap. I have had it. It takes me over an hour to get ready for any date. I am a beautiful perfectionist and I will not look better than my best when I go out and time after time I spent hours getting ready to end up on a date where the guy doesn’t even want to pick up the tab for a $2 coffee. I have become an expert at screening them ahead of time and not even bothering.

“Something near u?” I innocently asked, ready to come in for the kill.

“What do u recommend?” he responded.

“Not going hiking on a first date.”

He then suggested coffee. Aw how thoughtful.

I am too busy and certainly not bored enough to drive a half hour across town to meet this fool for Dunkin Donuts. I would rather stay at my desk writing and pop in another Keurig than bother. It’s not about money it’s about effort and objective. At this point I would refuse the ritziest offer if I sensed it would not be going anywhere. I will just spend my time doing what has got me the farthest (work) and let the relationship chips fall where they may. You never know how your luck can change. So I beg the question: can you relate? Please share in the comments section.

So about that royal baby. Good for them. And for me, I will stay optimistic. You never know, maybe I will just find a baby like in The Hangover?

Stu Price: So, uh, are you sure you’re qualified to be taking care of that baby?
Alan Garner: What are you talking about? I’ve found a baby before.
Stu Price: You found a baby before? Where?
Alan Garner: Coffee Bean.

 

 

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Should Rapists Qualify for the Death Penalty?

Centuries ago justice systems considered rape as brutal of a crime as murder. In ancient Greece, Rome, and Colonial Times, rape was categorized as a a capital offense right alongside it. In the 12th century rape victims’ families were granted the right to carry out the rapists’ punishment which was brutal and often fatal. In 14th century England, the rape victim was expected to gouge out their rapist’s eyes or castrate him.

Today, rapists typically receive a slap on the wrist. In the United States, current death penalty standards exist mainly for convicted murderers, but shouldn’t rapists be faced with the same penalty? Victims of rape can experience PTSD and emotional consequences that stunt their livelihoods for years and sometimes destroy their entire lives.

Take for example Amanda Berry of Cleveland. Amanda and two other young females disappeared ten years ago when they were aged 14 years old. For the ten years these girls were held captive by their kid-napper. The man not only kidnapped, held captive and raped these girls, but collectively robbed them of thirty years of life. Thirty years they could’ve spent with friends. Thirty years they could’ve spent with family. Thirty years they could’ve spent going to school. Thirty years they will never get back. This is an extreme case of how a rapist can destroy and rob a victim of years of “living.”

In a more typical rape-crime, where it may only takes minutes for a rape to occur, the after effects from the humiliation and violence is difficult for a victim to bear. Issues like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder often rob rape victims of a normal life. Typically the term “PTSD” connotes images of war veterans suffering through an existence tormented with nightmares and flashbacks from their days of combat. Contrary to that imagery, PTSD is not unique to this group of individuals. Rape victims are common sufferers of PTSD.

Perpetrators of a rape usually get very lenient sentencing, but more often than not they are never caught while rape victims will suffer for years after a rape has occurred. Rape is not an experience that is easily forgotten and the after effects on a victim result in issues such as PTSD, depression, addiction and even suicide. Sometimes the issues the victim experiences last the rest of their lives so why shouldn’t the rapist lose their lives (or years of their lives through longer prison sentences) as well? Harsher punishments for rape-crimes would at the very least be a deterrent.

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He Said He Loved Me: the Psychology Behind Intimate Partner Violence

Understanding the motives and actions of an abuser is often difficult and confusing for a  victim to comprehend. How could he say he loved me, share a roof with me, and children with me yet hate me so much? Many women and men find themselves pondering this question because even when the relationship ends there are a multitude of questions left unanswered.

When I was a teenager I went out with a guy who was the classic abusive boyfriend in every way. He tried to dictate who I spent my time with, didn’t like any of my friends or family, and tried to isolate me from them. Although he didn’t want me to be around any of them it seemed that he didn’t want to be around me either.

Ten years later I met up with him again. Enough time had passed for me to start to see the relationship in a different light. I thought mainly of the good times and romanticized the whole thing. And somewhere along those daydreams I started to believe that he really had loved me.

So we started communicating again and one night we met up. That night he tried to sleep with me. I politely declined. The next day after exchanging a text or two I never heard from him again. I was devastated. How could he have no feelings for me? How could he have said he loved me, then years later not even like me? He wasn’t even considerate enough to answer my last text message.

When I realized he had cut me off and that I was never going to hear from him again it felt like I’d gotten hit by a truck. It was soon after that that I had the realization that he never loved me. He hadn’t even liked me.

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Why I Am Abstinent

Over the last year and a half I have dated over 100 different guys. I’m not into dating though. In fact, I hate it. I didn’t start off looking to date. Like a lot of women I was looking for someone to begin a serious relationship with. However, that really never got off the ground and instead I found myself in serial dater territory. Through my experience in the last year I have learned that the modern US dating scene is truly the “land of free milk and cows,” and because of that sexually conservative women like me are having a next to impossible time finding anybody willing to wait.

I’m no virgin, but I remain abstinent in between long term relationships. And it has been a long time since I’ve had one. I haven’t given in and slept with anyone for several reasons. One of those reasons being that I do not want to be objectified and used for sex.  Of course even in a long term partnership you can be used and disposed of, which is something I talk about extensively in my book I Know Why They Call a Shell a Shell.

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Oscar Pistorius: The Tragic Hero

Three weeks ago, if had you visited Oscar Pistorius’ Wikipedia page, you would read about a hero. His story was a noble tale of overcoming the odds. Pistorius, a double-amputee athlete, participated in the world’s biggest athletic events (most notably the 2012 Summer Olympics) alongside “able-bodied” competitors.

Pistorius was born with fibular hemimelia, a disease characterized by a “congenial absence of the fibula,” bones located in the lower extremity of the leg. At 11-months-old a large portion of his legs were amputated. Despite his physical limitations, Pistorius excelled at athletics inevitably gaining the nickname “the fastest man on no legs.”

This write-up reads like an obituary and in a way it is. Pistorius’ tale borrows many characteristics from the structure of a Greek tragedy. He is indeed a “tragic hero” and within this thought lies the clue as to why some people are so devastated that he committed this crime.

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The Appeal of the Bad Boy and How Women Get Sucked In

In 2011, I remember coming across this headline: “Why Did Kat Von D Tattoo Jesse James’ Face on Her Body?” Wow, good question! Von D  swore she’d never laser that baby off, but as of December 2012 she has started the removal process. It is not that simple. It is reported that it will take “anywhere from five to 15 laser sessions, with eight weeks of healing time in between.”  That sounds about right, because when you date a bad boy, it will take just as long or maybe longer to get him out of your heart…

When I was done rolling my eyes at the headline, I was compelled to read the article. I could not help but wonder how a talented and well-known tattoo artist like Kat Von D walk right into this? You are never suppose to tattoo the name or the likeness of a lover on your body! She’s a professional tattoo artist. She should know about the curse!

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He Almost Killed Me

Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp’s story is consistent with a typical abusive relationship. We will never know exactly what happened on Valentine’s Day in the home of Oscar Pistorius.

“Pistorius said in an affidavit read in court Tuesday that he and girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model and budding reality TV star, had gone to bed and that when he awoke during the night he detected what he thought was an intruder in the bathroom.”

This resonates with the dynamics of many abusive relationships in which outsiders rarely see any evidence that abuse has occurred. Ideally for Pistorius, the possible abuse and inevitable murder of Steenkamp would’ve gone unnoticed. But it didn’t. A witness heard screaming before the shots were fired.

Despite the account of the witness, Pistorius continues to play the role of innocent victim and garner sympathy from his supporters for the “accidental” shooting death of his girlfriend. His actions are an example of a pathological sociopath at his finest. How do I know? I went out with one and he almost killed me.
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So… Why are you single????

In honor of Valentine’s Day I painted my nails black. Here’s why: I never really had a pet peeve before, but today I think I’ve finally found one: people who take you aside at a party or group and give you a very deep stare and in a very quiet tone look ask “So, why are you single?” Well, Katie Couric, let me tell you how it all started….

How do you answer a question like that? “What can I say? I make bad decisions.” (That’s the best answer I can come up with). Are they expecting some sort of sob story? Or are they just nosy and trying to delve deep into your psyche- curious to uncover just exactly is wrong with you? I think it’s the latter… Well it’s great to know that I’m not the only one making bad decisions. Check out the studpidity I pulled off various dating sites…. Maybe next time someone asks me ‘why are you single?’

lies
Who’s up for dinner? And a movie? And some lies? Anyone who goes out with this guy (after seeing this picture) is just plain stupid…
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