Category Archives: Domestic Violence

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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Filed under Domestic Violence, News

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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Filed under Domestic Violence, relationships

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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Filed under Domestic Violence, relationships

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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Filed under Domestic Violence, Uncategorized, Women

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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Filed under Domestic Violence, Women

Relationships After Sexual Assault

Or should I say the “lack of relationships” after sexual assault. Trust is a difficult thing, especially when you’ve fallen victim to a rape. After becoming a victim myself and eventually seeking therapy, I couldn’t trust anyone, not even myself. Can you imagine the feeling of not being able to trust yourself? I am still very mistrustful and fearful. To understand why, I would have to revert back to the crime itself along with some common misconceptions.

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Filed under Domestic Violence, Healing, relationships, Sexual Assault

Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away

“Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away.” I saw it written on a poster at the store this morning. I probably should’ve been working, but instead I went shopping for vintage jewelry.

“Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away.” I just Googled it- apparently it is also the title of a Reba McEntire song.

Last night I was reading various blogs and I came across a post by Phyllis Bright Eyes. The title of the post was “Will I Recognize Love When I Find It?” Wow, good question. Most of us have grown so used to negativity and rejection that “Will I recognize love when I find it?” seems like a more than valid question. Most of us have settled for something or another, something close to love someone that our parents or friends warn us that we should not pass up. But what makes it a good thing if we have to look outside ourselves, to the voices and opinions of others, to see that it is? This is all a grand delusion, a self-deception that will fall apart in time.

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Filed under Dating, Domestic Violence, Love, relationships, Sexual Assault

My Rapist Doesn’t Know He’s a Rapist

I found this through a Facebook “share” this morning and thought you might appreciate it. I do not know the origins of this photograph. All I know is that is was taken at a DC Slutwalk.

Slutwalks are a recent slew of protests by women who are sick of being victim blamed for their rapes by their rapists and the culture at large.

 

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Filed under Domestic Violence, Growth, Healing, Inspirational, Life Lessons, News, Sexual Assault

Residual Pain

Last night, I volunteered at the animal shelter. I always loved animals but started volunteering around the time I began attending rape counseling. Those memories had long been suppressed and by the time I finally got around to speaking to someone about them, I was in bad shape. I was definitely suffering from some sort of PTSD and was terrified of people as well as the most benign circumstances. In counseling, I talked about being date raped. I felt better after talking to someone and being validated. You see, I blamed myself for being raped, because I willingly entered the situation: I went over my “friends” house to watch the Superbowl and have a few beers. That was twelve Superbowls ago. A night that started off fun ended with a lot of memory loss, inability to determine sequence of events, physical pain, and then a loss of said friends -but not before an inquisition from said friends in which they slyly tried to determine what I remembered of the night, if anything at all.

For the next decade I did what I wanted to do fearlessly. I did not worry about consequences. I did not care. It wasn’t until after rape counseling that I developed a new and unsightly complex. Though I expected the counseling to make things better it did and it didn’t. Though I now felt validated, receiving formal counseling and talking about what happened opened up a can of worms. After going on a date or hanging out with a man alone, I would go home and scrutinize the night’s events, piecing them together again and again worrying to myself about whether or not something happened. The basis for this fear was a fear that during the date, I had some sort of memory loss, though I was fully conscious and sober the entire time. I would agree with most people, that this is pretty nutty, however, the fear was very real and debilitating. Once the anxiety began it took off like a speeding train. It could go on and on for hours and sometimes days. God bless the people around me who patiently listened to me and reassured me that it was unlikely that anything happened, and reassured me that I would remember it.

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Filed under Animal Rights, Domestic Violence, Healing, Sexual Assault

Chris Brown: Acting like Chris Brown, Again

In recent news, Chris Brown was caught acting like Chris Brown, again, and I’m not surprised.

As you know I rarely say anything bad about anybody, minus Chris Brown, my uncle, and that horrible ex-boyfriend I bring up every once in a while. I don’t really hold grudges against people either…well okay, there are a few, and one of them happens to be Chris Brown. Though I do not know him or Rihanna personally, I cannot stand him for what he did to her. I never saw a black eye that bad in my life, the fact that it was on the face of a petite girl only amplifies its intensity. Though it’s not my place to judge, after his appearance at the Grammy’s this week, I find myself wondering if someone like him deserves forgiveness or should be doomed to a life of social purgatory.

A friend once told me a story about a time that they were waiting for their flight in an airport terminal. Airport terminals aren’t loud but they can be fairly noisy. As he was waiting for the plane to board, the room suddenly became completely silent: you could hear the cliched pin drop. Why did everyone stop talking? He wondered, and then he got his answer when he saw OJ Simpson walk by.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is the way OJ was greeted every time he went out in public- until he was incarcerated, again. Does Chris Brown deserve this kind of treatment? Again, it’s not for me to say, but I know if I came face to face with him, I certainly wouldn’t give him the time of day. I think the only way to judge a situation like his is to think about his character and if it has improved since he got caught beating Rihanna. I say got caught because it is pretty hard to believe, with the severity of her injuries, that this was the first time in his life that he slipped and lost control of his fists.

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Filed under Domestic Violence, Entertainment News, relationships