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.
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. Continue reading →
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.
When I decided after my last terribly abusive relationship that I was done being abused by men, I figured making the change from dating abusive men to dating normal ones would be as easy as flicking off a light switch. My life, until that point had been so dramatic that I decided to chronicle the journey in my book, I Know Why They Call a Shell a Shell: Tales of Love Lost at Sea. I’d planned on writing about my unbelievable relationship past and then write a very happily-ever-after ending based on what I foresaw to be my sunnier dating future. Par usual, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Though I made a conscious decision to no longer involve myself in unhealthy relationships, the rest of me still had to catch up with that thought. There really is a common personality trait in people who end up in abusive situations. A lot of these victims and future victims of abusive relationships have low self-esteem, but other personality traits can lead to this situation. Being vulnerable, too trusting, or not assertive enough can entrap you in a variety of unhealthy situations not limited to romantic, (also friendships and work-related scenarios).
Today I am going to talk about Rihanna and how she is rumored to be back with Chris Brown- how did that happen?
There is so much stuff going on psychologically in an abusive relationship that I could talk about it for days (and probably will if you let me, ha). When Rihanna was successfully removed from the Chris Brown situation, it was not entirely on her own accord, but through court ordered restraining orders and likely the intervention of family and friends. The fact that she did not willingly choose to leave has a lot to do with why she’s back.
She went on Barbara Walters shortly after the relationship was over, and after hearing her peace, we all believed that she was done but did she? Usually a person knows when it isn’t over and that is why they go back months, and in Rihanna’s case, years later. The longest I was away from an abuser was a month or two and then I went back. It was through intervention of family and friends that got me out of one of the relationships and almost being murdered that got me out of the other. The first guy I was with, who was also abusive, I walked out of on my own, but my strength apparently went downhill from there. So wouldn’t one or more years be enough for Rihanna to gain enough perspective to get away? You would think so.
When you’re in an abusive relationship, deep down you know something’s not right, that it’s not the right person for you, and that you are doing the wrong thing. However, you are paralyzed to do anything about it mainly because for one reason or another, you’ve become invested. You have given away a part of yourself to this person and you are not ready to give the relationship up, because in your mind you believed by giving the part of you that you gave, you earned the partnership, so why should you let them go now? The more drama and the more issues of theirs you put up with, the larger your investment becomes and the only interest you earn is the opportunity to hang out with them. You think that they want to be around you after all you’ve done for them but then they push you away- and you can’t wrap your mind around why.
Now here comes the second facet of this scenario, they leave you- or leave you hanging. They cheat on you, hit you, call you a bitch, cunt, fat, and you stay. You stay and you cry and cry. The pain caused by their words and actions is agonizing because let’s be honest, both of you know that you’re not going anywhere. So in the midst of your tears, somewhere in the back of your mind is this realization, this knowledge that you will be staying for the duration regardless of what they do or what names they may currently be calling you.
Sooner of later, when your mate is done blowing off their steam or maybe they’re bored, they come around. They might even apologize- though usually, it’s more of a pathetic excuse for an apology than anything. The sea is calm again. You’re exhausted but feel the physical relief that comes when the tears have finally stopped. You sniffle a little, your tears are drying up, your body is tired. The both of you spend the night cuddling on the couch watching whatever show he wants to watch. He hands you the remote control and urges you to choose something, “Really?” you ask, shocked and honored, as if you’d just been handed the key to the Crown Jewels of something.
You vaguely remember having the same dynamics with your mother or father. The way they abused you when no one was around. The way they acted wonderful and charming in public, to family and friends, always made you sick, even though someone would’ve thought you were to young to comprehend what was going on, you did. For days the abuse continued, and you begged them to stop, begged them. They caused you that same feeling- the crying that never ends-sense of urgency and panic-feeling. Then when they were tired or bored they started to be nice to you again, for a few minutes at least. The second you fell into their placation the abuse started all over again, as did your attempt to appease them.
So why do people end up in abusive relationships? Because when abusive dynamics are the same dynamics that have bonded them to their parents, their brain has grown to believe that abuse is actually love. The abused brain has never experienced love from their parent- the typical thing that bonds one to their mother or father- instead they have been trapped and bonded to their parent within the cycle of abuse. Therefore, the cycle is actually comforting and familiar to the abused in an abusive relationship.
So that is why Rihanna thinks that what she has with Chris Brown is love. I understand where she’s coming from, but she really needs a conservatorship so someone can legally lock her in her room til she comes to her senses, the man beat her face in already, he is not going to stop there. So now that she is back, you are probably wondering why. So back to the investment I spoke about I the beginning. She has made an emotional investment in him and in a relationship- a relationships that she knows is very dysfunctional and wrong. The longer she stays in this dysfunctyional relationship that she knows is wrong, the longer she feels she has to stay in the long run, for a few reasons.
Firstly she is trying to prove herself right and everyone else wrong. She is trying to justify her choice to be there and is intent on staying until she has proved to herself and the world that it was a good choice. Mainly, she is staying out of guilt. There is likely something “wrong” with her- not just Brown. It is likely that like most of us, she is damaged and has confided in him some type of mental issue or something very upsetting and personal that happened in her childhood. It is also likely that when she told him about it, he listened sympathetically and even metaphorically took up arms against whomever had hurt her in the past. This gesture has helped her heal a bit, as far as the previous issue was concerned, and because of it she feels that she owes him because he helped her. She subconsiously does not want to leave him because she feels guilty about doing so because of all he did for her regarding her past pain and helping her work through it. This is also why she feels that others don’t understand their love- they ave never seen this sympathetic side of him, which he has moreso shown to her in order to keep her rather than to help her. She doesn’t realize this and believes he has been sincere. She doesn’t want his help to go in vain and she doesn’t want to break up with him because that makes her feel like she was using him to be comforted- which maye she was- but she doesn’t want to admit that to herself, the world, or him, so instead she will just stay and this is the biggest reason she got pulled back in.
They were unwillingly seperated, so when he came sniffing back around she was too weak to stay away from him because subconsciously she felt indentured to him because of whatever he’d helped her with. There is a large guilt componenet in abusive relationships in general, and this is where it comes in. It is guilt not love that brings women back into a situation with an abuser and guilt that keeps them asking for more.
I think Adele’s video, “Set Fire to the Rain,” is a great example of a typical abusive relationship. It is actually difficult for me to watch, but I like this song… It does a very good job depicting the typical dynamics, the physical abuse, the screaming, punching, pushing, but what’s even more important is that it depicts the “making up.” The “making up” part of an abusive relationship is by far the sickest facet of the entire dynamic. In fact it is so painful to be without this person, the very person who causes the pain because, consequently, they’re also the only one who can make it go away- now that’s what I call a dilemna. Try putting up with this awful cycle for months and even years and tell me how your health is faring- non-existent I would say. If they don’t kill you,there’s a good chance you will kill yourself on purpose or by accident. 1 in every 5 female murder victims in the US are first victims of domestic violence.
This week has not been a slow news week at all! You know how I love to pick apart the psychology of people in bad relationships, as I did in my article about Kat Von D and and Jesse James and my more recent article about Maria and Arnold but now that I hear that Rihanna and Chris Brown may be sending each other affectionate tweets and that Rihanna is also tweeting a mystery woman who is thought to be Chris Brown’s mother (who is urging them to get back together) I am at a loss for words… Rihanna, really?
There are few people in this world I dislike. It’s a short list really, let’s see, one of my ex-boyfriends, my crazy uncle, and CHRIS BROWN. Most people make plenty of mistakes, some offensive, some hurtful, and some otherwise. Most of the time you can forgive people while others were just born bad: rotten apples. This is the category where I put my ex, my uncle, and Chris Brown: bad apples indeed. Rihanna may forgive Chris Brown, but I never will. Someone like that is an OJ Simpson waiting to happen and if you were lucky enough to get out alive, like Rihanna was, you really shouldn’t risk going back.
Last night before I went to sleep I asked God to help me figure out to do about the source of my guilt. I have eliminated most of my guilt over the years but still have trouble justifying the fact that I am estranged from my grandmother. As you know may know, my uncle has torn the family apart with his endless dysfunction but it’s not just that. Growing up I was at the bottom of the totem pole when it came to favoritism in the family. Despite this status, she still had enough manipulation and nastiness to go around. She is one of those people whom strangers love and wonder why her family doesn’t talk to her because she’s so nice to them.
Despite the long list of justification I had for not really talking to her anymore I still felt guilty. I am not the type of person who can do mean or hurtful things to a person even when they treated me abusively. The reason I stayed away was to protect myself: I couldn’t take the way she made me feel when I was around her. Even if I did something nice or thoughtful she was so mean that I always left her home feeling bad. I didn’t need people like her and my uncle in my life. Somehow, I still felt guilty for this choice.
Sometimes when we don’t trust ourselves, we feel very insecure about stepping out into the world to live life. I know I was afraid to go out and be my own person because of the abuse and rape I experienced at a young age. I feared that I, again, wouldn’t be able to protect myself if put in a compromising situation. As a result, I entered into an abusive relationship and subsequently continued this pattern for years. I was attracted to these types of relationships because, on a subconscious level, the aspect of control imposed limits that made me feel “protected” when everything around me felt very out of control. Alone, I felt vulnerable; like I could become a victim again at any time.
Like a textbook abusive relationship, the imposed limitations ended up including a list of things he didn’t want me to do, people he didn’t want me see, and places he didn’t want me to go. Somewhere in my psyche I knew this and permitted it to happen because I felt more insecure out of the relationship than I did in it. Ironically, I ended up existing in this cocoon for several years instead of navigating the world on my own.
Sometimes when we don’t trust ourselves, we feel very insecure about stepping out into the world to live life. I know I was afraid to go out and be my own person because of the abuse and rape I experienced at a young age. I feared that I, again, wouldn’t be able to protect myself if put in a compromising situation. As a result, I entered into an abusive relationship and subsequently continued this pattern for years. I was attracted to these types of relationships because on a subconscious level the aspect of control imposed limits that made me feel “protected” when everything around me felt very out of control. Alone, I felt vulnerable; like I could become a victim again at any time.
Like a text book abusive relationship, the imposed limitations ended up including a list of things he didn’t want me to do, people he didn’t want me see, and places he didn’t want me to go. Somewhere in my psyche I knew this and permitted it to happen because I felt more insecure out of the relationship than I did in it. Ironically, I ended up existing in this cocoon for several years instead of navigating the world on my own.