National Domestic Violence Month – You are not alone

Posted by on Oct 15, 2010 in Inspiration | 8 comments

I don’t generally get too overexcited about National [fill in the blank] months, days or years. In fact, these days, we are so innundated that it’s a wonder that any initiative that deserves attention actually gets it. However, I believe that National Domestic Violence Month is one of those ideas that deserves attention. A lot of attention.

I am not going to bombard you with statistics about sexual abuse or violence against women; they are readily available though organizations like National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, I do want to focus on something that women need to be aware of, especially if they are newly-divorced or newly-single and back on the dating scene again.

When you think domestic or intimate partner violence, what do you think of?

More often than not, the first thing that comes to mind is sexual and physical abuse, right? And no wonder, because it is truly a national if not an international problem, and increasingly prevalent among teens as well. It can cross genders, ages and race. However, domestic or intimate violence can also be emotional, either in conjunction with physicality or by itself. In fact, like physical abuse, emotional abuse is similarly based on power and control. Emotional abuse is verbal or non-verbal, it is constant criticism and repeated disapproval, it is blame, insults, accusations and insinuations. And, although it is intangible, it systematically destroys self-confidence and creates deep scars that can take years and a lot of work to heal. A key reason that women often don’t report being emotionally abused is that it’s hard to prove. And its wounds can be so deep that the cycle becomes too powerful to break.

I know strong, self-empowered women who wound up in a cycle of emotional abuse, hardly realizing what it was other than it made them feel terrible on a daily basis.

I am one of those women.

I am not going to name names or provide details. But I will share that over time, self-blame starts to set in and it’s easy to believe that there’s something wrong with you, not your partner. And instead of walking away, you stay long after you should stay.

My story is a common story. I partnered with someone who presented himself as one way to the world and another to me. A seemingly charming man who wooed me and then turned into Mr. Hyde.

Bad day? My fault. High rent? My fault. His unhappiness? All my fault. Another viewpoint? Nope, not allowed. The ‘boss’ of [fill in the blank]? Him, not me. Compromise? Not real good at it. Invalidation? All the time. Highlighting my flaws? Yes.  Explosive anger? You bet. I walked around on eggshells for most of the relationship, always trying to please, to try to make him like me, to make things better…”if I, then” set in fairly quickly.

He really didn’t like me. And you know what? I didn’t really like him. But I stayed with it because damn it, I was going to prove to him that I was worth it.

By the time the relationship was over and I made the decision that it was time to cut my losses, I had lost a lot of weight and a lot of me. At the end, 12 pounds lighter and in for a long haul of therapy, I realized that I was angry, damn angry. But mostly at myself for allowing the abuse.

The weight eventually came back on. I did (and continue to do) a lot of therapy. I had another relationship and learned to trust — not only him — but also myself.  But I’m still wary. And some of the trauma and self-doubt remains with me to this day.

Emotional abuse is ABUSE. Don’t let it happen to you. Talk to someone. Let them in. If you need help, please, please get it. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799.SAFE).

Truly, you are worth it. And you know what? I am too.

8 Comments

  1. 10-15-2010

    Fantastic post!

  2. 10-15-2010

    Thank you for finding a voice for all of us who often can’t find our own.

    • 10-15-2010

      Gloria:

      I am honored. Thank you. It’s time to take care of you/me/us.

      Hugs.

  3. 10-15-2010

    Thank you. I’m just starting my therapy part. It’s a long road. This was a day I felt like sinking and then I read this – I will not sink. I will get better.

    • 10-17-2010

      Kathryn. I am glad. Do not sink. It will get better and so will you. Hang in and hugs.

  4. 10-26-2010

    Thanks for sharing Liz. Emotional abuse is a tricky one because it usually sneaks up on us. Like yourself we find ourselves wanting to make the relationship work, trying anything and doing everything, all for naught. And once fear grips us, it becomes almost impossible to move of the situation. We’re scared of being alone, scared of him/her, scared of what our friends & family will say and scared this may be the best we’ll ever get…ALL of which is pure BS.

    Standing up was oh so difficult, once I did, I never sat down again.

    • 10-26-2010

      Thank you Shannon. This was a tough situation and one that has left deep scars. Fortunately, a lot of work paid off. But there are so many others who are not as fortunate as I am and are still in those relationships.

  5. 6-18-2011

    I was very young when it happen I was 16 I was with my boyfriend for about a year befour it started I was to young to see the warning sings it started by controlling me then yelling at me oh by the way I also had a baby too then the mental abuse then the grabbing of my arm hard holding me down on the bed then he move in with me at my dads and it went down hill from there he was so sweet and kind in front of people but if I said or did something he didn’t like he would hit me and that was all the time pretty much then he got smart he started to hit me in the head so no one c the bruises I had knives pulled on me even made me load a gun so he could point it at me hand cuffed me to a car inside handle told me that he was going to run us in the bayou we split up a few times he would follow me in my car and try to run me off the road at that time I could tell u the make and model of cars head lights I was always lookig his words to me was if I can’t have u no one will the time I was 19 we hade our 2 child and it got to the point that if he didn’t hit me that day then I thought something was wrong but I got the strength to leave and never go back if course I had to talk to him cuz of our kids but he called me one day out of the blue and said im sorry for all the stuff I ever did to u I replied back to him no thank you he said thank me for what I said thank u for making me a stronger person he was shocked and we never spoke bout it again and like I said I never went back

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