The top two questions always asked by non abused persons concerning domestic violence are, why doesn’t she/he leave, and why do they go back? It is not an easy answer, the victim themselves may not even know why. There are many contributing factors to consider when trying to see through a victim’s eyes, as a victim advocate, a family member, or friend. I have consistently reflected upon my own experience as a very young and naive eighteen year old girl. Although naive, I didn’t grow up in an abusive household. I had every thought that it was not normal or comfortable. Research shows that when children grow up witnessing violence they will either become abusers, or mate with abusive people. “Witnessing can mean SEEING actual incidents of physical/and or sexual abuse; it can mean HEARING threats or fighting noises from another room, children may also OBSERVE the aftermath of physical abuse such as blood, bruises, tears, torn clothing, and broken items- finally children may be AWARE of the tension in the home such as their mother’s fearfulness when the abuser’s car pulls into the driveway” (Info DVRT, 2008).
The First Time it Happened
The first time it happened I was driving my truck, my future abuser riding passenger reached over and back handed me across the face. I instantly reacted and slammed on the breaks, grabbed the keys, and jumped out of my truck holding my burning cheek. I don’t even remember what I had said that set him off, but until that moment I thought he was the greatest thing on Earth. He automatically apologized and pleaded for me to return to the vehicle. I was shaken, and scared of him. He blamed it on having a bad day, and dealing with work stress. He promised that he would never do it again. My mother’s voice rang in my head, “the first time shame on him, the second time- shame on you.” This is the moment I should have left, listened to that soft, still voice. I now know that listening to your instincts is life’s number one rule. An abuser will try to take that from you, make you think that you cannot trust yourself, but you can always trust you more than any “man” in this world. Life’s rule number two, you cannot fix someone else, you cannot change them or love them into wellness. First of all, it is not your job to try to attempt the impossible in another human being, and although tried throughout history, it is almost certainty futile. The problem with the people who think they are in love, they do not follow these two rules. They think they are the one person that it will be different for, and it almost always ends tragically. To recap: he hit me, and said he was sorry. This led to our first honeymoon period. He bought me presents, and loved on me twice as hard as before. After the hook was in deep, he really reeled me in.
He Was My Addiction
Twenty years later, this is what I know, I was addicted to him. I didn’t like the mean, scary abusive individual that came out from time to time, but I was addicted to the loving, funny, fabulous cook that was around most of the time. A year into our relationship I found out that he was addicted to meth, and when he was coming down from being high for days on end, I was the punching bag that took the aggression he felt as a result. I made excuses because that really wasn’t him. That was him on drugs. He was addicted to meth, and I was addicted to him. I fantasized about a life with him without the drugs, and abuse. I finally realized that it was never going to be a reality. I was never going to be more important than his precious meth, that was his real baby. I found the strength and got out, I was a lucky one. Although I am still a statistic, “4.8 million intimate partner related assaults every year” (National Organization For Women, 2012). I avoided the even scarier statistic of three women are murdered every day, one third of them are murdered by an intimate partner.
Men and women need to be proactive, do not let the hook get in, do not let that man or women reel you in. Although significantly under reported, men are also victims of abuse by their partners. There are a lot less resources for men out there, and it should be acknowledged that regardless of the sex, abuse is never ok and should never be tolerated. Watch for the red flags, and listen to your instincts, no matter how much you think you love him/her you cannot change them, or save them.
Future Abuser Red Flags
Is he/she a blamer? Is it everyone else’s fault that life is not going well, and is not fair?
Is he/she a resentful? A resentful person is negative-and lives on negative energy. They have a difficult time understanding someone else’s point of view, or ever properly caring.
Does he/she feel entitled? Everyone owes them something, and ultimately their perspectives will always be more important than yours.
Is he/she superior. They are more important than everyone else. Do not dare to disagree.
Is he/she petty? Do they make a big scene over the smallest things? Does life just seem to always set them off? Eventually you will be walking on egg shells.
Is he/she extremely sarcastic? Always trying to be the funniest, or smartest person in the room. After the honeymoon is over, you will be at the center of the put down storm.
Is he/she a liar? Have you caught them in the initial embellishments that aren’t just wanting themselves showcased in the best light. Were they in the CIA, an astronaut, or a secretive military operative? They will continue to lie to you, about everything and anything.
Is he/she just a little but jealous. You may not recognize the subdued possessiveness and ownership, but it is there lurking. After the hook is in deep the real green monster will rear it's ugly head.
Is he/she rushing? Are they nonstop trying for an exclusive relationship, marriage or kids? Did they love you after three dates, and now they have to move to the next level quicker than seems normal- it is. They want to hurry and get that hook in, before you realize who they are and what they are about.
It is not love when they haven’t taken the time to know you, and they do not care what you want. If it is right, and it is love you can take your time and get to know them. You want a healthy love that doesn’t have to worry about being a human punching bag. Beyond all, trust yourself and listen to yourself. If you are already there get out. Seek peace in your post domestic violence self, get healthy, and seek a healthy relationship in that order so we can share the same statistic and maybe you can help someone else recognize what you will someday know.
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