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Memoir of a Domestic Violence Survivor Pt. II: Psychological Abuse
My mom dated a guy, let's call him R—there is reason behind the letter. I didn't just pull it from thin air and I'm not alluding to Warm Bodies, I promise!
R was a part of my family, in a non-legal way, for the majority of my childhood and teen years. He was my mom's on-again/off-again boyfriend, and later, fiancé. How can I describe what it is like to be around a person like him? His insecurity causes him to be abusive because of his endless shortcomings. I wrote about my father as the main domestic abuser in my life; however, my weekends would not have been complete without my mom's abusive boyfriend's presence, whether throughout Saturday and Sunday or just when I came home from my dad's to see his Jaguar parked in the driveway.
R was never physically abusive, but 99% of the words from his mouth were insults to everyone, self-promoting, and highly lacking in substance. My personal belief is that psychological abuse is more common than physical. We accept psychological abuse as a norm without realizing it still counts as harmful behavior:
"Domestic violence can take a number of forms including physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse, which can range from subtle, coercive forms to marital rape and to violent physical abuse that results in disfigurement or death."
I'm not stubborn! I'm just German
For as long as I can remember, my mom has had a magnet on the fridge that reads: "I'm Not Stubborn! I'm Just German." My mom's side is English and Pennsylvania Dutch. Maybe, the fact R is German drew my mom in. I really wish I knew. He knows German and some Chinese. One of the most memorable, "what was the point of telling that" story was the one that took place at a gas station. He saw two attendants speaking with each other in German. They weren't saying anything offensive or unusual, but he felt it necessary to approach them, join the conversation for a moment or two, and then inform them, "Now, speak English because you're in America."
Oh, yeah, R, you sure showed them what a true American behaves like—a pompous ass.
You Butter Believe!
I wish I could remember, specifically, what the argument was about, but does it matter? We all know this person is a self-absorbed moron who runs his mouth more than he reads. While eating dinner, he had pissed me off, yet again; so, when he asked for the butter, I took my merry time. The next time he said something, I threw the lid at him. If I had more courage, I would have thrown something heavier. I left the table, and called one of my best friends. Let's call her B. She may or may not remember the conversation of me feeling fed up with having to act all thrilled to have someone like R come into my house, every weekend, but this was probably the second time she was there for me after a domestic feud. I'll always appreciate her for that.
The Uneducated Teacher
R's universal claim was that he "Never had anything." He's the kind of person who would have told the Cosby story, "We had to walk to school uphill, both ways." I'm surprised he never tried that on me, considering there is an intellectual joke in there which the teller may or may not even notice. He told my mom, my brother and myself that he "couldn't afford" to attend college. My mom was semi-close with R's mom, who told her he could have gone, but chose not to. Any wise person who meets him would agree he should have gone to college if he wanted to at least successfully convince others he was the slightest bit intelligent.
When I was in high school, I was done with Spanish, but jealous that my brother took Latin while he was there. I was very interested in Latin because of my long-time passion for ancient cultures; therefore, I requested to take a second foreign language before I graduated. One night, we were talking about language, and I mentioned that Latin was the root of English. R disagreed strongly. He said, "No, Spanish is the root of English."
Although the three of us tried very hard to help R understand that couldn't be further from the truth, I don't think he ever gave in. That a boy! Denial confirms your brilliance!
Worshipped Parents; Servant Kids
My mom's parents had her take care of everything when she was young. Her mom suffered from hypochondria.
"You never wanted to ask mom how she was because you would get this long story," my mom has always said.
My brother and I were taught to take care of the house, when we were young, but mom was always a part of it. She refused to do what her parents did to her. So, when R used to tell her "The children should take care of you. You shouldn't have to do anything," my mom wasn't okay with that.
R believed that all kids are ungrateful, no matter what my brother and I would do. Once, we all helped repave the driveway. I was working hard, as usual, pushing the new pavement around the driveway when R told me he was going to do it and I should go inside. An observer may find this to be some sort of nice act, but I knew better. He was trying to make himself look like a gentleman by making it clear he felt that because I am female that means I am too weak to push pavement around.
- Domestic violence is most likely to take place between 6 pm and 6 am.
- More than 60% of domestic violence incidents happen at home.
Like I said, I was the only one who would stand up against R. It was probably because I was dealing with lies and manipulation from my dad's side, so when I came home to R's lies and manipulation, I had enough. One would think that after finally being rid of my dad, my mom would never go after anyone with similar negative characteristics, but that's exactly what she did. Of course, she has said he "used to be nice" when they first started dating, but since he was negative most of the time, third parties would wonder why she would stay for so long. In total, the relationship lasted about a decade, on and off.
I would be sent to my room or punished by other means whenever I would speak against him to his face. When he wasn't around, my mom was happier, and would vent about her problems with him. Once he was there, acting the way he always was, sometimes she would gently tell him what he said was wrong, but more often than not she would say nothing. I couldn't help but wonder, if this is her house and he is little more than an enemy, why has he never been kicked out?
Now, I'm 27, and still don't have an answer. Beyond possible financial security, the guy had nothing much to offer. Being around him was a nightmare. If she learned anything from being married to my father, it should have been that it's better to have financial problems than to live with an abuser. What I am thankful for is that she got away from him before they got married.
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