Category Archives: abuse

“Other” Reasons People Don’t Leave

 

 

The chicken doesn’t mean anything. I just think it’s funny.

I’m starting to think that perhaps I shouldn’t call my college relationship abusive. After all, it’s not like I was hit or anything. Also, I wasn’t exactly the best girlfriend in the world. I had a jealous streak a mile wide and wasn’t very trustworthy toward the end. Plus, there must have been *something* good to keep me there. If I can think of good things about him that means it wasn’t abusive, right?

Then I remember how he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. I remember how he once planned a fake suicide threat and panic attack to make me feel guilty for breaking up with him for someone else. I remember how he harassed the other guys who were interested in me (while we were broken up!) behind my back so he could swoop in and play the hero. Granted, I shouldn’t have fallen for his crap about wanting to be friends right after our breakup because he had an agenda. I should have known better.

I remember the surge of fear I felt when I saw a friend request from him on Facebook. I have no idea why I felt that because it’s not like he could still hurt me, but it just felt…I don’t know.  I don’t want say it was a flashback because to put myself in the same category as some other people I know but my therapist says I should because “if *I* thought it was abuse, that’s what it was”. Makes sense. Anyway, I wanted to write a post on this for another site, but they thought it was “too serious”. So I’ll do it here. Here are some of the reasons people stay in abusive relationships that you usually don’t hear about. I’m not writing this to “label myself” or play the victim to get attention (as I’ve been accused of before) so much as  to give some insight that might help someone else down the line. 

-We’ve invested a lot of time in the relationship.  We have a history with this person that we don’t want to be for nothing. We don’t see that by staying we’d just be wasting more time, losing more time we can’t get back.

A lot of times, I will think back to what things would have been like in college had I either not met him or stayed away from him; who I could have dated, what classes I could have taken, what “drama” and what kind of hurt I could have spared myself and other people.  I wouldn’t give up my current husband and relationships for the world, but I wonder if I might be subconsciously trying to get that time back.

We still love them. As much as you (and perhaps your mom) wish you could, you can’t turn your feelings for someone off like a light switch. It’s possible that you might stop loving someone (or, in my case, realize you weren’t in love with them to begin with), but this has to happen over time if it’s going to happen at all. And it may not. Love can evolve, which makes it really confusing when it comes to plotting your next move. It’s especially hard if you have kids together.

-We don’t know when to quit.  According to my father, this is a problem of mine. Granted, he was talking about making fart noises or playing the “I’m not touching you” game in the car, but you get the point.

We don’t want to give up. We tell ourselves, if we stay just a *little* longer, things will work themselves out. We think, maybe if I marry him, he’ll treat me better. Maybe if we have a child, he’ll treat me better. He’d have to, right? Since I’d be the mother of his child. Um, no. If someone has it in them to abuse a partner they claim to love, they probably have it in them to abuse a kid too.  Even if they don’t, it’s still a toxic environment to grow up in.

Even if it’s not a matter of behavior, we never know when it’s truly over because the person always tries to find a way to “rejuvenate” things just long enough for you to come back to him. After that, it goes back to the same old thing and the cycle starts all over again. We don’t realize that that this is never going to stop and that it’s time to step off of the carousel. We know when everyone else should quit, but we don’t know that for ourselves. We give advice to our friends with relationship problems, but we don’t take that advice ourselves. Perhaps we’d do well to.

You could also take “not wanting to quit” to mean that we don’t want to admit defeat. Our egos won’t allow us to do anything that could be considered “quitting” or “backing down”.  We don’t realize that a relationship ending isn’t a failure on our part; If anything, it would be a victory if we were to stand up for ourselves and leave. We just don’t see that at the time.

-We think it’s normal. I’m not saying that we’re used to mind games or being insulted so much as that we think it’s just the normal “ups and downs” of a relationship-that we have to take the good with the bad, and this is the bad. There’s also the fact that things aren’t always all bad and we think the good things are worth staying for. For instance, my boyfriend’s family was incredible. If I could have dropped him and kept them, I would have. Also, it’s like I said above-he loved me in his own way. Maybe it’s worth staying for, maybe it’s not. That’s up to you.

Then again, I remember the time he told my suitemates that I’d gotten upset after a fight we had and ran off into the dark side of campus. I hadn’t; I was sitting in the parking lot and then downstairs talking to a friend. He was the one who’d stormed off like a child.  Apparently this was some sort of “trick” he played on my friends. Very juvenile, but so was he. Even if it’s obvious to everyone else that our partner is abusive, we don’t see it that way. We don’t know to. We think we’re just “going with the flow”, never realizing that said “flow” is about to drag us under.

-We’re easily led and under his “spell”.

If you have a submissive personality and they have a strong one-which is almost always the case-they will take advantage of you and justify pretty much any behavior by saying that you didn’t say “no”.  The truth is that you usually did say no, just not in a way he’d recognize. I sure as hell did, even if it wasn’t in those words. However, I’d said “yes” too. That’s the problem-those are the only words they’ll hear and will use it against you. It might not be intercourse (it wasn’t with me), but he’ll do things the law doesn’t allow thinking it’s okay because you’ve done these things before and that gives him a “right” to ignore anything else you might say. No, it doesn’t. I don’t care how much you liked it before-you can say no any time you want. If he doesn’t listen…well, there are words for that. You know what they are.

Like a lot of phishing scammers these days, it’s not that you’re stupid or weak; they just know what to say and how to say it. For this reason, I don’t think there is a such thing as someone who “accidentally” emotionally or psychologically mistreats someone. They will often claim they didn’t know what they were doing, but I don’t believe it. I don’t see how.

-We don’t know what it means to forgive. This sounds weird, but bear with me. It’s not that we don’t forgive enough, but that we forgive too much. Like I said above, we think that what we’re dealing with is just the bad along with the good and that we’re being “hasty” in leaving. We have this idea that forgiving someone means forgetting what they did-in other words, thinking we have to put ourselves in a position to get hurt again. We have to go back to them, we have to behave as though nothing ever happened because anything else is tantamount to holding a grudge, and we all know what God thinks of that. I thought this, and boy was it my undoing.  I still don’t know what Jesus meant by forgiving someone “seventy times seven” times, but I don’t see why we should put ourselves in a position to need to forgive someone that many times. I know, I know,  He wasn’t giving us a literal number of times, but you get the point. We think we’re doing wrong by holding their bad behavior against them, even if it’s for our own protection. We think that “doing unto others” is more important than doing unto ourselves. As admirable as it is, this kind of selflessness can go bad really quickly if it’s wasted on the wrong people. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t try to treat others with the grace that Jesus showed us, but sometimes you have to do this from a distance.

To quote a friend of mine: “Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself; That means that you have to love yourself. Otherwise, your neighbor is screwed.” Makes sense to me.

-We don’t want to be mean. In my mother’s generation, women were often taught to be “people pleasers”-meaning that their primary purpose in life is to make other people happy. We think we’re not “allowed” to do something that upsets someone, that hurting someone’s feelings means that we’ve done something wrong and that somehow that makes us a bad person. As you can probably tell, this idea didn’t die with them. We might not be taught to be as submissive as they were, but sometimes we still get that impression, especially if our mothers are as selfless as mine was. Even if we know we should stand up for ourselves, we don’t always know how. Not without feeling mean, anyway.  We have a twisted notion of what being mean is, and an abuser will eat that up. My ex certainly did. Otherwise, why would he fake a suicide threat and panic attack so bad that I had to call a couple of his friends at 5am to drag him out of my room? He made it out as though I was the one who made him have to get counseling, even though he told me he’d done that to someone else. He also had this habit of “spontaneous repentance”-he’d start rambling on about way he’d done wrong by me and other people and how sorry he is and how he’ll change his ways. Of course, I fell for it. Stupid me. *Pointing at myself* Don’t be That Girl.

Bottom line-

We don’t see it for what it is. If it were happening to someone we love, we’d pick it out in a minute. Maybe there are positive things about your partner that people outside a relationship don’t see, but they’re usually not distracted or taken in by those things the same way we are. It’s much easier to see something for what it is when it’s not happening to you.

You could say that all these things boil down to not thinking we deserve any better, and you’d be right. I’m just talking about it this way because a lot of times people have a hard time putting their feelings into words. I do, anyway. For more information, check out http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/.

 


Abusive Relationships-A Closer Look

This is another one I wrote a while back that I’m posting here. I feel a bit odd about sharing this because the situation I’ve described in this and other posts (like this one) is nowhere near as bad as what other people I’ve known have been through, but I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I did if I can help it. Anyway, here it goes.

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I wish I wasn’t able to write this article.

I don’t say this to imply that I hate that I’m a good writer or using the internet to research. It’s actually fun…too much fun, considering how easily I get distracted. 🙂 No, I hate that I don’t *need* to do research to write this article. Instead, all I have to do is look at my past.

The funny thing is that I had no idea that the relationship was abusive at the time; we never do. I knew I didn’t like what was happening, but I thought abuse only looked one way (hitting) and that it was easy to tell what “fits the definition” and what doesn’t. Nope. Since I didn’t have the luxury of this knowledge when I was coming along, I’m going to give you a few ways to tell if your relationship is abusive before you get in too deep to get out.

1) He ‘swept you off your feet’. Declaring his love immediately to get you in a relationship is a big clue. Abusers look for vulnerable people-for instance, people who just got out of relationship the way I had. Getting you to commit to him quickly doesn’t give you a chance to see him for what he is, which is yet another reason being “on the rebound” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Besides, you don’t want to let yourself get swept into a relationship if you’re not ready to be in one.

2) Your partner is excessively jealous and controlling. He has to know what to wear, where you are, who you’re with, when you’re going to be back, etc.

Come to think of it, this sounds like how a parent would act. Difference is, he’s not. He has no ‘right’ or ‘position’ over you the way your parents did as a kid. You’re not a kid anymore.

3) He attempts to isolate you from your friends and family, mostly by ‘requiring’ that you be with him at all times and/or behaving in such a way that your friends will not want to be around you. I can tell a few stories about this, but I won’t. Let’s just say that a lot of this goes on behind your back as well as to your face.

4) He makes you feel bad about yourself. This is the biggest reason people stay in these relationships-they think they can’t get or don’t deserve any better.

5) Threatening to hurt or kill himself if or when you try to leave. This might sound romantic in a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ way, but it’s not. It’s coercive and controlling. That, and he’s probably not as hot as Leonardo DiCaprio. 🙂

6) He never takes responsibility for anything. His family, you, his boss, the kids…everything that goes wrong is someone else’s fault. That way, he doesn’t have to stop what he’s doing because ‘…made me do it.’

I remember saying stuff like this when I was six and broke the cookie jar. At least a six-year-old has an excuse to be childish!

7) He tries to change your looks. ‘You know, you’d be really hot if…’ ‘Maybe you need to…’ comparing you to other women, etc. This sort of criticism does not come from a person who really cares about you, even if it is framed as a joke. Besides, you’re beautiful just the way you are.

8) He pushes and pressures you into things-sex, drinking, drugs, etc-that he knows you don’t want to do. He then criticizes or makes fun of you for your reluctance-you don’t want to have sex because you’re a ‘prude’. You don’t want to drink because you’re ‘no fun’, you won’t ‘play hooky’ from work because you’re a ‘goody-goody’…you get the idea.

9) He has a bad temper and blows up over little things. This makes you afraid to do or say anything he doesn’t like, including standing up for yourself.

I have no end for this except to say that if these things seem familiar to you (or you see them in a friend), get out. Don’t walk-run, and never look back. You deserve much better than this.


Fact, Fiction and Frustration

I’m a housewife (I guess that’s what you’d call me) and generally like my life, but sometimes I get a bit bored. I know that boredom isn’t necessarily a *bad* thing-hey, if nothing’s happening, that means nothing *bad* is happening, right? Either way, I’ve always been the kind of person to make up stories in my head to entertain myself. Sometimes I have a really hard time getting to sleep and, creative person that I am, these things just come out. I’ve written a few into screenplays (or scenes that I will expand on later), but I don’t really think they’ll go anywhere other than my hard drive.

It’s strange, but the vast majority are romantic comedies of some kind, with the lead character either being me or based on me. Sometimes it involves being a character in one of my favorite TV shows and screwing the guy I’m drooling over, but sometimes it’s just about my life. Or, what could have been my life.

That is not meant to be any reflection on my marriage because I have the best husband in the world, but for some reason I find myself thinking about past ‘missed opportunities’. I wouldn’t want to change the way things are now, but lately I’ve been fantasizing about what it might have been like had I taken a chance with a guy I knew and liked while I was in college. This guy was someone I met during the summer break, we really liked each other and said so in no uncertain terms, but nothing happened because I was dating someone at the time.He found me and we spoke on the phone a few months after all of that, but by that point we both knew that ship had sailed. One of the stories I’m working on is a fictionalized version of what might have happened if I had broken up with my then-boyfriend and dated this guy. It probably wouldn’t have worked anyway for a number of reasons and I love the one I’m with. I don’t regret losing my virginity to my husband, and that’s probably something I couldn’t have done if I’d dated this guy. Even so, I’ve wondered, what if? Turning into a writing project is a good way to make something positive out of it, but sometimes I feel troubled for thinking of it at all. It’s almost as though I *want* to be that confused, naive person I was when I was 20. Instead, I feel old.

Another story I’ve thought of is about someone completely fictional meeting ‘me’ and us having a nice date and great sex. There’s no ‘what if’ here because, like I said, it’s not about anyone real. My question to myself is, why do I even *think* of stuff like this? If I have a happy marriage, why are sex and romance on my mind so much? Why does my heart still sometimes lrace when I think of it? Am I a terrible person?

I just thought of something. The common denominator in both of these stories is that I’m 20, and that I’m single. When I was that age, I was dating someone who turned out to be a really bad influence. I’m not talking about him getting me to drink or do drugs or anything, but he was very manipulative and emotionally/psychologically/sexually abusive. Of course, I didn’t see this at the time, but damned near everyone else around me did. There were guys who wanted to date me but didn’t because of him, people who probably would have treated me much better in the long run. I know I would have been a much happier person had I not been being jerked around and treated like crap by someone who didn’t seem to have much respect for me-or women in general, for that matter. I knew that it wasn’t a good relationship, but I felt like I was in too deep to get out and that I just had to ‘take the good with the bad’. I *did* actually break up with him once for a few months but ultimately came back because I was afraid to be alone and the other guys I had been dating all backed off. And, of course, he swooped in to play the hero and be all sweet…as it turns out, he had been harassing the other guys behind my back. This is *definitely* more than the usual ‘ups and downs’, but I didn’t know exactly how bad things were. I hadn’t had much experience in relationships and frankly never thought what I wanted was very important.

The fact that he used my religion against me sometimes by telling me that I had to forgive him and take him back because the Bible says that we have to forgive others or else our own sins won’t be forgiven. That should have also been a clue but, like I said, I didn’t see it for what it was at the time. The truth is, we never do. That’s the whole problem-people in abusive relationships stay because they don’t feel like they deserve/can get any better and, even if we don’t like what is happening, we think it’s something we just have to deal with. If I’d seen it for what it was, stuck by my decision to break up with him the few times I tried it and/or stayed away from him entirely, I could have spared myself and a lot of other people a world of hurt. That, and I wouldn’t have written so many run-on sentences talking about him. 🙂

I’m wondering if these fantasies are my mind’s way of trying to get that time back-time that was wasted with the wrong person and could have been much more productive had I known then what I know now. I’m 35 now and sometimes just want to be young again, but am very happy to be with the man I am with now. If I had dated the guy I met one summer or anyone else, I might not be with my husband, which would be tragic in and of itself. We’re not meant to live in the past, and I guess there really *is* a reason for everything that happens. I just wish sometimes that I had a clue what those reasons were.

Oh well. At least I have good fodder for ‘villains’ in my stories.


What would you call this? Possibly triggering and annoying babble…

The part below-above the asterisk row-was written a long time ago, but I got the idea to post it here because I’ve read several stories from my friends about similar issues and thought I’d add my ‘me too’ and let them know they’re not alone.- PQ

Okay, many of you who know me have heard me talk about this. I had an idea of what to call it, but some conversations with a friend made me wonder. What would the name be for this situation:

I was in a relationship in college. It lasted about 3.5-4 years. We did not have intercourse. But there were many things of a sexual nature that I did that I did not want to do. Stuff like fondling, oral sex, ‘dry humping’, using his fingers on me, etc. There were times when I did want to do things, but there were many times when I didn’t. Sometimes he would do something like touch me sexually and I would say no, but he would continue. Sometimes I would end up enjoying it, but not always. He would make sexual comments about me and other women, and some of his friends did too. When I would say something about it, he would make me feel as though I was wrong, too ‘prudish’ (I had been told before by other friends that I was too judgemental about sex), that I needed to ‘loosen up’. Toward the end, I would get quite angry and would not want to show any part of my body to him, would be very ashamed that anyone knew we did stuff, etc. He would make comments about it to argue with me and seem/get angry, knowing that I didn’t want to hurt or make people mad. Basically he was playing on my good nature.

He would manipulate me into doing many things. He’d use tactics like lying/pretending to be sad that I didn’t want to fool around, arguing with me, giving guilt trips, etc. If I were talking to anyone else I’d call it “coercion”, but for some reason I draw a blank when it comes to myself. We got along well sometimes, so I basically did things because I felt like I had to. I thought that that was just what you do, that I had to have a ‘tradeoff’ and give sexual favors to get the good things like support, etc. There were several times when I would wake up and he would be touching me sexually.

He would occasionally say something like an apology and that he was doing wrong, and stop for about a week or so. But he would shortly go right back to the same old thing. I stayed mainly because (as I see it now) he manipulated me and got me to where I felt dependent on him or didn’t feel strong enough to leave. Once, when I did break up with him, he would come up and try to be my friend. He would give advice to me about guys I was interested in, tell me how I deserved better and swoop right in when they left me alone. Come to find out, they mainly did that because he was harassing them and interfering.

I know the emotional and psychological stuff would be abuse, but what about the sexual stuff? At the time I didn’t know it had a name or that anyone would believe me or think it was wrong because he was my boyfriend. Also, there were times when I did want to do things, or ended up enjoying it.

Would that be a separate type of abuse? I thought that ‘rape’ had to be forced intercourse, and there wasn’t any of that.  I was talking with a friend, and she said something that make me reconsider that perhaps it really *was* rape because of the use of fingers. She also said that my eventual enjoyment of it was irrelevant, that it was the fact that he did not take no for an answer and that he did this consistently over a long period of time that was problematic. That prompted me to start reading on the internet about the subject, but I got different ideas and definitions from different sources.

What do you think? What would the name be for this, if any? I was using ‘sexual abuse’, but my friend’s comments made me wonder.

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The above was posted on Beliefnet.com a while back in the form of a thread on the Sexual Ethics board:

http://community.beliefnet.com/go/thread/view/43931/13270689/What_is_the_name_for_this

As  you can see here, I got some good responses and some nasty responses. They all told me things I’d already thought of: that it was my fault because I stayed with him and because I had done things in the past; that it didn’t matter what happened in the past, that it was still wrong for him not to take ‘no’ for an answer; that I didn’t set clear enough boundaries and gave him mixed messages, and so I was just as wrong; the whole ‘why didn’t you leave him?’…same old same old.

I don’t want to go on about how I’m a victim…I *hate* that word! I’ve managed to have good relationships with men since then, even if my view of sex might have changed a bit. What’s strange is that this whole thing still effects me, 10+ years later…probably affects me more now than it did around when it actually happened. I’m told that is fairly common.  I just hate how, even now, even seeing his *name* or someone who looks like him shakes me up.  In fact, I was working on a project about abuse in relationships a while back, but had to table it for a while because thinking of it all started weighing on me and I would find myself thinking or talking about it so much that it got in the way of other, very important things- things like taking Facebook quizzes and drooling over blonde male Aussies on TV. 🙂  Can’t have that, now, can we? 🙂

I tend to make jokes to try to deal with things, even if some don’t think I should.  I refer to this ex as Psycho Rapist because I think it sounds funny but I also don’t want to say his name. There are just *so many levels* to this relationship.  I had low self-esteem, didn’t think what I wanted was very important, thought I had to please people or else I was a bad person, thought it was a matter of taking the good with the bad, etc…typical thought patterns of a person in an abusive relationship. However, sometimes it still hits me. Not at this moment, but sometimes it takes very little to bring thoughts back up.  Now, there were some decent things and some fun things, and I keep trying to tell myself that, but I still keep going back to the negative, especially when I read about a friend having a bad situation. I hate that my friends have had these sorts of things happen to them.

Seriously, though-a few months ago he sent a friend request to me on Facebook. He sent and I ignored them three different times (he even sent them two days apart from each other), and ended up blocking him.

I’ve asked myself, friends and spiritual advisers about forgiving him about three or four times in the past few years, but for some reason I can’t seem to drill anything through my head. I’ve wrestled with that sort of thing many times, although lately I haven’t really.  It comes and goes. I just feel so weird because I know he can’t hurt me, probably doesn’t want to, he’s married, it’s been about ten years since I last saw him, etc…but still seeing his name kind of ‘kicked me’. This is what sometimes goes through my head: I keep going back and forth in my head remembering how I thought I had forgiven him a long time ago…actually, more than once…but every now and then I’m reminded of things, and back to square one. I feel bad because he didn’t hit me or anything…besides, it’s Facebook, what could it hurt? But I don’t like looking at another friend’s picture because that picture resembles PR…I still use that name…but it was so long ago and I should be past this by now…Round and round and round it goes…

But anyway, my question is if there something wrong with me spiritually that I keep thinking I forgave him but still feel shaken up by seeing his name.  I know forgiving doesn’t always mean that you have to have a relationship with that person and I don’t necessarily want bad things to happen to him, but shouldn’t I be at the point where I don’t feel nervous when I see him? Isn’t that kind of holding everything against him all over again? The verses about God not forgiving us if we don’t forgive others keep coming to mind.

As you see, I’ve become an expert in self-flagellation. I would *never* suggest to anyone else that they weren’t going to be forgiven if they didn’t forgive, or that they had to have a relationship with someone who hurt them. He just brought me back in so many times by using that, by manipulating me and appealing to my good nature. Appealing to my faith, basically anything really he could find a foothold.

I’ll stop babbling now; I’m probably not making sense anyway.  As you can tell, I’ve copied and pasted from other things I’ve written before, but I’ve thought I might as well because I keep going over the same things in my head over and over again. Most of it has never been published before, so it’s kind of like writing it for the first time.


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