Tag Archives: 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.


Somewhat random whine…

Don’t you hate it when you think you’ve gotten over something, put it behind you, only to realize you hadn’t? To wonder if you never truly can?

Don’t you hate it when you can’t decide whether or not you have a right to feel something, or if you are making too big of a deal out of it? If you are ‘playing the victim’, ‘trying to make everyone feel sorry for you’, or otherwise blowing it out of proportion, to quote the person who did it? To quote your father, even if he wasn’t talking about you?  If you are just being a baby/bitch/whiner/princess/etc? If you are making yourself feel bad on purpose to get attention?

Doesn’t it suck to think all of these bad things or ask all of these questions about yourself when you would never do that if you were talking to a friend with the same feelings?

Doesn’t it bother you when you find yourself making excuses for the person or behavior, or trying to talk yourself out of feeling the way you do? Especially it was this very tendency, this very lack of self-esteem and tendency to look at the positive, that made the abuse possible to begin with?

Should I be afraid I will become bitter? Even if you don’t really see why you would, or don’t think you have, but still wonder about that anyway?

Is it weird for a person who doesn’t believe in taking revenge to inwardly laugh or feel good when her male friends offer to ‘handle’ her ex? Especially the more, um, creative ideas? 🙂

Isn’t it frustrating not to be able to put a name for what happened to you, or to not like the sound of the words? Or to feel that you shouldn’t use the words because they normally apply to something you see as much worse than what happened to you? To feel bad about telling anyone because they’ll be mad at you and think you are ‘belittling’ what happened to them if you use the same terms? Or to wonder if anything out of the ordinary happened at all?

Doesn’t it suck that remembering something or someone that hurt you and being triggered by it makes you question your faith and whether or not you’ve really forgiven? Whether or not you’ve been taking the Eucharist unworthily?* To wonder whether or not you’re going to be forgiven for your sins because you haven’t forgiven someone else’s sins against you?  To question whether or not ‘sins against you’ is even the right phrase for it? To question what forgiveness even means, and to remember every Scripture verse that ‘convicts’ you, but none that comfort you? Especially if this very line of reasoning contributed to the situation you are ‘supposed’ to have forgiven?

Isn’t it awful when you feel like you can’t even trust your own thoughts, feelings, actions or beliefs? When you have to keep repeating the same stuff over and over again to yourself, but it doesn’t seem to sink in? When you ask your friends about things like this that confuse you but are so obvious to everyone else?

Don’t you hate it when everyone else sees something for what it is, but you don’t, no matter how many times you have to beat it into your head?

Don’t you hate feeling that you should be ‘beyond’ something by now? That you should ‘be over it’, Even though you would never say that to someone else?

Isn’t it annoying when you ignore or turn down someone’s Facebook friend request because you want to forget about them, but they keep on asking, so you have to keep on seeing their name until you finally block them?  When seeing that name or picture throws you off and you have to remind yourself that he can’t hurt you again, or that hopefully he’s grown up and just wants to be friendly? When you have to block someone because they don’t get the hint that you don’t want to be their friend the first couple of times you turn them down?

Don’t you hate it when you can’t even look at some of your college photos because you are triggered by the sight of one person in them? And you could go through the photos and put a sticker or something over his face, but that would mean that you actually have to look at him?

Doesn’t it suck that seeing one picture, hearing one name, can make you feel like years of therapy, spiritual counseling, help from others and self help efforts haven’t done anything? As though all of the progress you’ve made disappears into the mist so easily and you have to start all over again, just because you saw a stupid picture?

Doesn’t it annoy you when you don’t know how you will feel about something or someone from one day to the next? When you keep going back and forth between positive and negative, thought and feeling, healing and injury?

Doesn’t it suck not to be able to look at a friend’s profile picture because he reminds you of someone who the very sight of unnerves you?

Don’t you hate it when you have dreams about someone but are doing to them what you should have done back when you knew them? When you wake up feeling rattled, or you think you hear yourself yelling at them in your sleep? But isn’t it oddly satisfying when you beat the crap out of them in your dream?

And isn’t it awful when you write all these questions out and feel better, but hate that you even felt all this stuff in the first place?

*Yes, as a matter of fact, I am a master of worrying, made so by years of experience.  I give lessons on Fridays.  🙂

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Lessons learned in 2009

Throwback Thursday-this was originally posted in 2009, but I’ve added a few pictures and made other updates.

 

I know we still have a week or so left in the year, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be coherent enough to see straight by then.  Here are a few of the lessons this past year has taught me.

-I am not now, and should never be, defined by my job.  I felt like I lost a part of myself in this past year or so when I had to stop trying to work, simply because I have done it for so long that I didn’t know a whole lot else.  There are a lot more details about the ‘progression’ in this and this post. It was, however, the best thing I could have done for myself.  I’m wondering now whether the series of disappointments I mention in the links above were God’s way of showing me what was really important in life, or preparing me for something else? That is something my friend M suggested, and very well might be true. It’s not the first time I’ve heard/thought of this, but it usually takes me a couple of times to get things through my thick skull!.  He works in strange ways, ways I often don’t understand or like at the time but that turn out to be just what I need. I am the worst person in the world about submitting and/or trusting Him sometimes and not trying to do everything myself. I’ve had a lot of trouble with my faith in the past few years, which gives this realization even more weight. This might sound offensive to some, but I wonder if parts of my life thus far have been sort of a ‘man born blind’ story-where I am made weak so that the glory and power of God can be shown through me? If so, bring it on!

Okay, I’ll stop preaching now. I just have to keep reminding myself that there is a reason for everything.

And somebody pass me my raincoat…:)

-Related to the above, this past year has reminded me of how important friends and family are, and how they matter a lot more than how much money you make.   I now remember why I decided not to go to law school after college-I didn’t want to be killing myself at an office 80 hours a week trying to pay off student loans, and not have time for a life.  It’s just not worth it.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail has to be one of the funniest movies ever made. I’d seen it before, but because of my insanely silly husband, I’ve gained a new appreciation for Monty Python. It’s educational too. If not for that movie, I might not have ever learned the truth about rabbits:

🙂

-I could easily be dead right now if not for the hand of God.  All accounts of my accident given to me by my doctors, family, and even the insurance adjusters tell me that it’s a miracle that I survived, much less can walk and take care of the house.

For those who have not heard the story, I was hit when pulling out of my subdivision on the way to a new job. I was hit T-bone style (perpendicularly) on the driver’s side by a Ford F150. In case you haven’t seen one of these trucks, they are quite massive and one of the toughest, heaviest pickup trucks out there. My Saturn was turned from a four-door sedan into a crumpled pile of metal within about a few minutes. Here’s the writeup with pictures:

saturn close up

Close-up of Saturn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Please pardon the unevenness of the pictures. WordPress hates me today.)

I got out of it with a punctured lung and a broken pelvis,  and that’s just what I’ve been told about. I spent a month in the hospital, half of it restrained and sedated to keep me from waking up and ripping out all of my tubes…I’m told I did this quite often! I had extensive physical and occupational therapy, essentially learning to walk again.  On the up side, at least some of the therapists were cute. 🙂 Don’t ask me how it all happened because I don’t remember…I don’t remember a single thing about the wreck itself, nor the first two weeks in the hospital.  The only pictures I’ve seen are from the newspaper, and those are just of the cars; I’ve never seen one of me. Truth be told, I’m not sure I want to.

My friends tell me that my memory (or lack thereof) was God’s way of protecting me from further trauma. Given the nightmares others like me have had, I believe it.

I’ve told this story in my head and to other people about a million times, and each time I do I remember how it could have turned out. I was hit by a truck that can tow a hippopotamus, for God’s sake. I have to keep reminding myself of this when I start feeling sorry for myself for the things I cannot do.

-I now know even more uses for the ‘F’ word than before.  You tend to rack things like that up when you work in restaurants.  I think I’m up to 20 now.

-Some people can be real idiots. No, I didn’t just learn this now, but I’ve gotten plenty of reminders.

-It’s okay to ask for help, and you are not less of a person for needing it.  People who would make you feel as though you are are usually completely clueless and deserve to be ignored.  They can be useful, though, if only to remind you of the point above this one.

-I love taking pictures.  I don’t, however, love being in pictures.  I am not photogenic at all, and the fact that my siblings are and that my brother used to model doesn’t help.

See the picture a couple of points up, of the ambulance? That’s about as much of a “selfie” as you’ll get from me. 🙂

-There are a lot-and I do mean a lot-of things I didn’t know about my family that I could have used growing up.  I understand that I was pretty young during one particularly interesting period, but knowing some of the things when I was ten that I overheard by eavesdropping two months ago could have saved me a lot of time, anxiety and money for the therapist.  Well, maybe I would have still needed the therapist, but it would have at least given me more of a head start! 🙂 I understand why I wasn’t told many of these things at the time and that some things aren’t what you want other people knowing, even in the family.   I was just a kid, I can see why someone wouldn’t want a kid to know a lot of things.  It was just really, really weird hearing my dad talk about things that defined my and my sister’s childhoods as openly and casually as he would talk about yesterday’s newspaper.

-Don’t look down those in need, or others who are referred to by Jesus as ‘the least of these’.  Most, if not all, of us are going to be ‘the least of these’ at some point in our lives.  Some of us already have been.

-Some people can be real idiots.  Sorry, did I mention that before? 🙂

-Cats make good alarm clocks. Ditto vacuum cleaners and hot water bottles.

-I am probably the most self-absorbed person I know. At least, that’s how it feels sometimes.  However, I think that is part and parcel when the depression hits. It’s hard to see a whole lot else when you are trapped behind a black curtain with only your own mind for comfort.  Oh, and, I’m overdramatic too. 🙂

-There is something wonderfully comforting about making a Chef Boyardee pizza kit and chocolate chip cookies from the freezer section.

I’m sure these aren’t the only things I learned this year, but they are the ones I can think of at the moment. Hopefully in the coming year I will continue to learn, and perhaps have more interesting things to say than my usual drivel.

Oh, and, if you want to argue with anything here, that’s in room 12a. 🙂

 

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