Tag Archive | domestic abuse

Abuse – Power and Control – The Handmaid’s Tale

Recently I have been binge watching The Handmaid’s Tale. I must say this is probably not the best show to binge watch because it is tale of a very dark totalitarian society. Nearly every episode is dark, disturbing, and rather abusive. However, there are may parallels between the abuse of power displayed and what life was like with my abusive ex. There was a day when an unhealthy life with him didn’t seem crazy or abnormal. If your life is crazy every day, eventually crazy can become a normal day. Also, growing up with my abusive father as an example did not give me any insight or knowledge to recognize something was wrong in my relationship.

In this story, the character June (or Offred), continues to learn through pain what will and will not be tolerated. She has been deprogrammed about any previous beliefs, learns a new way of thinking, and eventually adopts this as a new way of life. In reality, this is not that different to life with an abusive person. The abuser continues to reprogram you to a new way of thinking. Their way of thinking. Your views are no longer allowed… unless they match their own views.  Just like in this show, the rules may not be stated or even clear, but you learn them just the same. However, the game is always changing and that continues to keep you off-balance. On more than one occasion, I remember feeling it may be easier to give in rather than fight.

My abusive ex did a great job of isolating me from my family and friends. In this story, you can see a similar thing where she has been removed from any other people that might make her question this reality. Outside influences are a problem for abusers, this may make you question your life. In fact, in this story, if anyone became too much of a problem they were discarded. Not so different with an abusive person. Perhaps the story is you cannot trust particular friends or family members, that the abuser is the only one who is on your side. If you are the one to leave the Narcissist first, you may be subjected to stalking or their Narcissistic rage. In the early days, I remember breaking up with my ex on more than one occasion. Somehow he would convince me to return and how things would be different. In those days, I didn’t stay away long to realize life could be healthier without him.

Just like in the story, my abuser would make me question my own reality. My abuser was really good at leading me into thoughts that he had planted in my head. In old journal entries, I can see all statements that seem like they were ‘suggestions’ put into my head by my abuser. I had never thought of myself as a vindictive person, but I wrote this in my journal  more than twenty years ago.  It was also interesting to see that I wrote “he picks me up when I fall down” and looking back I realize he may have been the one knocking me down.

September 23, 1996

I feel like there is a hole in my heart. I do not feel good. Even though I am the one who thinks we should break up, every feeling in my body hurts without him. If love is supposed to be a wonderful thing, why does it hurt so bad? He’s right I do not have anyone to compare him off of. I have never been in love before.

I do not know what to do, it’s not fair to him that I can’t let the past go very easily. I’m so afraid I won’t be able to let it go. I want to but it’s not that easy to forget. I dated him because I liked him so much. I stayed with him because he was there for me. I feel horrible inside. I want his arms around me right now for support.

Why is it that I can’t let go? What is so wrong about him that I want to break up? He is so supportive of me, then picks me up when I fall down. He loves me! Am I just crazy or scared?

Maybe it is better for him that I end this. Can I treat him well? Can I forget the past? Can I love him like I used it? I wish I knew all the answers. I love him so much I don’t want to hurt him. So why do I? Where are the answers?

September 24, 1996

I feel much better now. He came over earlier and we talked and he helped me with my homework. I love him so much it hurts. Why does love hurt so much? It is supposed to be a wonderful thing, but it hurts a lot. I am really going to work on my being vindictive, and I will start recording things in my journal more often. So I can look back and she what has changed on his part & mine. I am going to sleep now. I am tired.

In one episode in season 2, you can see where she starts believing that past actions are the reason why deserves mistreatment and that is her fault. During our marriage, I remember actually thinking that my ex was God’s punishment for some of the bad choices I made in life. My father was good at preaching about a punishing God and how my mother deserved horrible things. If that were the case, would my past actions warrant this daily abuse? In fact, you can my comments sprinkled throughout my blog posts where I blame myself for picking this man in the first place. It was was easy to start blaming myself for all the problems, pain, and suffering. In this video, you can see where June seems broken and unable to fight.

The main character Fred, uses religion as a way to control and justify his behavior. However, the show continues to show us that he is less pious than he pretends to be. In fact, the show does good job of showing the character’s weaknesses that he does not display on the surface. My ex often gave me glimpses of his inner struggles after having too much to drink. Or how often he said how important our family to him, but his actions rarely match his words. Or similar to my father who was always preaching about the bible and how I should “Honor thy father…” He used religious as a weapon for control others and didn’t really live a Godly life himself.

Elizabeth Moss also mentions in an interview that the worst thing is the sense that everything is normal when they are not normal at all. This is very similar to what it is like to be with an abusive person. Your inner gut instinct continues to scream at you that something is not right about your relationship with your abuser. The abuser often gets you to second guess yourself, doubt your instincts, and deny your intuition. The abuser needs  you to believe that you are the one who is crazy and not the situation. If something is repeated often enough it can eventually seem like the truth. Journaling for all these years has helped me keep track of what really happened so I can remember the truth.

In reality, how different is this series to life with an abuser? An abuser often consider themselves above you or that you are their property and not their equal. You are not entitled to independent thinking or allowed to have your thoughts and opinions. Oftentimes, I remember thinking that maybe life didn’t have to be this way. Maybe this wasn’t what marriage was supposed to be like. He would say, “Everyone has problems. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.” These words seemed true and made sense. Although, I would see the neighbor across the street come home to be with his family or spend time outside playing with the kids.

This tale of abuse of power and control isn’t so far from the truth. In reality those of us who have encountered abuse know these tales all too well. Now I just pray my daughter will begin to see the truth about her own experiences. Otherwise she too may end up living a unbalanced life full of too much power and control.

The Games Narcissists and Abusers Play

So, last month I received a $2,000 bill from my abusive ex-husbands wife. This bill was sent the day after my daughter had dental surgery and had 6 teeth pulled. They are supposed to notify me of any non-emergency surgeries before the event and not after the event. In email, she implies that their attorney was copied, obviously meant to be a threat.

I hate feeling anxiety all over again when I get an email from them. All this hell he and his wife have helped create between my daughter and myself has been devastating to me. I wound up calling the Domestic Abuse Center today and I should be able to get in to see one of their counselors shortly. Her dad is such a awful person and it kills me that my daughter is in such denial for what she does see.

The very last email is about as hateful as you can get in a response. I know not responding doesn’t mean I am agreeing with him. I really can’t understand how people can be so hateful. I know these are unfeeling abusive people. My husband says they are just assholes looking for a response. I did not respond to his last email because it is full of non-facts. My husband says he is good at throwing the ball and that is probably why he is a good salesman.

Latest Saga of Emails

On, July 22nd, I received this email from my abusive ex-husband’s wife:

Attached are invoices from [daughter’s name] oral surgery.
– bill
– EOB from insurer
– paid receipt
Your responsibility is 50%.

I was pretty surprised to get this bill and this bill seemed to simply the surgery had already happened. Plus, she wrote in their attorney’s name, implying that they CC’d their attorney. Obviously meant to be a bit threatening. I am pretty sure I am not misreading this.

My response to her email was simply:

Please send a detailed explanation about this surgery. What was exactly was done?

Her reply was:

I sent you an attachment with my previous email that explains her treatment plan. Read carefully,  starts with therapeutic parental drugs and all procedures are itemized from the day of oral surgery. The GRA stands for graft.

My response was this:

What was done exactly?  I do not recall any notification about this surgery. Was it medically necessary?

Her response was definitely meant to be condescending. So I decided right then that she is an irrelevant person in this conversation. I couldn’t believe they had decided to put our daughter under anesthesia without notifying me. In fact, they are required to tell me in advance and work with me. However, they never have worked with me over the years. They work against me in all situations.

At that point, I contacted the Oral Surgeon’s office directly. I turns out they pulled our her Wisdom teeth which I was totally agreed about. The thing they did that I was not in agreeance with was pulling her two baby teeth. She has two baby teeth that did not have permanent teeth behind them. The dentist we have been going to for over 7 years told me to leave those teeth in as long as possible. That they could last until she was 30 – 50 years old. Her advice was to avoid the expense and problems of putting in implants that will need to be redone every 5 -10 years. I also called her Orthodontist who basically said this was a cosmetic decision and not medically necessary. So I told my ex-husband this very thing last December.

I also gave them our insurance so they could file as a secondary expense and I am waiting for that information to come back. She told me she would have to wait until their insurance responded before she could fine with ours. So, we already expected this would take longer.

On December 7, 2016 I sent my ex-husband this:

Okay, I do agree with getting her wisdom teeth pulled. I do not agree with getting her baby teeth pulled.
I just spoke with her dentist and they recommend she keep those baby teeth as long as possible. They said these baby teeth could last her until she is 30-50 years old. Implants run $5,000 and need to be replaced every 5 – 10 years. This will be very expensive cost to pay for in the future. We have no idea what her financial position will be in the future in order to maintain these recurring cost. So again I do not agree with removing the baby teeth.
Anyway, so today I receive this from his wife.
It has been over 30 days since I’ve mailed her invoice dated July 21, 2017 regarding oral surgery 043889.
My initial email was sent on July 22, 2017. Your payment for 50% of invoice charges are overdue. Please send payment promptly.Thank you!Sent from my iPad
My response was a little less nice:

Hi,

No. As I stated earlier in the month, the dentist is filing a second claim with our insurance. Once I received the EOB from our insurance, I will settle up our portion. You could have saved time by discussing this and filing both insurances on the date of service. Your inability to follow directions has caused your own delay.

It appears neither of you can be trusted to do what you say or follow the decree. Nothing either of you have done has been reasonable or rational regarding my daughter. Notifying that we owe $1,000 after having surgery you didn’t notify me about is not reasonable.

If you have difficulty understanding this email, I don’t know what else to tell you.

Then I get this response from my abusive ex-husband:

Sending emails like this will not change the fact that you are still responsible for 50% of the cost. Our response was just a reminder that it has been past 30 days. If you feel that you only owe a certain amount then just pay it…which you have not done.  You want to make excuses on insurance filings, etc. which has no weight here. If you can’t pay it then you could make arrangements but you think this is going to go away by deflecting the situation.
Your daughter is 18 and she chose to have this done, just like she has chosen not to see you every 1st, 3rd and fifth weekend. Why is this different?
You know as well as I do you owe this money and there is no legal jargon or opinion of yours that changes that. Wether it’s financial issues or possible divorce issues you are presently having doesn’t change anything (yes she discusses with us your conversations you have had with her). Enough is enough. Be a parent and pay what you owe…just like I did and still do.
Funny to see that he misspelled a word here. He usually is more polished than to make a spelling error in an email. My mind is still thinking about this, but I am not going to respond. My husband believes he has told our daughter something like ‘if your mom really cared about you, she would divorce him.’ My ex-husband doesn’t seem to be okay with the fact that I am doing well and not suffering.

Children – Abusers Weapon of Choice

My mother was visiting this week and things just weren’t the same without my daughter. Normally, my daughter would be here and happily participating in all activities. This year, my mother and I had three short visits with her instead. My daughter has stated that she does not want to see my husband or his daughter. She said she felt like she would be judged.

The only thing I know for certain is my husband was not the primary problem here. However, I do feel he could have done a better job in how he responded to my daughter’s defiance. Plus, we both could have done a better job not responding to my ex-husband. Dealing with my ex-husband constant chaos, drama, and lawsuits certainly created disruption. When you are dealing with an abusive ex-husband who is parenting against you, I am not sure there is a perfect solution. Nothing could prepare you on how to deal with a controlling and manipulative ex-husband.

The visits with my daughter were good and she actually drove herself to meet us. She was early and remembered to say thank you for the meal. She also told my mother she was so glad she was able to visit with her. These are good signs that our daughter is growing up and maturing.

Continued Self Improvement

In the last fifteen years, I spent a great deal of my time working on self-improvement. Working on improving myself is something I expect I may have to do for the rest of my life. Sometimes I feel like I move on, but don’t really get over the abuse. Maybe it would have been easier to get over the abuse if my ex-husband hadn’t been constantly creating problems and using our daughter as a weapon against me for all these years. It has been 13 years, and I felt like our entire family was under constant attack. Never did we go a period of more than 6 months without some drama or hell being created by my controlling ex. After my daughter left to live with him when  she was 17 1/2, it seemed like my ex-husband has finally left us alone. The price… losing my daughter to my abusive ex-husband.

  • Alanon – I began going to this program in 2003 and it was extremely helpful and I still go on and off today
  • Domestic Abuse Counseling – in 2005, I started began seeing a Domestic Abuse Counselor and attending a group meeting
  • Reading – over the years I have read many books about varying topics: Joint Custody with a Jerk, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Why Does He Do That, Codependent No More, etc…
  • Writing – I also spent time writing in my journals as well as this blog in an effort to continue moving forward in my journey of healing

Teenagers Playing Sides

Dealing with a teenager can be difficult under any circumstance. Then when you add an abusive ex-husband and his manipulative ex-wife to the equation creates one big problem. Plus, my remarrying resulted in a blended household that created another challenge.

Teenagers can be really good at playing one parent against another even when you aren’t dealing with divorce and abusive ex’s. It seems like teenagers can learn very early on who to go to get whatever they want at the moment. One good article is Surviving (Your Child’s) Adolescence that talks a great deal about how children and teen learn to push buttons to get what they want.

Perfect Storm

It does seeme like this situation of co-parenting with an abusive ex-husband was very harmful to our entire family. My daughter has certainly had some challenges in dealing with him. This situation seemed to create a perfect storm of challenges where there was never a single solution. Plus, it seems like there was never a day where drama and chaos didn’t exist.

Actually, it did some good to read those blog entries. I have forgotten so much of the manipulative stuff he has done over the years towards our daughter and myself. It is truly sad for our daughter that she had to go through that for so many years. It is more frustrating that there was nothing I could do to prevent any of it. No child should ever have to be put in the middle or asked to pick sides. Even today, I just don’t have any solutions to all that has rocked our family.

 

Healing After Losing Daughter to Abusive Ex-Husband

The other day, I realized something really significant about this entire situation with my ex-husband and daughter. The time I spent with my ex-husband was really not very good. There are not many good memories to dwell on about him. In fact, most of the time things were pretty bad, sometimes okay, but never really good. I think things might have been good in the beginning, but the verbal abuse, DWIs, cheating, lying, kicking holes in doors, hiding money… all this pretty much drowned out any good memories.

After my divorce, my ex-husband just would never leave things alone and constantly created problems and chaos. He would continuously use our daughter as a pawn to stir the pot and create problems. In most situations outside my ex, I can look back and realize all that was good for some particular learning experience.

Regarding my ex-husband, I never could figure out what good it was for, except our daughter. She was the one good thing that came out of all that negativity. Maybe that was what it was all worth, to have my lovely daughter. I know this situation was super hard on her too. No kid should ever have to be in the middle of a parental warfare.

However, when she decided at 17, she wanted to go live with my ex-husband that pretty much broke my heart. After all these years of my raising her and trying to teach her good things, she chooses to go live with my ex-husband. Although I know she is just a teenager right now and what he promised her sounds like a teenagers dream come true. Now, she does get to dress and do pretty much anything she wants. Now, I have to let her go and pray she will come through it all okay. 

Although, I suspect my daughter would believe her motivations were not about the car and promises of freedom. However, we all know my ex-husband sued for custody or because I am an unfit parent, not because he was the better parent, but because he knew he could save a year and a half of child support. My ex-husband has been trying to hurt me for all these years and I believe that was the primary motivation. Taking advantage of my daughter’s teenage rebellious state was just the ideal time to get her to agree to go.

So today, now when I look back and think about the twenty-five years of hell of dealing with my ex-husband. Plus, co-parenting with my ex-husband was really impossible. The better term would probably be oppositional parenting. I tried to be a good person through all this and kept doing my best to do the right thing. Damn that Alanon and teaching me personal accountability! Just sometimes it would have been nice to act like an asshole to him like he was to me. However, what good would that have done for our daughter. Although, what good did trying to do the right thing do? I still lost her in the end anyway.

How frustrating this all seems right now. Yet still right now, I have to believe this is all happening for a reason. That some good will come out of this awful situation. Looking back, I feel sad that my ex-husband still had so much control over this household. His continue manipulation created so many additional problems and I am not sure what I could have done difficulty to change the outcome. However, I do not believe things happen the way they do on accident. There is a purpose, even if I am unable to see what it is right now.

The best thing I can do is continuing taking positive steps towards healing. I am doing better that I was seven months ago. Today, I am able to sleep better at night. Also, I am taking better care of myself with exercise and doing things I enjoy. I know I just need to keep doing the next right thing. One very positive note, I have zero contact with my ex-husband now. That has been incredible! I just hate that our daughter had to leave for us to not have to deal with him.

 

 

Verbal Abuse is Domestic Abuse

Several years ago, when my ex-husband was constantly harassing me and threatening to take our daughter away from me. I found myself walking through the doors of a local Domestic Abuse Counseling Center. Years earlier, I had started attending Alanon, because I was pretty convinced he had a drinking problem. Alanon helped me come to terms about his drinking, but it did not fully explain his abusive behavior. 

I cannot remember how I heard about the Domestic Abuse Center, but I set up an appointment to meet with one of their counselors. I remember sitting in the chair and listening to a woman describe my relationship in detail as if she had been a fly on the wall inside our house. She explained to me that my ex-husband was exhibiting behaviors of classic domestic abuse. So apparently my experiences in my relationship were less unique than I had originally thought. They also said that, Women often make decisions about their future based on information of what hasn’t happened yet.

“Women often make decisions about their future based on information of what hasn’t happened yet.”

At this time, our divorce had already been finalized and I was dealing with the continuous threats, harassment, and difficulty of co-parenting with an abusive person. Dealing with my ex-husband left me in a state of constant fear. His threats left me with continuous anxiety and fight or flight stress. Plus, we had a daughter and meant we had to have some contact. He was emotionally abusive, and his behavior was destroying me from the inside out. My belief was that Domestic Abuse had to be physical, I had no idea that Verbal Abuse was Domestic Abuse. It seemed like my ex-husband always knew when to stop, and exactly how far to not take it to be able to justify or explain away his bad behavior. Also, because he never hit me, there was nothing I could do legally to stop him.

I started attending counseling sessions at the Domestic Abuse Center. They had a door that was extremely thick and always locked. This was a scary thought to me that they were taking such precautions. However, today, after reading about so many stories where when tried to leave their abusive partners and were murdered. I get why they would be so careful.

It can be extremely dangerous when dealing with abusive partners, just read some of these stories:

Years ago, on DrIrene.com‘s website, I found a questionnaire that really hit home and made it hard for me to deny that I was in a verbally abusive relationship. Although he had never hit me, I was extremely afraid of him. I really believed he might kill me if I decided to leave. Perhaps my relationship was worse than I had thought, especially after reading these questions, and having answered yes to almost all of these questions, except for a few.

Does your partner:

  • Ignore your feelings? – Yes
  • Disrespect you? – Yes
  • Ridicule or insult you then tell you its a joke, or that you have no sense of humor? – Yes
  • Ridicule your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class? 
  • Withhold approval, appreciation or affection? – Yes
  • Give you the silent treatment? – Yes
  • Walk away without answering you? – Yes
  • Criticize you, call you names, yell at you? -Yes
  • Humiliate you privately or in public? – Yes
  • Roll his or her eyes when you talk? – Maybe I did that?
  • Give you a hard time about socializing with your friends and family? – Yes
  • Seem to make sure that what you really want is exactly what you won’t get? – Yes
  • Tell you you are too sensitive? – Yes
  • Hurt you especially when you are down?
  • Seem energized by fighting, while fighting exhausts you? – Yes
  • Have unpredictable mood swings, alternating from good to bad for no apparent reason? – Yes
  • Present a wonderful face to the world and is well liked by outsiders? – Yes
  • “Twist” your words, somehow turning what you said against you? – Yes
  • Try to control decisions, money, even the way you style your hair or wear your clothes? – Yes
  • Complain about how badly you treat him or her? – Yes
  • Threaten to leave, or threaten to throw you out? – Not so much
  • Say things that make you feel good, but do things that make you feel bad? – Yes
  • Ever left you stranded? – No
  • Ever threaten to hurt you or your family? – No
  • Ever hit or pushed you, even “Accidentally”? – No
  • Seem to stir up trouble just when you seem to be getting closer to each other? – Yes
  • Abuse something you love: a pet, a child, an object? – Yes
  • Compliment you enough to keep you happy, yet criticize you enough to keep you insecure? – Yes
  • Promise to never do something hurtful again? – Yes
  • Harass you about imagined affairs? – Yes
  • Manipulate you with lies and contradictions? – Yes
  • Destroy furniture, punch holes in walls, break appliances? – Yes
  • Drive like a road-rage junkie? – No
  • Act immature and selfish, yet accuse you of those behaviors? – No
  • Question your every move and motive, somehow questioning your competence? – Unsure
  • Interrupt you; hear but not really listen? – Yes
  • Make you feel like you can’t win? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t? – Yes
  • Use drugs and/or alcohol involved? Are things worse then? – Yes
  • Incite you to rage, which is “proof” you are to blame? – Yes
  • Try to convince you he or she is “right”, while you are “wrong”? – Yes
  • Treat you like a sex object, or as though sex should be provided on demand regardless of how you feel? – Yes

Your situation is critical if the following applies to you:

  • You express your opinions less and less freely. – Yes
  • You find yourself walking on eggshells, careful of when and how to say something. – Yes
  • You long for that softer, more vulnerable part of your partner to emerge. – Yes
  • You find yourself making excuses for your partner’s behavior? – Unsure
  • You feel emotionally unsafe. –  Yes
  • You feel its somehow not OK to talk with others about your relationship. – Unsure
  • You find yourself doubting your memory or sense of reality. – Yes
  • You doubt your own judgment. – Yes
  • You doubt your abilities. – Yes
  • You feel vulnerable and insecure. – Yes
  • You are becoming increasingly depressed. – Yes
  • You feel increasingly trapped and powerless. –  Yes
  • You have been or are afraid of your partner – Yes
  • Your partner has physically hurt you, even once. – No

If you are wondering if you are in a Verbally Abusive relationship, it may be a good idea to locate a local Domestic Abuse Center and learn more about your situation. If you are still living with your partner, make sure you take safety measures. The time when a women (or man) is leaving their abusive partner can be the most dangerous time. Counselors at the Domestic Abuser center can help you learn more, while helping you take any safety measures.

Resource Books:

  • Why Does He Do That? – Bancroft Lundy
  • The Verbally Abusive Relationship – by Patricia Evans

 Questionnaire from above is from Dr. Irene’s website.

Journal Entries from a Recovering Domestic Violence Victim

journal entries abuseI have begun writing a book because there must be a reason for this journey. Perhaps my book can help someone understand they are not alone and can help them validate their experience. Maybe a book will help someone avoid a few minutes or learn a few lessons quicker. This book will dig deeper into my insights and choices while with my abuser.

There is no understanding why I wrote this journal entry and then continued trying to have a relationship with this man. However, he was so good and making me believe the truth wasn’t what I saw. My journal post really says a lot, even though it is written from a victim’s point of view.  Less than a year later I would give birth to my daughter, I wasn’t pregnant yet when I wrote this entry. My old me just couldn’t stay away even though there was no absolutely no reason to stay with him. At this time in my life I was able to verbalize all that was wrong and there was no reason to continue subjecting myself to him. I believe during this time, I would rather have been miserable with him than miserable without him.

May 7, 1998

I just wanted to thank you, Sam. Thank you for showing what an asshole is. Someone who cares more about themselves than others, some who takes, yet does not give. Someone who chooses not to learn anything or feel they know everything.

Thank you for showing me what it is like to be used. Someone who takes and does not give, takes for granted, and makes not effort to try. By showing me using I have learned that is not something I will accept by someone nor will I deliberately do to other people.

Thank you for showing me unhealthy love. In a relationship that has so many problems that it exhausts energy more often that giving any. Thank you for showing me manipulation, of one form, making promises that are not kept. Saying things for your own benefit rather than that of others. That it is selfish to think of your unhappiness without the other person, than their happiness without you.

Thank you for showing me things I want in a man, yet more than I do not want. Thank you for giving me that strength from experiencing something I do not want. I cannot thank you for my ability to hate, the anger that takes a while to heal and burn out.

Thank you for this rotten experience of love, pain, using, manipulation, and anger. From all these things the experience and change it brought to me, hopefully I have learned to be a better judge of people. So I will not wasted time with anything that is wrong, so I can learn eventually be the right. Thank you for being a person

Generational Effects of Abuse

domestic violenceThis is a story of domestic abuse and how it often runs in families. The cycle of abuse is a tough one to break unless you begin to understand the facts about abuse.  Domestic abuse has more than one face and can affect you in many ways, including unknowingly teaching your children, by example, to choose similar relationships when they are adults. My family story includes all types of abuse, although I can’t say absolutely that sexual abuse exists, but red flags existed.

Types of Domestic Abuse:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Financial Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Spiritual Abuse

When I was sixteen, I made the decision to distance myself from my father. However, I often felt guilty for not talking to him, and that guilt would drive me to call him again. My parents divorced when I was three years old, and I visited him twice a year every year up until the age of sixteen. At the age of sixteen I flat out refused to see him and from them on I think I saw him five times in over 20 years.

There are so many times my relationship with my father confuses me. On one hand, I don’t want to be around him when he is abusive, and that is more often than not. However, I know he suffers from mental illness, and that is not entirely his fault. Now, my aunt has taken over my father’s finances, and he is in a nursing home. My father is so out of control that the thought of my taking over his care gives me panic attacks.

My father has always been ill in more ways than one. As a child, my family protected me from the truth, which probably didn’t protect me at all. My father was diagnosed with Schizophrenia back in the 1970s. Although, in the 1970s, that classification was often incorrect or not a reliable diagnosis. My father was certainly extreme in moods and his behavior often exhibited those of Bi-polar with the tendency to have manic swings.

Approximately ten years ago they diagnosed my father with Schizoaffective Disorder because there seemed to be more than one mental illness present in him. It is very likely my father is also an alcoholic, but he hid this from me very well when I was a child as I never saw him drink.  Oftentimes, substance abuse and mental illness go hand-in-hand.

I do have sympathy for my father because he was a victim if abuse by his father. My grandfather was an extremely controlling and abusive man. He regularly beat his children, but my aunt said my father, being the oldest, always got the worst of it. So it is difficult to say if my father was born with this illness or if all the trauma from physical abuse created it or exacerbated the issues.

My grandfather was also a victim of abuse from his father. What I have learned about my great-grandfather is he was alcoholic that was extremely physically abusive to his children. So my grandfather was regularly beaten, and this cycle of abuse continued when he became a parent. My grandfather never drank a day in his life and might have been considered a drunk alcoholic.

What I remember of my grandfather has he had a grandiose image of himself, and he expected his family to uphold that image. He was in the military and always dressed the part. They had a Rolls Royce, not sure if it was one they fixed up or not. When I was a child, they drove talking Cadillacs, huge expensive motorhome, and a huge boat. He was always living beyond his means to impress other people. I know they made a lot of money, but they were always broke. My grandfather was always looking for getting rich quick schemes that usually don’t result in anyone getting rich. My grandfather definitely used finances and threatening to take the children away to control my grandmother.

My father was an amazing artist, and that was not acceptable to my grandfather. So my father wound up going into the military too, and I am sure he was extremely resentful. However, I remember my father was always trying to please my grandfather, even up until the day my grandfather died. To this day, my father also talks about how great my grandfather was and doesn’t even discuss the abuse.

After my parents had divorced in the 1970s, my father had a break that landed him in the hospital. Perhaps he snapped because my mom had finally decided she had it with the abuse and took me and left. So my grandparents brought him home to live with them, and that was where I would visit my father. My aunt discusses how they took care of my father and never discussed his mental illness with anyone. I am sure they were ashamed of his illness.

When I was a child, my grandparents would often blame my dad’s illness on my mom. They told me she was the reason he was sick. They also told me all the time when I was a child that when I grew up I would need to take care of my father. That entire side of my family would just tear my mom to shreds every time I came to visit. This experience was so negative for me that was why I decided to stop seeing them when I was a teenager.

So, as you can imagine, this created a lot of stress and anger for me when I was a child. Plus, I was an only child, and I had no one to discuss this with whenever I returned home to my mother. My mother would often not say anything negative about my father, which is good on some levels. However, I needed someone to explain his illness to me, especially as I grew older and began to witness some of the outbursts.

Eventually, I came to learn more of the story about my father. However, since we never discussed abuse, I wound up picking a verbally abusive man to marry myself. My ex-husband had extreme moods too along with that grandiose image of himself. In fact, I would say I married someone who was very similar to my father. Generationally, domestic abuse does seem to run in families.

When I was dating my ex-husband, I confided in him one of my greatest fears. I knew the illness my father had could be hereditary, and I was afraid it could happen to me too. Throughout our marriage, this was my ex-husband’s favorite way to hurt me. Tell me things like, “Look how crazy your are acting.” I am sure he enjoyed throwing that bomb at me whenever he was angry.

Hopefully, I have made enough difference choices that the cycle of abuse may end with me. I pray that my daughter makes difference choices than I did. Look at how many years this cycle of abuse has been present in my family.

 

Tolerating the Abuse vs Fear of the Unknown

For anyone reading my posts, I apologize if it seems like I am always jumping around.  I just write my posts depending on where my memories lead me.  One of the things I thought about the other day is how long I stayed with my abusive ex-husband because of fear.  Fear really kept me paralyzed from making big decisions like whether to stay or go.  Fear of the future is not a factual emotion but it will certainly prevent a person from making decisions that affect the future.  If you haven’t heard the acronym it is helpful to tell yourself when you feel Fear creeping in.

  • F.E.A.R – False Emotions Appearing Real / False Evidence Appearing Real

Some of my fears had to do with how awful he could be when he was angry.  I guess I felt if he was this awful while married how angry he would be when I decided to leave.  In fact when I made the decision to leave I really thought he might kill me.  I know so many of the things he would say and do were meant to frighten me.  He use to say if someone crossed him he could be their worst enemy.   He also use to make comments about someone he knew whose wife left and he got custody of the kids.  This idea was probably the scariest comment of them all and was probably the least likely in my situation (10 Custody Myths).  He went on threatening to take me to court and take our daughter away for years after our divorce.   I have lost track of how many times he has said I was crazy or unfit or whatever via emails.  Even his current wife told my daughter I was crazy, how sick is that?

One time I remember listening to a Christian speaker, Joyce Myer, who said that people will stay in the present out of fear of the unknown future.  Although, she said once the present becomes too painful you will make that move forward and venture into the unknown.   At one point I remember wondering how I was going to pay for things, get a job, pay for that car I was driving and especially take care of my daughter.  Eventually, I decided that I didn’t care if I had to live in my car, I was going to leave.

There was some part of me that really hoped things would eventually get better and I wouldn’t have to get divorced for my daughter’s sake.  Oftentimes I wondered if stay was worse for my daughter than the consequences of a divorce.  Today, I am positive that leaving him was the best thing I could have done for her.  At least now she has a healthy environment for about 20 days per month.

I also remember my husband telling me, “I have been so pissed at you at times that I could have thrown you through a wall… but I don’t.”  What is that a term of endearment?  That my own husband would even consider throwing his wife through a wall.  Really disturbing.

Actually, I really did not figure out I was in an abusive relationship until I had left and he continued to harass me.  I eventually made it to a Domestic Abuse Counseling Center in hopes of finding solutions to make him stop harassing me.   I actually remember telling them part of my story and they were able to tell me all the other things he was doing because they called him a ‘Classic Textbook Abuser’.

At one point I was talking to my ex-husband on the phone and told him what he did and was doing was abusive.  He said this, “Kicking holes in doors and breaking glasses is not hitting, prove that in court.”

This comment was most upsetting because I guess it was easier to think he was just out of control and unaware of what he was doing.  His comment just made me realize that he knew exactly what he was doing and knew how not to take it too far to get in trouble with the authorities.

Source:

Marital Rape – Abuse in Marriage

There were many days when  my ex-husband use to come home really late & after he had been out drinking.  I would be sleeping in our master bedroom, with the door locked and he would continue to knock on the door until I would open it.  He would want sex, I would tell him no, but he would persist until I gave in and let him.

In my mind I was thinking, “He is drunk, it won’t last long and then he will go out to watch TV and sleep on the couch.”  The problem was I felt terrible after this happened.  The sex was so impersonal and it always made me feel so cheap and bad.

It wasn’t until years later that I heard about marital rape.  The sex was certainly not consensual, so would that be considered marital rape?  I was always afraid if I continued to say no he would blow up and get angry.  He never really physically forced me but I always gave in and let him.

It seems like my ex-husband never did anything that could get him caught.  He always seemed to know exactly what point to stop so he couldn’t get in trouble.  For example, when I would try to leave the house he would physically block my path or use our daughter to prevent me from leaving.  He would never lay a hand on me.  It wasn’t until we were divorced that I called it Domestic Abuse to his face and he replied, “Kicking holes in doors & breaking glasses is not hitting, prove that in court.”  Where I had thought he was unaware of his behavior, he was actually very aware and was making sure to never take it too far.

There were so many times he would wake me up early in the morning and start yelling at me.  I guess it was because I was still sleeping when he left at 6:30 am to get to work.  Our daughter was very young, between the ages of 1-4 and she usually woke up around 7-8 am.  So I began to think I could somehow avoid pissing him off.  At that time I really believed I could prevent from getting angry or make him angry.  Years later I would learn I was never responsible for his behavior.

He would often get angry and say I was on vacation because I was not working.  It was not that I did not want to work but he would convince me that I wouldn’t be able to find a job.  He would tell me that we made plenty of money and day care would cost as much as I would make.  Of course, he would tell me I didn’t have a college degree and no one would hire me.  Then, he would sound concerned & helpful saying, “We need to get you a college degree.”  Looking back, he always made sure there would never be enough money to do that.  I wish I would have just applied for the student loans and gone anyway.

Yes he made a lot of money during those years, but he was spending it faster than it came in and we were always broke.  When we were getting divorced I found out he had a secret account, hidden from me and had $1,000 a month going to that account.  He also signed my name on our income tax return and hid over $8,000 from me.  Not to mention he was pulling out large sums of cash from ATMs all over town for who knows what… drugs, topless bars or just hiding it from me.  He kept our account pretty drained.

During those years I had started a business that would end up taking off and allowed me to leave him.  It was strange because I remember how broke we were with all that money and wondered how on earth I would ever be able to pay the bills.  Even today my husband and I combined still make less than my ex-husband and we are not broke all the time.  Completely different experience when you are managing your money or someone isn’t mis-managing the money.

Sources:

 

Experiences of Abuse – Sent in by One Our Readers

This is a story from one of our readers:

Hello, I’m a young 15 year old girl who has had a crazy life. Some really bad things have happened as in good. I’ve been abused in many ways. I’ve been raped since I was a little girl for a couple of years from 3 boys. I’ve been molested from my step father. Who needless to say my mom still sees. I’ve lived with my grandparents for 14 years of my life. they’re my heroes

Since March 17th I’ve been in an abusive relationship…… something I’m not proud of. But I’m in-love and I’m sure it’s hard to understand why I’m still with him because honestly I don’t even have an answer to that. He controls me let’s just say that. I can’t have a Facebook  he has to know where and what I’m doing at all times he even tells me what to wear and I’m not allowed to hang with friends. he hates my family and friends and he can be so sweet then so mean. he lies a lot and when he gets so mad he hits me and when I cry, he cries and says it won’t happen again but it’s happened for awhile now sometimes even leaving bruises on my body and uses objects to hit me with. ugh, it takes a lot to actually admit this but I don’t know where to get help, I need counseling especially if I want to leave him. it’s easy to say but hard to do and if I tell my family it will just be 100 times worse.

But anyways. girls, please, please DON’T let a man treat you this way no madder how much you love him because trust me he will hurt you and bring you down and when you finally leave him I can promise you, you will feel so much better.  Good-luck!

Dear Reader:

My only advice would be to contact an Domestic Abuse Hotline.  They may be able to help you find resources & professionals in your area.  Please talk to someone who understands abuse.

Resources: