Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tough Nut to Chew

I've mulled over this since yesterday when I read the ideas expressed by James in his post yesterday titled "Intimate Knowledge" whether to try to tackle the root issue he was discussing in his post. It's a serious -very serious issue - and one which often does create a whole lot of theories too.

Domestic Abuse/Violence.

In his post, James asks the question why women stay with men who are abusive and uses for his examples, the two recent tragic instances of domestic violence - the Jesse Davis murder and the murder-suicide by the pro-wrestler of his wife, son and himself. James suggests perhaps these women and others much like them could possibly have averted some of these events by having exercised better judgment in their selection process; that perhaps had they thought long and hard about certain traits, characteristics that surely may have been exhibited early on in the relationships, they would have steered clear of these men.

I won't argue his point there because to a certain extent I think he has some very good, very valid points he's putting across. At least, to all women, be a little bit more discerning from the onset of a relationship.

But even that is not a failsafe protective measure all the time.

Suppose, just suppose, the man (and for the record, I am generalizing here too because not all domestic abuse/violence starts with the male of the species but that more often than not is the case) is a bit of a chameleon. He has these ideas, these issues, but has them so well concealed that they don't surface until well into the relationship. What do women do then? And, if they actually realize and acknowledge the abuse is occurring, why then do so many of them choose to stay on in the relationship anyway?

First, let me put it to you this way - if you are in a "committed" relationship and your spouse suddenly dies, do you just pick up and go on your merry way as if nothing had happened or do you perhaps become reclusive for some time thereafter? You grieve, do you not? Well, when a relationship is going down the tubes or has already gone that route, those who are the "victim" then often grieve the loss of the relationship too - not for what it has become but perhaps the sense of loss for what it might have been at the beginning or what the person had dreamed it could be too. And, just as it happens with a death, each person grieves differently -some can pick up and go on fairly quickly while others, it may take a longer time and even a few never fully recover from a loss of that magnitude. This all is quite similar to what takes place in the abused person's mental outlook -it's not an exact comparison, but has many of the same characteristics.

When women are hesitant to leave an abusive partner those emotions are really just the tip of the iceberg though. Many, many other aspects come into play, not the least of which would be finances. Often women in abusive relationships don't always have a good skill or trade or education to fall back on for earning a decent wage to support herself and possibly/probably children too.

Whether the abuse is of a physical, mental or emotional nature, abusers are frequently very possessive, to the point of it being an obsession often; very, very controlling in nature. Emotional abuse is often harder to break completely free of too in that it affects deep in the very soul of the victim -usually doing major damage to the victim's self-esteem. This happens even to highly educated people too -it's kind of like alcoholism and drug abuse in that respect in that it knows no boundaries - rich, poor, highly educated, illiterate and all points in between can and do fall prey to the mental and emotional abuse.

There are those too who, when children are involved, will stay simply because they feel a two-parent home is better than a single parent home regardless of the circumstances. Unfortunately, many studies point to this aspect as being a means of perpetuating the abusive nature when the children -especially sons - see the father being abusive and they then frequently adopt that as their way of life as adults.

When the abuser had additional issues - drugs, alcohol or in the case of the pro-wrestler, steriod abuse, this adds to the momentum as well. Anger fueled on its own volition is terrible. Anger fueled by alcohol, drugs, other entities takes on a whole different life of its own then because that substance abuse affects the victim -usually with very low self-esteem and can cause abusers to lose control and their rage often takes on even more dire aspects with often extremely tragic results.

What can be done about this cycle? There are all kind of ideas floating about on this part of the problem.

One, as James suggested -to get to know who you are dealing with early on in the relationship by "checking the person out" does have a lot going for it. Learn as much as you can about someone before getting really involved with that person -temperment, prior issues the person may have had in other relationship, or any type of offense that may give the smallest clue of a bit of a violent streak that could be lurking.

Learn! Learn anything and anything you can that could possibly enable you to be in a better position sometime to be self-sufficient! Education really is a core issue here - the more you have, ultimately, the better off you will be!

Acquire as much as possible too of a supportive network - family, friends - you can't ever have to much in that department under normal circumstances and when in an abusive relationship, you really often do need a very strong, solid person to lean on, to help lead you back into stability.

Teach your children how to treat others and to have respect as well as how to command respect from others too. Allowing children to become bullies is not giving them a means to command respect -it gives them a means to DEMAND respect - big difference there!

Try to find self-help groups especially if the abuser has drug/alcohol issues. This is one of the best things to try to help put your own life in order to learn how to cope with those who use and abuse drugs of any type. It helps rebuild your self-esteem first, just by learning you are far from alone in what you are dealing with or how it all makes you feel deep inside too.

These are just basic - very basic ground rules to learn, to use if you find yourself in the beginning phases of what appears to be a controlling relationship.

If the abuser tries to isolate you, keep you from friends, from family, restricts your movement in and out of the home, places extremely illogical demands on you as to where you can go, what you can do, how much money you are given access to - all these things are strong signs to gather up steam and get the Hell out of Dodge and do it fast in some instances too.

But I have to go along with James' assertion to be more aware, understanding of others before getting involved in any situation in the first place.

Remember too, being with a man does not have to be the most important thing on your agenda.

Being comfortable within yourself, love yourself, expect to be treated in a proper and respectful manner -it all helps to try to curb the cycle somewhat at any rate.

And, finally, don't be afraid to get help from the police, from women's help groups that offer a safe place to stay and will work to help get your on your feet again from all angles too.

Stay safe, get help and learn to be a strong, viable person, self-sufficient in all respects.


Shelby said...

"Remember too, being with a man does not have to be the most important thing on your agenda."

AMEN Sister!!

Linda said...

I have a cousin who went through two abusive marriages before she finally had the good sense to get out of the second one. She just seemed to have the mentality that a man who abused her was better than no man at all. I never understood it, still don't understand it. Thankfully her third marriage has been the complete opposite of the first two.

A really good post on a very tough subject - kudos to you for tackling it.

Smalltown RN said...

what a fabulouse post..you make some wonderful comments...."education" is often key to getting out of a situation...the more you have the more likely you are to be able to support yourself and/or your children. Also your comment on how it can be anyone in an abusive situation, and the mental agnst that an abusive relationship can cause.....great post Jeni...thank you....