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 Domestic Violence and Self-Preservation

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RavenGirl
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PostSubject: Domestic Violence and Self-Preservation   Wed Aug 19, 2009 11:52 pm

I want to post about violence and how it has affected my life.

When I was younger, I used to say that if a man raised his hand to me, it would only happen once and I would leave. It seemed simple back then. Now I realise how idealistic I was being.

I was brought up in a culture of violence - I just didn't realise it. From the physical punishments involving thick leather belts with big metal buckles to the constant angry arguments between my parents and the physical attacks, I learnt to ignore violence or classify it as a normal part of a relationship.

Now I see how this early experience has been responsible for me seeking out partners in my adult life who are violent and/or will treat me badly aka my pre-conditioned idea of a 'normal relationship'.

For 17 years I was with a man who verbally put me down, emotionally tortured me and yes, even raised his fist to me. Eventually I left the relationship (with three small children in tow) but not because I thought he was abusive and violent - I left because he was a drug addict. I didn't even realise at the time that he was behaving abusively towards me - my parents had laid the groundwork of my thought patterns in childhood to believe women deserved that sort of treatment. My mother used language to reinforce it everyday. 'You are useless', 'Your brother comes first', and those sort of statements that built unhealthy self-esteem in myself. It took a great deal of self recovery and one fantastic counselor to untangle these messages and replace them with a better model of how relationships function.

And that didn't happen until three years in a relationship with a very physically violent man who hurt not just myself but my children. He hit me more than once (I didn't leave). He threw me to the ground and he held me in a headlock and he threw chairs at me and held me prisoner in my bedroom (I didn't leave). He pushed my sons around and constantly verbally attacked my daughter and I didn't leave. The he followed me in my car when I was out shopping and he verbally abused me everytime I pulled up eventually ramming my car from behind in the middle of a busy intersection in the middle of town.

I did leave.

I got a protection order and I told everyone I could the truth about this man.

That should have been the end.

But no, I took him back again.

And again.

And again...

Until this one last time. Just this week he has been texting me, trying to convince me he will do whatever it takes to change so we can be together. My heart yearned for him. You see, despite the behaviour on his part, my emotions were divided. I gave myself wholeheartedly to being in love with this man and that didn't just die. My words came back to haunt me because he raised his hand more than once and I didn't leave...because my heart didn't want to. My emotional investment was so heavily tied up in this man. But that is how domestic violence succeeds. The perpetrator looks for certain things in a victim: vulnerability, loneliness, low self-esteem. I was a perfect target. I didn't even know it at the time, but I didn't choose to fall in love with him - he chose me as a victim.

This time, unluckily, my best friend was also involved with a man who is domestically violent. While I was fielding abusive texts from my ex, she was struggling to make the physical break from her husband. He was cutting off the phone while she tried to call for help and locking her out of the house. He even shorted the electricity to the house in the middle of the night and left her with no money or food for her children. We acted like a support system for one another. There was no way I wanted that for my children or myself and neither did she. I am happy to say, she got out.

After about twenty nasty blaming irrational texts from my imploding ex, I did the only sane thing left to do. I didn't' respond. I turned my phone off. Thankfully at that moment, a friend of mine was online with some very wise advice "forgive and bless him". That is what I did. I haven't heard from the ex since and even though my heart strings make the occasional off-tune twang complaining about his absence, my inner knowing pats me on the back saying "well done, lesson learned".

My kids have been amazing. They remind me that "I deserve better than that". We all do. Sadly, domestic violence is increasing. It is not a simple situation nor one that is easily understood. I used to judge people in those situations and blame them for not leaving. Now I understand some of the reasons they don't. Life has taught me that there are many layers involved. For every story told, many more go by unheard or even unreported. One of the symptoms of being in an abusive relationship is being isolated and cut off from supports. My friend told her partner's parents of his behaviours. They were shocked and disappointed in him. After that they didn't visit anymore. Nobody is comfortable with abuse but turning our backs does not make it disappear. It needs to be exposed and talked about and confronted. There are not enough service or shelters out there for the amount of people affected by it. Sometimes all it takes is another person being aware who is prepared to listen and offer safety to make a difference.

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Last edited by RavenGirl on Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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RavenGirl
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PostSubject: Re: Domestic Violence and Self-Preservation   Sun Sep 27, 2009 1:44 am

And that should have been the end of that chapter of my life, but as I am still learning, domestic violence is a very complex issue. Recently a friend of mine went through a similar relationship and also chose to walk away. But her husband kept hounding her too despite a protection order. She ended up in hospital thanks to his continuing abuse.

My story isn't quite as dramatic, although I am still fielding texts from my ex. They vary between apologies and professions of love for me, and accusations and abuse. To top it off, another extremely abusive ex has re-entered my life and he too is intent on putting me down. I had gotten myself to a point where therapy had restored my self-esteem and I was happy in life. In the space of a day, all my hard work was undone. I slipped right back down to depression, feeling worthless and yes, even suicidal. You see, that is the cruelty inflicted by these toxic people - they work like poison robbing us of our true selves.

Some may say - "it is your choice - don't give your power away - choose not to react". In fact, that is something I would say to someone in my position. However with these two men I am dealing with a combination of 20 years of brainwashing and soul murder. They are masters at self annihilation. They simply can't be happy unless they are destroying another. Power over another is their goal in life. And it aint over until it's over and then it still aint over! This is how they drain their victim of their energy and their will to rebel and live independently.

I am still hoping for a happy ending. Meanwhile I am in damage control again. For now, I am taking one breath after another and seeing simple things as reasons to be grateful.

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PostSubject: Re: Domestic Violence and Self-Preservation   Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:35 am

Here's the happy ending. The journey through abuse is over. I have cut all contact with my violent ex and put healthy boundaries in place with the other ex. My kids and I are doing fine.

As a child, I was abused by my father. That injured child was the key to my situation. My journey turned full circle back to her. She's doing fine now too. I have full awareness of how her experiences were keeping me entangled with a violent man in my adult life. Letting go is a process - it isn't a definite break. There are different stages that need to be worked through. Sometimes what you are dealing with is not in the here and now, but anchored in your past and subconsciously stored awaiting a present day trigger to resurrect it. This is definitely what was going on with me. My earlier experiences had groomed me to accept being abused.

I have a new mantra now: Empowerment is the REAL power. Violent abusers seek to gain power over others through unacceptable behaviours. Empowerment is positive and healthy for everybody. Abuse destroys lives. Empowerment enhances lives. I chose to be the change I want to see in the world - I broke the generational chains of violence of abuse in my family.

Peace begins with freeing ourselves from fear. Everybody deserves peace. There is no excuse for violence or abuse. I am grateful to those who supported my journey. If you do nothing, then nothing changes. Be the change. Choose Peace. Love life.

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PostSubject: Re: Domestic Violence and Self-Preservation   Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:49 pm

redhart sweetheart redhart applause feelgood

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