Monday, August 15, 2011

Ending The Cycle of Violence

As I lay here in my bed tonight, the largest thought looming in my mind is one of violence.  This last week, the world lost yet another woman to domestic violence.  A girl I went to high school with, but someone that I did not know.  A woman with a child.  A woman my exact age was viciously murdered by her husband.  A man that stood in front of God and made vows to protect and love and cherish her stabbed her to death in their home.  When asked why he did it, he responded that he was sick of her shit.  

Now there is a small child without either one of his parents.  A little boy who will have to grow up knowing that not only did he lose his mother too soon, but the story behind the loss.  He will never again be able to hold her hand or have her read him a bedtime story or hear her voice when he wakes up in the morning.  His children will never know the woman who would have been their grandmother.  Parents have lost their child.  Friends have lost someone who was by all accounts a bright light in their life.

And why?  For what?  When will the madness end?

Another friend was recently called out to help someone who had been savagely beaten by her boyfriend.  A man that she thought she could trust put her in the hospital.  Was there a sign of the monster behind the mask?  Was there a hint that he wasn't everything that he purported himself to be when they started dating?  Did she think that a few weeks later she would end up with broken bones, bruises and cuts and scars on the inside that will probably last her a lifetime.

This has to stop.  I don't want my own daughter to ever have to go through pain and agony at the hands of someone who claims to love her while he is putting bruises on her face or pushing her down a flight of stairs.  And maybe the only thing that I can do is to write about it, but at least it's a start.  A beginning.

So here is my story.  A story that begins the first time I remember being hurt by a man.  I was about seven years old and my sister and I were picking blackberries by the driveway to the house we lived in at the time.  As punishment, I was beaten with a leather belt until I could no longer stand.  By my stepfather.  Why?  I don't know.  But it didn't end there.  For years, we were hit.  Abused.  Hurt.  As a sophomore in high school, I was once hit so hard with a two by four that I ended up in the emergency room because he almost broke my arm with it.  By the time I was a junior, I had enough.  The last time he came after me, I kicked him in the jaw and almost broke it.  I told him that if he ever touched me again, I would have him put in jail.  I don't know where I found the strength to do that.  I was not only terrified of him, but I was afraid of what he would do to other members of my family.  I wish I could say that it was divine inspiration, but I think that at that point in my life, I didn't really care if I lived or died anymore.  I just knew that I couldn't live every day being afraid.

Since then, it would be nice to be able to say that I broke the cycle, but that would be a lie.  I have been physically, mentally and emotionally abused by men who have professed to love me.  The latter two most recently.  And I thought that it was my fault.  I let my children see me cry over a man that I thought loved me.  But how can someone love you and call you a whore and a slut and a bitch and any other combination of names that there are out there?  How could I, an intelligent successful, business-savvy woman allow a man to dictate my entire life to me?  How did I fall in that trap again?  

Not only did I fall, but I bought the bullshit hook, line and sinker.  I allowed someone else to make me feel inadequate.  I began to question myself.  I wondered if I really was the person that he made me out to be when he was angry with me.  I distanced myself from my friends and family and didn't tell them about all of the bad things because I was so embarrassed by them.  I was made to feel weak and impotent.  Like the world held nothing but bad things for me without him in it.  That I wasn't able to stand on my own two feet.  That I shouldn't really have this friend or that in my life.  That I shouldn't go do that because it reflected poorly on him.  That I should be with him every second of every day.  That he was the only person I needed.  Not my friends or my family.

While I did have moments of sanity, it seemed like every time I started to draw away and get out, I would get reeled right back in.  I would fall for the lines.  I would forgive him what really wasn't his fault in the first place.  After all, how could I be compassionate and not be forgiving?  How could I hold someone's childhood against him?  All of the lines and explanations served to undermine my own convictions and strengthen his position.

But in the end, I finally severed those ties.  I stopped the cycle of forgiving someone for something that they never regretted in the first place.  I stopped allowing myself to be used as an emotional punching bag.  Of course it was two years, a lot of words and emotions, a kick to my dog and the threatened murder of another pet later, but it finally sank in that I had to get out.  And really there is so much here that is better left unsaid.  Things that I don't even want to write about.  Feelings that I just can't let out yet because I don't want them to overwhelm me.

When I tell women to get out, I mean GET OUT!!!!  If you are afraid, trust those instincts.  Don't become another statistic.  Be strong.  Know that you really can turn to your friends and family without being ashamed.  There are places that you can go for help.  And you can always call 1-800-799-SAFE.  Especially if you think your computer use is being monitored.  

I did turn to friends.  They have held me while I have cried and had panic attacks.  They have talked me through those tears and fears and doubts and tough times.  And they have reassured me that I am strong.  It doesn't matter that I wasn't physically abused this time.  For me, I already knew I could survive the physical abuse.  It was the mental and emotional abuse that I didn't know how to walk away from.  And I think that predators sense your biggest weaknesses and fears and use them to their own advantage.

There are GOOD MEN out there.  I am not bitter.  Nor do I think that every man is evil.  Some of the greatest people in my life are men.  They are amazing friends, brothers, fathers and husbands.  They are not perfect, but they are good.  I have seen the men in my life grow over the years.  I have seen them overcome abuse in their own lives and I have seen them break the cycle as well.

I haven't cited anything that I have discussed, not because I don't want the attention turned in that direction, but because this is where I come to share my feelings.  Not to intrude on the private mourning time of others.

Just know, that a woman is not always stupid for not getting out.  It's easy to stand on the outside and judge her.  It's a lot harder to hold her hand and help pick up the pieces when she breaks.

So to all of the wonderful people out there who have helped a loved one through a time like this, I say thank you.  Thank you for being able to put your own feelings aside and stand by someone through the toughest time in their life.

Love and light,



Avitable said...

You don't know how glad I am to see you break that cycle. Love you.

sybil law said...

Soooo glad you've broken that cycle, as Adam said.
Any advice for being friends with a woman in that kind of shit relationship?

ADW said...

Adam - Thanks love

Sybil - Just be there. Some people have to learn on their own. It's easy to get frustrated with them when you are on the outside looking in.

Anonymous said...

More tales of woe peace and chicken grease...

Anonymous said... tales of woe for must be in love again.

Anonymous said...

Ending the cycle of blogging?

I said...

I hate blog stalkers, don't you?