I have never suffered from domestic violence, so I can not begin to imagine how those who have gone through it truly feel. However I have encountered numerous women and at least one man who have suffered domestic violence in the form of spousal abuse. I can not understand what makes them stay for years in such a relationship, all I know is that they have a very hard time breaking free of the overbearing, controlling relationship they have been in far too long.
I recently had dealings with the abusive ex-husband of a client. It gave me a bit of insight into the man’s conduct, and perhaps some of the reasoning behind their abusive conduct. It was a bit of an enlightening experience. I also had the opportunity to see him and his own mother together and realized he was controlled by his mother, and as a result he most likely needed to feel in control of something and satisfied that need by bullying women.
The second thing I noticed is an abusive man does not handle it well when they are unable to bully and intimidate a woman. The abuser tried to do this with me on the phone 2-3 times and I refused to comply with his demands. He was not our client. He was not who I worked for. So what happened? When he couldn’t bully me on the phone he showed up at our office.
The first time he remained fairly calm. He didn’t like my answers, he didn’t like that I would not comply with his demands, and he stormed out of the office. The second time he was there with his mother, and after a verbal exchange during which I had the person I work for on the phone and relayed his instructions, they stormed out of the office. But that wasn’t the end.
About thirty minutes later the abuser came back in alone. By this time another man was in the building but was not visible to the front office. The abuser was again trying to bully me, making demands, and didn’t like it when I refused to back down. He was escalating. He was getting louder and louder, and was puffing his body up to look bigger, more threatening. I told him to leave. He did not.
The abuser continued to escalate and the other man in the building heard it and came out to see what was going on. The abuser was told that he needed to leave, but instead took a step toward my “rescuer.” At that point he was told “You need to leave NOW.” The abuser turned and exited the building.
After he left I looked at my rescuer and said “I was holding my own okay” and he agreed that I was, but didn’t like the fact that the man was standing in the lobby yelling at me. He also felt threatened by the abuser’s body language, and wasn’t sure whether it would escalate into something more.
So what did I learn? That the abuser is nothing more than a bully. He didn’t like the fact that I was unwilling to cower and do what he demanded. He was trying to scare me. I refused to crumble and he didn’t know how to handle that. The second thing is he is a bully and a coward. He tries to control by instilling fear, and when he is unable to intimidate he doesn’t know what to do. When he took a step toward another man and that person didn’t back away, he realized he had no control and and things were not going to be in his favor so he turned and left.
Since that day I have been jumbling around in my brain the fact that women live with people like that on a daily basis, for years. Afraid to make a wrong move. They are beaten and then told it was their own fault for doing something to make the man mad. They are afraid to make a move, to have their husband/boyfriend find out they have gone somewhere or done something without his permission. They are controlled by fear.
That is no way to live. It is a serious problem. Songs are written about it. Movies have been done on it. Years ago a book and movie “The Burning Bed” brought abuse into the public eye. Songs continue to be written. Independence Day by Martina McBride and more recently Gunpowder and Lead by Miranda Lambert are only a couple. While I don’t condone killing someone, the lyrics to those songs convey the desperation and fear in abused women.
If you know someone who is being abused, or believe is being abused, they may deny or lie about it taking place. There are shelters they can contact to help them when they are ready to leave. The statistics are daunting.
What I learned in a quick internet search is that every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten; and around the world at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. Children often witness the abuse, which can lead to a revolving cycle, both as men becoming abusers because they believe it to be “normal” and women being abused, because they believe that is the way all women are treated.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women, more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. Domestic violence occurs not just between husband and wife, but also in dating relationships, even in the teenage years. Nearly one in five teenage girls say they have had a boyfriend threaten violence if the girl broke off the relationship.
The problem is, often women don’t recognize the early signs of abuse. It can be verbal — demeaning comments, criticism, making the person feel they lack value. Once a person’s self-esteem has been crushed, they are more easily controlled.
It can be controlling, always demanding to know where that person is, presented as “concern” for their well-being. There is a difference between casual concern over a person’s well being, a courteous exchange of schedules/plans versus having to know where a person is every minute of the day, what they are doing and who they are with.
Whether is is you who is being abused or someone you know, remember:
1. It is not your fault that they are abusive, it is their’s.
2. Children who witness abuse are more likely to grow up to be an abuser or a victim.
3. There doesn’t have to be bruises for it to be abuse.
4. There are shelters that can take you and your children in when escaping an
5. Abusers are bullies, and bullies don’t abuse people who refuse to cower,
because most bullies are themselves cowards.
Some people are only subjected to verbal abuse, some to physical abuse, some to both. There is a domestic violence hotline that can be accessed around the clock at 1−800−799−7233. There are local shelters that can take you in and keep you safe. No one should live in fear in their own home.