CQ15 – Domestic Violence: What can I/we do about this?
Domestic violence hits very close to home for me. I’d like to begin with a little information:
First, I think everyone needs to understand that DV (domestic violence) isn’t just physical violence. PV (physical violence) is generally the endgame of DV. DV often begins with mental and emotional abuse which can and generally does escalate into PV. Many of the abused endure years and years of mental and emotional abuse. Sometimes, the abusers will use degradation, insults, and mind games long before they raise a fist. It is easy to overlook these abuses early on in relationships because the abused is still in the honeymoon phase and deeply in love with the abuser. Many shrug off these attitudes as the abuser is just having a bad day or they didn’t mean it and move on. The abusers will even use those as excuses. There may even be moments of PV involved – a slap across the face, a push or shove, or objects thrown. And then comes the apologies and the make-ups and the wash-overs. Some of these DV moments may even be rare in the beginning, but rest assured, they will escalate. This period is known as “testing the waters” of tolerance for such things. Will the abused fight back or capitulate? The more often the capitulation, the more certain the DV will progress. (Note: some may think that this is victim-blaming, but it is not. The abused may not even realize that he/she is capitulating. He/she may just be trying to keep the peace, but this IS what the abused is watching out for in these early stages. Each give-in, regardless of how small, is all a part of their game.)
Although DV can happen in any home, there is a mindset that comes along with most chronic abusers.
- They were most likely abused at some point in their childhood, or saw abuse to a parent as a child.
- They were quite likely either a bully or the bullied as children.
- Some have a narcissistic personality or are sociopaths
Narcissistic abusers usually prey on anyone whom they consider to have a weak personality (whether or not they do). As a general rule, they like companions who are compromisers, introverts, easily persuaded, or who have an illness of some kind that make them vulnerable. Narcissists like to control others. Sociopaths usually seek companions who are popular, extroverted and have strong wills. They consider those types of personalities a challenge and delight in tearing them down. These are not hard and fast rules, just as not all abusers are Narcissists or Sociopaths, but the majority are one or the other, or both. Keep in mind, Narcissists generally do their abusing covertly during the early stages of relationships; Sociopaths generally do their abusing out in the open and early on, especially with PV. Neither of these have the ability to show genuine remorse for their deeds or compassion toward their victims.
My own personal story begins with a 13 year marriage to a Narcissist. When we met, I was an independent woman in my mid-thirties. I’d always worked and taken care of myself. However, I’d just been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. Keep that in mind. Our relationship began fairly well. He was a generous man and attentive. We had some ideological differences, but for the most part, we had a lot in common and got along fairly well. The abuse began slowly. He would occasionally criticized me about my weight, even as he would say that he preferred “plump” women (we had met in a BBW chatroom on AOL!). He would try to enact “rules” about how he wanted things done, even though he was a truck driver and only home 4 days a month. And he tried to dictate which friends I could have or family members I could associate with. All of this was subtle for the first 4 years of our marriage. Then he decided we needed to move 1000 miles away from all of my current friends and my family.
During these first four years, I was dealing with my mental illness, often having numerous medication changes which altered my own personality. His subtle mental and emotional abuses were, however, beginning to impact my life. To keep the peace and my sanity, I often capitulated – a grave mistake. Giving in to his desire to move from VA to OK was the biggest capitulation that I made. After the move, the DV only escalated more. He had me isolated, often completely alone for weeks at a time, and at his mercy. He didn’t want me to work because of his paranoia that someone would break into our home with no one there, and since I was dealing with my mental illness, I agreed not to work. I had no friends and any time I tried to make one, he found reasons not to like the person and would do everything in his power to make me or that friend break our friendship. Even the criticisms increased. By this time, I’d lost quite a bit of weight due to depression and even that didn’t please him. In fact, it only made matters worse. My body was now completely distasteful to him and he made no qualms about telling me so (he had a large breast fetish and mine had shrunk considerably due to the weight loss). The mind games came more often too. He would deliberately hide things and then put the objects back after I’d searched for days and worked myself into a frenzy over it. He’d call me crazy and erratic for my behavior and say other humiliating things to me over the incidents. If I did anything that displeased him, he would rant and rave and throw horrible screamfest tantrums. It would be nine years before the PV began. This came with pushing and shoving and throwing things at me. Thankfully, he never struck me outright, but the shoves into objects resulted in back and shoulder injuries. Those are just small examples of the abuse I endured. I will save why I stayed and how I managed to leave for another post some day.
I know this has been a long-winded reply to the question asked and I haven’t even answered the question, but I felt that some information and my own personal story were important. So, what can I/we do about Domestic Violence?
- We need to teach our children that violence is not the solution. This means both female and male children because not all abusers are males.
- We also need to teach our children that their lives have value and meaning, to give them a sense of confidence about themselves, and to ensure them that they do not deserve to be abused.
- If you are a parent and you see signs of narcissism and/or sociopathy in your child, get him/her and yourself psychiatric/therapy help ASAP. Although there doesn’t appear to be permanent treatments for these two disorders, there are some indications that early therapy can help.
- We need to educate the public more on DV, especially the police and the judiciary. Speak up and speak out about your own personal stories or those of friends and family.
- If you are the victim of DV, LEAVE as soon as you are able and get into programs for DV survivors – safe houses, therapy, and support groups. This involves a plan to leave – storing money and clothing somewhere safe for you and your children, finding a safe place to go, and developing an escape plan (when to safely leave).
- Remember, a restraining order may or may not keep you safe. The best option is to move far away from the abuser, if you are able. And, unfortunately, that may not even keep you safe. Depending on how violent the abuser, he/she will do anything to keep you his/her victim. That is why education on DV is so important!
I am sure there are other solutions to this problem, but my mind is growing foggy, so I will leave it at this for now.