Nov. 10, 2011 _ As a victim of domestic abuse and a controlling ex-husband, I have faced many different reactions from my abuser, family members and friends. Of course, my ex says he is sorry for the abuse he inflicted on me for 10 years of our 15-year relationship, but he usually qualifies his apology that I deserved it or brought it on.
Most of my friends and family have offered me support when they find out and are horrified when they learn what was really going on behind closed doors of my home. Some want details. Some don’t want to hear the details. Some are still in disbelief that the people they thought they knew well were in the middle of a drama that they can’t imagine. And sometimes, that disbelief can look and feel like a condemnation of the public disclosure and maybe even me.
I understand why people struggle getting their heads around a friend of family member either abusing or being abused. I had a hard time getting my head around it and I was there, getting beat up. It does seem surreal, and unbelievable. I never thought my ex would do such a thing, and keep doing it.
I saw the good traits of my ex and I wanted to focus on that. I excused his behavior over and over again and attributed his choice to hit to his poor upbringing and his mental and emotional illnesses. I offer felt compassion for him after he hit me, because I felt that he must have been in so much pain that he had to hit. Unfortunately, those feelings enabled me and kept me in a very dangerous situation that risked my life and the lives of my children.
Unfortunately, the feelings of others kept me there too. They didn’t know it, but I was worried how everyone would feel about it. I worried that my ex would loose his job, his friends, and that the people I loved and carried about would have to face something very bad. My silence kept all of that away.
Also, I wasn’t strong enough to face it myself and face how some people might react badly toward me. Afterall, I was already blaming myself for the abuse. Now my loved ones might, too. There were so many powerful emotions and thoughts that drove me to stay for so many years and to continue even after divorce to put up with abusive, controlling behavior from my ex.
Thankfully, I no longer live day to day in that emotion. I am not always strong, but I always find a way back to the facts. The first and for most is that I did not cause the abuse. My ex abuses me because he gets an emotional payoff to do so. He is addicted to the feeling he gets when he feels the power of controlling others. He chooses to abuse all on his own. He is not a good person who is pushed to the brink. He is a very unhealthy person and he deals with his inside demons with abuse the same way that others eat or drink their feelings. He is self-medicating. And I nor anyone else is put on this Earth to be used in that way. These are very important perspectives that I try to keep in mind.
But here are some other facts that should be in the forefront:
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women ages 18-44 _ MORE than car accidents, mugging and rapes COMBINED.
One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds.
3-4 million women are beaten in their homes from husbands, ex-husband, or male lovers.
85% of domestic violence victims are women.
1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
Domestic abusers offer use their children as a way to control their ex’s after divorce and 70% of domestic abusers ultimately abuse their children.
Most women attempt to make many changes in the dynamics of their family in order to make the abuse stop, but it doesn’t because the batterer is making a behavioral choice that only he can control.