I heard the other day that Sandra Bullock was taking some of the blame for her marriage woes in the wake of her husband’s reported infidelities. Her famous husband has entered rehab for sex addiction and there are reports that he had many mistresses throughout the length of Sandra and his marriage.
I was sad to read that Sandra felt she needed to blame herself, but I wasn’t surprised. Unless Sandra had agreed to an open marriage, had infidelities herself or otherwise knew that her husband was sleeping around, she is not to blame.
I can also relate, because I constantly struggle with taking on the blame for my ex-husband’s decision to abuse me. But, I am not and neither is any other person who has been the victim of any kind of abuse.
If there is any one piece of advise I could give other women who have abusive husbands, it’s that you are not to blame. It seems that every woman that I have met during my recovery from domestic abuse has felt that they played a major role in their abuse and that if they had changed, then the abuse would have stopped.
But what I see when I look at other people situations, and I’m learning to see in mine own, your partner is the cause of the abuse and your partner alone.
We all make a very personal decision how we are going to handle frustration, anger, conflict, desires, and so on. Those decisions are not the result of other people’s actions.
If my ex-husband was so unhappy with me and my actions, he could have made any number of ways to handle it that would have been much healthier than taking criminal action.
During my marriage, my husband never asked to talk to me about the state of our marriage. He never asked that we seek counseling, together or separately. He never asked for a separation or a divorce, despite packing a bag and leaving me hundreds of times.
And when I finally told him I was seeking divorce, he asked me for one last change to make it work. Within just a few weeks of that request, he hit me for the last time.
I know why Sandra is blaming herself. She is taking a healthy look at her own behavior and believes like most of us that it takes two for the success or failure of a marriage. And if that is where the story ends, she would be right.
But it does not take two to cause abuse. It takes one person’s willingness to resort to violence or betrayal or lies. It takes one person’s belief that their partner is not a partner at all, but chattel in their lives. It takes one person’s desire to control the behavior of another to benefit their own position.
I wish Sandra and Elin and all the other women who put their trust in their husbands only to feel betrayed luck in their recovery. It is not easy to give up on the dreams of a happy marriage that lasts a lifetime. If fact, for me, it has been more of a process than an epiphany.
They, like all of us who have been victimized by someone who we thought loved us, will have to forgive them… because that forgiveness is better than resentment and anger.
All in due time, for sure. And of course, time that I still need as I navigate life after abuse.