Nov. 22, 2011 _ When I hear the term “domestic abuse,” a bunch of pictures come to mind, various stereotypes and TV pictures of a man beating the crap out of a helpless, submissive woman balled up on the floor. I see the woman as innocent and helpless as a child and the man as mean and nasty as the devil.
However, that is not the picture of the abuse that I have experienced and frankly continue to experience in my relationship with my ex-husband, the father of my children.
Though there were many circumstances that looked a lot like the picture in my head, I never through of myself as an innocent victim. I blamed myself over and over. I called myself stupid that I put myself in that situation with my ex again and again. I blamed myself for complaining, talking back, standing up for what I believed was right, and on and on.
I continued to believe that my ex’s rage was something to pity at least, but for the most part I sympathized with him and maintained a large level of compassion for my ex and his deplorable childhood. I also believed that I could “fix” my husband with enough love and acceptance.
But, I never felt innocent and I rarely looked at my ex as evil.
I was wrong and those thoughts are still very dangerous to my life and my children’s.
I have spent so many hours in therapy, group discussions with other abused victims, reading and trying to understand why this happened to me and seems to continue.
Abuse is simple. It is the result of one person’s actions to get what they want from another, by many, hideous means. To make it worse, the victim almost always stays silent out of shame and deny.
Six years after my divorce, my ex is still abusing me. The latest abuse was an unfounded law suit to grab custody of our children and get the court to force me to do what he wants, no matter my opinion on the matter and no matter the welfare of our children.
But, I also understand that abusers face almost daily emotional chaos that includes feelings of insecurity, helplessness, the need to feel superior to others, pain, self esteem doubts, and on and on. As my ex faces these feelings, he seeks relief.
Gaining a sense of superiority over me gives him that and he tried constantly to have that.
Since our lawsuit was settled and my ex was unsuccessful in gaining custody of our children, he was not able to remove me from the parenting process of our children, had to pay my attorney’s fees that amounted to almost $20,000, he didn’t win reduced child support, was not able to take the children as a tax deduction, now has to pay for half of their activity fees (which I paid for before) and can no longer deduct the supplemental alimony that he pays me on his income taxes. Basically, he was unsuccessful in getting the court to force me to do what he says when he says it and many people he has only made his life worse at great expense.
Yet, my ex as saddled right back on the superiority horse and continues to try to engage with me to his benefit.
I get an email from him almost daily with a variety of instructions, directions and demands. Much of it is unnecessary as it is spelled out in our new agreement, yet he emails me anyway. I struggle with the desire to tell him to leave me alone and just move on. But, any engagement gives him what he needs.
The lawsuit gave me something that I didn’t have before …. a written instruction on how to manage together our children. So, it is in writing who picks up who and what time we hand off children and where. There is rarely any need to speak and that is fine with me.
But, my ex still tries.
To me, that is evidence that his illness is in full swing and his tension is building.
I worry about it, too. I know that he wants relief. I know that he is looking to feel superior.
Today, I seek information on how to make sure he doesn’t try to release that tension on me.