When I decided to leave an abusive 18 year marriage my life improved immensely. It was not and has not been an easy life since then – 1997 – though it’s been filled with many many great moments. You’d think life improving would be a given when someone leaves abuse. It is and it isn’t. We’re faced with rebuilding much of our perspective. So, for example, figuring out when someone is a trusting friend to us or credible adviser, or worthy of becoming an intimate partner, takes a lot of work. One topic has been a constant drain for me until this year, has been the concept of forgiveness. Most of the time, it’s presented as a way to internal peace. Lots of other times it’s presented as the right thing to do, the moral thing to do, the way to a better life; all wrapped up in the idea
Someone leaving an abusive situation might use homeless services when they’ve left their own home to seek safety. They often have kids to care for too. Domestic violence survivors deal with intense internal struggle (negative self talk, depression, insecurity, trust). Adding homelessness to that struggle means the job, the child care, the ability to recuperate or have that end of day #ritual or to check in with the kids or a friend or relax in a significant way to be ready for the next day…is ten thousand times harder if not impossible. If you’re privileged to have a community of people who’ve helped you in the past for any reason, you’re #privileged. Not lucky. Privileged. Your #privilege is a shareable, reusable, non expiring resource. You can find my whole series on Domestic Violence here.
Reign in your perspective. If you love someone who has been abused, let them help you find ways to help. That doesn’t mean sit back and wait for them to tell/ask/reach out. It’ll be a confusing time for both of you until they start to understand what it is they want or need from life. And that understanding will change. Often. Try not to look at it from the way you experience life, their internal struggle is immense. Someone I met soon after I left told me I was protected by god while in my 18 year persistently abusive marriage because who knows what else would have happened to me, a young woman, if i were alone. Of course that’s bullshit. At the time though, I was in such deep need to connect, to learn, and to be normal. The responsibility of three children’s lives, who would eventually develop their
Bruises fade. The unseen impacts of domestic violence last for decades. What you can see, can move you. What is invisible, or misunderstood, you might judge. Don’t do that. Listen if they’re ready to talk. Stand by them if they’re ready to leave. Help them find help when they’re ready to heal. None of it is linear. None of it is on your timeline. Healing takes time. Lots of it. If you or someone you know needs help: rainn.org @rainn thehotline.org #dva #metoo #whyididntreport #domesticviolence #domesticviolenceawareness You can find my whole series on Domestic Violence here.
If i had, I wouldn’t have been killed (I’m white after all). I would have been dismissed. I would have gone back. I would have embarrassed him and would have paid a dear price. But I wouldn’t have been killed, and unless he was very convincing, I would not have been arrested. For too many domestic abuse victims, the reality is; they are doubly victimized by a shitty system that assumes they are suspect. Of something usually unrelated to their call for help with being abused. “In a 2015 survey by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Eighty percent of the participants in the 2015 hotline survey who had called police were afraid that if they called again in the future, officers would not believe them or wouldn’t do anything about the violence, the survey reported. A majority of the participants feared that calling law enforcement would make the situation worse,
Humans are complex
Because the impact of dv doesn’t magically disappear when you leave. Dv survivors need access to mental & physical care and can’t always get it right away. When someone would tell me to get over it I could get pretty snippy, and still do (putting it mildly). The trauma my mind and body was subjected to needed healing. When I left, the course of my life was uncertain and my immediate concerns were job, kids, food, the thousands of other things it takes to (barely) maintain life. Therapy was not a priority, and frankly it didn’t come into my life until years later when things were manageable and I was still struggling from undiagnosed cptsd. There’s a truth to the maslow theory in the lives of domestic violence survivors that gets ignored and sometimes doesn’t get past the second tier of safety needs for a very very long time. Humans
Like water over a rock
This one came from my abusive ex while we were married, and sadly, from my mother’s oldest son years after I left. It comes in the form of “get over it” too. When a person has been in an abusive relationship for a long time, it takes a long time to process or come to peace and heal themselves. Everyone’s long time is different. It’s been 21 years for me. In 1997 I had developed very few coping skills after an 18 year battle filled marriage. I learned no relationship skills in my dysfunctional origin family, which is still deeply dysfunctional. My exes family is as well. Therapy has been life altering for me. It’s great to have a professional eye on my perception of the world. And between my messed up family and the length of time it’s taken me to process 18 years of abuse, there is no
Uncharted waters
Not a question but it was said to me multiple times after I left. Look at my “why didn’t you tell anyone?” and “how could you put up with that?” posts after you read this, they give more on my mindset being in an abusive marriage…and staying. Here are more thoughts: My mind, my soul, my body, were in persistent defense mode. What would set him off? What would he do to me after a night out and something tiny pissed him off? If his day was shit, my day was shit. He isolated me from my (granted very dysfunctional) family. That’s one trick abusers are expert at: carve doubt where a bit already exists, not to help their victim…to exploit them. Later, my care for my kids was this ridiculously conflicting surge of protective courage and paralyzing doubt. I was young when I got married and had my first
This question is yesterday’s news… It’s 30 years ago news for Peri Johnson. It’s hundreds of years of news for women around the world. It’s hundreds of years of us turning our backs on women of color, who fight on. It’s decades of trans people being kicked aside. It’s churches at their core. It’s LGBTQ people being silenced. It’s today’s agenda for abusers. It’s today’s defense strategy for dv victims. It’s white conservative women’s (and too many progressive women’s) internalized misogyny. This question is yesterday’s news…yesterday’s vote and the recent SCOTUS vote. Victim blaming. Fuck that. You can find my whole series on Domestic Violence here.
Keep the door open
It seems easy, or obvious a victim of domestic violence should tell someone, because someone can help, right? Many dv survivors don’t talk about it until after they leave. They’re judged harshly for it. From the outside: People in a dv situation are isolated. Even when the outside world experiences them as outgoing, confident, and successful, they’re isolated. Contradictions like that lend to the fucked up way our #culture dismisses, shames, and outright doesn’t believe #dv victims. Dave Pelzer wrote about his abuse as a child and has persistently been dismissed like Dr. Ford is now. More headlines about Nigella Lawson focused on her behavior instead of her suffering at the hands of a violent husband. Rihanna’s anger at snapchat for an outrageously offensive ad shows how casually it’s taken by too many. From the inside: The person in a dv situation asks themselves questions every moment of every day.
Love turning to hate
In writing this series, I’m also sharing questions people asked me after I left an abusive 18 year marriage and divorced in 1997. People still ask them of people who leave today. Why did you put up with that? Looking back, there were signs of course. I was young and looking for a way out of my dysfunctional origin family so it was easy to overlook red flags and jump into a very bad situation. I was immature and had no example of healthy intimate relationships. Toxic people were normal to me so he felt familiar. We were 7 years apart in age Within the first months of being married ..He dragged me off our bed, straddled and choked me ..Called me a cunt for not obeying him ..Repeatedly told me I was worthless ..Hit me in the face for the first time ..Told me I was fat at 130
Leaving DV is complicated
Intimate partner violence is so common, it’s considered the singe greatest cause of injury to women (re Domestic Violence Intervention Program). We don’t see it in the news except at hot point moments like the recent SCOTUS dumpster fire. It can take multiple tries for someone experiencing ipv to leave for good. That might sound surprising. A person who experiences ipv lives with familiarity and fear, and likely cptsd, especially if they’re in a long relationship. Once they come to believe they could leave, they weigh everything: kids, finances, housing, internal trauma, who to tell. That’s for someone in a hereto relationship. Domestic violence in queer relationships in this fucked up homophobic culture add more risk to reporting and leaving, like assumptions and expectations being made about the people, accounts being misunderstood, ignored, or completely dropping cases. Domestic & intimate partner violence in same, hetero, and poly identified relationships are
One step at a time
If you suspect something’s happening, trust your gut. Safely check in with them: *Be direct and say you’re worried. *Don’t judge. *They may not be ready to leave (took me the last 7 years of 18 yrs of abuse). *Give them 1000 chances to talk to you. *When they’re ready, trust them 100% Domestic violence happens in every identifying group, every culture, every range of wealth, every age, every religion, every range of education. #domesticviolence #domesticabuse #believesurvivors #whyididntreport #whywomendontleave You can find my whole series on Domestic Violence here.
The long road
October was domestic violence awareness month. Remember way back in October? Seems like a few lifetimes ago. It’s been a challenging couple of years for any of us who have experienced domestic abuse. The election. The constant fire hose of soul cutting abuse from the long eroded offices we supposedly chose in any given race. Dr. Ford was the strength so many of us continue to work hard to find. She, like Dr. Hill, stood for us. The SCOTUS outcome was what many of us expected and all of us will be impacted for decades by one more misogynistic sexual predator who expected he was entitled to every body he assaulted. The Supreme Court will become a front for the agenda at hand, attack on women’s rights at every level. That agenda’s intent is to remove women’s rights like they’re being removed at the state level now. Finding good is
I read Jessica Valenti’s article “How Very Bad Men Get Away With Rape” and her point that it takes a village to let or help the few men who do rape skate by over and over was spot on. And infuriating. Women in America are mandated to wear the shame and guilt of being abused. It happens rampantly on social media, clearly it’s a model in government; many of us have experienced it at work and it’s perpetuated in our own families when misogyny is passed on or internalized. This expectation we behave by wearing the guilt and shame of our abuse is poisoning women’s lives. Admonitions tossed at women to behave are intended to silence and ignore the cruelty being waged on us; cruelty that has been waged on women for generations and continues today. Admonitions from family to get over something or maligning statements about the fact that
Image Chuck Schumer
I’ve read enough of the posts from people telling us to ignore the fact that Chuck Schumer caved on the now infamous fast track of 7 judges last week. Life time appointments. And we’re all going to get the privilege of another back stabbing when Chuck helps this administration get 8 more judges fast tracked as this new week opens. I mean hell, if he were a woman you’d be hearing from every outlet about this bullshit. Amanda Marcotte, I love you. Schumer caved. We get it there are hard decisions to be made. Don’t patronize us. In this toxic climate though, it’s become clear Chuck has forgotten the decisions to be made are how to find the ways to stop this corrupt, vile, destructive administration from wreaking decades of damage on us citizens through these appointments. Schumer looked past that fact and stuck us with judges who now have
Image Abuse Of Power Comes As No Surprise
We see this at work in courts, in entertainment, the catholic church, silicon valley, in homes, offices…on and on. In 2018 America women are not only defending ourselves individually against predators, we’re fighting for the men and anyone else who say they’re our advocates, to take action and hold predators accountable. The problem we have is a cultural one where somehow it’s fine to re gift a sexual predator his career while making no effort to change the systems that welcome these men to offices of power where they vilely abuse it, show themselves to be predators and ruin the careers of men and women they abuse. *Yes. I’m using he/him/his. I’m quite aware of the recent shes who are being uncovered as sexual predators. I treat them with the same disgust. And, you know, we can have our week of rightfully piling on Michael Ian Black. Then we can

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