Domestic Violence: A New View
By: J. Marlando
Domestic violence is perhaps the most destructive social-disease there is. The dynamics of domestic violence does not only disrupt and destroy normal living but can influence the world-views of the children who grow up under the tangled wings of its wrath.
I had a great childhood except there was a constant stream of verbal abuse; not from my dad but my mom who was wonderful except for the tragic flaw of wanting everything her way and "exploding" into screaming tantrums when she didn't get it. This, I believe, is why, for so many years, I ran from all serious relationships with women. I finally settled down and married but not until I was forty years old. Thankfully that marriage has lasted and has been happy, devoted and content for over thirty-five years now.
When I was young, I also witnessed physical domestic violence from friends of our family. I talk about it in my auto-biography if anyone is interested, but I saw the woman in the relationship break a glass and cut off her spouses ear in a fit of anger. So we simply cannot know what horrors go on behind a great many closed doors. Incidentally, the last statistic I read said that 15.5 children in the United States witnessed violence between their parents at least once during the year and 7 million live in families where severe violence occurs. Indeed, The Centers for Disease and Prevention provided data for 2005 saying that women endured two million injuries from intimate partner violence each year. In 2005, 1.181 women were murdered by an intimate partner.
My intent for this article is to shine some light on domestic violence and provide healthy suggestions on how to avoid it and/or how to escape it. While there are a large count of abused men by wives and even girlfriends. they are, however, in the minority so this article will deal almost exclusively with abusive husbands or boyfriends; male abusers!
A Profile of an Abuser
I will begin this section by making a blanket statement: All abusers are irrational!
There is a population of psychologists and other professionals who would disagree with this observation but it can also be said that all abusers want to control their mates and this, in itself, is an irrational desire.
(Remember too that abusers are in all walks of life, rich, poor; laborers, doctors, lawyers; the educated as well as those with little education; entertainers and athletes. In other words, abusers cannot be pigeon-holed in any specific category. After all, even clergymen have been violent abusers behind the closed doors of their own homes. In fact, one third of American woman (31%) have been physically abused by a boyfriend or husband at least sometime in their lives).
Here's one of the stories: Jenny D. had been married to Paul D. for nearly three years. He had only hit her once during that time and begged her forgiveness which she gave. Then Jenny received a letter from a friend who had moved to Colorado as a child. They had kept in touch for all those years.
Jenny had been inviting Joyce out to Ventura, California for a very long time and finally she decided to visit. Jenny insisted that she stay at "their house" promising her a "great time" if she did.
Joyce was very impressed by Greg, Jenny's husband. He was polite and very charming. Then, after a few days, Joyce said it had been many years since she'd been to the beach and she'd love to go. Jenny was quick to agree and soon enough the girls were planning on spending a day in the sun.
In the darkness of their bedroom, however, Greg told Jenny that she was not going to the beach with her friend. He knew how women were and how they loved showing off their behinds on the beach. Greg was so demanding that Jenny cried. She had looked so forward to having a fun day with her old friend and now he was forbidding it.
On Thursday of that week, however, Jenny kept her promise and she drove to the beach with Joyce after Paul had left for work. The two young ladies had a wonderful day chatting, sunning and even swimming.
At home both Jenny and Joyce had time to shower, dress and spend time in the kitchen all before Greg came home from work. Jenny and Joyce had prepared a beautiful roast dinner. Around six-thirty they sat at the dinning room table to eat. Nevertheless, Greg had been extremely quiet since coming home so finally Jenny asked if he had a rough day. Quite suddenly, he reached behind him and threw the wet bathing suits across the table hitting Jenny in the face with them and calling her vile names. (For some reason he had checked the hamper in the laundry room
The evening immediately turned vicious. Greg picked up the roast and threw it across the room, splashing it against a wall; he ordered Joyce to leave in his rage and then took Jenny by the arm, forcing her to follow him into their bedroom where he accused her of "picking up guys with her slut girlfriend" while beating her with his fists.
Jenny managed to leave with Joyce that night and they went to a motel together. As it ended up, Jenny traveled back to Colorado with her friend and eventually divorced her husband. Not all victims of abusing husbands are so decisive and therefore so fortunate.
Aspects if the Abuser's Mentality
There may be exceptions but in the vast majority are a great many abusers who are both self-serving and self-indulgent. All of them, however, are "me" people, selfish and, as said earlier, irrational. They are also tricksters. That is, most of them will support their cruel and outrageous behaviors by claiming to be sorry and blaming their abusiveness on everyone and everything...except themselves.
They will tell their mate how much they love her, swearing time after time that they'll never lay a hand on her again. Indeed, they will "say" anything to keep her under control.
The abuser, however, doesn't love anything at least in the normal sense. He wants to possess his mate, keeping her obedient and therefore subservient. In fact, he hates everyone who does not conform to his selfish motives, which typically he will claim are altruistic. According to him, he just wants what is best for everyone. So, in this light, why does he get outraged and become an abuser?
They all have excuses for their violence and so, for their cruelty:
The abuser mirrors himself as a nice, generous and caring person. He is of course merely a control freak; he is generally jealous and petty. In the far reaches of his personality, my belief is, that most abusive men, have the qualities of negative femininity deeply seated in their psyches, that they project onto their wives. Most abusers like to think of themselves as macho men but secretly they know the truth.
At home, most abusers will condemn women, belittle them, call them vile names but all this is merely control tactics;. That is, keeping their spouses feeling "bad" about themselves is to weaken their spirits and the abuser knows this ever so well.
Outside the home, however. nearly every abuser takes on quite a different profile; he loves women and is charming to them; he's helpful to others. In fact, he often becomes Jung's social strong man.
Jung describes these types like this:
The social "strong man" in his private life is often a mere child where his own states of feelings are concerned; his discipline in public (which he demands quite particularly of others) goes miserably to pieces in private. His "happiness in his work assumes a woeful countenance at home; his "spotless" public morality looks strange indeed behind the mask--we will not mention deeds, but only fantasies, and the wives of such men would have a pretty tale to tell. As to his selfless altruism, his children have decided views about that.
Indeed, all abusers, save the ones that are actually psychopathic, are "childish." They want their own way and hitting their mates belongs to the category of throwing a tantrum when they don't get it. Nevertheless, most abusers present an entirely different persona for the public to see. It is not at all unusual for a battered wife to hear from others what a grand and wonderful man they have. This is because most abusers are expert manipulators. Remember, the chances are that there was a time that his mate thought that he was one of the nicest and thoughtful persons that they had known. She didn't suspect that behind his mask of tenderness and understanding was a self-serving, cold and irrational human being; a human being who lacked empathy or even pity for anyone but himself.
Aspects of the Battered Woman
There is an old, crude joke that arrives from 17th century England: A man beats his wife so severely that he has to call a doctor in to treat her. Before the doctor leaves the man pays him for his services. The doctor looks at the coins in his hand and says, "My good man, you have paid me twice my fee." And the man replies, "Ay, I did, once for this time and once for the next."
A lot of people ask the question why a battered woman doesn't simply leave her abusing mate. If she stays, many others believe, then she must like the abuse, be closet masochists. I suppose this might be the case in some rare situations but normally, this accusation is a very long distance from the truth. It is as Dawn Bradley Berry tells us. "One very rational reason why women stay is fear."
Fear can be a very strong influence for any of us. And, if the abuser's mate has children he will nearly always use them to strengthen his position of power. If the mate doesn't conform to his desires or tries to leave him, he will give her such warnings of taking the children away, never permitting her to see them again or even demonstrate his wrath by abusing them. The abuser is not only good at controlling tactics but doesn't hesitate to use blackmailing techniques to keep his physical and psychological grip on his mate.
Returning to Dawn Bradley Brady again, she reminds us that social issues must also be considered. She tells us, "Most women are raised to believe that the woman is the primary caretaker of the family, the member responsible for 'holding things together. She adds, "We are also taught from the days of our childhood that 'love conquers all.'" We also learn from Bradley that when most battered women are actually murdered, it is when they attempt to leave. But there are yet other factors to consider. "Again, it is difficult to separate the psychology behind the abuse from the cultural and social influences that shape us all. Many women still feel they must have a man to be a whole person. Social pressures also subtly encourage women to stay with their abusers."
(As a quick aside, the truth is that most all males and females feel they need to mate and nest to feel wholeness within themselves. The anima and animas cry out for one another but the yearning to merge with one's opposite is never enough to make a lasting, loving relationship. We'll talk more about this in the next section).
Another fear that women have is economic. One statistic tells us that the first year after a divorce, the woman's standard of living drops up to 75 percent while the man's typically goes up. And, nearly 50% of working moms live below the poverty line. It is simply not simple to leave a relationship...even a bad one!
Avoiding Abusive Relationships
We first must talk about avoiding an abusive relationship: There are often tell-tale signals that a man is or will be an abuser. Do not be fooled by a man that mirrors himself as always being the victim of others and/or of circumstances. If he uses his past to gain your sympathy or to gain your admiration, he is a candidate for becoming an abuser. This is also true if he is the type to always demand his own way. If ever you feel like you must always go his way in order to keep the relationship intact, you are setting yourself up for a subservient life to a control freak; a potential abuser or, in the least, a cheat. Either way, you are probably destined to shed a lot of tears if you commit to him.
Be suspicious of the man who is forever talking about his goodness and generosity. Goodness and generosity are great tools of manipulation so be aware that you may be sitting across from Jung's "social strong man." Try and use your own intuition and observational abilities to see if he walks as he talks long before you make a commitment to him. Also, Beware of the man that belittles others putting himself in a superior position; these kinds of men are typically weak, deceptive and immature.
Abusive men include those that present themselves as intellectually superior and claims to know what's best even for you. This includes the man that makes it clear that your opinions are never as valuable as his. While this type might not beat you physically, he will "beat you down" in any case.
If you are already in an abusive relationship the chances are that you feel trapped in it and, in many ways, you probably are a prisoner psychologically. Many women in destructive relationships stay in those relationships because they fear being out on their own; of losing what little they have. They might also feel as inadequate as the abuser has told them they are. In some situations they may actually fear for their lives or, in the least, another beating if they try and "get away."
We will talk about escaping an abusive relationship a little later.
Every couple has differences. The old adage that tell us males and females are different but equal is absolutely true. The difficulty that arises out of this is that men and women naturally have different values at least a lot of the time. And, no two people view the world in the same way anyway much less those of different genders.
In the above view, couples in healthy relationships learn to fight their problems instead of each other. This means respecting one another's point of view and beyond all else taking time to really listen to what the other is thinking and also...feeling about an issue.
In an abusing relationship the abuser will invariably hold their mate responsible for his or her happiness and contentment. In healthy relationships, both the male and female realize that it is up to them to find their own happiness and contentment in life; that these qualities can neither be taken or given away.
While all couples will argue every now and then, in a healthy relationship even serious disagreements do not evolve into name calling and/or physical confrontations. In healthy relationships both mates practice tolerance and understanding even when one's point of view is clearly irrational or short-sided. In abusive relationships the abuser typically demands conformity as being compromise. In a healthy relationship compromise is never confused with conformity. What are the lyrics of that wise old song: You have to give a little, take a little, and let your poor heart break a little, that's the story of, that's the glory of love.
In an healthy relationship the mates do not attempt to smother one another but freely gives each other space to be fully and wholly themselves. Couples in healthy relationships do not have to agree on everything, do everything together or constantly be confined by the relationship itself. Love after all is unconditional, it doesn't judge or condemn but rather encourages and supports. Committed couples, after all, are not only mates but allies as well.
The great secret of a happy, lasting marriage is quite simple really. It's remembering always to simply be...kind to each other.
Escaping an Abusive Relationship
If you are in an abusive relationship, you are probably destined to living unhappily ever after. Very...very few abusers ever change, even though after every abusive encounter he will swear never to hurt or harm you again. He will typically turn himself into the victim of his own circumstances or past, to convince you that his outrage is not his fault. After all, he will say, all he wants is your happiness and your togetherness as a couple. Do not believe a word of it, he is merely manipulating you to do what he wants you to do. He is, after all, a trickster as well as an abuser; a self-centered and self-indulgent human being. He doesn't want you to go because he loves you, he doesn't want you to go because he wants to control you. And, if you do go, he will not grieve over your absence, he will instead grieve over himself not having you.
If you are with an abuser, you must exit the relationship, get away and, if you have children, take them with you. In some situations this can be dangerous. You need to plan out your exit and in the doing communicate with authorities and even learn from other women who have gone through the same process. When you can, go to websites such as nomore.org...you might want to contact an abused women's center and arrange to go there for your own protection and recovery. If you don't feel that your mate is very dangerous, simply leave at your first opportunity and don't look back. Don't worry he will contact you begging forgiveness and promising to change but don't trust it. You have probably trusted it before so you should know he is only trying to get his way again. Remember what they say about a tiger and his stripes.
As you can see, I have no patience for those that abuse others because the abused are being robbed of themselves. In this view, I have created a list of what freedoms we each need as individuals and as mates. If you lack any of them because of being under the thumb of anyone much less an abuser, you must decide to take charge of your own destiny.
The Twelve Freedoms Each of us Must Have In an Intimate Relationship
1. The right to fail and make mistakes; to be imperfect.
2. The right to have self-interests.
3. The right not to live up to anyone else's expectations.
4. The right to our own opinions.
5. The right to be listened to.
6. The right to voice our own thoughts, ideas and ideals.
7. The right to grow and learn at our own pace.
8. The right to enjoy ourselves by ourselves.
9. The right to pursue our own happiness.
10. The right not to be abused.
11. The right to be wholly and fully ourselves.
12. The right to be loved and to love.
The above are rights that every adult individual (single or married) has as unique human beings. And so, any relationship that takes these "rights" away from us means that we have had to surrendered ourselves to the other. While marriage and other types of committed relationships demand fidelity, honesty and devotion, the commitment of one to the other does not include, and should never include, relinquishing one's me-ness to appease either the relationship and/or the demanding partner. A truly loving marriage is where two individuals support and encourage one another's individuality while becoming one in the spirit of love for all time.
And so, escaping an abusive relationships becomes essential and first of all means taking yourself back. However, this only applies if your mate is apparently an abuser. If you merely feel tied down because of the stresses and restrictions of marriage, then you must confront your own stability and motivations. Never forget that in a normal marriage there are two strict rules that we all must abide by. (1) If we think our marriage needs changing for the better, we never make it something that our mates should do and (2) we never expect our mates to be the source of our happiness. Nevertheless, if your mate is truly abusive, you absolutely owe it to yourself and to your children (if you have them) to exit the relationship as soon and as safely as possible.
Men and women in abusive relationships sometimes forget what a good, normal marital union is and should be. First of all, as I have written many times, there are five basic qualities that a marriage needs to unfold in happiness, progression and contentment.
Indeed, marriage, as Karl Menninger states, is for the partners, "to supply to each other that amount of support and encouragement which is necessary to assuage the wounds and frustrations encountered in the daily lives of each."
Realize that the abusive mate is not on your side but rather irrationally and unresponsively on their own side. After all, all abusers live in worlds where they are the center. Those centers are never shared but remain isolated posts where self-service and self-indulgence take precedence. When you enter beware since no matter how it seems, you are only there...to serve.
References and Suggested Reading
Bancroft, Lundy * Why Does He Do That? * Berkley Books
Berry, Bradley Dawn * The Domestic Violence Sourcebook *Lowell House
Menninger, Karl with Jeanetta Lyle Menninger* Love against Hate * A Harvest Book
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