Tag Archives: domestic violence

A Little Ditty About Domestic Violence…

Standard

abuseIt’s Domestic Violence Awareness month so allow me to Aware you. So many people think of DV as some scummy dude beating the crap out of his girlfriend in some shack. When they think of a woman who “allows” herself to be in that sort of relationship they think of a weak, unwashed, poor, overwhelmed, ignorant woman who was probably born into poverty. I’m here to tell you that those perceptions couldn’t be farther from the truth.  DV is NOT just about being hit. It encompasses emotional. mental, sexual and financial abuse. Abuse is about control. One person wants to control another. When they can’t control, they get very angry. They take their anger out on the victim. It’s not right, it is not the way “normal” people go about having their needs met, but an abuser is not “normal”.

Abusers are not just men and they are not just “bad boys”. Most abusers appear to the rest of society as normal, upstanding citizens. It can’t be said enough, abuse is about control (or the illusion of control). The abuser wants TOTAL control over their partner. It stems from a personality disorder which may or may not be connected to a mental illness or an addiction. It has some to do with their upbringing, possibly a trauma, possibly their environment, but definitely a “screw up” in the wiring of their brain. As far as the person who becomes involved with an abuser, sometimes it is a person who’s own upbringing, environment or personal mental health/addiction issues make being with an abuser feel comfortable and familiar. It is a complicated issue. And not one easily remedied.

Statistics show that an abuser, with professional help, has about a 5% chance of changing and those that DO show signs of change actually only change abuse tactics. They might go from being overt to covert, they might stop physical abuse but switch to emotional abuse, or stop sexually abusing their partner only to financially abuse their partner. Most of the abusers I know ARE “nice guys”. Young people need to be taught, both boys AND girls, how to treat others. They need to see it modeled by ALL the adults in their life. Their parents, school officials, church, coaches, medical professionals, every single adult. Controlling another human being is basically impossible. We all have choices. Sometimes we need help to make the best choice for ourselves. Support and education are going to help…but not just for the person in the abusive relationship, for ALL of society.

I have heard recently that I don’t look like someone who would have been in an abusive relationship. That I don’t seem like the type who would have “allowed” that. Yes, well, I’m not sure how to take that. I know it is meant as a compliment or because the person telling me that sees me as “strong” or not that “type”. This is further evidence that there is no “type” of person who becomes a victim of an abuser. It can and does happen to anyone. There are only two outcomes to being in an abusive relationship : freedom or death. We always have a choice. Always. The choice might be between life or death, it may be between homelessness or warmth, it may be between poverty or comfortability. I’m not saying they are easy choices by any means. That is where we, as a society, can step up and help and support. We can ease the transitions, we can support the choices that will lead to lives being free from abuse.

The most dangerous time for a person in an abusive relationship is when they are trying to leave. On average, it takes a person 8 attempts before they finally break free. That might look like the victim leaving, demanding change from their partner, seeing some change, going back, having the abuse start again, leaving, demanding change, seeing change, going back, having the abuse start again…it looks like insanity to the rest of us. But make no mistake, a person involved with an abuser is invested in the relationship. The abuser truly is a powerful person in the life of the person they are abusing. No victim wants to be abused. They don’t. They don’t ask for it. They want what we all want. To be respected, loved, treated with kindness, trusted. An abuser knows that. And an abuser uses that to their advantage to stay in control of the relationship and ultimately the victim. 70% of DV murders occur when the victim is leaving or has left the relationship. Many of those murders are committed by a partner who had NO history of physical violence against the victim. He may never have hit her, but as soon as he knows he has lost all control over her, he has nothing left to lose.

Some people leave after the first punch. Some people leave after the first rage. Some people leave after hearing rumors. Those people are not better than those who stay. They are just less invested. They are not stronger or smarter than those who stay. They just have a different path. I hope that those people who have had a brush with DV would be able to be compassionate and kind rather than condescending and that they would use their experience to really look inside themselves and find a way to help those who need it. Never underestimate the power of isolation. But never underestimate the power of support. We are only as sick as our secrets. DV is a dangerous thing. For the victim, the family, the friends and for all of society. We can change. We do have the power, it lies within our choices. We are not weak, we are not helpless, we are brave and we can do this, together.

Advertisements

Hiram Monserrate: The Violent Abuser

Standard

I am going to make this general and only about one aspect of domestic abuse. I woke up this morning to the news that Hiram Monserrate was being ousted from his New York State senate seat because of his misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. That is good and right. That he is fighting his ousting is just plain sick. He was fired with a vote of  53 to 8. And only God knows how corrupt those 8 senators are to actually vote to keep a violently abusive man in a public service position. If I were a voter in their district I would make it my job to make sure that those 8 are never re-elected to any public service position. But that’s just me and this issue is one that is close to my heart, obviously.

In this case, Monserrate attacked his girlfriend and cut her in the face with a broken piece of glass and then dragged her down the hall of his apartment complex to bring her to the hospital. He said he accidently tripped when bringing her a glass of water and it shattered and cut her face. Seriously. Classic. “She ran into my fist”. It is still a mystery to me how these men are believed. Now, the senate has voted him out because they feel his actions do not line up with the values supposedly promoted by the NYS senate. Makes sense to me. How could any man who attacks a woman be allowed to keep his job, in general, but most especially a man who is in public service and holding an elected position. That means that he has been elected by the voters who made their decision on many factors including what kind of person he was. Does he molest children, does he kick puppies, does he cheat on his taxes, does he beat women? Apparently yes, he does beat women.

His defense of his actions is to try to deflect criticism by distraction. He wants us to look at the fact that he should not be fired by his colleuges, he should be fired by his constituents. He wants us to believe that his being fired really is about his race and  his past actions in the senate. Flip flopping from a democrat to a republican back to a democrat when he saw he would be on the losing side if he didn’t flip back to his original stance. He stated “God is not done with me yet” Well let’s hope not.

He is textbook abuser. When caught in the act, he lies, he takes no responsibility, tries to blame anyone he can and then gets defensive. The sense of entitlement he is displaying is right on target with the classic narcissistic abuser personality. He just does not believe that he should be subject to the laws of man, NYS, or even morality. It looks like he seriously believes that he should get away with what he did. It is mind boggling to even try to reason out his logic. No remorse, no apologies.

There is so much that is wrong with this case and the way it was handled in the court system. But at least it is a start. It is a new story that is getting the word out about domestic violence. It is making people talk. It is making people angry. And it’s about time. If every case of domestic violence that the court saw ended in the perpetrator being fired from his job and given some sort of punishment maybe there would be a drop in DV cases. Why not try it? I mean, if you steal a car it is automatically a felony and there is jail time served. And that’s a car. Sure, I would be pissed if someone stole my car. But if someone hit my daughter I would be far more than pissed. These laws have to change. Now that we know better we should do better. Criminals who commit victimless crimes are thrown behind bars without much thought. Abusers walk around free to abuse and many times kill their victims and we as a society say “Well,  that’s a shame. At least they didn’t steal my car.” And look away.

No more looking away.

It does take a village, a town, a country, a society.

Standard

Domestic violence is everybody’s problem. And those people who turn their heads or make excuses or point fingers are the ones who are at greatest fault. When another woman is murdered, a mother’s life taken at the hands of her husband,a partner disappears, it impacts society in a negative way. The ramifications are far reaching and inconceivable. And it is preventable.

When hearing the stories that make it to the news, and watching neighbors and friends act dumbfounded at the crime that has been committed right under their noses, it is time to come out of denial. It is time to get involved. It is time to not be  a coward and believe when a woman reaches out for help, that she needs it.

But what the general public doesn’t understand and refuses to comprehend is that denying or ignoring does not make the problem disappear. We have entered an age where privacy is valued above all else. And that is good. There has to be a line. When you hear fear, when you see abuse, notice it, report it. DO SOMETHING. Just don’t sit there.

Another mother has just “disappeared” and her husband is the key suspect. The friends of the woman have said that the woman was unhappy and scared. But those voices are being drown out by the drama. Children have lost their mother, parents have lost their daughter, what will it take for others to see the dangers? What is it going to take for society to stop allowing these abuses to exist? It seems that if a man doesn’t “look” the part of wife beater, then they get the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, domestic violence does not have a “look”. We don’t fit a “type” and it isn’t always the woman who came from a dysfunctional home and it isn’t always the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

There are so many facets to domestic violence. Why not educate yourself? Arm yourself with knowledge and reach out to those who may be to scared or beaten down to ask for help. Don’t ignore, don’t assume. Everyone needs a helping hand every once in a while, and a family suffering, a woman in danger needs your attention.

Avoiding this issue has not helped those who need it. There is no reason for domestic violence to exist. If a person is unhappy, if a relationship isn’t working, then leaving is always an option. But in a domestic violence situation, leaving can be deadly. The abuser feels threatened and reacts. It isn’t about love or passion. It is simply about control. When they feel that their illusion of control is slipping over the other person, they react violently at times. The abuser refuses to lose. They see the relationship as a game. Many times they view their partner as simply an extension of themselves. And they feel justified in taking whatever steps they need to to stay in control.

Just like rape is not about sex, abuse is not about love or relationship. It is only about control. See it. DO something. Protect those who need protection. Do not ignore a person who says they need help. It is your responsibility. As a member of society. As part of the human race.

Many of us will get behind a cause. We will be outraged at injustices in other countries, crimes against humanity, rotten dictators, our economy, H1N1, the state of our public schools. We all have plenty to be angry about. But domestic violence is pushed away as shameful or as the victim’s fault. At the very least it is looked at as a private matter. Until another woman is killed or missing never to be found. Then it is a terrible shame. Feel guilty. Change it. We have the power to disallow these abuses. Believe that it is happening. And believe that if YOU stop condoning it with YOUR silence it can and will change. Educate yourselves and your children. Every victim of domestic violence was somebody’s child. The shame is ours. We can change it.

A victim of domestic violence has legal recourse. But without support and protection, they are walking naked into a room of unseeable landmines. The consequences of a victim reporting a crime are sometimes deadly. Because we allow it to be. Victims go back time and again because they are scared, because they have hope, because they are forced to. A victim needs help. And we as a society should be obliged to give support and help to those in need. In a free society where we are all encouraged to make choices and live free, when one of our own is in bondage and suffering, we need to act. Stop ignoring, stop denying, stop being so self centered and educate yourself and those around you. It is not a happy issue. It is not like there is some cure waiting in a lab. It is not an easy fix.

Nothing worth doing is easy. It may take generations for this issue to resolve. But in the meantime we can and should be aware. We can do what we can today for those who need us. You are important in this issue. You have the power to help. There is no shame in being a victim, there is shame in being a bystander who refuses to help.