Tag Archives: Abuse

Self Loathing

Is there anything more devastating to deal with? It’s bad when it’s a normal, day-to-day thing. It is worse still when it’s due to being in an abusive relationship. I mean, you hear from someone who is supposed to love you tell you how much you suck when you mess up – even if it’s in their eyes only -, you start to believe it. And then, if you’re lucky, you have other loved ones pointing out what the abuser is doing to you, and asking, “How can you not see this is bad?”

 

Hmm. First the person you are in love with is calling you dumb for screwing something up, then someone else is inadvertently doing the same thing by asking how can you not see the abuse.  Is it any wonder you begin to hate yourself, if you didn’t before you got into the abusive relationship to begin with?

 

My ex, Christine (who you may have read about before) had a particularly wonderful refrain: “Why the fuck do I continue to put up with your stupidity, Robert? I must be some kind of masochist, but damnit, I see so much potential in you, if you’d just do what the hell you’re told.” To which I could only hang my head in shame, and apologize. One of the toughest things about being in that situation was the knowledge I was completely alone. Folks readily recognize that males abuse females, but the opposite is not so true. If a guy hits a woman, he’s the lowest for of scum on earth that needs his nuts ripped off, be burned alive, ect. If a woman hits a guy, well, he must have done something wrong, or he deserved it in some fashion. I told one person what happened to me, the reason why I was in the hospital. I was asked if I had cheated on my girlfriend, or something stupid like that. I think due to that verbal slap, I ended up staying with Christine another fourteen months. It took catching her in the act of cheating on me, on our wedding day, to get me to leave.

 

So, back to the self loathing aspect. When I regained my freedom, the amount of self hatred I had prevented me from really having a normal relationship for years. Don’t get me wrong, I tried. I didn’t realize I was sabotaging myself, though. I met a wonderful woman named Victoria about six months after I left Christine. When the poor lady would try to compliment me, or tell me I was a good person, I couldn’t and didn’t, believe it. I had a little voice in my head (that sounded an awful lot like Christine) telling me how worthless I was, and that I was a terrible person. I was also telling myself there was no way I could be loved because of how messed up I was. I eventually drove Victoria away. Fortunately, it was to a man who treated her the right way.

 

I still find it hard to articulate the hatred I have for myself, if you haven’t noticed. How do you put into words how worthless you feel, and how stupid you must have been to allow yourself to end up in a situation where someone is allowed to beat you with things like golf clubs, baseball bats, cast iron skillets, ect? How can you not see while you’re in there how bad it is? Simple. They tell you each time they love you. They only want what’s best for you. And, it wouldn’t happen if you didn’t make them do it to you. Did I really deserve those things that were done to me? Most days, the answer is, “No.” Other days, though…

 

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Flashback

Last night, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is in an abusive relationship. I, too, was in one. This friend – my best friend, by the way – mentioned something their abuser did that caused me to flashback to some events from my relationship with my abuser.  You may remember the name Christine if you’re a long time reader. If not, here is something I shared on another website, in the comments section.

During the 1999 to 2002, I was in a bad relationship. Domestic violence kind of bad. If you were to look at the two of us, and heard ours was a dv relationship, you’d swear I was the victimizer: I was a Navy man, she was a bartender. I was 6′, 220 lbs of solid muscle. She was 5′, 95 lbs of waif. I didn’t stand a feckin’ chance. I’m going to tell you about the first – and only – time I heard that I was a victim, and needed to get out.

Christine and I had a little game we’d play every weekend where I’d ask what she wanted for breakfast, she’d say eggs Benedict, and I’d give her scrambled. We both knew from the early days of the relationship I had no idea what eggs Benedict were, much less how to make them. This particular sunny Saturday afternoon, the radio was on KOGO AM, and the Padres were warming up.

She came into the kitchen wearing one of my work black shirts, and a smile. I wore jeans and a white t-shirt. I kissed her in greeting (I was up about 30 minutes prior to her), and pulled the eggs from the fridge. We did our little routine, and I served her her hot scrambled eggs and bacon. I slapped bacon into the skillet for myself, and started to whip up an omelet for myself. I heard a skillet scraping across the counter top – if you’ve ever owned a cast iron skillet, you know the sound I’m referring to – and, I think I started to turn to see what she was up to. I still don’t know. What I do know is I was suddenly looking under the stove at some dust bunnies. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why I was on the floor.

Christine ordered me to get up in this scary flat way she had that informed me I had screwed up again. I tried for several minutes to do so, but it was like my body wasn’t connected to me anymore. After a few sharp kicks in the ribs, which I barely noticed, I was able to pull myself to my feet by holding onto the oven door. I looked at the red-haired beauty in front of me, and did not know her name. Before I could say anything, I felt wetness rolling down the back of my neck. “Oh, I must have just gotten out of the shower and forgot to dry my hair,” I remember thinking, and I went to push some of the water out with my hand. Instead, I found a spongy mass on the back of my skull, and a handful of blood. I woke in the hospital a few hours later. Cracked the back of my skull.

The doc said it was a wonder I was still alive. That part of my cranium was fractured like an eggshell. Funny, huh? He asked me what happened, and I said to ask Christine. She said I fell. He asked her to step outside, and repeated his question. I said what she did. I knew better than to contradict her. Doc said it was bs because I had a mark on the side of my face from a maybe fall, but this was the back of my skull. He then told me I should contact a shelter and leave her. He said that she was abusing me. I got mad at him, then myself, then Christine, and then I cried. I did not, however, veer from the story of me falling.

 

Christine

In 1999, I was in the US Navy. I was in the best shape of my life. I was 220 lbs of well-developed muscle, full of piss & vinegar. I was in San Diego, on shore leave. I stumbled into a bar around 2230 (10:30PM) with a couple shipmates. We had spent most of the afternoon drinking our asses off. For some reason, I decided it was time to sober up, so I switched to drinking water. We sat at the bar and when I ordered booze for them and water for me, my companions decided to start razzing me. The bartender was a gorgeous redhead, 5 foot nothing, ninety pounds, took pity on me. She handed me a tall glass of water and told them to lay off as she’d given me the biggest drink. They laughed it off, calling bullshit. She said I had pure vodka, swear on her honor. They said that I should chug with them (the fuckers had Mai tais). I was still buzzed, so I said, “Sure.” and took a huge gulp. The shock of the ice-cold water caused me to gasp and choke. The idiots with me cheered. The rest of the night, I sobered up while they got more hammered. I ended up chatting with the bartender and asked her name. She said it was Christine.
We really hit it off and after the Garage (the bar’s name) closed at 0300, she invited me over to her place. Being a guy, 19 and her being an attractive woman who was interested in me, lead me to agreeing. I spent the night, and fell for her. The next morning, she woke me with breakfast in bed and we ended up staying in bed until 1500 when she had to get ready for work. She drove me back to the Navy Yard and I kissed her goodbye, promising to see her again during my next leave which was in six months. That shore leave turned into the end of my first deployment and I ended up living with her for the next six months.
Around the second month, while we were at a club, she started dancing with another guy. I got a bit pissed because he wouldn’t back off after that. Finally, I got pissed off, took the guy outside and kicked his ass. Christine got pissed off with me, telling me she wasn’t my property, slapping me and eventually took off with him. I went back to her place, packed my stuff and punched a hole in the wall when I realized that she had my wallet.
When she got back the next day, we had a huge fight. She told me she hadn’t done anything with the guy, just went to a couple other bars and went to her sister’s and passed out, and what was wrong with me, why didn’t I trust her, ect. After nearly an hour, she brought me around, I forgave her and we had make up sex. Two weeks later, the same thing happened with a different guy. The same thing happened when she came back the next day: an hour and a half of fighting, followed by make up sex and another promise to never do it again.
After the fourth time, I was really heated and called her a fucking whore. She abruptly went calm, and walked into the dining room. I dropped on the couch and held my head in my hands. I was feeling like shit for that because her mother actually had been one. She didn’t know who her father was. I learned Christine had come back into the room when she smashed a ceramic serving platter over the back of my head. I fell to the floor, pretty fucking dazed. She proceeded to kick my ass all over that house. I wound up with thirteen stitches in my head and two black eyes. After she stopped and saw how fucked up I was, she promptly became apologetic, saying she didn’t mean to do it, but I just made her so mad. She drove me to the hospital and I got fixed up, telling the ER staff I had gotten mugged.
She cried the way home, begging me not to leave her, she was sorry, it would never happen again, ect. I agreed to stay with her. That was the first time she beat my ass, but not the last. I was with her for three years. The only reason I left her was because I caught her in the act of cheating on me. But, that’s a story for another time.

Sessions

“I don’t know what to do, Doc.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m stuck. Let me go back to the beginning.”

“That would be helpful.”

“Remember me telling you about Stacy?”

“The young woman in the abusive marriage that you’ve fallen in love with.”

“Right. Well, she’s recently told me that she’s not going to look for a way out right now.”

“Did she say why?”

“She says she’s not strong enough to leave. She has small kids, remember.”

“I’m not following. Wouldn’t that give her more cause to leave, not less?”

“You’d think so, wouldn’t you, Doc. She thinks if she were to check into a shelter, all she’d be able to do is sit on the bed and cry. She says she wouldn’t be able to take care of her babies.”

“Alright. She seems to have made her decision. There’s not more you can do.”

“I’m afraid that’s not the issue.”

“What is the issue, then?”

“You know I told you she always says she wants to make sure no one gets hurt?”

“I do. You said that Stacy doesn’t want to leave her abuser because she doesn’t want to take a chance on her being wrong about the abuse, and she doesn’t want to hurt you because she loves you.”

“Right. Well, last night, I pointed out the corner she’s painted herself into…”

“Go on.”

“Doc, I told her she’s going to have to choose sooner, or later, how is more important to her: The guy that she’s terrified of, or the guy that she says makes her happier than she’s ever been.”

“…”

“And then, I said, ‘I’m not sure I want to wait much longer.'”

“Oh, no. You gave her an ultimatum.”

“Yeah.”

“Take one of these tissues, and wipe your eyes.”

“Thanks. What do I do, Doc?”

“What do you think you should do?”

“I don’t know. That’s why I’m here.”

“Well, the way I see it, you have only one option.”

“Just one? What is it?”

“You love her, right?”

“Of course I do. She’s the most important person in the world to me.”

“Then decide if you really meant your words, or if they were a misguided attempt to spur Stacy to action.”

“And if I did mean them, Doc?”

“Then you have to walk away.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re not making things easier for this poor woman. You’re making them worse.”

“But she says I’m not.”

“Tell me something: If this young woman is in an abusive relationship with a controlling man-”

Boy. A man wouldn’t abuse a woman.”

“Boy, then. If she’s in a controlling relationship, then do you really think that giving her an ultimatum is helpful?”

“No.”

“Lift your head, and take some time to think things over. Choose which path you’re going to do down. Remember, if you really love Stacy, you’ll choose the path that makes things easier on her.”

“Alright, Doc. Thanks.”

“Same time next week?”

“…Yeah…sure.”

“Good. See you next Tuesday at 3.”

“Right. Goodbye.”

In The End

The tears in my beloved’s eyes was enough to get me heated. The people seated across from her were already on my shit list. They may have produced her, and watched her grow up, but as far as I was concerned, that didn’t make them her parents. Parents are supposed to protect and care for their offspring. I bit down on my ire and vowed to get answers first.
“Hey, my love. What’s going on? Why’re you crying?”
“Nothing, Stan. I’m okay.”
“Little One, please don’t lie to me.”
Her mother spoke up. “It’s not your business, but we where asking why we can’t see our grand children. Stay out of it.”
My head whipped around so quick, my neck crackled. “Stay out? I don’t think so.” I felt Ann’s hand on my wrist. I glanced down to her.
“Please, Stan. This is under control.”
I sighed, then sat beside her. Ann wrapped my right arm in both of hers, and twined her fingers with mine. She kissed my cheek, and glanced at her parents.”As long as Steven is in your house, my kids will not be.”
“You have no right to keep our grandkids from us,” her mother said, “Nor from their father. We’ve done nothing wrong.”
I started to sit up with a growl, but Ann’s grip on my arm tightened a bit. I subsided and waited for her lead.
“You did nothing wrong? What about letting Steven yell and scream at me for over 10 years, or constantly blame me for everything that went wrong? What about staying silent when I came to your house with a bruise on my face?”
“You made him mad, Ann. Had you not been so selfish, and self-centered all the time, you wouldn’t have deser-”
I shook Ann’s arms off me and lunged to my feet. I dropped my clenched fists to the table, causing it to jump, and glasses of tea to spill. “Are you fucking kidding me? How dare you blame her for that piece of shit’s treatment of her?”
Ann tugged on my shoulder. I turned, reluctantly. She cupped my cheek. I turned my face into her palm and kissed her hand. “Look at me, Stan.” I met her eyes. “I got this.” I growled in the back of my throat. “You trust me, right?”
“Dirty fighter.” She smiled, and waited. “Of course I do.”
“Thank you.” She turned to her mom. “I did not deserve anything Steven did, nor said. I deserved to be treated with love, honor, respect and dignity. Stan always tells me I am a good person. It took me five years to believe. If it wasn’t for him, I’d probably still be in that hell. Stan is a real man. Maybe one day, Steven will grow up. Until then, he doesn’t get to see my girls. As long as he lives with you, the only way you can is if you come for a visit. Please go now.”
Her mother opened her mouth. I glared at her balefully. She rose and walked to the door. “C’mon, Murphy. We’re not welcome here.” Murphy rose to his feet, eyes wet. He seemed about to speak. “Let’s go, Murphy!”
Ann’s parents left without another word.

A Fecked Up Situation

In my early 20’s I was involved with a tiny woman named Christine. The relationship lasted for a few years. Not that it was a happy one, but because I was afraid to leave. She used to kick my ass on the regular. Hands, baseball bats, golf club, tennis racket, paddles, ladding strips, ect. I finally left when I caught her banging the guy she named as my best man on the preacher’s deck in the church, on our wedding day. Fortunately, it was before the ceremony. While chatting with a friend in a similar situation, who is finding it hard to leave, I had a bit of a realization. I said the following to him.

“Things would be so much easier if our abusers didn’t know what buttons to push to keep us in place, wouldn’t they? It sucks that we are so easily manipulated. What makes it worse? We castigate ourselves mercilessly when we realize that were. Now that’s the real diabolical scheme. They don’t constantly abuse us because of two things: 1) We’d find leaving a hell of a lot easier, and 2) They don’t have to. We do a much better job of it.
Abusers are masters of psychological warfare without being trained in it. They wait until we build ourselves up enough to where we are ready to leave, then they bring on the sweetness, kindness, and other things that made us fall for them in the first place. This causes us to question ourselves, to doubt reality, and make us wonder if we are even sane. When we are nearly over it, BOOM!, the abuse resumes. And then the castigation begins again.
Another fucked up thing about it? We question if we don’t deserve it. Surely we bring it on ourselves. We push them to yell, scream, blame, hit, etc., us. If we were better, they would never treat us this way.

Now is the time to ask yourself these questions:
1. Why do I deserve to be treated this way?
2. What makes me a terrible person?
3. Why do I think this is okay?
4. Why is it important that it be my fault?
5. Is it really okay for me to go through this?
6. Why?
7. Is this really who I am?
8. Do I want this for my children?
9. If it is okay for me to be treated this way, why don’t I want my kids to be?

The reason the “yourself” at the beginning is stressed is because I want you to just go based on you. Don’t worry about what anyone else this. They are unimportant for this exercise. Once you have the right answers to those questions, then you will know what to do. What are the right answers, you ask? You know. Yes, you do. In your heart.”

If you, or a loved one is in a similar situation, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.