Since Cain slew Abel the world has consistently had violence in one form or another. One of them, domestic violence has been in the news a lot lately. So many profess shock, either that this would happen or that a wonderful, dedicated and noble person should be so accused when he (or so he says) is innocent. The history of domestic violence goes back a long ways. At one time there was a rule on the books on how wide the board could be when you hit your wife with it. It is one of the most misunderstood subjects I know. People usually assume it means the wife was beaten by her drunk and violent husband. I know men who have been victims of a wife’s terrible temper and subsequent brutalities. The perception of those outside the relationship is not what it seems, especially if we are talking about sexual abuse.
It is as difficult for me to talk about this as it is for you to hear about it. I don’t blame you. It is evil; it is vile; it is despicable. Shame is the strongest emotion that happens to those of us who were sexually assaulted. Shame keeps us from talking about it. When it is a family member that transgresses it is even worse. Not talking about sexual abuse is the biggest reason why it is epidemic.
The victim can’t turn his perpetrator in to the authorities because she/he has been a victim so many times before that it feels normal, albeit painful and humiliating. If he is taken away the victim feels she loves him so much that she will not survive being without him. Even a bad husband who you still pathetically love seems better than a good husband who you don’t have any feelings for.
How does this happen? What can we do to lessen it? There are many answers to this problem. Part of it is the poor choices we make in a mate. That thread goes a long ways back. Usually this is not the first time someone has been a victim. It is not the first time they have made a bad choice. Dysfunctional childhood breeds a hot bed of volatile, jealous and just plain foul behavior. The perpetrator and the victim were no doubt victimized as children. The victim has a dozen excuses for not reporting it and for staying in the relationship. Some of the ones I used were: I’m probably exaggerating it, he didn’t mean it, if only he wouldn’t drink so much this wouldn’t have happened, he’s not an alcoholic, he just drinks too much, I’m sure I did something to deserve it, if I report it they will take my children’s father away and they love him and would feel I am responsible for them not seeing their father, I can’t live without him and so on.
Every victim has reasons that seem to justify staying with their abuser. He’s sorry he beat you up. It won’t happen again. Or one of my own made by my second husband the morning after he viciously beat me up as he looked at the bruises up and down my chest; “you must have deserved it”. Another thing I found out in recovery – it is against the law to rape your wife. That was one of the most severe abuses I suffered with my ex-husband. He kept saying he was my husband and had a right to rape me. He literally quit his job when I was out of work to rape me every two or three hours. He would wake me up in the middle of the night over and over to satisfy his sexual addiction. He would break down doors behind which I hid and drag me out to rape me. I felt like I was losing my mind. When I found out this was against the law I was stunned. By that time he was gone for good, probably raping other victims.
Domestic violence problems cannot be solved by a lecture from one of your children who tells you she’ll never have anything to do with you if you don’t leave him. Your child doesn’t understand the depth of your addiction to your abuser. You have tried many times to rid yourself of him. Each time you experience the same thing heroin addicts experience when they too try to rid themselves of their demons. Here’s a description of what we go through when we try to rid ourselves of our abuser. They are the same thing heroin users go through when they try to rid themselves of the monkey on their back.
Those who are addicted to a domestic violence mate not only become physically dependent on him, but are also afraid to leave him for fear of the symptoms they may experience when they are no longer with their mate. Someone who is trying to withdraw from their domestic violence abuser may experience some or all of the following effects:
• Intense craving for your mate
• Extreme sweating
• Nausea and vomiting
• Severe muscle aches and pains
• Cramping in the limbs
• Feelings of heaviness of the body
• Extreme pain in muscles and bones
• Crying jags
• Cold sweats
• Death can occur. In the case of a victim of child sexual abuse trying to rid herself of her abuser – it often results in suicide, the only option they can see that will end their problem.
I KNOW BECAUSE THIS WAS ME.
You beg and plead with your abuser not to leave telling him you’ll do anything, anything (this, in my case included agreeing to wear only what he approved, laughing at only the jokes he allowed, telling him who I was talking to on the phone and hanging up if he insists and so on – mostly I was a prisoner in my own home) if only he won’t leave you. I was so far gone when I was married to my third abuser that I begged my counselor to write him a note telling him to stop abusing me. She was appalled at my suggestion but my tearful pleas finally caused her to write a short note. She knew it wouldn’t help. In fact it made it worse. He was angry that I would bad mouth him to my counselor. I paid a heavy price for that bit of stupidity.
Calling the police is seldom an idea that victims are willing to do. Some law enforcement agencies arrest both the victim and the perpetrator. That sure solves the problem, doesn’t it? The problem lies within the victim. They are carrying battle scars from their child hood, perhaps from previous relationships. They have a severe wound from childhood abuse. If not treated it will become infected and the infection will spread throughout their body. There again they are so heavily addicted to their abuser that they cannot make a healthy choice for their own good.
The idea that since this happened so many years ago and you never reported it then you must be making it up is ludicrous. It took me 25 years to work up the courage to report to the organization SNAP the sexual abuse I received at the hands of a Catholic priest who I had just had a face to face confession with.
One out of four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually assaulted as a child, most by someone they know. It is not surprising that so many are just now coming out with their stories. What is so surprising is that we still don’t have ways to keep the numbers down. We try this………might work. Then we try that……maybe. In time, pray God! With so many of us working on this problem we’ll have the numbers really down.
I want to reiterate the description of incest (but applies to child sexual abuse in general) as said in my book Repair Your Life:
“Webster defines incest as “sexual intercourse between persons too closely related to marry legally.” It is a simple, almost clinical description that does not in any way imply trauma or abuse. The all-encompassing and often unspoken reality is much broader. Anyone in a position of power who coerces a person of lesser power into any sort of boundary violation dealing with their sexuality, either emotionally, mentally, or physically, is a sexual abuse perpetrator. This includes a grandfather who pins his granddaughter down while he fondles her breasts; a father who insists on watching his daughter, against her wishes, while she bathes; an older brother who forces his sister to do oral sex; and any other such boundary violation from the most minor to actual forcible entry and rape. It does not have to be a family member to have the same resultant despair. That despair, whether by a family member or an outsider, can be a life sentence of pain.”
Your crippling addiction is immune to withdrawal options. Most of the time no amount of counseling, 12 step programs or psychiatrists will guarantee you’ll rid yourself of your abuser. As with any wound you must treat the source before wellness begins. You must first go through a competent and successful recovery program that starts with addressing that problem. I recommend the following:
R – you recognize and accept that your adult problems stem from a dysfunctional childhood that might include physical, mental or sexual abuse.
E – you enter a program of commitment to change your life for the better.
P – you utilize learning tools and techniques that will enable you to become healthy.
A – you gather the pieces of the broken puzzle your life has become and begin assembling them to see the complete picture. Here you discover the properties of awareness that were God-given promises at birth.
I – you see the complete picture and begin to return to that which you were prior to any childhood abuse.
R – you develop the natural rhythm you had before the incest/sexual abuse happened, the blueprint that is the essence of your true nature, becoming who you really are.
In other words you REPAIR Your Life!
Please see information on the REPAIR program on the Lamplighter Movement website at www.thelamplighters.org. The REPAIR recovery program took me from being married to my third abuser, suicidal, a sex addict and living part time in a women’s shelter to being the happiest person I know. It works!!