Year: 2012

Myths and Realities of Domestic Abuse Against Men

I post because of Richard, and because of Chris.  Richard’s wife stalks my blog because she knows I’m telling the truth, and she can’t stand it, because abusers don’t want the truth about them to get out.  Her constantly stalking me–rather than just laughing it off–is proof.

It’s amazing to hear of people not believing that women can abuse men.  Does nobody remember “The Taming of the Shrew” anymore, or words like termagant?  Is it a man’s fault if he’s henpecked so heavily that his spirit is broken?  Is it really okay for women to hit men or verbally abuse them?

I’d hear girls say to boys on the playground, “Boys can’t hit girls, but girls can hit boys.”  This was between first and second grade, and yet I already knew that was a screwed-up attitude, that it was neither just nor fair.

Growing up, I could identify girls who were just as mean as any boy bully could be.  Their bullying could be verbal and emotional, as girls do to screw with each others’ heads, or physical, such as when I saw clumps of hair all over the girls’ locker room one day after two girls had been fighting.

I avoided such girls as much as I could, though unfortunately they would come after me anyway.

In high school, one day I sat in a classroom as a girl and a boy passed the open doorway–and I heard a loud smack as the girl punched the boy in the arm.  I knew that wasn’t right.

So why do people act like it’s no big deal for a woman to abuse a man, or like it’s not even possible?  Maybe some men think all women are angels and couldn’t possibly do this, but us women should all know better!

Here is a website naming 8 Myths and Realities of Domestic Abuse Against Men.

MYTH #1–ONLY MEN WHO ARE WIMPS ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE ABUSED BY WOMEN….Men who are physically assaulted by their abusive partners via punches, bites, kicks to the groin, attacked while they are driving and hit with hard objects etc. without retaliating are the real men.

I see this attitude on occasion, that abused men are wimps.  I even saw it in Youtube comments on the movie Men Don’t Tell.  What do they expect men to do to stop the abuse against them–smack the b**** up?

I even heard from a shocking source, “If she hits me in the face, I’ll fight back, and no judge in the state will convict me.”  This from a man who is much larger than his wife and could smash her like a bug if he got angry enough.

Is that how you’ll protect yourself–by killing your wife?  Is sitting in jail for assault or even murder going to keep you safe?

MYTH #2 – THE ABUSER IS THE BIGGER, STRONGER PERSON AND THE VICTIM IS THE SMALLER, WEAKER PERSON….Callers to our helpline have reported that they have had their arms broken, been stabbed and shot at, been hit with heavy objects that caused them to go to the emergency room to get stitches and had their intimate partners try to run them over with a vehicle.

Numerous abused men have reported life-threatening injuries at the hands of their intimate partners.

Not just that, but women can be skilled at twisting your mind through emotional, verbal and psychological abuse.  Just ask any target of mean girls in school.  Do you think those mean girls grow up to be sweet and kind?

MYTH #3 – WOMEN ONLY USE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN SELF DEFENSE.

I’ve seen a woman smacking her husband on the arm in anger.  Not play, anger.  That is domestic violence.  And as a witness, I saw absolutely no reason for her to do this.  He was not smacking her or in any way intimidating her; he was just sitting there, and something he did or said–I did not know what–had upset her.

He also tells me she’s gotten so angry that she would punch him, that he would restrain himself, but if she ever hit his face during these sessions, he would lose control and fight back.  How is it self-defense, then, for her to hit him, period?

MYTH #4 – IF THE ABUSE WAS THAT BAD HE WOULD LEAVE BECAUSE A MAN CAN EASILY LEAVE A RELATIONSHIP.

Can he, when he’s the one taking care of the kids and house while she makes the money because she makes more?  When it’s been ingrained in his head that men are not supposed to leave, that it would be a sin against God to divorce his abusive wife?

For the most part, incidents of domestic violence have been found to increase in severity when a victim leaves. Leaving an abusive situation requires resources such as money, housing, transportation, and support structures, all of which may have been eroded by life with an abuser.

Men stay for many of the same reasons women stay in abusive relationships. These are just a few:
• to protect their children from an abusive parent;
• family is important, when they got married it was for life;
• their abuser controls the finances;
• the abuser makes promises to change and/or get help for their violent behavior;
• they love their partners and don’t want the relationship to end, just the abuse;
they feel and/or are told they are responsible for the abuse that is perpetrated upon them.

MYTH # 7 – RESEARCH SHOWS THAT IN 95-98% OF THE CASES WOMEN ARE THE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND MEN ARE THE PERPETRATORS.

I know of at least two men (Richard and Chris) who have been physically battered by their wives.  And those are just people with whom I’ve been close enough in contact the last few years that I would know this.  Or wait, maybe that’s three, based on some Facebook posts I’ve seen….

My Facebook friend count is in the low 200s, so out of that, 3 is about 6%.  Even 2 would be 4%.  Or maybe that’s 4 men, come to think of it, which would make it 8%…..Who knows how many of the guys just on my Facebook have been battered?

And as the article goes on to note,

Patriarchy and oppression of women does not account for the high rate at which domestic violence happens to lesbians, gay men, transgendered people or heterosexual men. Domestic abuse is said to occur in approximately 30 to 40% of GLBT relationships.

Clarissa & Sociopathy

If you want to get into the mind of a sociopath, I suggest reading Clarissa by Samuel Richardson.  Or the quick version, watching the movie (with dreamy Sean Bean).  🙂  (Somebody posted the whole movie.  Better watch it quick before Youtube yanks it for violation of copyright.  Though the DVD is available for purchase.)

But the book–all 1500 pages of it–goes far more into the psychological drama.  It was written in the 1740s, but is surprisingly modern, with a thorough understanding of the sociopathic mindset (and a feminist character, Clarissa’s friend Anna, who refuses to “obey” any man).

You get into the heads of everyone, including the sociopath (Lovelace) and his prey (Clarissa).  He alienates her entire family and engineers an impossible situation, so that she finally feels she must throw herself on his protection.

He then proceeds to gaslight her, and use various unsavory characters to hold her captive in a brothel.

He makes her think the brothel is a respectable house, while the inhabitants, who are carrying on the charade and are his abusers-by-proxy, think Clarissa is his frigid wife.  They help him arrange a rape.

She tries again and again to escape, but he keeps following and recapturing her, telling everyone she is his wife, so they will put her back with him.

I first read this book in 1992, and it’s been a favorite ever since.

In my diary and letters from 1992, I gushed over the book, which I found in my college library.  I read some of it while sick with the flu, since I had nothing else to do.  Over Christmas Break, I had no homework and nothing else pressing (except lunch dishes).

This was a wonderful, wonderful book; since my massive version (1200 pages) was abridged, I didn’t yet know that there were even more wonderful parts to it which would explain parts of the plot even more.

I read 100 pages a day–which for me is a tremendous amount, since normally I probably would have gotten through 50 at the most, even reading all day long–and finished on New Year’s Eve.

I loved the Gothic feel of many scenes, such as Lovelace showing up in Clarissa’s hotel as a gouty old man.  I’m not sure if it’s called pre-Gothic or Gothic; it’s been described both ways.  On Masterpiece Theatre, which showed the movie version in the spring of 1992, it was called a Gothic.

It came out before the supernatural tales of the 18th and 19th centuries, but had the traditional elements of an old Gothic: A young, virtuous virgin is abused and locked up by a dirty, usually old, man.

Richardson’s book Pamela, an earlier work, had a similar theme, except that the dirty man was young and handsome, and eventually “reformed.”  In this one, the man was young and handsome, but did not reform.

The book was far more intense and intricate than the movie could possibly have depicted, with a remarkable understanding of psychology and the thoughts/motives of each character.

I laughed when Clarissa’s coffin arrived and she had it dragged up the stairs to her room.  She shocked everyone in the hotel, who said, how could she bring her coffin into her room?

She said, how could they be so surprised, since it was just a box to hold her earthly body?  She expected to die and go to Heaven, where everything would be beautiful and peaceful.

Two songs became associated in my mind with Clarissa.  The first was “Unchain” by Whiteheart, on a CD I got for Christmas.

I listened to it over and over during Christmas Break, and the beautiful melody seemed to fit somehow as I read.  Maybe it was the plea for God to “release my soul” and to “unchain.”  After all, Clarissa kept pleading for Lovelace to release her, and no longer keep her a prisoner in the brothel where he had taken her.

The second song was “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran, a song which came out over Christmas Break and was played over and over as I listened to the radio while reading.  I also taped it.

The melancholy music and lyrics fit Clarissa well.  The song may have been about a breakup, but Clarissa’s sadness was due to the rape, betrayal and abuse from someone who said he loved her.  When she died, all the pathos made my eyes mist and my nose tickle.

I drew pictures of the characters, to help me visualize them and their period clothing, since characters are often a blur of emotion and action as I read.  They rarely take on a concrete appearance unless I can look at a picture.  This may be because of NVLD.

I based the first picture of Clarissa on a plate in the “Fashion and Clothing” article from our 1960s Collier’s encyclopedias.  This was my masterpiece.

I somehow got her hair color mixed up: I thought she was a brunette and her friend Anna a blonde, though it was the other way around.

But Clarissa’s features–based on beautiful British actresses I’d seen over the years–were lovely enough to fit her description.  I tried to draw Lovelace, but I preferred the one in the movie, Sean Bean.  I’ve never been good at drawing men.

I admired Clarissa, the paragon of virtue, and the ending brought me close to tears.  I admired her as my ideal.

Maybe I connected with her on a subconscious level, since I knew what it was like to be lied to, lied about, and emotionally abused by men, though I did not yet know just how bad it could get (Phil, a year and a half later).

I had no clue why this happened.  I suppose the natural gullibility caused by NVLD, and the ostracism I’d often experienced throughout my schooling for no reason I could see, made me an easy target.

Boyfriends were never easy to find, especially when my faith said they had to be Christians–and even the Christians could be jerks.  I wanted to stop the abuse, but had no idea how.

Here are two of my best “Clarissa” pictures.  The bottom one was drawn in 1997.  When I showed the first one to my friend in South Bend, she grabbed it with an “Ooh!”:

Clarissa
Clarissa2

What a City This Is….

…Where you can be walking along, minding your own business, and suddenly a complete stranger offers you a ride.

No, it’s not a creepy abductor offering candy to kids, but a middle-aged lady offering a ride to another almost-middle-aged lady.  I was almost to my destination, and if I’d wanted a ride, Hubby is home all week and had offered to give me one.

But no, walking or biking to the gym is part of my workout.  The sidewalks suck–all covered in ice which is barely tended to, and outlets to the street being covered in icy snow hills.

But if I’m going to walk to the gym every day, I’m going to have to get used to this, not get lazy by letting my hubby drive me during his week off.  It also keeps me limber as I climb over the snow hills to cross the street.  I don’t want to be the one so infirm, through age or disability, that I can’t handle a snow hill.

This–being offered a ride–happens to me on occasion.  Sometimes I know the person, sometimes it’s a complete stranger.  And most often, it’s while I’m working out, ie walking for my health.  Because, gee, to steal from Jane Austen, somebody not in a car must be in need of a ride.

Once in a while, it’s on the way to/from picking up my son at school on a really cold day.  But the only time I took one, it was 4 below, my son was in Kindergarten, and our usual ride was on vacation in Florida.

No, they don’t send us a bus because we’re under two miles (yes, two miles for Kindergarten!!!), and I don’t have a car.  Don’t want a car, either.  We can’t afford two cars, I’m the kind of driver who should stay off the street (see Fear of Driving & NVLD), and our nation of driving for everything just keeps getting fatter.

No, I wanted my son to be what I was: a walker, used to walking to school every day, spring or winter, not dependent on parents to drive him to/from school every day.  And oftentimes, it’s safer to walk: in fog, or during snowfall, when driving is treacherous but walking is fairly easy.

Heck, I see middle school kids getting dropped off and picked up!  Aren’t they old enough to handle even two miles by themselves by that age?  If they’re more than two miles away or have to cross treacherous streets, they’ll be bussed, so why are middle school kids getting driven to school?

In my day, very few kids got driven to school, unless you were bussed.  I walked to school by myself in Kindergarten many times, according to my parents.  And my hometown had a lot more snow in winter than they do even around here.  Only pouring rain or a dentist appointment got me a ride to school or the bus stop.

I’m convinced that my habit of walking everywhere I can–to work back before I became a stay-at-home mother, to the hair salon, to the gym, to take my son to school before he got big and savvy enough to walk by himself–is why I’m in such good health.

That it’s the reason why I stopped getting so many colds from co-workers.  (It doesn’t protect me from my little boy’s sicknesses, but it does seem to help me catch less of them and get less sick.)

Despite all the stress I’ve been under the past several years, and a family history of bad health, I still do not have high blood pressure, any form of diabetes, or a thyroid disorder.

And despite family history and where I live (where the food is awesome and decadent), I’m still well under 200 pounds.  (Though a creeping-up scale forced me to start going to the gym, with its weight machines, and not just bicycle/walk every day.)

 

%d bloggers like this: