Reblog: “Dealing with Abuser”–and how it brings up memories

I just read the post Dealing with the Abuser by Pastor Jeff Crippen.  Lots in here reminds me both of my ex Phil, and of the ex-“friends” Richard and Tracy, especially Tracy.  It’s validation yet again, helping to reassure me that I was correct, that it wasn’t my fault, that I didn’t deserve it.  I’ll point out the parts which especially jumped out to me and why:

“This is a vital lesson to learn then in respect to dealing with an abusive person.  Such a person, like Sanballat, has only one pursue – to destroy, to discourage, to instill fear, to mock and rob his victim of any sense of self-worth and confidence.  Sanballat wants to control, to own, to exercise power, to be as God to his victims.  Therefore, it is not wise to enter into mediation with an abuser.  It is not wise to enter into couples’ counseling with an abuser.  Communication problems are NOT the problem.  The abusive person’s mentality is the problem, and it is his problem alone.”

“Like Nehemiah in his dealings with Sanballat, the Christian is NOT bound to meet with an abusive person. We are NOT obligated to maintain an abusive relationship, thereby permitting the abuser to continue in his power and control and abuse. …

“Mediation, communication, reconciliation and peace-making requires goodwill from both parties. But as we have seen, the abuser has no goodwill – he is malevolent toward his victims. He will only use such sessions to exercise more of his abuse, to work more of his deceptions, and to make it appear to the foolish that he is the one who truly wants to set things ‘right.’ Beware of Sanballat!”

…See it? We have already studied and learned about the abusive man’s tactic of making allies. That is, of deceiving people like relatives and friends of his victim into thinking that the VICTIM is really the problem. That the victim is crazy, or that it is the victim who is being unreasonable in not being willing to come to the negotiation table.  That is what had happened in Nehemiah’s people.  The enemy had cultivated allies from among Nehemiah’s own people!

While the paragraph specifically says couples’ counseling, the larger context is not an abusive marriage, but a man reviling Nehemiah (for wanting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem) and bringing in flying monkeys to help with the abuse.

Both Phil and Richard/Tracy had flying monkeys–the friend they sent to “friend” me on Facebook so they could spy on me, who then posted a scathing “profile” description, which ripped on the false and defamatory image that Richard and Tracy had given her of me.

Then there was Richard’s friend, who heard–from Richard, not me–what had happened, so he came in to try to get me to reconsider ending the friendship–and he had a false view of what was going on, as well.

Then there was Phil, who made his busy-body friend think that I was the abuser and he was the innocent victim.  The busy-body then came to me and gave me a long lecture on how horrible I was and how I needed to change to get Phil back.

This also reinforces that my husband and I were absolutely correct in refusing to have a “conference” with Tracy, that no good whatsoever could possibly have come from it–as evidenced by her further abuse when we refused.  Heck, my priest also said that no good would have come from it.

Instead, as the quoted blog post proves, it would have been about Tracy refusing to listen to anything I had to say, and continuing to abuse and abuse and defame my character until she felt spent, while telling other people how horrible I was as well.  This is how she behaved with me and with others, such as mutual friend Todd.

Then in the post we have the story of a woman who entered a passionate marriage–only to see, over time, his true colors.  I’ve noted that the literature usually says that people end up in relationships like their parents’, but my parents were not abusive.  This woman, too, did not grow up in an abusive relationship, defying the usual portrait of an abused woman.  Rather, this man took advantage of her giving nature, and twisted her brain around so much that she no longer knew what was right.

When she objected to his physical abuse, and said she’d leave if it happened again, he somehow managed to turn *her* into a horrible person, guilting her.

After that evening, he did abstain from hitting me; the physical violence in our relationship was limited to him shoving, grabbing, and pinning me up against the wall with his arm across my throat. He ratcheted up emotional abuse. At that time I didn’t recognize the red flags. I believed abuse only involved hitting and punching: now I know that abuse can be verbal and psychological.

He used constant criticism and name- calling, telling me that I was a stupid, worthless woman who couldn’t do anything right, repeatedly. Over time, the Stockholm Syndrome (ie, Traumatic Bonding – being bound to one’ s abuser when the abuser alternates abuse and ‘kindness’) – set in.

Through humiliation and ridicule my partner taught me that to express my own feelings and needs was selfish. He made it clear that it was not safe for me to disagree with him.

If I said I wanted or needed something, he would withhold it. He was generous with other things, but not with what I wanted most – he deliberately withheld his love and acceptance.

My ex Phil also withheld the things I wanted and needed, making me feel like a shrew and a nag for them.  He made it very clear over time that I was not to object to anything he wanted, no matter how distasteful or painful it was, and that I was not to disagree with him.  Meanwhile, I was not to ask for anything.  He ultimately left me for not following these rules, then brought in his flying monkey, manipulating him into thinking everything I did and everything I said about Phil’s behavior was abusive and wrong.

Those who know my story often ask why I stayed. First, I stayed because I truly loved him. Then, because I had sympathy for him; I knew he had pain in his life, and I wanted to save him. [WRONG motives, as Hunter now realizes].

Then in the blog post, it finally all came to a head with witnesses, at a July 4 party.  The abused wife hesitated when her husband said it was time to leave, so he threw a violent tantrum, which led the witnesses to intervene.  And that’s when she left him.

He called me from the gas station a block away. ‘Are you coming with me?’ he demanded to know.

‘No.’

‘If you don’t come with me now, you can never come back.’

This reminds me of Phil, a time when he was so obnoxious at a party that the other partygoers got upset, but he just didn’t stop.   All evening, people kept saying, “Shut up, Phil.”  I was mortified at his behavior, and how he disregarded everyone else’s feelings.

Finally, he left the suite, and someone closed the door behind him, pretending to have thrown him out.  It was a game, though partly they meant it, being so very annoyed by him.  They thought he’d come back in a few minutes.

Instead, we got a phone call.  Mike answered and tried to talk to Phil, but Phil just kept plaintively wailing, “Nyssa.  Nyssa!”  So I had to come to the phone.

I said hello, but for a moment he said nothing.  I tried to get something out of him, but it was harder than pulling a tooth.  Finally he said, “I’m at the phone outside Krueger.  Are you going to come here, or stay there?”

I didn’t want to leave my friends, but didn’t feel I had much of a choice.  He wasn’t coming back to the party, either.  My friend Cindy had long since left the party with some others, and then returned to Roanoke after bowling; she found him there at Krueger.  He said to her,

“She’ll come here, if she knows what’s good for her.”

Whoa, whoa, I had nothing to do with his obnoxious behavior or the consequences it brought on him.  I had nothing to do with his leaving, and didn’t want to leave my friends over his own bad behavior.  If I’d known Phil said such a thing, I might never have gone back to Krueger for him.  But I didn’t, so I went, and spent long hours comforting him.  I don’t believe I told him that what he did at the party was okay, because I still thought he’d been obnoxious and annoying.  Mike thought he shouldn’t have made me leave the party like that.

Cindy told me his words a few years later (we were co-workers), and that they left not because of Phil being obnoxious, but because they planned to go bowling at a certain time.  It was a birthday party for Ralph, but he left it early, so we all thought Phil was the reason.  Well, okay, maybe he was partly the reason.

Not only is this blog post by Jeff Crippen validating for me (which is helpful ever so often despite the passing of many years), but it’s also a validating and helpful post for people who are caught up in abusive relationships.  Once again, see here.

My first post on ClassicPress! –and Wisconsin is doomed

1: Okay, first a quick note registering my upset with the Lame Duck Session.  My assemblyman has not responded to my e-mail (unless it got buried somewhere), but my senator did.  He, at least, has a conscience, and didn’t vote for the stripping of powers from our newly-elected governor/attorney general until he was satisfied that it was no longer immoral.

But I’m not, and neither are lots of us who are upset, dismayed, and angry at this outright, audacious power grab by the Wisconsin GOP.  We elected Evers and Kaul to pull this state out of the hell of corruption–which keeps getting worse all the time–where it’s been lying since Walker took office.  But the state legislature wants to ensure we stay down there.

I keep seeing this lately: GOP complains when Democrats are in power, then when one of their people is in charge and really screwing the people over, tells them to “suck it up” and deal with losing.  Then Democrats get in power again, so GOP takes their power away.

Update 12/7/18: My GOP senator put out a statement that he greatly disagreed with the original bills and did what he could behind the scenes–negotiations and such–to amend them until he was satisfied that they did not overreach, that there are still checks and balances and the new governor’s and AG’s powers would not be stripped.  Of course, whether he went far enough is probably going to depend on who you talk to, but I give him kudos for his extraordinary efforts and listening to his constituents.  We will see what happens in the coming months.

2: But enough of that rant.  Wordpress is updating today to 5.0, which means Gutenberg will now be the default.  I’ve been following this for months, all the controversy, but lots of WP users probably have no idea what’s about to happen when they click the “Update” button today.

To learn what the fuss is about, see here and here.  The controversy is so fierce and people are so concerned that the Gutenberg editor will break older sites, that there’s now a page to help people fix their sites.

The thing is, Gutenberg is not only a huge change from the old editor, making it hard to understand for many, and hard to use for many with accessibility concerns, but it’s only the beginning.  Menus and widgets are slated to be next, converted to “blocks” as the backend of the site is moved to heavy use of Javascript.  I’m concerned about that because it seems like every time a plugin moves to Javascript, it gets buggier.  So now my whole admin screen will be Javascript?

Other concerns are that older sites with lots of modifications to fit the old editor, and with lots of posts written in the old editor, are going to break.  Reports are coming in that such posts–though they are put in a “classic block” to preserve them–are having issues, that converting them to Gutenberg causes issues.  And for those of us who write long posts, the Gutenberg block-based editor is hanging up and interrupting the writing flow.

The official word from Wordpress is that you can use the Classic Editor plugin (or Disable Gutenberg plugin) if you don’t want to use this.  BUT it’s only going to be supported for three years, and before those three years are up, the widgets and menus will be re-structured.  So this isn’t really a solution if you don’t want to ever use Gutenberg; it just puts it off for a few years until you’re forced to use it.

Because of the outcry, a Wordpress fork has been developed: ClassicPress.  At first it seemed like a pipe dream, but lately it seems like a truly viable alternative.  And if it doesn’t work for you–important plugins start supporting only Gutenberg and no longer work, some plugin doesn’t like ClassicPress, or whatever–you can always revert back to Wordpress: The migration plugin has been altered so you can do so, or you can use FTP or backups.  (Always back up your files and database before making changes like this.)  I often use FTP to overwrite my core files when something on my site goes buggy, or an update crashes the site.

I’ve been pondering this for several weeks while watching the controversy.  I believe it’s best for Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole to switch to ClassicPress to preserve my thousands of posts and pages, and all the modifications I’ve done over the years.  It’s also mostly a text-based site which could suffer from the Gutenberg changes.

But my author page should be safe in WP 5.0 and Gutenberg.  (I might turn off Gutenberg for the blog, which I can do with Disable Gutenberg.)  It’s only a couple of years old and has few pages, pages which might actually benefit from the things Gutenberg can do.  But for now I’ll have Disable Gutenberg on (I see it’s working), until I have a chance to play with it.

I’m also disgusted by the response to people who complain about Gutenberg or suggest other ways to add it without forcing people to use the new editor.  Countless people are saying it should be an optional plugin, for example.

But they keep hearing: Can’t stop a moving train, this is how Wordpress is going, this is the decision that was made, and–maybe not from the WP CEO, but from others–Gutenberg is superior while you’re all curmudgeons who hate change, only a tiny minority of developers hate this while bloggers love it, etc. etc.

But people have legitimate concerns, and I know bloggers who refuse to use Gutenberg.

If this is how people will now be treated for their concerns, the arrogance has really put me off.  That’s the other reason that I’ve moved Hobbit Hole to ClassicPress.

So far, so good.  ClassicPress is working with my plugins.  We’ll see how it works, then.  The only drawback is it doesn’t appear to be working with PHP 7.3 yet, and I want 7.3!  (PHP is like an engine driving your site; 7.3 is more powerful than what I have now.)

Update 12-8-18: I just learned that Elementor does the same stuff Gutenberg does, but is easier to understand and use.  Meanwhile, turns out you can write a post in the Classic Editor and then add stuff to it in the Elementor editor–You don’t have to choose all one or the other.  Also, editing a page in Gutenberg was spitting out all sorts of PHP errors.  So my Author Page is also now in ClassicPress.  🙂

 

Article on slapping kids upside the head

I came across a Nigerian article on the subject of slapping kids upside the head in punishment, based on research done by Nigerian researchers.  Now, I get the impression that the writer and researchers don’t yet realize that other forms of physical punishment such as an “all-out whipping with a belt or paddle” are just as abusive and damaging as smacking a kid on the head.  So be warned.  But I’m glad to see awareness being raised in other parts of the world about damages that smacking does to the brain.  Some quotes:

Although, such an act may not make the child lose consciousness, medical experts warn that repeated blows to the head may lead to worrying consequences, including increased susceptibility to concussion, long-term cognitive decline and chronic traumatic encephalopathy – a degenerative disease associated with people who have suffered multiple head injuries.

 

Paradoxically, little blows to the head can add up to big risks, even a continuous habit of hitting a child on the head. A growing body of evidence suggests that repetitive head trauma may increase the risk of a variety of progressive brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and the muscle-wasting condition, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, otherwise known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

–From abdussalam’s Knocking a Child on the Head Can Affect Memory, Thinking Abilities

 

 

A couple of notes: Spanking and No, the new girlfriend did NOT change my abusive ex

A couple of quick notes on things that I have seen today while, as usual, sucked into the Web when I’m supposed to be doing other things:

First:

Elizabeth T. Gershoff writes an opinion piece, The era of spanking is finally over, based on the announcement yesterday by the American Academy of Pediatrics that

recommends that adults caring for children use “healthy forms of discipline” — such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits and setting expectations — and not use spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating or shaming.

…”In the 20 years since that policy was first published, there’s been a great deal of additional research, and we’re now much stronger in saying that parents should never hit their child and never use verbal insults that would humiliate or shame the child,” said Dr. Robert Sege, first author of the policy statement and a pediatrician at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

…The statement goes on to describe how several studies have found associations between spanking and aggressive child behavior, depressive symptoms in adolescence and less gray matter in children’s brains, among other outcomes.

Gershoff hopes that the new statement will finally cause massive change in how parents discipline children, and notes changes that have already been made over the years.

She writes,

There are practical reasons to stop spanking. The main one is that it does not work. Some parents may say, “But it does for my child.” A child may cry and stop what she is doing in the moment, but numerous studies involving hundreds of thousands of children show that spanking does not make children better behaved in the long run, and in fact makes their behavior worse.
It is hard for parents to see this in their day-to-day interactions, but the research is clear: We consistently find that the more a child is spanked, the more aggressive he or she will be in the future.
Spanking also teaches children that it is acceptable to use physical force to get what you want. It is thus no surprise that the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to be aggressive or to engage in delinquent behaviors like stealing.
…The majority of us who were spanked by our parents think we “turned out OK.” Perhaps we did. But maybe we were lucky that our parents did other things, like talking with us about what behaviors they wanted to see us do in the future, that helped us develop self-control and make good behavior choices.

Of course, I see so many people say “I was spanked and I turned out okay” that I doubt the change will happen so fast.

It’s especially ludicrous to hear, on one hand, “They don’t let you spank these days and the kids are out of control,” but on the other hand read studies that say MOST parents still spank their kids.  Okay, so it’s more likely the kids who are out of control actually ARE spanked.   I’ve seen this for myself, a family where the kids were spanked and shamed and slapped over the back of their heads, but the kids still were out of control.

And well, I don’t actually see kids being any worse now than they were when I was a child.  Because yes, I still remember how we were.  I think people of my generation and older often have rose-colored glasses of how we acted.  But we were not angels, despite spanking at home and paddles in our principals’ desk drawers.

Just remember, back when harsh discipline was considered normal, what we had in the world: torture, Nazis, employers ordering troops to fire on their own striking Greek employees, burning or hanging people for being witches or heretics, racism, lynching, sexism, slavery, wars, military brutality (such as whipping for infractions), rape, murder, stealing, lying, piracy, etc. etc. etc.

Obviously, spanking children did not stop them from doing horrible things as adults.  These things did not suddenly appear in a world where spanking was banished.  And you can bet that the people performing these acts were spanked or otherwise hit as children.

Filmed in German and released as Das Weisse Band, Eine Deutsche Kindergeschichte, or The White Ribbon: A German Children’s Story, the film deals with a group of children who will become adults around the time of the rise of the Third Reich. This ‘children’s story’ seeks to discover what it was in German children’s background which may have caused them to support and assist the Nazi party when the time came – much the same questions, and conclusions, once offered by the late child psychologist Alice Miller, who drew a controversial connection between harsh child rearing methods and a tendency toward violence and the acceptance of tyranny. –Monica Reid, Twin Fascist Fables: The White Ribbon and The Childhood of a Leader

And also remember, today’s narcissists were probably spanked as children.  I know several of them who certainly were.  Sure didn’t drive the narcissism out of ’em.

Second:

And speaking of narcissists, more news on abusive ex Phil:

To recap, in the summer, I discovered that his own sister temporarily filed a restraining order against him.  I’ve also learned that she and his mother were involved in a lawsuit with him last year, with him as the plaintiff, though the details are not online.

From his Facebook profile, I learned that he was engaged.  His profile has been quiet ever since, and he did not respond to a question from me (simply “how are you”), though  I know he saw it.  But from hers I’ve learned all sorts of things:

She is around the same age as his controlling mother–whom, by the way, she writes that he finally broke free of about a year or two ago.  (Makes me wonder if she was a kind of replacement for his mother.)

She identifies as an empath.  (I don’t know if that’s a real thing or pseudoscience, but narc blogs commonly say that empaths attract narcissists.)  She believes in Christ, but also in various New Age things like astral projection.

(I’ve noted that Phil tends to have girlfriends who believe in New Age: One ex channeled a spirit in the middle of a makeout session.  I believed in Charismatic sign gifts and other psychic phenomena in those days.  Persephone is a Wiccan who’s written spell books, though in those days she told everyone she was Methodist.  Phil showed no sign of believing in such things himself, so I believe he looks for this in girlfriends as a sign of gullibility so they can be manipulated.  He manipulated my psychic beliefs severely, weaving a web of deception that lasted for many months.)

The engagement ended over the summer when she learned that he was diagnosed with Bipolar II and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (though Disorder is more likely, because he’s neither deformed nor retarded).

It was a mutual decision, because he hadn’t been taking his medication so his brain was heavily damaged; and under the influence of the disorder, he had turned manipulative and probably worse.  He has been in and out of a mental hospital on suicide watch for months.

She didn’t want to leave him, but neither did she want to be abused.  She was still supposed to stay in his life and support him–but then he cut her off.

She has been in a terrible state since then, very familiar as I was once there myself.  She has blamed it all on the diagnoses; sounds like there are several, though she only named two.  She has said that the real him wouldn’t hurt a fly, and that the disorder causes the bad behavior.

But there’s been a change recently.  She speaks of being blind, duped, used, of learning truths she didn’t know before he got sick.  (She’s also been posting memes and videos about narcissists.)  She talks as if she was more in love than he was, despite all the flowery words he told her once upon a time.  Flowery words which, by the way, he said to me some 24 years ago.  I can even tell you when, and what we were doing, because it’s in my memoir.  And her, she has a Facebook post which he wrote saying all those things.

I’m sad and hurt for her.  I’m angry at him.  I see it all happening all over again.  I remember my friends telling me what it was like seeing my relationship happen all over again with the girl he ended up legally marrying (1996-2007).

For a time, I thought he would change.  I thought this woman could do it.

I wondered if everything he did could be pinned on the FAS, if the real him was truly not responsible for the abuse, if he was truly Dr. Jekyll while Mr. Hyde was an illness beyond his control–but that could be eradicated by doctors.

I thought that because of the diagnoses and care of the doctors, which none of Phil’s exes ever had (he was diagnosed in 2010), Phil would finally turn away from his abusive behaviors.

But no.  Take this as a lesson to you: They simply don’t change.  They aren’t “different” with the next girlfriend.  She won’t “save” him.

And it isn’t your fault.  The abuse is not your fault.

It’s all his.

This is a lesson I, too, have been learning, trying to take it into my head and abolish all the lingering doubts, put there back when Phil insisted I was to blame for it all.

This knowledge is helping me to heal.  Hopefully it will help her as well.  She’s a sweet person who deserves much better than this.

Also see:

Abusive ex Phil has a new bride

Is this why my ex Phil was so abusive?

So Phil, my abusive ex-husband, is back in the hospital

Abusive Ex: Blame it on him, not mental illness

 

Our church in schism: Russia vs. EP

I’ve waited to write about this as I gathered information on what it means, and as I waited for my priest to get his instructions on how to proceed.

The schism between the Russian Patriarch and the Ecumenical Patriarch is very grave.  While here in the Diaspora, we’re half a world away from this and have nothing to do with it, we still are affected by it.

There are many repercussions in America to being told that Russians can no longer commune or share any other sacraments with those under the Ecumenical Patriarch (EP; includes the Greeks in America).  The following is taken from how my priest explained it, along with my own thoughts:

Here, we are of a minority faith, so the members of all the different Orthodox jurisdictions come together.  Maybe we have Greek churches, Russian churches and the like, but we also have Pan-Orthodox churches and services, such as an annual Vesper service in this region.  And a Russian is welcome to come into a Greek church and commune, and vice versa.  Which is especially necessary because many communities have only one type of Orthodox church for miles around.  I read about churches which have members from all over the place: Russians, Greeks, Serbians, etc. etc.

The schism is not because of dogmatical differences, as my priest says, but because of two hierarchs disagreeing.  It’s the biggest schism since the Big One in 1054.  He sees it as a great tragedy.

The EP, from what I understand, has not broken communion with Russia, though Russia has with him.  My priest says that Russians are welcome in our church, even if they don’t take communion with us.

The trouble is that Russia has said that its members are not allowed to share any sacraments or even services at EP churches.   And ROCOR (Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia) supports the actions of the Russian patriarch and has also separated from the EP.

In my own church is someone from the Crimea who loves our church.  She’s too far from churches of her own jurisdiction to go there often.  A few weeks ago, she could come to our church without any hindrance or feeling like it’s a sin.  Now, she’s being told she can’t.  Not by US–we tell her we want her to keep coming, and Father will also let her keep coming–but by Russia.  And her mother.  Our church members told her this is men arguing, and that what matters is what’s in her heart.

And we’re just one church.  Just the thought of how many people this is going to affect, all the disruptions it will cause in the Diaspora, people who can no longer commune with their own families (ie, Russian married to Greek), people who no longer have a church to go to, breaking of Pan-Orthodox events…. When the split happened, I read on an Orthodox forum about someone who was supposed to be a godfather in a few days.  Now all of a sudden, he couldn’t do it.  Imagine the scramble to find a godparent, and after the parents had already decided they wanted him to do it!  Imagine the honor which was ripped out of his hands.

As one person said last week after the service: And they wonder why church attendance is dropping!

 

Black Forest Dream

I whipped up the following last week for our yearly Writer’s Club Halloween party.  For a couple of days I’ve thought about posting it here, since it got a good response.  Then I heard that another of our writers posted his story.  So that spurred me to get it done.  Here is the story:

 

I lay underneath a pine tree in the Black Forest, asleep.  I had hiked for so long, alone, that I thought a little nap would quickly refresh me for the walk home.

A bit of fiendish laughter woke me up–or so I thought.  All around was so dark that I couldn’t see who it came from. I sat up; something clanked against my chest.  I patted my chest with my hand until I found an amulet of some sort, shaped like a bat.

“What is this?” I cried.  Somebody giggled again, then scurried away, stirring up pine needles.  I got up to continue on my way home.

Was something watching me?  What could be here?  Those were just fairy tales, stories meant to scare children.  There were no ghosts or goblins or witches or fairies in the Black Forest.  Though an animal was a far more likely possibility, so I pushed my legs faster.

Till I tripped.  My backpack pulled me over and my ankle twisted.  I bent over and held onto it, hoping it was just a sprain that would be over with quickly.

What did I trip over?  That dratted giggling again!

“Show yourself!”

A mist, even darker than the blackness, swirled around the treetops, falling down ever faster toward me.  It leaped off the trunk right over my head, and landed on the ground in front of me.

“Let me help you with that,” it said.  “You are the one chosen by my goblin slave.  Very pretty–good choice!”

The mist dissolved into a black-clad human shape, a man, tall with black hair and slanted, onyx eyes.  He bent down and touched my ankle, which stopped hurting.

“Who are you?” I said.  Goblin king?  Vampire?

“I am–”

I awoke to a moth landing on my nose.  Dang it, right when I was about to find out!  I sighed and dragged myself up off the ground, resigned to finish my hike out of the forest.

Something clanked against my chest.  I looked down and found a bat-shaped amulet.

END

Rapists apologizing–or not

I just read this article by Deborah Copaken.  She’d been raped 30 years ago, but didn’t tell anyone at first.  She then told the intake psychologist at her University Health Services, but was advised not to report it to the police, because of the irreparable damage it would do to her: She wouldn’t be able to live in Paris as she planned, and her sex life would be dredged up and judged during the trial.  She didn’t tell her parents till years later–and did it through a memoir, not to their faces.  Due to the Kavanaugh hearings, she finally got the courage to write to her rapist and confront him.  His response:

And do you know what this man did, less than half an hour later? He called me on the phone and said, “Oh, Deb. Oh my god. I’m so sorry. I had no idea. I’m filled with shame.”

We spoke for a long time, maybe 20 minutes. He had no recollection of raping me, just of the party where we’d met. He’d blacked out that night from excessive drinking and soon thereafter entered Alcoholics Anonymous. But that, he said, was no excuse. The fact that he’d done this to me and that I’d been living with the resulting trauma for 30 years was horrifying to him. He was so sorry, he said. He just kept repeating those words, “I’m so sorry,” over and over.

Suddenly, 30 years of pain and grief fell out of me. I cried. And I cried. And I kept crying for the next several hours, as I prepared for Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday of forgiveness. And then, suddenly, I was cleansed. Reborn. The trauma was gone. All because of a belated apology.

I also know someone who was accused of assault many decades after the fact.  He did not, could not remember ever doing such a thing.  But instead of denying it, he apologized anyway.

Contrast this to how Kavanaugh reacted to being accused, even though many witnesses have confirmed that he used to get blackout drunk when he was in high school/college.  Can’t he even consider that he might have done it and just doesn’t remember any of it?  Why can’t he apologize when others have done so for sexual crimes they don’t even remember?

I’ve also thought about–with all this going on, and #MeToo–finally confronting Phil and Shawn, all these years later.  But I wonder if it would do any good, because haven’t I already done this, with nothing good coming of it?

They were not drunk or on drugs when they did these things; they were fully conscious and remembered later.  But they did not apologize.

While Shawn did do a lot of pushing to get me to do things I was not initially comfortable with because of my upbringing, he didn’t go against my will.  That was not his transgression.  Rather, after all the pushing, I eventually began to want what he wanted to do, so I let him do it.

But then he blamed me for not saying no to him, for letting him do it, and I’d be subjected to HOURS of him scolding me (well into the wee hours of the morning, even 5am) for letting him do it.

I always let him take the lead, because of these scold sessions; I never, ever started things, out of respect for what he’d said the last time.  Yet he still blamed me for the things he did this time.

I never understood why he’d blame me.  I never could figure out how he could live with justifying himself like this by turning around on me what he himself had done.  It was definitely an abusive relationship, full of gaslighting and DARVO.  And like many abuse victims, I was too in love, and too involved in it to recognize it at first.  I finally went to the school counselor to help me break free of him.

But the words of Libby Anne and other bloggers are finally making it clear to me what was going on, how he could blame me for what he himself did:

While conservative evangelicals give lip service to boys and men, too, having an obligation to remain pure until marriage, the burden of saying “no” falls primarily on girls and women. Why was Dr. Ford at a party where there was underage drinking? Why did she go upstairs in a strange house, alone? She put herself in harm’s way—can a guy be blamed for asking what she was clearly offering? Or so the logic may go.

In evangelical circles, boys and men can be more easily forgiven for touching “loose” women than they can for touching godly virgins. In Proverbs, the “wayward woman” leads godly young men to the slaughter. In evangelical circles, girls can easily find themselves painted temptresses, and blamed for their own assaults. —White Evangelical Forgiveness Narratives, Brett Kavanaugh, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

Then there’s Phil.  Years later, I see his ex-fiancée posting on Facebook about how wonderful he is–so gentle, so sweet, wouldn’t hurt a fly–except there’s a “Bipolar Phil,” a guy with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, who takes over.  Yet I remember this episode, where I clearly said that what he did was rape, so he’s already been confronted:

But one night, what a horror!  In the middle of things he said, “Give me your backside.”

I kept saying, “No, not that way!” but he kept pressuring.

Before we finished, while still on top of me, he withdrew and moved down to my anus, not actually in but trying to get in.

I pleaded with him to move.

I clearly said no, and I also struggled, trying to push him away.

But he didn’t listen and didn’t move, and he ejaculated like that.  It got all over, and I got mad at him for not respecting my wishes.

At one point, as he sat hunched over on the side of the bed in the darkness, I said that rape could be grounds for divorce.

He said in a trembling, petulant, upset voice, “So are you going to divorce me now?”

I said no, but our reconciliation was probably painful.  It felt like a rape.  I still think of it as one.  He did to me sexually what I didn’t want him to do, despite my pleas.  The trouble is, in a situation like this, how would you even prove it in court?

….

[O]ral sex…was another point of contention: It was gross, no matter who did it to whom.  I didn’t want him to kiss me afterwards, but he would whine that none of his other girlfriends said that.

I didn’t want to do it to him, didn’t want to put anything like that in my mouth, did not like the taste, would not do it long enough to get him to ejaculate, because it was absolutely disgusting.

But he kept trying to get me to do it.  (His “subconscious” tried to ease me into it.  More on that later.)  But I got no pleasure from it, was grossed out by the whole thing.

I may have been traumatized by this and the constant coercion: When the cafeteria served okra that fall, I couldn’t eat it, because it was slimy and reminded me of oral sex.

Ever since then, I have never engaged in this disgusting practice again, and have been blessed with a husband who also finds it gross and wants nothing to do with it.

Late summer, during sex, Phil sometimes tried to turn me over to do my backside–with a petulant, angry, stern look on his face, like he wanted to control me and I’d better do what he wanted or else.  I would refuse and resist his hands, and push myself back down.

…In September, he broke off the marriage and spent a couple of weeks psychologically abusing me.  Then he came back to me.  I thought he wanted to be married again, but he just wanted sex and a submissive puppet.

By now, my will was broken, and I was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.

If I didn’t want to do something he wanted to do, it meant I didn’t care like I said I did.

I felt like I was walking on eggshells, and the slightest thing might push him away.  I felt I had to align all my opinions with his, do things exactly as he wanted even though I couldn’t read his mind, or he’d divorce me.

He seemed like a different person.  After he broke up with me, I was a broken, submissive person who was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.  That meant even oral sex:

One day, when he got me alone, before I had a chance to even talk to him, and without a word, he pulled down his pants.

He got a strange, angry, stern look on his face, and pushed my head down–forced, really, since I couldn’t move my head whether I wanted to or not.

I didn’t want to–it was smelly, I didn’t know if he had washed it recently, and I never liked doing this–but I did anyway, because of the unspoken but well-understood threat that he would divorce me if I didn’t. —Described here

This was a man in full possession of his faculties who knew exactly what he was doing.  This was a man who–when I used the word “rape”–became petulant rather than apologetic.

Now I hear about the bipolar Phil, the FAS Phil, and that he’s fighting for his life due to chemical imbalances that have damaged his brain and made him suicidal.  Since I already confronted him years ago, I wonder if it’s even worth bringing it up again.  I feel like maybe I shouldn’t poke the bear and dredge it all up again.  I wonder if he even remembers, given his brain damage.  I wonder if it’s all due to the FAS and bipolar and a couple of other diagnoses–which his fiancée has alluded to, without naming them.  I wonder if bringing it up again would be the last straw that would lead to him killing himself.

So I stay silent.  I think it’s best.  But still, the memories keep getting triggered, thanks to our president and his praising of Kavanaugh, along with the many defenses of Kavanaugh that have been coming from conservatives lately.

But I guess we’re just snowflakes accusing an innocent man.

 

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