physical abuse

The Dangers of Leaving an Abuser: the Milwaukee Shooting

Abuse victims are often afraid to leave their abusers because of the threat of escalated violence if they do.  The following story, of the Sunday shooting in Milwaukee, illustrates this point:

A Wisconsin woman whose husband killed her and two others at the spa where she worked said he threatened to throw acid in her face and jealously terrorized her “every waking moment,” according to court documents.

Authorities say Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, killed three women, including his 42-year-old wife, Zina Haughton, and wounded four others Sunday before turning the gun on himself.

The Waukesha County medical examiner’s office on Monday identified the dead as Zina Haughton; Cary L. Robuck, 35, of Racine; and Maelyn M. Lind, 38, of Oconomowoc. All were found in the spa.

In a written request for a restraining order filed Oct. 8, Zina Haughton said her husband was convinced she was cheating on him and that aside from the acid threat he also vowed to burn her and her family with gas. He said he would kill her if she ever left him or called the police, according to the court papers obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

“His threats terrorize my every waking moment,” she wrote.  —Wisconsin man illegally bought gun day before spa shooting

His wife did the right thing in trying to leave him.  However, this is when domestic abusers often become the most dangerous, and restraining orders–as in the story above–become nothing more than a piece of paper.  My page on abuse is full of links to websites to help abuse victims.

The Pain of Being In/Watching Destructive Marriages, Domestic Violence and Stockholm Syndrome

I’ve seen far too much of the evil of the world:

An old middle school classmate and his wife have been married maybe a year and a half, but ever since they got married, their drama has been playing out on my Facebook news feed.

There’s abuse, cheating, all sorts of nasty stuff going on; somebody leaves, their Facebook walls are full of complaints, they get back together and they’re all lovey-dovey posting cutesy things that I really don’t care to read (too much like being a voyeur, and I’ve never felt comfortable with other people’s PDAs).

It’s probably driving everybody crazy who reads their posts.  [Update: It’s been less than two years since I posted this–and they’re divorced, have been for a little while now.  So at least that drama is over with.]

Today, the wife posted this song by Rihanna, “Love the Way You Lie (Part 2).”  I don’t know this song, not having listened to pop music for about 10 years now.  But the lyrics are full of Stockholm Syndrome; read them at RIHANNA – LOVE THE WAY YOU LIE PART II LYRICS.

Video:

I tracked down Part 1 as well:

Lyrics are at Eminem-lyrics-love-the-way-you-lie-feat-rihanna.

I was once in an emotionally abusive relationship (Phil) that had the elements of physical violence being very likely in the future.  My friends and family all grew to hate him, but I didn’t know why.

Yet I kept trying to hold it together, even debased myself by begging him to come back when he–disgusted with my refusal to just sit back and take his abuse without protest–left me.

When he came back again two weeks later, it was to a broken, submissive person who was desperate to do whatever he wanted, just to keep him from leaving again.  But I did one thing wrong in his eyes, and off he went again.

It lasted nine months, but the baggage lasted for years.

One of my cousins is in a physically abusive marriage.

My friend Catherine married a guy who, with his controlling ways and desire for a subservient wife, reminded me of Phil, but she divorced him.

Another friend married her college sweetheart, but he began doing drugs, began cheating, they got divorced, and she discovered bruises on their son (from the guy’s new girlfriend).

I saw firsthand an abusive relationship (Richard and Tracy) because it was in my house, saw her slap his arm in anger, saw her control and intimidate him, saw her decide who his friends could be, heard her scream at the kids all day long, heard her pick fights, pick on him with put-downs disguised as jokes, order him around and accuse him of things, then heard from him after they moved out that she was punching him at home and spanking the kids too hard.

He told me he put the children in the closet once and may have to do it again.  He told me that if his wife hit his face, he’d hit her back.  I saw her slap a tiny toddler hard in the back of the head.  I saw her go nuts on two of the kids one day, with no clue what they’d done wrong.

The things I heard and the things I saw made me fear that one day, I would hear about them on the 6:00 news, unless I reported them to Social Services (only to find that Richard had already been charged with child abuse before I reported).

But he kept telling me these things were happening, then denying the truth of it when I told him I saw it, too.  He kept excusing her abusive actions, not just to him but to his friends, because her abuse was not just contained at home.

Then I heard that he himself was an abuser, had choked one of his kids to unconsciousness (a few seconds more would mean death), had once beaten the same child mercilessly when she was little.

But he’s so entrenched in Stockholm Syndrome that not only does he stay, but he lets her abuse his friends, and blames the friends for it, as her abuser-by-proxy.

Both are now stalking me for trying to get the story out–of what she did to him and what she did to me–to try to get the abuse to stop, accusing me of defamation, even though I am telling the truth, am using fake names online, and I have in my possession an e-mail and record of a phone conversation which prove I’m telling the truth.

(I held onto them just in case Richard would need an ally in court.)

My other proofs are listed in Now I’m Being Stalked, which also includes the narcissistic and DARVO e-mail they sent me a few months ago.

They’ve traumatized me severely, so severely I had to take to blogging to deal with it, and are now re-traumatizing me, on purpose!  The lengths an abused person can go to, to defend their abuser, is just mind-boggling.

And this when all I wanted was to be there for Richard, to help him see the truth of what was going on.  But who knows, maybe one day he will finally come out of the FOG (Fear, Obligation, Guilt) and come to us.

Another friend told me his wife was abusing him, trying to keep him from seeing his best friend (who happened to be Richard), would slap his kid on the back of the head, and he would leave, but he kept going back to her.

Now I advocate online through my blog and website, and on Facebook as well, to spread awareness of abuse, to let people know that women also abuse, to provide links to help for people in these situations.

The above song is especially painful because it’s full of Stockholm Syndrome, keeping the persona in a relationship with someone she knows is bad for her, because she’s addicted to him and the drama.

It’s painful not just to be in this, but to watch it, the shock waves extending not just to the couple, but to children, family and friends.

Abuse Tears Families Apart: A Sister Mourns the Loss of Her Brother

 

What if The Abusers Changed?

A question which can come up any time you deal with an abuser, is, what if they change?

What if, through the court’s forcing them to cooperate with Social Services, Richard and Tracy turn their lives around?

What if they get education, get skills, get steady jobs, and that stressor is removed?

What if they go through counseling which eliminates the child and spousal abuse?

What if Richard decides not to be narcissistic anymore?

What if Tracy gets a diagnosis and treatment for whatever is causing her behavior?

That is a good question.  I’m not sure what my answer would be.  But unless someone who knows them tells me of these changes, or unless they come to me and demonstrate these changes, I have no way of knowing if they’ve happened, or if they’re for real.

Narcissists/Abusers are often able to pretend to have changed so they can suck the abused back in again.  And Richard told me things like, he was violent in his past but turned away from that, and he abused the kids once or twice in the past but doesn’t do that anymore–only to demonstrate that to be a lie.

Not only did his violence in other ways begin to show itself here and there over time, in comments he would make about his feelings toward violence, but he nearly killed one of his children, a few years after he told me that he had turned away from past child abuse.

So would I even be able to trust him if he came to me and said that he’s turned away from violence and abuse?

If they did come to me and beg forgiveness for the things they did to me and for how Richard threatened and intimidated my husband, I would probably want to grant them that forgiveness.

But to trust them? to let them back into my life?  That would take long, hard thought before doing it, and even if I allowed it, it would take a long time to trust either one of them.

Richard would no longer be my “bestie” because that trust in my best friend had been sorely betrayed and broken.  Not only will he have been on probation with the state, but he would now be on probation with me.

And I even find their politics disgusting, now that the true nature of their political parties has come more to light, and I know Richard and Tracy to be rabidly partisan to the point where they insult the intelligence of people who disagree.

Would I really be able to let them back in again and hear them say things about politics that I find repugnant because of the way their parties treat the poor and elderly, and deny reality?

If they supposedly “change” but do not come to me asking forgiveness, then I will have no basis on which to put a belief in their changing at all.

If they “change” but continue to think I’m at fault for Tracy’s abuse and bullying of me–

–that I need to be the one to go to them–

–that Tracy can rage with filthy and belittling comments and accusations, yet I’m supposed to believe Richard when he says I did worse (just by being a quiet person and scared of her) and that Tracy is “not a monster”–

–then that will be incontrovertible proof that they have not changed at all–

–just pushed the abuse down deep where they can fool social workers and probation officers and friends that they have changed.

I know from the newspaper that Tracy has been inducted into an honor society at a local college, so that means she’s getting an education which would help her get stable, better-paying employment.

So if Richard and Tracy do get stable employment and start being nicer to their kids and each other, then hey, that’s cool for them.  Maybe those kids will finally have a chance at a better life.

But if they never demonstrate to me that any change has happened, then all I have to go on is how they treated me in the past, how they abused each other in the past, and I will have no proof that they have truly changed at all.

I tried making peace with them before, only to find that their version of “peace” was for me to allow them to continue bullying and abusing me, without letting me have a voice or opinion of my own.

I can’t go by some fantasy fairy land dream; all I can go by is what I know from my own experience.  And that means that all the world can tell me they’ve changed, but I cannot, should not, must not believe it without it being proved to me.

Otherwise, I’ll just set myself up for disappointment, and probably more abuse and bullying in future.  And the first step for them to prove it to me, is to come to my husband and me and apologize for the bullying and abuse of me, and threatening and intimidating of my husband.

Here’s a blog post on this subject, just posted today, called Learning about predators from nature: leopards do not change their spots.  Shrink4Men’s blog was timely, not just because I posted this blog before I saw that one, but because I’ve been doing it again–missing Richard and wondering if he and Tracy are not really so bad as all that.  I have to keep reminding myself of the truth, lest I forget.

My trouble is, I’m way too freaking gullible.  I knew about Richard’s past–violence, dog with women, fooling a whole congregation as a preacher by faking speaking in tongues–but I believed he had changed.

I believe the lies of predators far too easily, and sometimes the lies are some real howlers.

I have to stay strong and remember that I know what Richard and Tracy are really like, even if their friends think they’re awesome.

I have to remember how pleasant and peaceful it’s been without that nasty Tracy in my life.

 

Fighting the Darkness: Can I Trust Social Services and the Courts?

On March 21, 2012, I saw a photo published by the local newspaper of a local political event held the day before.

In this photo were two of Richard and Tracy’s kids: the 3rd child and the oldest, the one who had been choked.  The poor girl, the oldest is wearing a sling.

In the photos, I saw no evidence of the other two kids, or of Richard.  I thought I saw Tracy in one photo, but the picture was not close enough to be sure, and others showed only the back of the person who might be her.

I knew from ads for this event, run in the newspaper a few days before, that if the kids were there, Tracy would be there, but Richard would not because you had to be a member of that party, and they’re of two different parties.

Tracy and Richard are both very active in local politics, so they and/or their kids show up in the local newspaper’s photos from time to time.

Heck, I even saw a picture of the eldest child, in the middle of 2011, on the front page of the “Life” section of the Sunday paper; she was holding a tuba or some other kind of instrument, to demonstrate a local program that helps poor kids get musical instruments.

Another evening in 2011, I read on the newspaper website about an accident that had just happened on Johnson St., and could swear that was Tracy as a witness standing around in one of the photos.  (Unfortunately, the story and its photos were soon removed for some reason, so I didn’t have a chance to confirm it with Jeff.)

Then right after the state primary in 2012, the local paper posted a picture on its Facebook wall (people waiting for election returns) with one person who looked (from the back) like she was probably Tracy; because I “liked” the newspaper, that photo showed up in my news feed.

So as much as I might want to just block Richard and Tracy from my mind and never think of them again, I still see pictures of them in the paper, still see them occasionally at church, was face-to-face with Richard for a moment at Greekfest in 2011, and Jeff sees them (and gives them the cold shoulder) at the grocery store now and then.

And now that our city has changed around polling places, there’s a good chance we’ll run into them while voting one of these days.

So unfortunately, it’s impossible to just forget about them, at least until I hear that they’ve moved to some other city or even some other state.

Considering how often they moved around from city to city and state to state just in the four years they’d been married before they moved here, and that they’ve moved three times just since they moved out of our house 4 years ago, it is indeed possible that they’ll move away at some point after Richard gets off probation.

I can only hope so, unless they find it in their hearts to stop being jerks who have to have their way or no way, act like adults who want to actually resolve the issue instead of like children throwing tantrums and yelling and cussing, and come to us with apologies and repentance.

So it is good to see that, at least, Richard was not being left alone with all four children.

Since he only had two kids with him when he came to my church shortly after he was put on probation, there’s probably some rule about this, but for some reason, it’s not on the state’s court records website.

(Other cases on the website have notes about terms of probation, so I’m not sure why his does not.  All I can do is guess, which means I also can’t help the probation officer by reporting Richard if I see him violate the terms.)

But it’s discouraging to see that they apparently still have custody of the eldest.  Is that even safe?  Can I trust Social Services and the courts to do their jobs keeping her safe?

I’ve already done all I could possibly do for those children by reporting everything I knew and had witnessed, to Social Services.

I’ve already done all I could possibly do to help keep Richard from killing Tracy one of these days if she ever hit him in the face, because I also mentioned their own spousal domestic violence, emotional and physical, in hopes that Social Services would help with that as well.

But unfortunately, I don’t feel like I can confidently just let it go and trust that Social Services and the courts will keep those kids safe, or that the domestic violence will cease.

I read the paper every day, and far too many kids, just in our county, slip through the cracks; far too many kids die, or almost die, at the hands of a parent who was already in the system.

Far too many times, I look up somebody on the court records website who’s been in the newspaper for strangling a girlfriend or abusing kids, and find a long rap sheet of child abuse or domestic violence cases.

Currently there’s a case going on in the state capitol of a teenage girl who had been kept in the basement for years, starved and tortured.

CPS had been called many times, her brother was on probation for molesting her, he lived in the house with her, and probation officers visited their house.

Yet she still had been kept in the basement for years, forced to eat her own feces and garbage, until she finally escaped.  The probation officers didn’t even know she was down there!

I wish I could put more faith in the system, but I just can’t.  So I continue to worry about Richard and Tracy’s children, and continue to wonder if one day I’ll hear that Richard has beaten Tracy to death or Tracy has poisoned him (as she often “playfully” threatens to do) or some other horrible thing has happened.

I thought for sure that the natural father of the eldest would petition for full or primary custody, because by law he’s supposed to be kept apprised of things like, the stepfather nearly killing his daughter, or reports to CPS.  Yet there she was, with Tracy.

Richard nearly killed this girl–how can she still be living with him?  This was no spanking too hard, or forgetting to buckle a car seat–he deliberately choked her, nearly killed her!  Why is she still living in his house?  Who made this decision, and how?

And Social Services knows about Tracy’s temper as well, that she smacked a tiny 3-year-old in the back of the head (that 3rd child who was also in the photo), yet there she is with Tracy.

[Smacking a child that small is especially dangerous for the developing brain, basically giving the brain whiplash.]

I’d love to be able to stop worrying about them, to believe that Social Services and the courts will take good care of those kids.  But I can’t.

I keep second-guessing myself about whether or not we should’ve gone through that “conference” Tracy wanted to have.  After all, you’ll read on the Net how you should listen to other people’s concerns, etc. etc.

But Jeff tells me to stop doing that second-guessing, especially after we just had to sit through a conference with our son’s principal over attendance records.  (Apparently our idea of “too sick to go to school” differs from their idea, even though we were following the guidelines in the school handbook.)

Jeff said that conference with the principal demonstrated what it’s like to be confronted by someone who is sure they are in the right and wants to intimidate you and cower you into submission.

He says that it was a walk in the park compared to what Tracy would have done to me, that at least we got a few concessions from the principal and nurse that the handbook needed to be more clearly written.

We certainly wouldn’t have gotten that from Tracy, and as proof, there was her response when Jeff tried to tell her that the rules she wanted me to follow were vague and constantly changing, that there was a lot of doublespeak from Richard (and, though he didn’t mention it, double standards from Tracy and Richard both): “Oh, baloney….A 5-year-old could understand.”

Tracy wouldn’t even meet us halfway, never would meet us halfway, and always insisted on her way or no way, that my opinions and feelings mattered not a bit and made no difference whatsoever.

That’s called steamrolling, and I was sick and tired of her steamrolling me all the time.

She doesn’t know the meaning of compromise; in fact, she belongs to a political party which treats “compromise” as a vice.

When I said I wanted a six-month break, an amicable one, so we could come at things later after we’d cooled down, her response was, “Have a nice life.”

Run, RUN far away from people like this who will not compromise, will not meet you halfway, who insist on their way or no way!

It’s been nearly 6 months since Richard’s probation began, which means that he can now ask to have his probation terminated early, if his probation officer agrees.

If he’s let off, or if he’s not, I hope the court reporter notes why; I’ve seen other cases on the court records website with far more information in the notes than this one has.  I’d love to be reassured

  1. that the probation officer has that girl’s best interests at heart and isn’t being charmed by Richard, and
  2. that Richard is putting an honest effort into changing and eradicating his violent tendencies.

Then, at least, I could relax a little.

Oh, if only I could take those girls to me and press them to my heart and keep them safe.  If only I could stop all the abuse in the world.  A friend tells me I should be a foster parent and/or help with domestic violence, that I have the passion about it to do a lot of good.

Finding out people you love have a dark side

Finding out someone you loved (romantically, or friendship, or family member) is not what you thought they were, brings a unique pain.

First, there were two guys I loved in college.  I thought they were wonderful; as it turned out, one (Peter) was apparently pretending to be more religious than he really was, and the other (Phil) was a manipulative, deceitful abuser.  But they were exes, and it’s expected that exes will let you down and leave your life eventually.

But when it’s a friend or family member….

First, in 2007, I found out that my family had been hiding things from me about my father for my entire life.  He had a whole secret habit that I knew nothing about, that I had always been taught was sinful, but everyone but me knew about it.

Then the same day I found out about it, my mom thought he had left her, and considered divorce.  That turned out to be a misunderstanding, but the secret was out, and I had to deal with discovering that my dad was not what I always thought he was.

Then there was my former best friend Richard.  I just got an e-mail today from a forum we used to go on together to defend Orthodoxy.  I couldn’t stand getting these reminders anymore from a forum we haven’t been on for nearly three years, so I went to try to delete my account.  However, there is no way to do that.

It reminded me of how religious and righteous he always seemed to be, and how the truth was that he’s showing traits of narcissism, that he’s a violent man who did an evil, evil deed, nearly killing his 9-year-old daughter by choking her to unconsciousness.

Then there was finding out what my former boss did.  I thought he was a good person, despite his temper, and I liked him.  But no, he’s so violently abusive that he went to jail for 9 months, drove away the wife he loved, and lost custody of all his children.

I’m still mourning for him and for Richard, as if they had died, because the person I thought I knew, is dead–or never existed.

How do you get past finding out that people you love, are not what you thought they were?  That they’ve been deceiving you, or that they’re actually evil?

And how do you stop wishing they would come to you and apologize for what they’ve done, or prove that they’ve changed so you can be friends again?

I suppose there are many people out there who feel the same pain: former mates of narcissists, abused spouses, people who were mentored by priests who turned out to be molesters.

Can you ever get over it?