50 Shades of Domestic Violence

With all the talk about 50 Shades of Grey, the experience I had with domestic abuse, and the fact that I speak out about it, I figure I would speak my peice on the subject.
No, I have not read the book (I don’t even have the desire to). Yes I did see the movie (a friend took me along, and thank you for taking me, I love girls nights,  but it wasn’t my cup of tea, and here’s why):

I think the first red flag that stood out to me was a scene where Anastasia was at a night club with friends and drunk dials Christian. Sure, that’s something fairly normal when you first meet someone, Should I call him? Should I not call him? Drunk you however, has a loose filter and calls him. It raised the hair on the back of my neck when he went to the bar to find her, punched her male friend who was awkwardly trying to hit on her and then berates her for drinking too much. When she passes out, he takes her to his home, changes her clothes, and puts her in his bed. Without hardly knowing each other.

How would a man in a healthy relationship have handled the situation? He would have chatted with her on the phone for a little bit, made sure she was okay, and then trusted her decision to go out drinking with her friends. IF he had been at the club with her, he would have at least gotten her a cab, or gotten her friends to take her to her own house, and let her sleep it off.

It’s not romantic to stalk someone and tell them what to do. Sure he can talk to her and let her know he thinks she drinks too much and that it would be better for her in many ways if she backed off, and he has the choice if he wants to be in a relationship with someone who drinks as much as she does, or he could move on and find someone who drinks less. It really is that easy.

Similarly when Anastasia goes on vacation to see her mom, and Cristian just crashes her vacation and shows up unannounced. This is not romantic. This is creepy. It is stalker behavior. I would personally like to be in a relationship where I trust my man and I feel that my man trusts me in return. This is what makes a relationship last long term. And besides the fact, sometimes distance and space is a good thing. It’s good to miss each other. It’s good to disconnect with each other so you can connect with yourself and not forget who you are, because who you are is who they fell in love with in the first place.

As far as the sex goes, yes, sex is vital to a healthy relationship, yes, couples should experiment in the bedroom and try new things. Yes, it is good and healthy to build that intimate bond with each other. Talk about sex with your partner. Even have sex when you don’t really want to. It’s okay to have a quickie when you don’t feel up to it, and often times it will make you feel better anyway. And the more you have sex, the more you will want to.

A healthy relationship is NOT one where one person is made less (through their own feelings or through actual physical means) than the other in any way. Anastasia is bound and must do Christian’s bidding, obey him, and if she doesn’t, she is punished. Yes, I know the argument of that being what turns some people on, in a healthy relationship though, I think there is no place for it. Healthy relationships are about lifting the other person up and helping them feel good about themselves. You know that euphoric feeling when you feel good about yourself? What if you were able to extend that euphoria to the bedroom?

In order to stop the cycle of abuse, we need to change the way we think, speak and participate in relationships. I challenge you to expect respect, love and trust in your relationship. You start it by setting the intention, giving those things yourself amd changing what you speak about, think about, participate in amd understand about relationships.

Advertisements

Types of Abuse

Abuse comes in many forms. There are different kinds of abusers who abuse in different ways.

Physical Abuse
Of course, physical abuse is the most well known and talked about. Abuse generally doesn’t start here though, it builds up in small ways until it escalates to physical. Once it gets to this point, there is usually years of more subtle types of abuse that lead up to it.

Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is getting a lot more talk than it used to. Emotional abuse is when the abuser manipulates the person experiencing abuse to feel a certain way in order to get a certain response from her.

Mental Abuse
Abusers will generally do anything to keep the woman in his life. This includes cutting her down verbally and telling her how worthless she is or how no one else would ever want her. The abuser uses this to guarantee his partner will stay with him.

Sexual Abuse
Even in a long term relationship, a healthy sex life involves both partners being willing participants. Sex is intended to build the relationship. When sex is good, it’s a 10% focus in the relationship. When there are sexual problems, sex is 90% of the focus.
You should never be forced to do something you don’t want to do when it comes to sex.

Spiritual Abuse
You should be able to experience the spiritual relationship you choose to pursue. An abuser making you believe one way or another or do one thing or another is not okay. You choose the spiritual path you wish to follow. Sometimes abusers will begin the relationship following the same spiritual path and once the relationship is established they slowly move away from that path and expect you to follow. Or even visa versa. Perhaps your spiritual path begins to change and your abuser does all he can to keep you from that path.

Financial Abuse
Money is a big experience for people right now. We need money for everything. To buy food and water, clothes and shelter, we need money to survive. Often abusers will restrict what his partner is allowed to spend. He won’t let her have a job or if she does, he monitors the money very closely, she is given an ‘allowance’ and spending any money beyond that leads to punishment of some kind.

Isolation
This is a tactic most abusers use. They keep their partner away from family, friends and even co-workers. The abuser will do all he can to keep his partner away from any support system because he knows if she becomes independent that she will most likely leave him.

Ghost
Abusers will do whatever they can to make their partner rely on them. Sometimes this includes ignoring his partner, pretending like she isn’t there or doesn’t exist. This often makes the woman more attentive to her abuser. And once again the abuser gets his way.

Be aware of what’s going on in your relationship. Look for these types of abuse.

Questions

Have you ever been a people pleaser? You know, done or said something not because you want to, but because you know it will make another person happy or fulfilled even if it is highly inconvenient for you?

I was a huge people pleaser growing up. I thought it was the right thing to do, and I took the responsibility upon myself to make sure everyone else around me was happy and cared for. Oh, how wrong I was. And while I have improved, I still struggle with this desire today.

When people hear my story, they ask many different questions, and I am open to these questions. I understand people are curious, and even if the questions can be personal or intrusive, I welcome them.

Here are a few questions and answers:

“Couldn’t you have just tried a little harder?”

No. I did my best. I know that God (or whoever your higher power is) will not suffer that one if his children (or creations) be subjected to such abuse. If you don’t believe in a Higher Power, know that I don’t believe anyone should be subjected to abuse at the hands of anyone else, (and I suggest you get a Higher Power, they are free). I do know the people who ask, have no idea what my marriage was really like, otherwise the thought would not even cross their mind. I did my best (as most victims do) to hide the truth and the suffering, sometimes all too well.

“How could you ever let someone abuse you like that? I would never allow that to happen to me.”

This one is a hard one. When I hear this, I feel emotion rise up within my chest. Fact is, you don’t know how you would respond to any situation, unless you have been through it. You have no idea the fear that is being experienced.

To help you understand more clearly, imagine you are standing on firm and solid soil, you feel comforted and safe. Now imagine someone you love, know, and trust, takes a shovel and begins to shovel a circle around you (like a mote around a castle). As they continue to dig and the circular hole around you gets deeper, a strange thing happens, the piece of soil you are standing on begins to shrink in diameter and to sink, very slowly. At first, you don’t even realize it, however, as time goes on and one shovel full after another is tossed out, you begin to realize you are sinking. At this point you bring it to attention of the person doing the shoveling, they stop and let things settle, they placate you and tell you everything will be fine, and not to worry, they apologize or give you gifts or what ever it takes to keep you on that piece of soil. You know this person, you love this person, you want to trust this person, and trust your own choice in trusting this person, so you do. Soon the shoveling starts again, and you begin sinking again, slowly at first and then more rapidly. And again you are placated and assured. This continues to go on for quite sometime until you are deep enough to realize you don’t want to be in this hole, you don’t like it here. It is at this point, you begin to look for a way out. Quietly and only when the shovel-er is not looking, (for if they do catch you, they will simply shovel away even faster and make you sink even lower, pouring the shovel fulls of dirt over top your head), you begin to place soil beneath your feet and to climb out. It is a frightening and dangerous game to play, and it is often only through the grace of God and by others help you are finally able to build the soil up enough to get out of the hole. After you are out, the hole is still there, and it takes time and help to fully fill it back in so you can walk on that ground again without fear.

“Were you married in the temple?”

Yes we were. Mormons believe when we are married in the temple we will still be married to each other in heaven after we die here on earth (an eternal marriage). Because of that belief we encourage most couples to work together through hard times and not turn to divorce for the answer when problems arise in a marriage. In fact out the 30 married couples that are made up of my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins on both sides of my family, there are only 3 (of which I am one) who have gotten a divorce.
I think this is purely a curiosity question, and sometimes people tend to think simply because we are married in the temple, we are immune to such difficulties and problems. However, when we are married in the temple, we have to work just as hard to have and maintain a healthy relationship, family and marriage as any other couple out there. A happy, healthy marriage is a lot of hard work, and it does take both partners. The location where the marriage occurred does not change those facts, I believe it is what we do and how we act in the marriage itself that guarantees the gift of eternal marriage that is promised within the walls of our temples.

I also often get asked, “Did you see any red flags while you were dating?”

The answer is yes and no.

I was 19 when I met my husband and 20 when I married him. I did not just walk into my marriage blindly. I had graduated from high school at age 17 at age 19 I had all my credits but one for my associates degree, I was debt free and enrolled in college my tuition being paid for by a marching band scholarship and grants. I had lived in 7 states (two of them on my own after graduating high school).

Due to being in marching band, choir, drama, yearbook and a few clubs between high school and college I had traveled much, seen much, and participated in much. I felt ready for that next step in life knowing I could continue working full time and attending college full time as a married woman.

I was still a very trusting and naive girl. I had never had a boyfriend until this point in my life. I was so busy doing other things, and was never asked out in high school.

I had never met a person like my husband before. I did not know people like him existed in the world, or at least in my part of the world, so I didn’t see his actions for what they were. I’ll admit there were a couple of times I felt uneasy around him, and I couldn’t put a finger on it, so I just let it slide.
There were three instances that stand out to me now as red flags, I did not see at the time.

First, We had gone to A&W for lunch one day. I was stuffed and he had a few chicken nuggets left over. He offered one to me, and I declined. He then force fed the chicken nugget to me! With the nugget pressed to my closed lips and other people in the restaurant who I felt were staring at us, but in reality most likely didn’t even notice, I felt the pressure to eat the chicken nugget. Huh, I thought as I chewed, weird.

Second, We were at his parents house. He and his dad were having some sort of argument in the basement. Things were getting heated, I did not know what to do or where to go. I just stood there and watched. I had never seen such displays of anger. Right out of the blue, his father lost control, and slugged my then boyfriend in the arm, and he just stood still and took it. I had the impression this kind of treatment was not unheard of in their home.

Third. We had been arguing about something, you know, one of those silly arguments you have when dating someone. We were in his car and had pulled over in the subdivision to have this argument. I was so angry at him I decided I did not want to be in the car with him any longer. I got out and began walking the three miles toward my home in the dark, cold autumn night. He flipped his car around, drove up beside me, got out of his car and without a word, physically forced me back into his car. I thought to myself as the adrenaline began to subside from my veins He’s just worried about me, he just wants to make sure I make it home safe and sound, that’s all that was. There goes the people pleaser in me, making up excuses for him.

If your looking for tips on what red flags to look for, my best answer is this: pay attention to how he treats and speaks of and to his: mom, dad, siblings, other children, co-workers (especially those under him in the business pyramid), and animals. When we were dating, my ex admitted to me his mom was afraid of him, and I noticed their family dog always barked ferociously and fled when my ex walked in the room. His excuse? (He always had one). His mom and he just didn’t get along because she refused to get along with him, and the dog was adopted into their family after being in an abusive home and associated my ex with his abuser. If only I had been able to see how he would treat the dogs we ended up owning shortly after our marriage, that alone would have caused me to easily change my mind about marrying him.

One last tip off to me? When he play wrestled with his pre school aged nephews, and they pleaded for him to let go, or to stop, he refused to oblige unless it was under his terms, even when his siblings, myself, and his parents appealed with him to stop. He would then slacken his grip rather than let go completely, and tell the child to wiggle their way out of his arms.

And secondly, trust your feelings and instincts! We are given them as gifts, and if we heed them, we will be better off for it. A great book recommended to me by my FBI trained uncle is The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. It teaches how to learn the difference between true fear and unwarranted fear. I am just beginning to read it myself, and excited for the insight I will gain (I am always learning and reading something). Let’s read it together and see what we learn!

20121028-142326.jpg