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Posts Tagged ‘domestic abuse’

The most important relationship that any girl has with a parent is the one with her father.   As today is Father’s Day, I felt that it was only fitting to discuss the relationship that I had with my own father that formulated the person that I am today.

First of all, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I loved and respected my father very much. But, my father was raised in a very strict environment and that is the home that he created for us.  I was the middle child with an older sister and younger brother.  My brother was only 15 months younger than me so I was never really the baby.  As for my sister, she was the first to experience everything so that it wasn’t as exciting by the time things were handed down to me.  Of course, this included clothing as well as just about anything else that you can think of.

The biggest thing that both my sister and I faced with our father was that he was extremely concerned with our appearance.  For my sister, at a young age (under 10), he put her on an exercise regimen that included sit-ups, etc.   Since that didn’t work for my sister, he decided that he would put me on a diet and if I didn’t lose 10 pounds by summer, I was not going to be allowed to wear shorts.

The other big thing for me was that my father, and later my brother, never felt that I measured up to my potential.  Nothing that I could do was ever good enough.  When I got great grades in school, it was expected, not rewarded as they were for my brother and sister.  When I became a cheerleader, my parents never once came to any game or to any parade in which we marched.  When it was college time, there were three of us in school at the same time so I stayed at home to go to college and worked every day after school from the time that I was 16 so that I could pay for my own education.  My reward was that there was never enough money left for me to get new clothes, etc. after they got those things for my brother and sister and paid for them to go to college out of town.

As a result, when I found a man who was interested in me and gave me attention, I was “grateful”, I guess.  I finally had a male who thought that I was something special.  My dad didn’t seem to think that I was special so I would show him.  And when I got married and my dad told me that I was not welcome in his home if I brought my husband because he did not approve of him, well, that was the final straw.

Although I didn’t experience any abuse from my husband until after we were several months into the marriage, I could not bring myself to let anyone know.  After all, I had once again proven my dad right by not being smart enough to know what I was getting myself into.  It was up to me to either fix it or be smart enough to find my way out of it.  What a mess! 

I never did figure out what was going on at the time that I was in that relationship but I did learn so much about myself.  Although it took until the point where I could not stand the abuse any longer for me to leave, I am so glad that I had the presence of mind to do so.  And the most interesting thing is that it was my mother and father who were there to move me out the day that I left.  How ironic!

I would love your comments.

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I have spent a great portion of my life allowing others to make my decisions for me.  When I was a child, I did everything according to what my parents dictated.  As I grew older, the peer pressure kicked in and off and running I went with the pack.  Then it was in the work place where I acquiesced to all of the rules and regulations of the office.  And at the same time, my social life was governed by all of the usual ways of meeting and getting to know others.  That was until I started to see that all of the tried and true methods of existing with others didn’t work for me.

The first thing that I had decided to tackle was religion.  I had been raised to believe that God was someone/something to fear.  This worked for all of the time that I was under the thumb of my parents and religious studies but once I was on my own, I started to question this premise.  That wasn’t my God – my God loved me and helped me and I was made in his image.  Ding, ding, ding!  So what everyone else had told me was true was not my truth. 

That wasn’t the end by a long shot.  As I moved through the work place, I worked very hard and was able to work my way up through the ranks in a segment of government dealing with taxation.  When I reached the top position that I could attain without a political appointment, I knew that it was time to move on but that did not happen until I learned another very important lesson.  There were rumors going around that said that the only way that I could have achieved what I had was because I was “sleeping” with someone higher executive.  I was having a really hard time dealing with that and I chose to discuss it with my dad.  His response to me was that at the end of the day, I had to answer to myself and if I wasn’t doing anything wrong, then it didn’t really matter what anyone had to say.  Now that was something that fitted with my thinking.

Well, I guess I still hadn’t learned my lesson because the next big event in my life was my marriage to a controlling and abusive man to whom I gave my power for 10 years.  It took me that long to understand that I did not deserve the abuse that I was receiving and that all of the things that I was told that were wrong with me just weren’t true.  I believe that that was my true turning point.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I still do ask for people’s opinions especially when I need to make a decision in an area where I don’t have any expertise.  But, I will take that information and do my own research and if something doesn’t make sense to me or doesn’t feel right, I will not stop until I can reach a decision that feels like the right thing for me.  This has ruffled more than a few feathers along the way but if my relationship with another person has to be based upon what that person thinks about me, it won’t take long until we part ways.

So to anyone who comes my way in this lifetime, I don’t care what you think about me.  I will appreciate you for exactly who and what you are and I expect the same in return.  I will support you in any decisions that you make and I will accept nothing less in return.  And should you choose to talk negatively about me or do things that are harmful to me, I will not do anything in retribution but will quietly remove myself from your sphere, knowing that what goes around comes around and you can set up any karma for yourself that you choose.

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I had an entirely different subject picked out for my musings today but having just completed a number of interactions with some of MySpace “friends”, I have decided to go in a different direction.  I have made a connection with so many wonderful, strong, caring and sharing new people there that I just have to share. 

The last place that I ever expected to meet such a group of people was through a social networking site.  Most of them are survivors or caregivers to survivors.  Their stories are absolutely amazing and the depths to which they have had to go in order to survive is nothing short of miraculous.  And for all that they have endured; the one theme that I see constantly repeated is that they care about other people to a degree not normally seen and that they are willing to share themselves and their experiences with others so that others don’t feel so alone.

For those who are here in support of me as a cancer survivor, I have received tons of wonderful prayers and blessings and offers of help if there is anything that I need.  I have received the stories of so many who are going through radiation and chemotherapy for anywhere from the first to the fourth time.  And yet, there they are, reaching out to me with their prayers and apologizing for not being able to write sooner because they have been too sick or preparing for surgery or recovering.  I have received so many notes of thanks from those who are out there fighting their own battles for the fact that I am willing to share my own story, something to which they can relate and appreciate and understand.  They are letting me know how much they feel supported in their own struggles when others take the time to listen and share and pray for them as well.  And to all of those caregivers, I must keep telling you that you have the harder part and that you will never know how much you are appreciated.

There are those who have come to me in support of my being a survivor of domestic abuse.  They have shared the awful atrocities that they have endured, the ends to which they have been driven in their own retaliations and lives that have been full of nothing but pain for as long as they can remember.  And they have come here to share their stories so that others can know that there is no shame in these lives, that there are many others who know the same experiences and to thank others who are willing to speak out and tell the world that this is not right and is not acceptable and they are not to blame.

So, to every single one of you who has taken the time to write to me, who has posted words of kindness and understanding, who has shared your own story to help others and who has let me know that by my sharing my experiences that I have helped you, I thank you.  Each one of you is a very special person because you are reaching out to others with your love and caring.  You are strong and courageous in your own survival.  You couldn’t be a better “friend” if you knew me intimately in person for what you have given to me.  And as I am sure that each of you knows about me by now that if there is ever anything that I can do to help you, I will do so.  You are all in my thoughts and prayers every day.

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With the big story in the news regarding the violence that occurred in the relationship between Chris Brown and Rhianna, the question that keeps surfacing is why Rhianna would go back to Chris after that beating.  Was she just that dumb, stupid, crazy, etc.?  Many people think so and everyone has lots of advice to give but unless you have been in that situation yourself, you have no idea about the dynamics that are in play.

I have no idea why Rhianna has chosen to stay with Chris, if, in fact, that is the choice that she has made.  However, I can share my particular situation and the reasons that I stayed in my abusive relationship.  But as no two people, and therefore, no two relationships are the same, I can’t begin to advise someone else about what is best for them.

I was married the first time at the age of 24.  My husband and I dated for a year and although he did tend to drink a bit too much on occasion, it was never a problem.  We both worked and loved to play tennis in our spare time.  We lived together the last 3 months of that year and decided that marriage was good for both of us.  The honeymoon lasted 4 months.  I don’t know what brought about the change but he did become a different person.  He stopped working and began drinking and smoking pot on a regular basis.  And within a very short period of time, he decided that rather than defending his actions, he would go on the offensive and started to accuse me of cheating on him when it was he who was cheating on me. 

When he did come home, he started with the accusations and progressed to slapping and punching me.  I never raised a hand to him nor did I verbally abuse or even yell at him.  I was afraid to do so because I was afraid that he would get even more violent.  Things escalated to the point where I had a loaded gun in my face on a regular basis and he threatened to kill me.  As a result of my fear, he was able to control my comings and goings.  He would show up at my office to check on me to be sure that I wasn’t flirting with someone.  When I got home after work and on weekends, he would call to make sure that I was home and it didn’t take long for me to follow the rules in order to avoid the repercussions.  If he returned home at 3 a.m. and wanted something to eat, he dragged me out of bed and would verbally and physically abuse me until I did what he wanted.  And, most importantly, with a gun in hand, he regularly reminded me that if I ever decided to leave, he would hunt me down and kill me.

The day after our 10th wedding anniversary, I moved out.  I had reached the point where I felt that if he did come after me and kill me, it would be preferable to living as I had for so long.  I had returned to him every day during all that time because I had made a commitment to spend the rest of my life with him.  I returned each day because I thought that I could find a way to fix things.  I returned each day because I loved him.  I returned each day because I couldn’t imagine abandoning another human being who had no job and no money.  And I returned each day because of the fear of death.  But, the day that I left, I knew that regardless of whatever may come my way in the future, I would never have a bad day now that I was free.  And I have never had a bad day since.

If you or anyone you know might need help, Check out the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

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