Just a Purple Ribbon

Domestic Violence AwarenessToday, I am wearing a purple ribbon. Two years and eight months ago, my husband left me. It was not unexpected. He had threatened to leave me many times. This time was different. This time, he had told me weeks ago he was planning to leave me, and this time I had decided to let him go. I couldn’t continue trying to do everything I could to keep him. This time was also different because this time, three months pregnant and constantly nauseous, I refused to leave the house to give him some alone time with his movies. This time, he decided to try to make me leave by grabbing me around the waist, dragging me across the living room, and trying to force me out the door in front of my two-year-old daughter.

But what I lived through that night was physically quite minor, and it was the first and last time he put his hands on me in anger. I am not wearing the purple ribbon for me. I am wearing it for the three women and one man who will die today because of intimate partner violence. I am wearing it for the more than 20,000 people this year who will be hospitalized because the one person in their lives who should cherish them the most believes that frightening them, and even hurting them to get what they want is acceptable.

I am wearing a purple ribbon for the more than 2 million people per year who call a domestic violence crisis line. For the 3.3-10 million children who stand by helplessly as their mother gets beaten, angry not at the abuser, because that would be dangerous, but at themselves for not stopping it. I’m wearing it for the countless others who suffer in silence behind closed doors. Those who wait to cry until their partner leaves the house. Who know how to hide tears, or apply makeup to hide bruises. I wear it for those who are afraid that if they do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, their partner will be angry with them. Who have walked on eggshells so long, they can no longer feel the cuts on their feet.

I wear it for those who do not even know that it is not normal to live in fear.

I Wear Purple for MeWhat I have lived through is nothing. But it has shown me that the fault for domestic violence does not only rest on the heads of the abusers. It rests on every single one of us who decide that it is better to not get involved until we are “sure” that what is going on is abuse. It rests on the shoulders of each one of us who wonders, but never asks.

Please, please educate yourself. Open your eyes. One of every four women you know has experienced domestic violence in her life.

You want to limit spending? Domestic violence costs society an estimated $67 billion dollars per year, and losses due to child abuse exceed $164 billion dollars per year.

You want to cut the government budget? Take personal responsibility for the emotional abuse that permeates our lives, the abuse that the government can do nothing about. If we stop looking the other way, if we stop shutting doors against the women and children who silently cry for help, if we stop validating abusers in an attempt to “be fair,” we will stop the physical violence. No abuser beats his wife or girlfriend before making sure that she is emotionally ready to accept it. No abuser throws things at her husband’s or boyfriend’s head, or pulls out a knife or gun, without feeling that she can get away with it.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Now is the time to do something about the millions of people who suffer at the hands of someone they love. Until this is stopped, our hands are not clean, and the hearts of the victims of domestic violence will continue to plead, “What is wrong with me? Is there no one who can help me?”

 

The Domestic Violence Resource Center
AAFP Paper on Domestic Violence
Domestic Violence Fact Sheet
The American Bar Association—Commission on Domestic Violence
Eve Foundation—Ending Domestic Violence Everywhere

46 thoughts on “Just a Purple Ribbon

  1. SR, serious question. What qualifies as “emotional abuse?” I have seen some pretty rough arguments over the years (luckily not with my wonderful wife, with whom I have been married almost eight joyful years), but I have witnessed serious verbal arguments among friends, family, etc. When do you think it crosses the line from “acceptable discussion of differences” to “emotional abuse?”

  2. Btw, SR, as a divorced person myself, I feel for you. Please know that at least here on M* you are among friends and we love and respect you.

  3. The answer to that question is as simple or as complicated as you would like. I would strongly suggest reading But He Never Hit Me by Dr. Jill Murray for the long answer.

    For the short answer, you must realize first that abuse is not about arguing. I VERY rarely argued with my husband. Most abused people do not argue often, because arguing is too dangerous.

    Abuse is about control. Any time someone exhibits so-called “controlling behavior,” that is abuse; “when we undertake . . . to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness . . . .” (D&C 121:37)

    The short answer is that it crosses the line from discussion of differences to emotional abuse the moment that one person is made to be afraid of the other on any level.

    The most chilling personal example of a tell is that my ex once told my mother that he had to get angry sometimes in order to get me to do what he wanted. That is not a person with an anger problem. That is an abuser.

  4. SR, good answer in #3. Control or dominion or compulsion — if those are the motivating factors, something bad is going on. Makes sense.

  5. Thanks for the excellent post, SR. I’d not known there was a ribbon for this. Though I often think there are too many ribbons for all the things we should be remembering in the world, this is one of the few I’d make an exception on, having been there myself. Its certainly good to feel anger to abuse as it is happening, but when it is not, the look back tends to feel more sad about what could have been a good thing turning out to not be.

    Anyway, here’s to comforting those of us healing from the past, helping those suffering in the present, and educating those who might find their way onto similar paths in the future.

  6. SR, short of awareness of what is going on around us, what can we do?

    What you wrote in comment #3 regarding emotional abuse is wonderful.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

  7. Dear Silver Rain, you are one of my favorites. I have often wanted to comment on your site, but it is technically impossible to jump through the comment hoops for some reason. My very best wishes to you.

  8. Silver Rain,

    I’m torn. I really agree with you on the widespread nature of emotional abuse. And I feel like I’m on a mission to end it, inasmuch as it’s in my power.

    However, I also recognize that I cannot save the world. How, exactly, do you recommend people getting involved without overstepping boundaries? For some reason, I feel it’s safer to teach people when they’re younger:

    1.) How to have high self esteem, how to not get pushed around, bullied, how to stick up for themselves, how to not get manipulated.
    2.) How to recognize signs of danger,
    3.) How to set boundaries.

    If I had ever met you, while you were being abused, I have no clue how I could have helped… If you had asked me about my opinions on abuse, I would have answered. But until YOU came to the decision that you weren’t going to let anyone, be it your husband, or your bishop, mistreat you, there’s really not much anyone else can do.

    Or do you have other suggestions for me to consider?

  9. It’s amazing to me how invisible some forms of abuse can be to some people. My mother-in-law treats my father-in-law horribly. She makes ugly comments about him regardless of whether he’s in the room or not. She’s accused him of some pretty horrible things (with no rational basis for the accusations). Thing is, she got her kids on her side, and they didn’t realize how bad it was until their spouses pointed it out to them. This poor man’s own children didn’t see the abuse–but every single one of his children-in-law did.

    I faced some emotional abuse on my mission from one companion–it was two months of hell. (Edited).

  10. I endured three years of emotional abuse, it was my friends who were telling me to end it and we decided to end it but I am glad they saw it and my parents. I was a wreck for 3.5 years after because of it. I don’t know if its systemic in the Church but your thoughts and feelings aren’t generally considered and you’re just supposed to take it and be stoic about it. I despise when I hear about abuse of any kind and am you wen through it.

  11. As an educator and teacher’s union representtive in California I ran into abuse in a number of areas. I would like to make four quick observations.

    First, the law in this state is quite specific. If an educator has reason to believe abuse is occuring, he or she must report this to the appropriate authorities. We had a number of staffs we had to tell that the Principal is not one of those authorities. Obviously, along with Child Protective Services or the like, the Principal should also be told. It is the teacher’s civil and criminal liability that is at stake, not necessarily the administrators. Every professional should know their responsibilities

    Second, mistakes can be devastating. At a middle school we had a Principal decided not to tell parents or kids for three days that a known sexual predator had been playing frisbie with kids on campus during lunch. A counselor at a nearby high school did not report a kid’s charge that a music teacher sexually abused her because the young girl had a grat deal of difficulty with truth. The counselor waited two days before informing authorities. In both cases no further harm came to the young people, but they and their families were lucky in that regard.

    Third, Abuse is very complex. We found that kids would often name the wrong parent as the abuser because it was “safer” for them. For that reason and others, professionals need to handle these situations, not well meaning amateurs.

    Finally, children of abusers tend to be abusers. It is thus paramount that kids be taken out of situations of abuse as early as possible.

    Sorry doe the rant, but I just saw too much abuse and exploitation over the years

  12. Everyone brings up some great questions. I’ll try to answer them the best I can with real-life, concrete examples. Know that I’m not accusing anyone of shirking their duty in my personal life. I am not upset with anyone for NOT intervening. I just want to do everything I can to make sure that I know when and how to intervene when I can, and inspire others to do the same.

    Education and Identification
    The very first concrete thing that can be done is to read as many books such as the one I referenced above as you can. Educate yourself to recognize emotional abuse when you see it. It seems like such a nebulous line at first, but the more you read, the more you talk to those who have survived it, the clearer that line becomes.

    Once you have educated yourself in what does and does not constitute emotional abuse, you are able to identify it quickly and MUCH more easily. There are still some gray areas, but the shades are a lot easier to discern.

    Vocalization
    As you learn to identify emotional abuse, begin to vocalize it when you see it. To use the example of my mom above, when my ex told her this, she was uncomfortable with it, and disbelieving that she really heard what she did. This is a common response for most of us. It’s hard to believe that someone could REALLY feel that way about a person they supposedly have a romantic connection with.

    It would have helped immensely for her to immediately say something to him. It could be anything ranging from, “That’s no way to treat your wife,” to “That is ridiculous. You are trying to control her, and that is abusive behavior.” It may not seem like much, but it teaches the abuser that their behavior is NOT acceptable. Too many of us feel that things like that are okay, mainstream, and even justified. Every abuser I have spoken to feels that they are justified in treating people the way they do.

    Then, she could have also come to me and said, “Your husband said this. That looks a lot to me like he is trying to control you. Did you know that is not appropriate for a husband? You should not be treated that way.” Even if the victim laughs it off, shrugs it off, or even seems a bit offended, each and every time someone says something like that, it plants a seed of doubt. And as the abuse progresses, there is a tiny little voice inside her that tells her maybe she doesn’t deserve being treated like that, that maybe SHE is not the problem, but HE is. That can help her recognize her situation sooner and take steps to solve it.

    Even if it progresses to physical violence before she recognizes it, it lets her know that you are a safe person to come to. Most victims feel that there is no one they can ask for help, even if they learn to recognize that they need help.

    Interference
    That I remember, the first time the physical aspect of his abuse touched the outside world is when I was five months pregnant with my first daughter. He didn’t hit me. He just raged, broke some things in front of me, and chased me down the street. Barefoot, visibly pregnant, keyless, coatless, and with nowhere to go in early March, I went back into the house when he called me back. Shaken, upset, and terrified. I remember that somehow we called the bishop and he sent the Elder’s Quorum president and someone he found who would come (not our regular home teachers, but I don’t know who they were at the time anyways.)

    So there I sat, with three men in a room, afraid and feeling like my husband was justified in treating me the way he did because he thought I was having an emotional affair.

    That should have been reported. At the very least, the bishop should have pushed to have us attend counseling with a DV certified counselor. I think he suggested it, but all of our discretionary money was going into my husband’s car project and schooling, and I was very reluctant to accept charity from the ward.

    There were other, smaller instances when my husband raged that were witnessed by our roommate at the time and my brother. Some of them were not even directed at me. But all of those were times that someone could have spoken up, called him on his behavior, and sent the strong, clear message that he was out of line.

    Perhaps that would have made a difference for me, perhaps not. I was my husband’s biggest advocate at the time. But imagine if dozens of us verbalized the inappropriateness of such behavior, and it caught on to hundreds, thousands, even millions.

    THAT is the way to change abuse.

    I’m not saying it is easy. I know it isn’t. I have female acquaintances who deride their husbands to me, for example, and it is HARD to speak up. But it is possible. And it is necessary in order to make change.

    And until we do it, we are partially at fault for the thousands of people who die each year, and the millions more who wish they were dead because they don’t know of any other way out.

    I include me in that statement.

  13. And thank you, Kris. I appreciate your confidence in me. I am sorry for the commenting restrictions.

    Coincidentally enough, they are in place because of my ex. :)

  14. I think too often we disregard and minimize emotional abuse (much as an earlier comment, now edited, did–the edited portion of my earlier comment criticized such minimization). What do we do when we suspect emotional abuse? Do we put the responsibility of changing things almost entirely on the victim, when our focus should instead be on the perpetrator?

  15. psychochemiker, I would like to address something specifically that you said. You indicate that teaching people to:

    1) How to have high self esteem, how to not get pushed around, bullied, how to stick up for themselves, how to not get manipulated.
    2) How to recognize signs of danger,
    3) How to set boundaries.

    is a great way to prevent abuse. This is only partially true.

    I, for one, was great at ALL these things. If you had met me before I was abused, you would have probably thought I was TOO opinionated, too difficult to persuade, hyperaware of danger signs (I am an avid reader, and daughter of a social worker,) and probably too good at setting boundaries.

    But I was still abused.

    You can’t profile a victim of abuse any more than you can profile a victim of abduction. In fact, it is very often the strong ones who are targeted.

    You see, an abuser has very low self-esteem. Everything in their life is controlled by externalities. That is why they need control over someone so desperately. And the stronger of a person they succeed in controlling, the greater the payoff, the better they feel about themselves and their own strength.

    All of the things you list above are probably reasons why I am not hiding bruises today, or worse. But they are not things that prevented me from falling into the trap in the first place.

  16. Emotional abuse is real and dangerous – and I know some people who have left relationships that should have left years before they did.

    I preface this because I don’t want to be seen as disagreeing with the excellent post here, nor any of the other (for the most part) good comments.

    However, as someone who has been falsely accused of emotional abuse, I find discussions of it very hard. My ex-wife left me over money and due to her parents’ disapproval of me. But accusing me of emotional abuse was a much socially safer excuse – it also gets her a better deal in court. I am now a pariah in my kids’ home ward and school – I can’t attend functions there with my kids because the adults tell me openly I don’t belong in polite society and I should be ashamed of what I did (all I did was fail to get a job right out of grad school).

    The government ( http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/ipv_surveillance/Intimate%20Partner%20Violence.pdf )doesn’t help with this, since it has guidelines for what constitutes emotional abuse, and they state that “getting annoyed if the [other person] disagrees” and “Disregarding what the [other person] wants” are emotional abuse. Neither are good behaviors, but (aside from whoever is without sin casting stones and all that) they are too subjective. The courts basically told me that as long as the “victim” states she thought it was emotional abuse, it is emotional abuse. There’s some validity to that, but it’s taken to far – this has opened the door to too many false claims (and thus causing real cases to get overlooked).

    Now, the examples SilverRain and others have given clearly cross the line into emotional abuse, so my criticism is not aimed at anyone who has commented so far. All I am trying to say is that every accusation of emotional abuse should be carefully considered. Like one person said above “professionals need to handle these situations, not well meaning amateurs” – it’s too easy to make an accusation of emotional abuse, and there’s no way for people like me to defend against it.

    I really, really hope this isn’t seen as an attempt to rain on the parade here. Please try to take this comment in the spirit it was intended. But I half expect it to get deleted.

  17. Thank you so much for this SilverRain. I wasn’t aware of the “Purple Ribbon” campaign. Probably should have been. My mother was a battered woman. I don’t how she survived what my father did to her. Then she went and married another abuser. As a child, I watched my father beat her in the face with his fists. Knock her teeth out. Broke her arm. It’s absolutely terrifying, horrendous, powerless experience for a child.

    They don’t want me as a volunteer at the Women’s Shelter because I’m still mad about it. And any time a man tries to get over on me, even a clerk in a store, I go right back there and get all in their face.

    I don’t know what it feels like to be a person raised in a loving safe home. Conversely, those who WERE raised that way have no idea where I’m coming from. Hence, the need for dialogue and awareness.

    Oh, as a postscript, there’s a dr. in California, can’t recall the name right off, who has done a study with thousands (25,000+) of people raised in bad situations like this and tracked many physical problems they experience as adults. I’m a believer.

    Glad you got out.

  18. I am fascinated with this subject. I have been married for 36+years and have never physically hurt my wife. When we were younger, I am sure I did try and control my wife, because that is the way my dad did things. In other words, it is all I knew.

    Close to 20 years ago, I changed. I no longer try and control my wife, I let her just be herself and I am glad I came to that place in our marriage. We are very happy. But looking back on things, most of our problems, as in our more serious arguments, were caused by her, and they still are. I fully expect to be called on this, which is fine.

    My wife suffered form PMS really bad and because I was gone a lot in those earlier years, we never could figure it out. One day I was just fine, and the next, I was the biggest jerk God ever let live. It never made any sense to me. Of course now it does. And today, if she forgets to take her little blue pill, she will have what we have come to call, a melt down. Of course she takes it out on me. She will apologize latter, something that she never used to be able to do. What is my point here?

    There is absolutely no excuse for a man to physically, mentally or verbally abuse his wife or girlfriend. But there is also no excuse for a woman that suffers from hormone problems to not get help and accept the problems she brings to a relationship.

  19. Hi SilverRain,

    I think you misinterpreted what I wrote. I never said, “a specific type” of person gets abused. I suggested that people who lack the skills I listed tend to get abused.

    I don’t have an academic source for this yet… But this site claims the following:

    Although there is no specific ‘type’ of person who is more likely to be abused, there are abuse victim characteristics which people in an abusive relationship tend to have in common or display. These can include:

    Low self esteem
    Emotional and economic dependency
    Continued faith and hope abuser will “grow up”
    Depression
    Stress disorders and/or psychosomatic complaints
    Accepts blame and guilt for violence
    Socially isolated, eg avoids social interaction, never seems to be alone
    Believes social myths about battering
    Believes in stereotypical sex roles
    Has poor self image
    Contemplates or attempts suicide, or self-harms
    Participation in pecking-order battering
    Appears nervous or anxious
    May defend any criticism of abuser
    May have repeatedly left, or considered leaving the relationship

    As for your characteristics and how they relate to your situation, I obviously have no way of judging that. I only know my own situation and characteristics, and those of others who have been going through a discovery process with me. I would have to see some serious research that shows “it’s typically the strong that are targeted” and “those who are aware of danger signs and are good at setting boundaries” are the targets of emotional abuse.”

  20. twiceuponatime—We have discussed this before, so you know that your experience with the courts and abuse is far different from mine. I did not even bring up abuse in our proceedings, even though he committed it right in front of the judge. (At the time, I didn’t realize it.) I found the court officials a great deal LESS sympathetic to women who claim abuse than to those who do not, unless they have documented, incontrovertible proof over time.

    That being said, I know that isn’t always the case. However, I find much more bias against abuse than for it, as it your case. But the story you share just underscores the importance of education.

    One person being unhappy doesn’t mean they are being abused.

    CEF—I’m not going to make a judgment call on your claims, because I can’t see them for myself. Perhaps if your wife were commenting here, I’d be willing to chime in more.

    But that is one big thing when dealing with any relationship issue. It is impossible to discuss with only one half of the equation.

  21. Again, psychochemiker, I believe there is SOME truth in what you said. However, you will find that studies such as those generally study cases of extreme abuse.

    It is my personal observation, as I tried to say before, that the characteristics you mention keep a person from escaping abuse, but they have no correlation to being trapped in the first place.

    And note that I did not say it was “typical,” I said it happened “very often.” Please do not indicate you are quoting me when you have rewritten what I said. If you read the book I linked to, you will find one of the sources which taught me that.

  22. Tim,

    Do we put the responsibility of changing things almost entirely on the victim, when our focus should instead be on the perpetrator?

    As you may guess from some of my comments, I place 50% of the responsibility of changing things on the victim. Let me start by clarifying what I am NOT saying. I do not believe any abuse victim has earned the abuse or that the abuse is their fault, that they should take responsibility for the abuser’s behavior, or that they are being too sensitive.

    But, all relationships require the choice (and agency) of multiple people. If I choose to have a relationship with someone who is abusive, (e.i., I choose to not call the police, file a restraining order, and cut off all connection to that person) I have made a choice to have a relationship with them. Whether the person is an abusive co-worker, parent, child, sibling, neighbor, whatever, we chose whether or not we have a relationship with them. Part of taking control of our own lives is recognizing that we have not only the ability, not only the right, but also the responsibility to exercise that agency to protect ourselves.

    While the abuse is not the victim’s fault, they are the ones who hold the ability to make decisions in their life. That is one of the reasons they are here. And to the extent that they expect others to take care of them, they still are behaving like children. And until they “person” up, and take responsibility for their lives, they will continue blaming the rest of the world for not “saving” them sooner. True peace comes with accepting the consequences of the choices we make.

  23. Um SilverRain,

    I interpreted “very often” as “typical”, and this is perfectly acceptable in the English language.

    You have made the claim twice now, that “but they have no correlation to being trapped in the first place.” Is there any support for this in the book you read?

    FTR, I consider it abusive to attribute to malice what was not intended as such. Sloppy interpretation (e.i., interpreting “very often” as “typical”)is not the same as misconstruing. I usually find that, asking if someone misinterpreted me a more productive may to having a conversation than insinuating something more sinister…

  24. psychochemiker—It is fortunate for you that you have had a life where you are free to make the kinds of choices that you claim abuse victims should make. But for many women, it is not so simple. For a reason. Did you know that the most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is after she has tried to escape? In fact, most fatal domestic violence events happen directly after the woman has taken steps to regain power in her life.

    Your response is a typical one by many people who have not been involved with abuse. Most people think the woman should just get out. But it is not that easy.

    And yes, the book I linked to discusses the type of abuse I am talking about: where abusers seek out the strong. There are other books that discuss emotional abuse which also address it. As you educate yourself in the dynamics of abuse, talk with abused women, you will see that as a reoccurring theme.

    I know you mean well, I am not feeling malice towards you, nor from you (though perhaps I should.) And while I understand you interpreted something I said, you represented it as a direct quote, which it was not. I am not required to accept that, especially considering it misrepresents my point.

    What you are interpreting as malice is simple assertiveness in refusing to let you put words into my mouth which I did not say.

  25. My mother always went back to my father, until she met my stepfather. He wasn’t as brutal as my father, but he hit her also.

    I know there got to be a pattern in my mother’s marriages where she instigated conflict. I saw it. She would start the fights, but the men ended them violently. There was some sort of sick psychology at work there. I repeated that pattern, to a lesser extent, until I simply couldn’t anymore. I goaded my husbands at times. Not always, but enough to know I also had a problem. I wasn’t beaten, but my marriages have been full of harsh conflict and words.

    My grandmother was abused, reportedly, by my grandfather. Perhaps my mother thought it was normal. My father was terribly abused by his father. In those days, it was accepted and normal. This (relatively)new awareness and objection to women and children being mistreated is changing lives. I wish with all my heart my mother had had somewhere to turn. That I had someone to turn to who could have helped me process and cope.

    I ran for help when I was nine years old; the police came and my father was arrested. Mom never saw him again after we left that town. He was in jail down the street from the school. Kids at school teased me about my jailbird dad and it was hard. Not as hard as seeing my mother beaten. I’m convinced that had he not been arrested then and I’d have become a teenager, I’d have killed him. I’d have had to.

    Something terrible happened when my mother was 55 and she left my stepfather, never to return. She was never beaten again. But there were times when she tried to initiate conflict with my sisters and me while she lived with us. I never engaged that behavior. She was entirely senile when she died and a sweet tiny little old lady, with just a bit of a spark in her. Being my mom and all.

  26. annegb, for whatever reason, we tend to act-out the way we are acted upon. It seems to be part of our nature. I never wanted to be like my dad and yet I was, in too many ways, just like him.

    To me, there are three things that must take place for one to change. First, a recognition that one needs to change. Second, one must want to change and third, one must learn how.

    I managed to proceed to accomplish the first two, and thank goodness I like to read, I read some books that changed the way I see the world. They are, in the order I read them; “Creating Love” by John Bradshaw, “Men are form Mars and Women are from Venus”, “What’s So Amazing About Grace” by Philip Yancey and “Bonds That Make Us Free” by Terry Warner. I give more credit to the grace book, because after reading that one, it literally changed who and what I am. I now want to be nice just for the sake of being nice. I expect nothing in return, which it also what Terry Warner talks about in his book.

    I offer the above in hopes it might help someone else. I think all of us struggle with something from time to time.

  27. Thanks, CEF. I love Phillip Yancey. My progress has been incremental and I suppose will continue till I die. Thank God for my wonderful therapist.

  28. Thank you for posting this.

    As a police volunteer in my early twenties, I recall walking into the home of a domestic violence case where a husband beat his wife. I showed up with my camera, ready to take pictures for the officers on scene. As I walked into the home, I saw a portrait of a Latter-Day Saint prophet hanging in the walkway. I was stunned to think that such abuse could take place in an LDS home. Sadly, it happens in too many homes, even in LDS homes.

  29. SR.
    You do a very bad job of mind-reading and knowing what experiences I have or have not had in my life…
    Just saying…
    Under the advice of my wife, I’m moving on from this…

  30. Then why did you comment again, if you were “advised by your wife” to drop it? Seriously, I’m missing your point.

    The stance you’re taking is one typically taken by people who have not been involved with abuse. I once thought those very things. If you have a valid, informed opinion, then by all means demonstrate that. Explain. Otherwise you just seem offended because I suggest that you may not understand a few things.

    And if your wife has something to say, then she is welcome to say it. Otherwise, I don’t see why you brought her up.

    Much of the time, I don’t bother to respond to comments such as yours because I feel it is a waste of time. However, you are perfectly demonstrating one of the most common opinions and third-party dynamics that leave adult abuse victims feeling trapped and without help.

    If it is simply a matter of “getting out,” then they must be weak, and if they are weak, they deserve what they are getting. THIS is just one of the many damaging thought patterns that goes through their heads, gendered by third parties, and exploited mercilessly by abusers.

    It is NOT simply a matter of being strong, of getting out. And as long as we perpetuate that myth, we tacitly approve of domestic violence, and play our part in keeping these people trapped.

    I know that is harsh, but in this case, harshness might be what we need to open our eyes.

  31. #13 SR: Thanks for this list of concrete suggestions. Very helpful. (And validating to me: I remember one case in particular in which I suspected emotional abuse and I did act according to your recommendations. I suspect there are other cases where I have turned my head, but at least once I did not.)

    BTW, I can comment when logging in with Google Chrome, but not with Internet Explorer (my blogspot blog has the same issue); don’t know why.

  32. Silver Rain, I think you were too hard on psychomeker. I didn’t find anything insulting in what he wrote; teaching kids those things are good things. I don’t understand your problem with this. And I experienced terrible physical violence in my home. Not only watched my mother being beaten–I know what it’s like to be in so much pain you will do or say anything to have it stop. I think what he said was entirely reasonable. I didn’t see any blame the victim and I do think there are some possible profiling that can be done. I don’t understand your level of animosity given that as I understand it, you were able to leave the situation BEFORE your arm or nose was broken because you did have those strengths. I don’t see any of the harsh rhetoric in his opinions that I find in yours.

  33. SR, I also am wearing a purple ribbon this month at work. Here in the prison system, we have many in jail for abuse issues. Domestic battery is one of the biggest reasons people are imprisoned in Indiana – often increased by alcohol or drug use.

    My wife was also abused by her first husband. He always thought himself to be the victim, even though he was the one using verbal and physical force on her.

  34. Rameumptiom, has any of that come back to bite you? I mean, her previous abuse? It’s hard not to see all men as abusive. I’ve struggled with that sort of mindset.

  35. We’ve been married now 25 years. Occasionally, she still has insecurities arise because of the 9 years of abuse by him. But we manage well most of the time.

  36. Silver rain:

    Contrary to Psycho, I think it is the weak ones who get out, not the strong. The weak women who are abused don’t have the patience or the willingness to try and make a bad relationship work.They don’t have as much strength to endure it and so they do something to get out. Something like suicide or retaliating until they get killed or nearly killed or get out by escaping inward and shut down emotionally and become like robots, or drown themselves in booze and prescription medications, etc. Those who blog above are among the strong.

    I would propose to Psych that if his presumptions are accurate , then perhaps fathers need to go back to taking a more direct role in protecting their daughters. What is that country song about the dad sitting home cleaning his gun? Whoops, too many of the fetchin’ fathers are abusing their daughters with no one cleaning guns in their behalf.

    The social Darwinian in me doesn’t want to know the real truth about my family history. I have this stinking hunch that back a few centuries, most of my family relations between spouses were only slightly improved from the days when a brute clubbed a girl over the head and dragged her back to his cave. Somehow this worked enough to be perpetuated deep into modern times. Barely enough.

    The natural man is an enemy to God. Civilization and true religion is the process of taking men from being beasts to humans. Women have their own evil natures (to which I will leave to my wife to describe).

    My point to all those who are heavy laden, you are not alone and you may be drawn closer to God through the tribulations that fall your way. The Lord is my Shepard and I am working on not being a sheep scatterer.

  37. One of the traits that I’ve learned to pick up on are the signs of unhealed emotional/spiritual wounds from abuse.

    And sometimes you can pick up on whether someone is an emotional abuser by the way they treat their family. Though many people hide it, or try to hide it, in public.

    Abuse is still a big problem in the church. I see, or at least I think I see, signs of abuse in probably 25% of women in the church.

    I’ve mentioned this before, based on my observations of the branch presidents in the MTC in 1984, I think Provo is also a hot-bed of emotional abuse and unrighteous dominion.

    Even here in the midwest, you occasionally see cases where the wife of a bishop will up and leave him abruptly. Turns out he was nice to everyone else, but was a monster to his own family. I remember one recent bishop, who was a bit controlling, and whose wife showed some signs of battered-woman syndrome. I debated on whether I should have gone to the Stake President, but I didn’t go since I had no evidence other than my interpretation of her body language, bearing, and general attitude. But now, I think I should have gone to him and just suggested he pray about what Sister so-and-so needs.

    My own father was somewhat like that. Well-respected in the professional work-place, and could treat even the cleaning staff with utmost kindness, but then go home and turn into an abuser with his family.

    On the other side of the abuse-transaction, I also saw my mother say things (and sometimes I could tell they were intentional) that would set off my father. Like annegb sort of described, she had some kind of need to be a victim. Now that my father has passed away, she does those “victimy” or provoking things to my brother and I. My brother now plays that game with her and is verbally abusive, but I have tried my darnedest to avoid it.

    To some adults who were severely abused as children, they somehow equate, or create a link between, abuse and love. At least that’s the best way I can describe the goading thing.

    It’s even in well-respected families. A recent example was the case of the family of the 5 Browns going public with their abuse.

  38. Bookslinger, interesting and I agree. I can spot an abusive situation, by not so much the behavior of the abuser, like you said, but by the manner and body language of the victims. When I was at BYU 25 years ago, in a sociology class, the professor revealed, Utah had a high rate of reported child abuse, and that Utah county was the highest county in Utah, and breaking those demographics down, the neighborhoods around Provo were where it was happening. Personally, I think for many young families, having kids while in college, can be a very difficult stressful situation.

  39. Thanks for that, Joanna and Bookslinger. I agree.

    The easiest way to detect abuse is in the victim. It’s in the flat smile, the quick and often overly emphatic defense of the abuser, apparent overreaction to things that seem harmless. Often there will be a flash of worry or sadness when asked to do something, saying they’ll have to check with their spouse. There’s the weariness when no one is looking, the self-recrimination. The overeagerness to please, and inordinate pleasure when praised. Avoidance of eye contact. A quick shift from being tense and quiet to fiery or intense about certain subjects. It really isn’t hard to detect, once it is understood that emotional abuse is about control.

    There is a good link on it here.

    Meldrum, what I am about to say is worded very harshly. Your comment here, “The weak women who are abused don’t have the patience or the willingness to try and make a bad relationship work. They don’t have as much strength to endure it and so they do something to get out,” is vile and ignorant. I’m in no mood to mince words on that.

    There is nothing a victim of abuse can do to “make a . . . relationship work” except to completely subsume him/herself to the interests of the abuser. Most victims are frantically trying to find something, anything, that will make their relationship work. But with an abuser, the rules constantly change. Because it is not about pleasing the abuser, it is about being controlled by the abuser. Total control is the only thing that gives an abuser a feeling of power and self-worth.

    I find it almost as distasteful that you suggest that it is a father’s job to protect his daughter, rather than accepting your own responsibility as a citizen and caring community member. A grown woman, even a victim of abuse, doesn’t need a man’s protection. She needs to know that she has the power to take steps to protect herself, and that others will support her in that.

  40. I’m copying and pasting what you wrote about symptoms of emotional abuse. I see that in a young wife I know. Question: how can I empower her? Do’s and Don’ts? I’m going to click on the links.

  41. Silver rain :

    I think we are on the same page but reading past each other. My point is that abused victims have no real choices. The strong try to make an impossible situation work for a long time. The weak give up doing anything to make it work and attempt desperate measures such as suicide, etc.

    The part about father’s cleaning guns was supposed to be sarcastic and point out the absurdity of that approach. After husbands, fathers are probably the next most common abusers.fox guarding the hens. Sorry if I am scattering sheep instead of comforting them.

  42. Thank you for your moderate response, despite my harsh phrasing. This is a subject that is sensitive for me, and I appreciate you clarifying rather than reacting. I’m sorry for the emotion I have wrapped up in this.

    What you say makes a great deal more sense than how I read your comment before.

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