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View Diary: Remembering Alicia: Domestic Violence Comes Home (285 comments)

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  •  Thanks for your kind words, MB... (47+ / 0-)

    And thanks for relating the story of your experience in Denver.  As a young woman, I was subjected to domestic violence at the hands of my first husband.  As we were finally coming the end of our relationship and he could no longer control me, he killed himself in the bathroom of our home.  I was hiding from him at the time, but found him when I became worried about his state of mind.  It turns out that he had been waiting in the house for me with his loaded gun and just got tired of waiting.  Had I come home at that time, alone or with my young children, I could be dead now, and my children as well.  I could have just been another statistic in the days when no one bothered to gather such numbers.

    The pattern you speak of often goes both ways.  There are good number of women who are drawn to abusers, having been abused as girls.  I was one of those.  It is a struggle even now to avoid being drawn to men who want to dominate and abuse me.  Those that haven't been abused as girls tend to be fixers, they think they can fix the abuser, make him gentle through love, and in the process they enable the abuse. Alicia was one of these.  It's too sad that it doesn't work that way.

    We need to prevent victims from continuing the cycle of abuse as some sort of perverse inheritance.  Until we break the various patterns of abuse, we will never be free from the type of violence we mourn today.

    TIP & NION
    Liberty and Justice for All

    by Got a Grip on Thu Apr 05, 2007 at 12:37:40 PM PDT

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    •  I'm glad you were late that night ... (30+ / 0-)

      ...thanks for pointing out the complex, "two-way-street" nature of this issue. Long ago, I ceased being surprised at how many people I ran into had lived in abusive relationships. I shouldn't have been surprised to begin with, given the attitude not so long ago that such were "family matters" that the abused were told by church and temporal authorities to "work out" with their abusers.  

    •  G a G (14+ / 0-)

      I've been where you have, in some ways.  I stopped being attracted to, or attracting, abusers when I stopped self-defining as an abusee/victim.  And that was not at all an easy thing to do.

      It took a long time, perhaps 15 years after I finished therapy for the original abuse (child rape/abuse) when I was 20.  I went through a period where I didn't want anything to do with men at about the age of 35, and then I started to date again.  Somewhere during that period I'd decided I was NOT a victim, and would not be one again.  And after that, how very strange indeed, I've never attracted an abuser or been attracted to one.

      Indeed, my current, and hopefully forever, partner didn't even know about what had happened to me in the past until 3 years into our relationship.  I like it that way.  It means that the things I do/say are not filtered through a lens of 'ohh, she's a victim and here she goes again.'

      Anyway, I understand how hard the struggle is to avoid attracting and being attracted to the abuser types.  It's something many of us have to learn, unfortunately.  

      •  Is it really "attracted" or "drawn to " abusers? (4+ / 0-)
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        javelina, goodasgold, nonnie9999, sccs

        This came up a few nights ago in the women's group I do at the domestic violence shelter, and I try to (gently) challenge people on their choice of language -- as it can often reflect a less-than-useful way of thinking.  If you can change the language, it helps change the thinking.

        Anyway, a woman used similar language, and I said, "Are you really attracted to abusers?  I find that hard to believe."  I noted that over the years  I have NEVER heard anyone really mean they are attracted to, or looking for abusers.  They may be attracted to wounded men whom they feel sorry for, or have compassion for, or whom they think they can fix, or whatever -- but the abuse then follows that initial, more positive impulse.

        Again, I don't know of anyone who has set out looking for an abuser, or being attracted to abuse.  In the discussion we ended up deciding on the phrase "having VULNERABILITIES to abusers" -- which is less self-blaming that "I'm attracted to, or drawn to abusers" -- and probably more accurate.

        •  Hmm, I'm not really sure (4+ / 0-)
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          javelina, nonnie9999, ilyana, sccs

          In my case, I don't self-blame.  I was a kid, and nothing I did caused what happened to me.  When I was an adult and got raped/abused, nothing I did caused what happened to me.  The victim is never at fault, ever.  It's always wrong to beat someone, to mentally abuse them, to hurt them.  Period.  No matter what a person suffered in the past, no matter what their childhood was like, no matter what happened to them last week or in the last hour.  No matter what the victim is doing to egg them on (if anything).  It's always wrong.

          But that is not to say that I was not attracted to men who promised to 'take care' of me, to 'protect' me, to help me learn to love myself.  And you know what?  Those are all code words for control freak.  Just saying/admitting that I didn't (at the time) love myself is enough to attract a control freak (both male and female, I'd think).

          So, things inside of my head made me attracted to, and attractive to, men who were inclined to abuse.  Did I know they were so inclined when I fell for them?  No, of course not. In another world, without those things inside my head, with exactly the same guy, there might not have been that abuse.  It's not my fault, but those things in my head had to go.

          This realization, entirely personal for me, has come about after watching men around me completely change in attitude depending upon the woman with whom they are involved.  And so I've realized it's a two way street.  And this realization has taken a long time to get to.  I had to give up the victim cult thing, which was really hard.  There's a long stage after abuse where all you can handle and think about is being a victim.  You have to learn how to adjust your thinking, learn to build yourself up so you will not be victimized again.  It's incredibly difficult and a very long journey.  But eventually, one has to say, 'I'm not a victim' and stop self-defining that way.

          There was a time when I'd almost, literally, introduce myself as 'Hi, I'm Sima.  You seem like a nice guy, you won't rape me, will you?'  Ok, it wasn't that blatant, but in the first month or two, or the first time me and the guy had sex, it would all come out.  And then he'd get protective and controlling, and then when I didn't want that protection and control, the abuse would start, physical or mental.

          Being a victim of child abuse and rape/abuse was definitely life changing.  But I refuse to let it define me. That gives the assholes who abused me far, far too much power.  And once I refused to let it define me, it stopped happening.  Maybe that is just lucky timing, but I happen to think they are related.

          •  I agree completely with everything you say. (4+ / 0-)
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            javelina, nonnie9999, sccs, sima

            I think we may be saying the same things in different ways, but it sounds to me like your attitude is exactly what I hope to help move the women at the shelter toward.  In fact, I tell them that I hate the word "VICTIM" because it diminishes their full, complex human-ness and makes it sound almost like they're of a different species than "normal humans."  (Many tend to dislike the label themselves.)  I usuallychange the wording to "someone who has been victimized' or been in the "victim role" -- for it is not such a personalized label.  It defines the action or behavior, but not them.

            You say:

            "But that is not to say that I was not attracted to men who promised to 'take care' of me, to 'protect' me, to help me learn to love myself.  And you know what?  Those are all code words for control freak.  Just saying/admitting that I didn't (at the time) love myself is enough to attract a control freak (both male and female, I'd think).

            So, things inside of my head made me attracted to, and attractive to, men who were inclined to abuse.  Did I know they were so inclined when I fell for them?  No, of course not."

            I think that's what I was trying to say before:  It doesn't sound like you were attracted to AN ABUSER, but to someone who would love and value you.  Who wouldn't be attracted to that?  But, unfortunately, that's the sort of facade that abusers are experts at putting up.  They know how to be -- or seem to be -- exactly what you wish them to be, to lure you in.

            •  Yes, love and value (2+ / 0-)
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              javelina, nonnie9999

              What I had to get through my head was that love and value didn't mean, hmmm, how to put this... obsessed with what had happened to me before.  And when I was overwhelmed with it, I couldn't find a guy who wasn't obsessed with it for their own weird reasons.  I led them that way, or emitted some sort of signals that told them I was vulnerable.

              I'm not really responsible for those signals. I don't even know what they were, to tell the truth.  I just know I turned them off somehow, or maybe I valued myself enough to not accept a man who responded to them, but rather one who responded to the strong parts of myself.

              Is that the key?  Self value?  I don't think abused women necessarily start out with low self-esteems, but abuse quickly builds them.  And getting out of that mindset is so very difficult.

              Anyway, kudos to you for working with the abused.  It's very hard indeed.  I was never able to do it, it brings up too much 'stuff' for me.

              •  In my groups those signals are called ... (2+ / 0-)
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                ilyana, sima

                ... "jerk attracting rays" (humorously, of course).  And the corresponding image is that abusers have little radars on their heads that are constantly turning here and there, tuning into those who are giving off the "jerk attracting rays."  

                I don't know how they do it, but exactly like predators, they can tune in -- sort of like sharks being able to smell blood a mile away in the ocean.

                I think the key really is self-value -- which really means the same as that now-much-derided phrase "self esteem."  (I think the people who deride it confuse it with stupid, arrogant conceit -- NOT the same thing.)  It is some kind of deep-level, or hidden layer of inner shame that gives off the signals.  And as I say in my groups, shame is really just one's own "inner abuser."  Maybe that's why the outer abusers can sense it so strongly.

                I don't think abused women necessarily start out with low self-esteems either, but I think the more vulnerable ones often have some cracks in it somehow, and I always imagine abusers throwing their line with a grappling hook on it, snagging a crack in the self-esteem, and slowly reeling the victim in, down and down, without her even knowing it.  Abusers are like predators, just like lions in Africa:  They don't go after the strong healthy water buffalo.  They're too much work.  They go after the ones who have been wounded by life (or the young ones).

                I had a woman say one time, "How do I stop giving off these jerk rays?  Do I have to try to put on a tougher facade?"  I had to think about it a minute -- because no one had ever asked before -- but my answer was, "You can try, but I don't think it would work.  They are so good at it they would sense the fear and weakness behind the facade and would just be even more drawn in.  You have to really go into yourself and get rid of the junky beliefs that are giving off the rays in the first place."

                And I find that is really what works for people.  People who are genuinely strong and confident and at peace with themselves seem to give off "jerk repelling rays" -- and abusers avoid them like the plague.

                Just my thoughts.  I don't even know if anyone is reading this diary anymore.  :-)

                •  Doubt anyone is either (0+ / 0-)

                  But it is an interesting conversation we've been having, I think.

                  We are on the same track exactly.  One has to either get rid of the cracks in self-esteem, or learn how to recognize when a jerk has thrown the grappling hook into the crack and close it up against him.

                  Anyway, thanks for the conversation!  It's given me a lot to think about, and helped me clarify my thoughts and feelings about this.

            •  It's a strange dynamic.. (1+ / 0-)
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              I do not think it begins with being attracted to abusers.  They are predators, and hunt for their victims.  There is  body posture, and/or a way of speaking that signals the predator.  I'm not exactly sure what that is.. Maybe a vulnerability.  But predators can read it, and go after their prey.  

              I think it's why the worst of these guys go right on stalking a woman after she's realized who he is and want to leave..  

              Maybe it's a remanent of a survival instinct gone haywire.  

              Like for example, male animals who kill the young of the female, so as to become the dominant male. Wild stallions do that. Male cats do it too.   Maybe the guy who threatens to kill the kids, to control the woman,  is exhibiting that kind of drive or complusion towards alpha males status.  

              "Let us not be conservative with compassion. Be generous with compassion."

              by ilyana on Fri Apr 06, 2007 at 11:37:58 AM PDT

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