Archives for July 2012

My story; like many others…

A domestic violence story by Christine Davis.

 

I married my son’s father the week after I turned 18; I had second thoughts while walking down the aisle but felt the conviction for my son to have his father and legally be married would bring less shame to myself and my family. He was usually so nice to me, except when I was pregnant, the first time; he was angry as if it was my fault alone. His kindness seemed to come to a screeching halt the night of our honeymoon… he brought a friend along, decided to get drunk and tell me at 135lbs, and measuring 38-28-38 that I was “fat, lazy and no good”… we didn’t consummate the marriage that night, I went to sleep with my son next to me and my husband partied into the wee hours of the night.

Later there would be coerced escapades staged that I was to take part in with him and his friends, that made me feel so small, so worthless. He would use drugs and alcohol, his personality was not easy to read. If he had a bad day at work, I was the one who would get beat, or pushed, or emotionally abused until he felt better. He would put me down, not allow me to wear make-up because to him it was a sign I was trying to look good for his friends. Certain clothing was no longer allowed, my hair was never right. To try and strangle me, throw knives and keys with sharp objects on them became the norm. He would call multiple times a day; and if I had not answered by the 3rd ring; he was certain I was having an affair and I would get his wrath when he came home from work, we had a corded phone, so I had to drag it around the house with me, I had to pull the phone into the bathroom to bathe, to use the toilet whatever it took, as long as I could hear the phone and get it before the 3rd ring I was safe.

There was no visiting friends, or family alone, he would send me out to get him cigarettes really late at night and have me walk a few miles to get them; our neighborhood was scary at night with gangs infiltrating and random shootings. His type of abuse was very blatant and came on so quickly it seemed and so strong; I had no idea how I would escape. He never worked double shifts at work, and when he did stay away from home, he was having an affair; yet still managed to stay in contact at home by phone or by having a friend of his “check in on me”. If I mentioned my unhappiness and how I thought we should separate, or go to counseling, he was angry. He took parts out of my car so it wouldn’t start and hid them until he got home. Eventually he worked a double-shift for the first time in a year and a half. This was my opportunity. I had snuck a few cents or a dollar from him over the last year and had a little less than $25.00 to my name hidden in the closet. I called my family and told them what had been happening and that I had to get my children and I out of the house and I desperately needed their help, and I had 8 hours to get out with anything of importance. Family came from out of town, my mother opened her house to me and my two children, I was to find out a few days later that I had left him; 8 days pregnant with our 3rd child. He denied that she was his; spreading false rumors to our neighbors that I’d had an affair. I didn’t, she was his and looked just like his side of the family when she was born. I didn’t know a thing about how restraining orders worked back then, but I bluffed and said I had one and he was to stay away. Come to find out he’d been having numerous affairs and fathered a child with one woman he was with. I filed for divorce after our 3rd baby was born; he didn’t show up to court. I hadn’t heard from him again for 22 years. He never visited the kids; he was heavily into street drugs and drinking and had kept under the table jobs in order to not pay child support and even ended up homeless. Point is I had to find my courage to make a move, strategize and get help as soon as I could. My story doesn’t end there, but it’s enough for now.

What’s Worse: Physical Scars or Mental Scars?

A domestic violence guest post by Joseph Pittman.

 

If you asked anyone who hasn’t experienced psychological abuse what is worse: psychological or physical abuse, you’d probably hear the latter as the answer more frequently. When we think of physical abuse, we tend to think of it as more damaging because it leaves behind obvious reminders of its occurrence. Sometimes these take a transient form, as in bruises or cuts, but other times they may remain with us for a lifetime in the form of scars or permanent injury.

Someone who has endured psychological abuse bears scars of their own, however. Psychological abuse, also called emotional or mental abuse, involves behavior that creates mental trauma. The behavior can take the form of verbal attacks, controlling behavior, or jealous behavior and can involve intimidation, threats, and forced isolation from friends and family.

Psychological abuse of this sort can cause long-lasting damage. It can result in the development of disorders like post-traumatic stressTypes of Domestic Violence disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, and/or depression. These problems may linger long after the abusive relationship has ended, thus begging the question: is mental abuse just as bad as physical abuse?

The research indicates that it is just as bad and, in some cases, may be worse. In a study of children who were exposed to violence in the home, one group of researchers found that the effects psychological abuse had on these children didn’t differ from that of physical abuse. They had higher rates of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (English et al., 2008). Another study indicates that the partner in a relationship who is psychological abused have higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, and drug use (Hines & Malley-Morrson, 2001).

Another misconception regarding psychological abuse is that it is only perpetuated by men on women. This is perhaps due to the fact that more physical abuse is committed by men. However, mental abuse can be committed by men or women, and is severely damaging in either scenario.

Often one of the most damaging aspects of physical abuse is the fear that it inspires in the victim. Psychological abuse can inspire that same fear, however, even if the actions are never carried out. For example, a partner or parent may threaten their victim repeatedly with harm that will come to them or someone they love. As long as the belief that the action could be carried out exists, psychological damage is still done. It can create an ongoing sense of fear in the victim that can manifest as a number of psychological disorders.

The psychological disorders that come about due to emotional abuse tend to remain after the abusive relationship is over. They will also often affect the victim’s ability to engage in future relationships. In many cases, it will take years of therapy to return the victim to a healthy mind state.

While the signs of physical abuse are obvious, the indications of mental abuse may be easier to hide. This doesn’t mean, however, that they are any less damaging. For, while cuts and bruises may fade, mental scars remain, in some cases for a lifetime.