Domestic Violence: Nurse As Abuser?

  1. Can a nurse be an abuser? That’s the question we were asked in another thread by someone who wants to write about domestic violence and bullying. “Have you yourself been guilty of bullying? Have you yourself been an abuser?” I would venture to say that she’s going to get very few — if any — answers in the affirmative. Bullies don’t think they’re bullies and abusers don’t think they’re abusers.

    I don’t have much to say about bullies except that I don’t think they’re nearly as prevalent as reading the posts on AN would have us think. In forty years, I’ve met two nurses who were bullies in the workplace. I know they’re out there; I just don’t think they’re so common that new nurses graduating from nursing school and starting their first jobs need to worry about them. Neither of the two thought of themselves as bullies — they were only “giving back as good as I got” or “giving him what he asked for” or “saddled with incompetent co-workers.” I doubt very much that they would admit to being bullies, especially on an international forum like this one.

    Can a nurse be an abuser? That I can answer. Yes, nurses can be abusers.

    My ex-husband, the abuser I fled after he tried to strangle me to death while chanting “I’ll fix you. I’ll fix you for good. I’ll fix you . . .” was a nurse. In counseling, he admitted to “shoving” his first wife, but claims it wasn’t abuse because he never put her into the hospital. The SO of a friend who not only raped her while her children watched but allowed his friends to do the same — also a nurse. The colleague who was arrested for domestic violence after his wife called the police to beg for help because he had locked her in their house and was standing in the front yard armed and threatening to shoot her — he was a nurse. He and I worked night shift together, and he told me all about the situation. He couldn’t seem to STOP talking about it. He admitted to firing a couple of shots at her, but maintains it wasn’t abuse or domestic violence because he “only meant to scare her” and besides, she started the fight. And the colleague who raped his wife and beat her within an inch of her life explained that it was “only rough sex” when he came back to work after serving his month in jail. He claims his arrest was “bogus” and that he wouldn’t harm his wife because he loved her. A nurse with whom I worked for years is on his fifth divorce, and every single one of his wives told the same story — “he has a temper and he hits me sometimes.”

    I’ve worked with every single one of those men . . . not bullies at work. In fact, every single one of them was described by our colleagues as “charming”, “funny”, “the life of the party”. Their co-workers, bosses and orientees loved them. Doctors loved them, patients loved them and they got plenty of complimentary letters from former patients and family members. When rumors of their violence toward their partners began to circulate, no one could believe it.

    The thing about abusers is that they can be absolutely charming to someone on the phone, put down the phone and knock you across the room, and then pick up the phone and continue the jovial conversation exactly where they left off. They can be the life of the party and then knock you down the stairs when they get home. They claim they “flew off the handle” with you, that they’re sorry, they just “couldn’t control their temper.” But they’re very careful not to “fly off the handle” or lose control of their tempers when doing so could cause them trouble at work or reflect badly upon them in the community.

    Nurses can be abusers; nurses ARE abusers. I have yet to meet an abuser who admits to being an abuser.
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    About Ruby Vee, BSN, RN

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  3. by   AllOfMyWat
    Not to minimize your abusive ex, but many men are victims of false arrest.

    The rest of my opinion is too wildly unpopular to post.
  4. by   Ruby Vee
    Quote from AllOfMyWat
    Not to minimize your abusive ex, but many men are victims of false arrest.

    The rest of my opinion is too wildly unpopular to post.
    Funny -- that's what every one of those guys said. I know some guys who were accused of sexual assault. Multiple times. They said they were victims of false accusations, too. It boggles the mind, doesn't it?
  5. by   CelticGoddess
    Quote from AllOfMyWat
    Not to minimize your abusive ex, but many men are victims of false arrest.

    The rest of my opinion is too wildly unpopular to post.
    My sisters ex-husband said the same thing. Sorry, I think the incidents of domestic violence are much higher than are reported. I live in a state with an extremely high rate of death r/t domestic violence and every single one of the guilty abusers say that exact same thing.

    And if you don't want to minimize abuse, don't start with "not to minimize...but..." Because you did minimize it
  6. by   KatieMI
    Once upon a time, still back in my home country, one of my responsibilities was to participate in a team which was investigating child abuse. Mind you, it was in country where a few lashes or public berating a child was, and is, a totally acceptable norm. So, we were not about a kid screaming because he did not get one more candy. We were after parents who were on the murder's path.

    The first thing I was taught there was to watch out for extremes, both ways. Families where kids were left with no food, water, heat and clothes while adults were drinking themselves into oblivion somewhere were just as dangerous as idyllic anclaves of prosperity and happiness. The latter ones were, in fact, more malignant. From those nestles of joy we took out children savagely beaten through blankets so that there were no bruises. Children starved almost to death so that they could become figure skating or gymnastics stars. Children allowed out from their rooms for 30 minutes every day (that included toilet, food and everything else) so that they could concentrate on their schoolwork. Girls who were seduced by their own fathers, with their mothers' blessings.

    With no exclusion, all those monsters of parents started, and repeated, the same thing: it was done out of pure parental love. We wanted things better for children. We love them. Maybe, sometimes, we pushed a bit too hard, but we just wanted better, how is that wrong? When the cases went to Court, nobody ever believed that such loving, dedicated moms and dads could commit athrocious crimes toward their own children. Even after showing a pucture of a tiny, emaciated body of a girl who did not make it. The parents insisted on their total innocence, and went to jail with look of martyrs upon their faces. None of them ever showed any remorse.

    Denial is an extremely powerful tool of human psychic. It is like a self-administered narcotic, bringing peace of mind and freedom from guilt. Just like only tiny minority of substance abusers ever come to realization of what they have done with their life and with those of others, the similarly tiny minority of abusers, sexual predators, sadists and other not-so-pleasant types of people would ever come to understanding of what havoc they inflicted upon themselves and others around them. They will develop thousands upon thousands of absolutely rational arguments of why they did, and doing so. They would plead their innocence to their last moment.

    It is not only so about things which are illegal. One my nursing school mate is in her X+1 divorse because no man in the World seems to understand her female soul's wishes. According to her wishes, she needs at least a multi-billionaire even to begin with. Yet, she vehemently denies her own crying irrationality. Otherwise, she is, AFAIK, quite a competent nurse and an interesting woman.

    Abuse can start, and continue, everywhere, given the right conditions. Basically, only two things unite someone who dirtily berates a new empoyee for a tiny misstep and the one who beats another helpless human being: perceived lack of punishment and rationalization of their actions. Where these two are able to apply these two conditions, they act. In all other situations, they have to stop and so become those charming ones. Or, at least, so totally "normal" ones that, when the facts came out to light, nobody believes them.

    Nurses are not immune to anything pertaining to human society, being it good, bad or evil one. What described above, applies to them just like to everybody else, with a few peculiar differences, like nurses usually lack opportunity to act upon the real source of their frustration (aka unmanageable workloads, crazy families, rude doctors, etc), therefore, given the two conditions above, they lash out onto other nurses, with others conveniently looking other way. They also similarly tend to rationalize their actions, even absolutely abhorrent ones, with a convenient, all-size-fits-absolutely-all, argument that "it was only about patient care".

    So, no surprises. Abusers are abusers, they only need right place, time, conditions and circumstances to act. And then they will blame the said place, time, conditions and circumstances. The gun fired by itself, he/she wanted it and even asked me for it, we were just having fun, that new nurse was breathing 0.658 times/min more than I wanted and that could negatively affect patient'care.
  7. by   FolksBtrippin
    It's rare for people to admit when they are wrong.