Domestic Violence: The Elephant In The Room - page 12

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It's a topic that has been addressed online and in print, but one that is excruciatingly difficult to bring up in a face-to-face conversation. I know... Read More

  1. by   WellThatsOod
    (((ixchel)))
    You're right about the human memory being capable of forgetting many things. I have flashes of memories but nothing solid or concrete until around 12/13.
    The memories I do have, especially of the sexual abuse, no one wants to remember that.
  2. by   Farawyn
    Quote from WellThatsOod
    (((ixchel)))
    You're right about the human memory being capable of forgetting many things. I have flashes of memories but nothing solid or concrete until around 12/13.
    The memories I do have, especially of the sexual abuse, no one wants to remember that.
    I have a very close family member who remembered his sexual abuse from age 7 at age 17. It screwed him up for years. He completely blocked it out. It did happen, because we all have recollection of that time.
  3. by   Debilpn23
    Quote from ixchel
    In roughly 1970, my grandmother was married to a man who had begun to sexually abuse his daughters, my mom and aunt. At that time, my mom was 4, my aunt was 10. My mom was the first to break the silence. This wasn't talked about at that time. It was scandalous and the abused wives and daughters would be the ones to be made into villains. Grandma threatened George (bio grandfather), telling him that there would be a world of hurt if he did that again.

    She became an LPN. She learned the abuse continued, but it had been a couple of years. She realized she was helpless to raise 4 children on an LPN wage. She vowed to leave him, just not yet. No one would take in a single mom with 4 kids and small paycheck. She went back to school, became an RN, and then she left. She took him to court. Her sons took his side. She was devastated by that, but she kept going. Her daughters were protected from him, but not without being terribly damaged. And, not without being required to testify against him, on a witness stand, in the judgmental eyes of the courtroom (no pun intended).

    At the beginning of 1980, when my mom was 13, I was conceived. Somehow she had internalized the idea that sex was the way to be liked by others. She never learned strength, or to value herself. My father was 15. At the time she got pregnant, Grandma married the man I call Grandpa. He is a dignified man who lives with pride, patriotism, and all of the values that a man who matured in the 50s "should" have - respect, duty, discipline, intelligence, honor. The discipline part of him scared my mom, so she fled to where she knew she wouldn't have to face the reality of her situation - to FL to live with her former abuser.

    No one "back home" knew she was pregnant. Not her mom, not my father. Grandma found out about me when, after we'd been in an accident, she was contacted as "next of kin". My father, I found after a desperate feeling of needing to discover my heritage. When I was 19. And he was 35.

    After notification to Grandma by the hospital, my mom's step mom, a paranoid schizophrenic woman, had had escalation of her paranoid behaviors. This reached a climax when she took a machete and tried to kill my mom with it, all because she ran out of hot water taking a shower. My mom couldn't safely get out with me, so she left me, at about 18-20 months old, and ran for help. She banged on the doors of neighbors, one by one, and no one would answer. A good while later, she found someone who would. The police came, found me in a room locked from the inside. The next day, George slipped my mom bus passes, said its just not working out. We came home.

    After I was 8, my mom, tired of her restrictive rules living with her mom again (she was 22 at the time), found a ticket out - a man she'd just met proposed a whirlwind marriage. She said yes, and she gained independence. We moved to a new school district. Every time I rode the bus home, I'd walk under the window of our apartment. There he would be, waiting. Daily, I was beaten. The worst of it came one day when I took a crayon box to school, and it was in my backpack when I came home. Then that night, my mom snuck into my room, which woke me up. She slept on my floor. I didn't understand why she wouldn't tell me what happened. To this day she hasn't told me. I never saw him or our apartment again.

    It was at this time that her addiction began. And instead of being nurturer, she became abuser. I never told her about her husband abusing me. I felt like I had to protect her from that information. We spent months homeless at this time. Who knows how long it was going to stay that way. My school told her she had to have a permanent address within the district. So, because she was forced to, she got us a roof to live under in an apartment complex.

    In the next year, she met a man who she would stay with until I was 16. This man had a thing for little girls, too. I couldn't tell my mom. It's not that he threatened me. I just felt like I couldn't tell her. She had become mean and unpredictable. My protector was gone and I knew it. At 9 or 10 years old, I knew I was on my own.

    I was 13 (1993) when I truly realized what addiction was. Cleaning her vomit and getting her into bed regularly was certainly a wake up call. I'd also reached the age she was when she got pregnant with me. Her resentment at my lack of parental responsibilities started, and grew worse over the next couple of years. It was when she made her first sobriety attempt, when I was 15, that the abuse escalated to a point that I couldn't handle anymore. She was constantly emotionally abusive, and her boyfriend was not shy about how much he loved me "as a woman". I moved out. Grandma and Grandpa took me in.

    When I was 19, living on my own, I visited the health department for birth control. For the first time ever, I was asked by a nurse, "have you ever been abused?" I couldn't stop the word yes from coming out of my mouth. I told them about my mom's boyfriend. It didn't even occur to me that I should mention my mom or her husband. Her husband was a distant, neglected memory.

    And, as it turns out, the human memory has an immeasurable capacity for forgetting what we do not want to remember. I can tell you this story because I know it to be true. But if you asked me to tell you literally any other thing before turning 20, I can't. I remember nothing prior to the results of the police investigation that resulted from my confession of abuse.

    Btw, in the years between my grandmother's fight against abuse (mid 70s) and my reported abuse, which took place in 1990, there still were no laws in my state prohibiting sexual abuse toward minors.

    So, why do the abused stay with their abusers? The abused feel they have to protect them. They feel there is no choice. And, our horrifically archaic legal system took way too long to support the end of DV and child abuse. The institution of marriage was viewed as so sacred, it would be a betrayal for a woman to step out. My grandmother was courageous to take the steps she did, knowing the scandal and undue scrutiny it would cause her. She continued to feel the sting of what she did and the choices she was forced to make for decades. In the late 90s, after having a very close relationship with my aunt, my aunt let go of repressed feelings of betrayal toward my grandmother. Wrote her the most hurtful letter imaginable, blaming her for allowing the abuse to continue. Nothing good could have come from any choice she would have made. Not only that, but abuse patterns just weren't known or understood at that time. Grandma really thought he'd stopped.

    Now, as a mom, I'm terrified. I see the innocence of my kids and fear that it may be shattered. My daughter is 8, the age I first was assaulted. My son is 10, the age I was first molested, after having been homeless for about a year. I feel myself wanting to spazz on my kids when the consistently normal life they've had makes them blind to how hard life can really be. It comes from jealousy, I know. They know very little about my childhood. Heck, they barely know my family, as torn apart as it is.

    My marriage sucks frequently. My husband grew up being treated like crap and never learned coping skills. So, while I feel this compulsion to overcompensate in communication and trying to understand someone else's POV, he'll hold in whatever is bothering him for days and days, until he goes into tantrum mode for a few days. We have brilliant communication skills. :\

    I keep my dysfunction deep under wraps. It's there. I just keep it to myself. And my relationship with my mom is good now, but we never talk about the past.

    Thank you for starting this conversation. And please, if you are in a situation that is abusive, start to plan your exit strategy. He/she may have control over your life and resources, but he/she does not have control of your thoughts. Escape begins with strategy, planning. If you struggle to find the inner strength, try, if you can, to find it for your children. I am living proof this affects multiple generations.
    Ixchel sending you a big hug
  4. by   guestng82
    I was molested by two boys at school nearly every day for six years. I never told anyone about it because I was ashamed and scared they wouldn't believe me. I was also scared that I would be labeled as gay for not enjoying the attention from the boys (at my school, if you were thought to be gay, you would basically get jumped after classes). No one in my family knows about it to this day. Even through that though, I had a safe place to go home to every night where I could escape that. I cannot even begin to imagine what it would be like to be a prisoner in your own home and scared to leave or to even speak up about it. I am so sorry that you all have gone through this. I've always thought of domestic abuse as something I would never experience, and, if I did, I would be strong enough to get out. Now, I'm not so sure that I could ever get the courage to leave something like that just reading through your stories. You ladies and men are extremely courageous, and I wish you all the best!
  5. by   run.for.the.roses
    Thank you...
    I do NOT want to be the person who asks "do you feel safe at home?" in the same tone as "are you taking your aspirin every day?", or looking at the ground secretly hoping the answer is "no". I want to ask it in a way that shows that I mean it, that makes my pt consider saying "no" if they want or need to. I will try so hard to be that nurse...
  6. by   ixchel
    Quote from run.for.the.roses
    Thank you...
    I do NOT want to be the person who asks "do you feel safe at home?" in the same tone as "are you taking your aspirin every day?", or looking at the ground secretly hoping the answer is "no". I want to ask it in a way that shows that I mean it, that makes my pt consider saying "no" if they want or need to. I will try so hard to be that nurse...
    Some of my coworkers preface this question with, "now, we have to ask everyone this question, but..." I feel like it minimizes the question, as though it's actually not important. I know it's to prevent offending someone, but I'd actually rather take my chances with offending them. I'm not saying I'd add drama, or judgment to the tone of my voice, but really, more concern. It's important they not feel blown off or minimized.

    That's my long winded way of saying I like your style. [emoji173]️
  7. by   Ruby Vee
    October has rolled around again -- it's Domestic Violence month. I thought I'd give the thread a bump.
  8. by   lpnnj479
    ohhhhh your story sounds SOOOO familiar down to the blind date. i am going on my second divorce from a second abusive marriage. hoping i wont fall into the same pattern again. both men are extremely charming and i always end up looking like the bad guy. ughhhhhhh. we are survivors!! we didnt become statistics!!

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