Sunday, January 06, 2008

One You MUST Read...

Jurassic Pork has a post up at Pottersville entitled "Are You a Victim of Domestic Violence?" It concerns the situation encountered by the daughter of one of JP's regular readers. Taylor, the daughter, "was brutalized by her (now) ex-boyfriend."

The piece is a must-read, especially for anyone who has dealt with a domestic violence survivor.

Obviously, I do not know what it's like from the victim's perspective; I guess I've been fortunate that way. But I have been involved with a couple of DV survivors, and it is not an easy thing to deal with.

As JP points out, many DV survivors feel they cannot escape the abuse, because they have children, or they have nowhere to go, but sometimes they also believe -- no matter how mistakenly -- that they somehow "deserve" it. It should go without saying that no one "deserves" this kind of treatment.

Let me repeat that:


Back in the days when I was a cop, I responded to many domestic violence calls (and even got whacked myself, with a cast-iron skillet, as I tried to arrest a guy when his wife wanted him left alone). The training in those days (the 70's and 80's) was much less comprehensive than it is now, but even then, battered women returning to their batterers -- or finding new abusive relationships -- was a common occurrence.

Today, fortunately, there are many more resources available to battered women. JP has links to a number of them; you can also get additional information from local social services agencies, the police, and countless websites.

In my case, I dated a woman who was a DV survivor (we lived about a thousand miles apart, so initially it was a long-distance relationship). She told me early on that her ex-husband had smacked her around, and had exhibited all the other behaviors JP discusses. She had two grown children who were out on their own, so she had a somewhat easier time making her break. She said she couldn't figure out why she always made him so angry. Having been through many DV training sessions as a cop (although I was by NO means a specialist), I explained that it wasn't her, it was him, that his sense of failure and low self-esteem was manifesting itself in violence towards her.

About a year into our relationship, after I had moved to the city where she lived (yeah, I know... way too early, under the circumstances, but....), I discovered that she had not divorced her husband as she had claimed; she had simply moved out. She hadn't even gotten a legal separation. I also found she had continued to go out with her husband on dates, even though he continued to abuse her both verbally and psychologically (although not physically).

She told me one day she was moving back in with him. After all, he had been in treatment for "over a year" and -- apparently -- she considered him "cured." She also said she didn't deserve anyone like me (like I'm any great shakes as a person). She also confessed that he hadn't hit her, he had merely shaken wet hands in her face.

I saw them about a month later in a shopping mall. Her arm was in a cast, and the big sunglasses she was wearing didn't begin to cover the black eyes. I did a little snooping and discovered neighbors had called the cops during one of their fights. The cops arrested him; the next morning, she threw his bail.

I learned a lesson from that.

I swore to never again become involved with a DV survivor, no matter how wonderful, or smart, or beautiful (or rich) she might be. I had seen something special in my lady, something that she couldn't see herself. To lose her back to a drunken, violent asshole like her husband was almost more than I could bear. The emotional and psychological toll was tremendous. You see, I have self-esteem issues also, so I had to deal with thinking "This schmuck, this worthless pile of shit, was better for her than I am?!?"

Was that cowardly of me? Was it selfish? Yes, it was. But I knew I could do nothing more for her; if she wanted to try again to escape, she would need much more help -- emotional, psychological, legal, and practical -- than I could provide. And losing her under these circumstances left me so drained emotionally that I withdrew from society for a couple of years.

I went off on that tangent not to trivialize Taylor's experiences (remember Taylor? This post is about her), but to add the reminder that domestic violence affects not only the immediate victim, but those around her, be they family or friends.

The scars -- physical and mental -- last forever.

1 comment:

  1. Dude, I thought I had rotten girlfriends.

    Thanks for the linkie love. Never knew you were a cop, btw. Can you fix a ticket for me? (j/k!)