by Dr Gonzo
Looks at relationship issues, denial, domestic violence & its causes. An opinion piece.
|Most people at some point have lived in denial. Other's issues and problems are obvious, yet we are hesitant to acknowledge our own.
Denial is our subconscious mind protecting us from possible emotional pain, yet...the irony is avoidance is likely to cause more pain than if we initially just faced the truth.
Each person has their own truth when dealing with the causes of emotional pain...especially to do with relationships. We were there, we know what happened, yet we make subconscious adjustments to the truth so it fits better into what we are comfortable admitting to others, and in turn, to ourselves. Also gaining empathy and support within the family or support network, which serves to limit responsibility for where we find ourselves.
In order to better understand ourselves and grow, there needs to be both truth and ownership. Otherwise, we learn little which could be of any future benefit from previous mistakes, and go on to repeat those mistakes time and time again...using blame, combined with denial, to justify why we find ourselves back in similar situations or circumstances (abusive relationships).
In any relationship breakdown, no matter what the situation or outcome, there needs to be an honest appraisal (after the pain of loss has subsided), self-analysis, serious soul searching and time alone...and not jumping straight back into another relationship before we have come to grips with our own issues. Using more 'I' or 'me' statements and less 'you' or 'they' statements.
There is a virtue which often gets pushed aside by ill-feeling and resentment...forgiveness. Many think forgiveness applies only to the perpetrator and that they do not deserve such forgiveness. But if honesty and accountability come to the fore, then we must all accept some degree of blame for what has transpired...even in many cases of domestic violence.
Is it good enough to hold only one person responsible and so accountable? Then labelling that person a monster. Does this mentality bring any kind of progress or change? Or is it self serving in its approach? By helping us all deal with the horror of these tragic events...using blame as a crutch...and so not facing the realities of life, where no one except the children is innocent (as difficult as this is to swallow).
Then, of course, the very point of forgiveness...to relieve the burden of having to carry such heavy feelings, when in actuality, these feelings only hurt ourselves and those closest to us.
Women and children are subjected to abuse and domestic violence far too often. But unfortunately, many think with a singular viewpoint...that there is only a victim and a perpetrator. Because of the violent and tragic crimes (mostly) men commit, society desires a simplistic and straightforward solution. But in my opinion, it is a mistake to just blame...without any thought towards why these men commit such despicable acts.
I believe that one way domestic violence becomes normalized is when young boys see the way their fathers and role models act, and how society in general sees and treats women...earning less and being disrespected in so many ways. And then growing up thinking the behaviours are acceptable or even encouraged. So, of course, they then grow up with an attitude that women are not equal. And when things don't go the way they want or expect, they are not equipped to deal with it, so they often become violent and controlling. And when the threat of losing their children is thrown into the equation, this can and does become a recipe for disaster.
There are, of course, men who haven't been subjected to any known influence and perhaps had a good upbringing and they can become abusers...I have heard talk saying they are evil and there is no hope they can or will change...and this may be true for some, but I myself have been guilty of subjecting my former wife to domestic violence and as much as it pains me to say, my children were at times witness to my angry outbursts towards her.
When I realised my life was falling apart, to try to save my marriage I enrolled in a domestic violence course...which opened my eyes to what domestic violence actually is and how much damage it causes. Sixteen weeks that changed my life forever. I never thought I was a perpetrator, after all, I had never hit my wife. But when I became educated and realised there is no excuse for it...no amount of provocation, bad behaviour from my partner or simply having a bad day...things became much easier to my surprise. Being passive/aggressive...bottling my emotions of anger and frustration until something benign would see me explode...damaging furniture and even to the point where I attempted suicide, was now a thing of my past.
I now understand what triggers me and the warning signs leading up to those feelings. I learned how much power there is in not losing my cool...remaining in control of my temper even when I felt I was being provoked...in fact, it was this tactic I had fallen for too many times in the past that gave me the confidence and determination to take it as far as I could...from work situations to anywhere a fair outcome was needed. I had learned to be assertive...using these new skills to make my way through life instead of bulldozing and demanding...me me me had gone, replaced by a much calmer and safer person for all to be around.
Unfortunately, the pain we cause can be catastrophic to those who are subjected to our abuse...and for some, they never really get over it. And although my marriage couldn't be saved, I was thankful not to be in the higher spectrum of abusers and my now ex-wife seems ok and the children,, although estranged from me now for three years, are doing well at school and from what I can gather are happy and seem to have recovered.
I very much regret the things I did and even though there is this mentality of victim and purp, there are no winners and only losers from family violence. Writing this was something I hoped might somehow make a difference to someone in the future...because no one can change the past, only learn from it. I lost so much because I was insecure and feared things that in the end, ironically, actually happened because of the way I behaved, thought about and treated my family.
It has been brought to my attention and I was told that some of what I have said is victim bashing...and if true, was not my intention at all. The problem they said is I believe that in most cases of domestic violence there are thing's both people would need to take responsibility for...not that anyone deserved the abuse or asked for it. Abuse comes in so many forms and is not an easy thing for anyone to deal with, obviously the victim is the priority in care and safety and there should be time allowed for them to find themselves and begin to build themselves up again....and as much as this statement I make has infuriated some, it is actually important, in my opinion, to accept some responsibility for whatever they did which could be seen as regrettable or wished they could have done differently during the time over the whole relationship...so there is some remorse attached to the experience and not just blame for someone else.
From my experience and what happened in our family...I would never say she deserved what I did because she certainly did not. But I will say she contributed to our problems and I say that with absolute honesty. Can a victim contribute towards the issue as a whole? Can I say that without victims coming at me with the hate they have for the one who abused them now directed at me or any man who would dare to suggest that nobody is innocent when relationships are torn apart by domestic violence and the feelings that come when love is lost forever?
Is co-dependence a choice or a condition? And whichever it is how many victims and their abusers are this way? I was asked a question...why abusers always picked them (the victims)...and to me, it seemed obvious the wrong question was being asked...the real question I think is why do victims always pick the abusers. And if this is a reality, even for some, it suggests choices are being made...which raises questions in the validity for the one monster, one innocent victim claim. Another theory could be possible...that being a victim is easier than becoming a survivor...holding onto the hurt and damage because that is who they are and to have to change everything...no longer having the abuser to pore hatred on for everything they did... allowing them to continue to control if they live far away or even from the grave...hanging onto the person they have become is not totally out of the realm of fantasy...the abuser gone but the abuse...the damage that they caused being the only thing that is certain.
Any new man will be on notice for what her previous partner perpetrated against her ...in essence, the abuser is still controlling the victim and unless she takes the necessary steps in order to be truly free from those feelings of mistrust and suspicion, it will be a more difficult relationship to sustain...if he can accept that she has been hurt in the past and loves her enough to try to show he is worthy of her trust. These negative feelings could be ongoing if no real work is done by her to regain the things which were taken away...that is if she can get them back because if she can't a relationship without trust is not worth having.
I am still convinced that there are choices going on throughput the relationship from beginning to end...and I don't believe it is victim bashing to say all adults involved should look inwards at some point and take an honest assessment of the part they played. Because unless that role was perfect in every way from beginning to end in the relationship it could very well be a matter of you can't change what you refuse to acknowledge
Obviously, she will be wary of a new person and be on the lookout for any potential red flags...but so should anyone when dealing with an unknown...but if she is determined and has love and support from all who care, then it is up to her to accept the damage and live accordingly or do what most victims find the hardest yet most important ..forgive.
If we as a society want to change, we need to tackle this problem before these young boys have these tendencies ingrained upon their psyche. And one way to do this is to encourage all boys (and we need the parents on board for it to have any chance) of a certain age, perhaps around thirteen to fourteen to do a domestic violence course. Where they can see for themselves the effects of domestic violence and instead of glorifying and mimicking bad behaviour, they may gain the tools required and learn to be assertive, instead of the problematic aggressive and passive/aggressive behaviours which are so often the catalyst for acts of violence.
We must all take responsibility...every man and every woman. Men, in particular, need to stand up and scream, instead of the murmur that now seems to be all that happens when violence infringes on relationships. Parents should be actively encouraging their young sons to become better men...and do whatever we can to prevent these boys from growing up and destroying their partner's lives, the kids involved and their own life and change these attitudes, which are the root cause of domestic violence...instead of the knee jerk reactions, which do little to prevent the next tragedy from happening.
Court orders do not stop men who are determined to act violently. Most of the men who commit these acts have not received enough support and aren't equipped with the tools on how best to deal with issues of separation and divorce. These perpetrators often have alcohol and drug issues and need to be shown by example, and from a young age, that there are better ways to deal with relationship problems than to act aggressively and commit acts of domestic and family violence.
And finally, I understand this is a simplistic approach to a very complex issue and I do not have all the answers to the many questions that need to be raised before we have any hope of ending this epidemic of family violence. Awareness is better than complacency and we have to begin somewhere.