emotional abuse

Breaking free(r)

I am the last person who should be writing about breaking free.

I have been separated from my abusive husband for nearly 7 years now, and I am just now taking a huge step to break free(r).

I did kick him out of the house years ago which took a lot of courage. This worked only because I knew he wouldn’t hire a lawyer. I had no legal right to kick him out of his own house, even though he promised he would leave any time I wanted to separate (which was a lie–I asked; he refused).

This weekend I am leaving this house, this town and this state to move near family (and away from snowy winters that isolate me further). I will be near my adult children and three grandchildren.

I will be mere hours away from my very sick mother and wonderful stepdad.

I will be only months away from enrolling in a 4-year college or university so I can finish my bachelor’s degree.

I will have access to unconditional love from my grandchildren (oh, the hugs they can give). My teenager will spend his last two years of high school surrounded by family (he is going to be one popular uncle).

This weekend I load up a truck with those belongings that I consider most precious:

  • kitchen stuff
  • personal library
  • knitting and quilting stuff
  • computer
  • my bed

Strange list, I know.

I have a well-equipped kitchen with old, functional small appliances: bread machine, flour mill, large Villaware toaster oven, 1950s Sunbeam Mixmaster, food processor and my cast iron and stainless cookware. I also have a decent supply of baking pans and dishes. I hope to regain enough strength to bake and cook once again.

Oh, my personal library. We have been separated for years. I packed up my books and put them away years ago because I have been waiting to move for years (and I had difficulty reading anyway — see below). I look forward to the day when all of my books are on shelves (that I picked out) where I can access them whenever I like. The joy!

I knit a LOT! It is something that I can do right now with limited strength and chronic pain. Knitting doesn’t hurt. I am keeping my quilting stuff, again with hopes that I will regain enough strength to make all of my grandchildren quilts.

My computer has been my connection to the outside world. Being isolated for years, the internet kept me sane when I was living in a nightmare world of a marriage to a mean, hateful man. When I got sick in 2006 with Lyme disease and then did not recover, I couldn’t even compose and type an email. I couldn’t write a sentence. I couldn’t read a paragraph.

My computer saved me. I joined an online gaming community. I started to reconnect with other people, nice people. I typed in chat occasionally (and used voice chat a lot).

I started by using my laptop while I lay on the couch (too tired to sit up).

After a few months, I was able to sit at my computer desk. I bought myself an inexpensive desktop computer. I kept hand weights on the desk and gained strength.

Eventually, my doctor ordered physical therapy which got me mobile again. I continued the exercises on my own and regained more strength.

A couple of years later, I found a Lyme-literate doctor who treated my chronic Lyme with antibiotics and supplements. She discovered B-12 and D deficiencies. After a few months on amoxicillin (which keeps my pain at bay but doesn’t seem to help me gain ground), she put me on clarithromycin (Biaxin). After 6 months, I had recovered my hearing, pain was minimal, I could walk without looking drunk, I lost 30 pounds, and I began walking 5-6 days a week. I recovered to about 60% of normal. This was a huge improvement. It was college coursework that helped my brain to heal.

My bed. I know that is a weird thing to put on a list of precious belongings, but there is a reason.

Months before the final separation from my husband, I had moved to the couch to sleep. He moved all night long (restless leg syndrome) and snored so badly that I could not sleep well. I wasn’t missing much. The bed we slept in was a freebie he had gotten from a coworker in St. Petersburg, Florida. It was at least 20 years old. It was bad.

What was really hard was near the end my husband had stopped coming home from work. He said he was going to the church to pray every night, often not getting home until 11 p.m. and even as late as midnight. He would then come home, stomp up the stairs (raised ranch), do his burping thing (he always burped when he came home and walked up the stairs), and wake me up because I was sleeping on the couch. He never offered to give me the bedroom so I could get one good night’s sleep. Not ever.

After my husband was gone, it took me a few months, but I finally made myself clean out our bedroom (with my sons doing the heavy lifting). I got rid of everything that had been ours. I threw away his broken, plastic headboard that he insisted we keep. I threw away that old, disgusting mattress. I got rid of every piece of furniture.

I went to IKEA and bought myself a bed of my choosing. I bought myself a NEW mattress. It was an act of rebellion against the husband-imposed poverty that I had lived in for nearly 20 years.

So, yeah, my bed is precious. It is mine. I picked it out and it is my restful sleeping place. [Amazingly, I began to recover even more of my health when I could get a full night’s sleep without interruption. Go figure.]

Of course, there is room on this truck for my teenager’s computer desk, his books, instruments, computer and clothes. He will get a new bed when we move into our new place.

The only other furniture we are taking is the kitchen table and chairs, the outdoor table and chairs, two IKEA chairs, an ottoman, a Singer parlor cabinet (treadle that I use for all my sewing machine heads – motorized and people-powered), and my coffee table.

Everything else in this house is either cheap, in bad shape or not worth bringing.

This move signals the recovery of a different kind of power: power over my own future.

I am so stressed that I am not sleeping well. I wake up all night long with adrenaline dumps, heart pounding. But I must do this.

I am moving out of a place that has been comfortable in some small part because it is known to a place full of unknowns. Yes, I am scared.

I am moving toward freedom to be myself in my own space.

I am moving.

 

 

 

 

 

Financial Abuse – The Assistant of Domestic Violence by Yvonne Sam

In keeping with the International Day of Violence against Women. Financial Abuse – The Assistant of Domestic Violence By Yvonne Sam When the word domestic violence is used or thought about, the general public usually thinks of physical abuse that gives rise to visible injuries to the victim. Sadly, this is only one type of abuse. […]

via Financial Abuse – The Assistant of Domestic Violence – By Yvonne Sam — Guyanese Online

Friend or Foe?

SilenceBlooming
Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, is quoted as saying:

No person is your friend (or kin) who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow and be perceived as fully blossomed as you were intended.”

Emotional abusers silence their victims with threats, promises, and sometimes even affection and gifts.

Sometimes they declare that family members do not care. There might be just the teensiest bit of truth to the claim, but this may also be an attempt to silence those who could help.

Know who your true friends are in your life. Family members who refuse to listen to you when you try to speak up about abuse are not true kin. Real family cares about and for one another.

Here is another question to ask yourself:

Who controls the dialog in your life?

Who writes the narrative?

Who speaks the loudest?

Finding one’s voice can be likened to taking a journey on a long and winding road.  Envision the mountains of Italy and the roads filled with switchbacks.

The feeling of getting nowhere can be overwhelming at times. The view doesn’t seem to change as you progress. You are making progress.

Keep using that voice.

My name is . . . impersonalizing women

I am well into British Literature I this semester. We have explored Beowulf, “Caedmon’s Hymn,” and “Lanval,” and are finishing up the week with the Arthurian Legend. One of the themes that has emerged is the failure of authors, and the storytellers before them, to give many of the female characters names.

Female characters, in contrast to important male characters, remain nameless.

I remember one day, about 7 or 8 years ago, realizing that my husband rarely, if ever, used my name. He would use supposed terms of endearment, but not my name. He refused to use my name when he attempted to get my attention — “Hey” or “Hon” but no name. It began to concern me.

He had stopped “seeing” me years before that. I was just his wife, or the kids’ mother. But I wasn’t the person he married, the individual with a name, a face and feelings anymore. This is a huge red flag.

Along with not asking me how my day was after being with the kids 24/7 for weeks on end, he did not address me by name. This indicates a huge emotional disconnect.

The article, “Emotional Abuse of Women by their Intimate Partners: A Literature Review,” prepared by Valerie J. Packota describes this emotional disconnect:

Lack of Emotional Connection: Shared emotional fields are lacking due to behaviour of abuser. This lack of intersubjectivity demonstrates to the woman that she is not heard, has no value and is not supported. This lack of connection is strongest when the abused woman is pregnant, ill or in a grief state. (Chang, 1996; Yoshihama and Sorenson, 1994)

And when I became ill from Lyme disease in 2006 and did not recover, the disconnect became abandonment, not just of me but the children as well. He didn’t leave home, but he didn’t come home until very late at night most nights. It was as though I was no use to him anymore because I couldn’t care for the home, couldn’t give him the attention he deserved, and instead regularly requested help caring for the children.

I found it very interesting that Pakota mentions the lack of connection being strongest when the abused woman is ill because that is exactly what I experienced.

But it all seemed to start with failing to see me as who I was, and his refusal to call me by my name. Even now, if he calls, he will rarely address me by name. He will make a strong point of identifying himself, “This is _____.” But he will rarely use my name (this is a cell phone where his identity pops up before I answer).

Impersonalizing a marriage partner is a big part of dehumanization. And apparently, girls and women are not valuable enough for identification to some men.

When we lived in St. Petersburg, Florida, an acquaintance from our church confessed to me that her father called her No. 3. He never, ever used her name. She was always No. 3. This is most certainly emotional abuse. Withholding affection, refusing to acknowledge the identity of a daughter, denigrating her by referring to her as her birth order number are all forms of emotional abuse. Another church member confessed to me that her husband physically beat her, and that she had gone to the church elders (her husband was one of the elders), but that no one believed her. I was shocked, and am haunted by the fact that I did nothing to help her. I often wonder if her husband used her name, or just called her names before choking her.

Women, seen as property for thousands of years, have not been deemed valuable enough to be named in literature. Modern men who refuse to call their wives, girlfriends, and partners by their given names have become emotionally disconnected. Emotional disconnection is a documented feature of domestic abuse.

My name is Michele, and I am valuable.

Sources:
“Emotional Abuse of Women by their Intimate Partners: A Literature Review,” prepared by Valerie J. Packota