I found out what caused all of my health issues that seemed at the time to have come out of nowhere. Apparently a great deal of research shows there is an extremely high incidence rate of chronic migraines, autoimmune diseases … Continue reading
I have no idea where I found the courage, but somehow, miraculously, I did. I talked to him yesterday. Not in the exact words from If Only I Had Enough Courage, but I admitted to the fear, the reason I’m … Continue reading
Last weekend H and I went to a big celebration for a member of his family’s 80th birthday. There were a lot of people there, many of whom I’d never met before as they live in other states. I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the party but I didn’t have a way out of it, so we went. I spent the majority of the time sitting alone drinking and socialized minimally. Toward the end of the evening people had mostly left and those that were still around I know and like. I decided to hang out with other people finally.
Instead of enjoying some time with the family members I actually know and like, everyone was picking on me. I was being teased about all kinds of stuff, and I really wasn’t in the mood to take it. Unfortunately H’s family doesn’t back off when they should. I got pretty agitated and went inside, where I was immediately teased by someone else. I went back outside to more teasing and at this point was royally pissed off. I told H we needed to go home and said goodbye to the family outside. One of the younger guys (maybe a cousin?) patted me on top of the head. I was furious! Just because he is tall and I am short does not give him the right to touch me like that. I went inside to say goodbye to the rest of the family and get the hell out of there.
I walked inside and said, “The next person who pats me on top of the head is losing an arm!” I then proceeded to hug my mother-in-law goodbye and moved on to my father-in-law. In the mood I was in, I stood next to him and offered only a one arm half-hug. He returned it so his arm was behind my back. Everything was fine until his other arm, which I couldn’t see clearly as it was on the opposite side of his body from me, reached for my head. Before I even realized anything had happened, my other hand had come up, intercepted his hand and I saw his head snap back. I immediately let go, asked if he was alright and apologized. Needless to say he was not happy.
My in-laws didn’t know that I’m a survivor of domestic violence, but they did know that I have over a decade of martial arts training. When my father-in-law moved his hand toward my face with his other arm around me blocking my escape I was suddenly consumed by uncontrollable fear. I reacted purely on instinct to defend myself. Unfortunately I did so in a family setting where I was not in any danger. H and my in-laws were understandably shocked and upset. I was so upset I was suicidal. I didn’t tell anyone that part.
After we got home and I had explained to H as best I could what had happened and why, I called my father-in-law to apologize again. He was clearly still upset but wanted to let it go and accepted my apology. H wasn’t quite so forgiving and made me promise to get help, as he thinks I may have PTSD. I agreed to try to find a psychiatrist. I had actually tried that in the last year and was unsuccessful as I couldn’t find one in my insurance network who was accepting new patients. However, I’m looking once again. After that H said that everything was okay, but I certainly was not okay.
I determined that the only way I would feel things were truly okay between myself and my in-laws would be if I told them about my past abuse so that they had as complete an explanation as I am capable of offering for why I attacked my father-in-law. H and I met them for dinner Thursday night and I told them. It was incredibly difficult and I was truly afraid they wouldn’t want me anymore once they knew. Luckily I was wrong, they still love me and were grateful I opened up and told them. H assured me this would be the case, but that did nothing to assuage my emotional reactions to the thought of telling them.
Ever since I told them I have been in a much better place emotionally. I’ve smiled and laughed, and I’m no longer suicidal. I made the right decision in trusting my in-laws with something I don’t like to discuss or share, and I think our relationships are stronger now. I have committed to H that I will seek help to diagnose and treat PTSD, and I am ok with that.
A couple nights ago I had a dream, one I can’t quite shake. I don’t often think about V; I dream about him even more rarely. I don’t remember the beginning of the dream, but I remember him in bed with H and I. We were all naked, but V was separate from H & I. H was touching me and kissing me, but I wasn’t into it. I kept looking at V and wanting him; I didn’t understand why he wasn’t involved, why he wasn’t touching me. I dissociated from what H was doing and was completely focused on V. After a few minutes H stopped and I went to V. He had gotten up from the bed, so I followed.
This is where the dream became so vivid it takes my breath away just thinking about it as I type. V looked at me, and I saw everything his eyes held back when I was sixteen and he was twenty four. I could see the affection he had for me, I could see his desire, and so much more in his eyes as he looked at me. I saw a future that I desperately want, filled with love, family, children. After an instant and an eternity of V looking down at me like that, he opened his arms and I wrapped myself in his embrace. I could feel his body against me, I felt the way we fit together. Its been over six years since last I touched him, and yet I had him in my arms once again in that damn dream.
As soon as I looked into V’s eyes, it was as if H didn’t exist. V kissed me, and his lips were air to my drowning soul. I felt so strong, beautiful, safe and loved. All of my self-doubt, self-hatred, all of my complicated feelings and worries were just gone. In V’s arms I felt worshiped. More than that even, I felt understood completely. It’s difficult to convey adequately what his touch inspired in me, but it was everything I’ve ever wanted to feel. There was no rush; we took our time, we connected. The entire time H was nowhere to be seen. I trusted V with all that I am. Much as I’m not a fan of the phrase, we made love. After, H reappeared in my dream, but he was the 3rd wheel rather than my partner and my husband. V held me and whispered, “I love you.”
Don’t get me wrong, I know it was only a dream. I understand this isn’t how it was in real life. I truly don’t believe V ever loved me. But I did love him, I wanted to marry him, I wanted to have his children. I’ve never felt that way about any other man. It’s funny, I didn’t actually realize that until just now, reflecting on this dream and my feelings. I love H, and I am so grateful to have him. I would never leave him. But, he isn’t someone I’d want to have children with. We are too different. Trying to raise children with H would be a never ending battle. That’s not what I want. So, when I tell H I don’t want children, it isn’t a lie. It’s true that I don’t want to raise children with him. But once upon a time, I desperately wanted children. For me, it comes down to trust. I trust H with my life, but I don’t trust him to be there forever, through thick and thin, no matter what. That’s what I’d need to be willing to have children. When V swore to me we’d be together, I believed him. He’s the only man that ever had my complete trust. I gave him all of me, and I’m not sure I ever got it all back.
If there’s one thing that’s become very clear to me since I’ve begun this blog, it’s that my submissiveness is not something I can hide or deny any longer. It’s ironic that I’d have such a dream about V now, when I’m so much more clear about what I want in a relationship, things that V could never have given me. H and I have been having a rough time. It’s nobody’s fault, we are just very different. We think differently, we communicate differently, we assume differently, we understand differently. It’s a constant battle for us to be on the same page. We are fighting, and we are fighting hard for our marriage. But, it’s a lot of work. It’s tiring. It leaves me feeling hollow, empty, lacking. Not all the time, but often enough. Things have been getting better, slowly but surely. H still makes me happy, we still love one another, we still want to be together. But I’m tired. I wouldn’t mind things being easy for a while.
I imagine that’s where this dream came from. Now that I’ve given it more thought, it does sound like just the break I want: being with the only man who ever had my trust without reservation, the man I wanted to raise children with. I get that the dream was just a fantasy, an idealized version of what was. It’s still hard to know what I felt in that dream is forever out of reach. V was the second man I ever went to bed with. I had a boyfriend before him, Z. We were both 16, and we only dated for one summer. I loved Z, still do in fact. Z is pretty messed up, his home life was a mess too. We both had anger issues and other emotional problems. The thing that gets me about Z is that I begged him not to promise he’d always love me. I begged him, because I knew we wouldn’t last. I knew I wouldn’t be the girl that gets the storybook happily ever after ending with her first love. I know that I have a hard time letting go. I also knew that if Z promised he’d always love me, I’d never be able to completely let him go. Because hearing him say it validated my always loving him. I don’t want to love him, but a part of me always will. He doesn’t feel the same.
After being betrayed by so many men, at some point it’s tough to not see myself as the only common factor, as the root of the problem. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be a saint. I’ve made a lifetime’s worth of mistakes, and I’m sure I’ll make many more. But I wasn’t wholly responsible either. I was a vulnerable, confused, hurting kid. I just wanted to feel loved. I wasn’t the adults who chose to use and abuse me. I can’t get the bitter taste out of my mouth because that damn dream forced me to relive so much of how I felt, of how innocent I was. Even when I’ve dreamed about being raped, or about E’s abuse, I rarely am this shaken up for this long. I had so much taken from me because nobody protected me, and I didn’t know how to protect myself. I want to let go of the past, I want to let go of the baggage. I just don’t know how. I want to be more connected with H, I want to help him understand me. I just don’t know how. I’m trying, I really am. I want to be happy, I want my marriage to be stronger. I want H to truly know who I am, I want us to trust one another with everything we are. I just have to find the right way; we have to find our path…
In my post Accept Me As I Am (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-dS) I touched briefly on the concept of being normal. For most of my life, I’ve equated being normal with being healthy. I’m slowly beginning to untangle the Gordian Knot that is the connection between these two concepts in my mind. It’s rather a complex task, but one to which I’m committed. All I ever wanted was to be normal. I wish that was an exaggeration; it’s not. In school I was always a mile ahead without even trying. As an adult I discovered I have a previously undiagnosed hearing disability which has been deteriorating over time. I’ve always found relating to other people tiring; I became depressed and cynical at a young age. The dysfunction which permeated my home life as I grew up was something I blamed on myself. I learned early on that it was imperative to my survival that I construct an iron facade . I did it perhaps too well…
My defense mechanism of choice was over-achieving. As I got older, that alone wasn’t enough for me to survive. I discovered other methods of feeling in control such as not eating, cutting and exercise. Then along came V, discussed in Playing With Fire (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-bN). By the time I met E, I was very skilled at concealment & compartmentalization. It also helped that batterers typically target areas that can be covered by clothing. I was able to hide everything behind the “perfect child” persona I constructed for others. I’m not proud of the high level of skill I obtained as a manipulator, but it sure came in handy as a salesman! Anyway, it was as I matured in this state of mind that I learned to interchange normal with healthy. I looked around and saw normal people, living their normal lives. I didn’t detect any hint of the effort on their part that I put into every interaction, no matter how insignificant, just to appear normal. It was hardly a big leap to acknowledge that I was the common factor, that I must somehow deserve the pain. I’m not normal, I can’t fix it, it must be my fault.
Clearly this line of thinking isn’t rational, but how many rational teenagers do you know? I was different in so many ways, some of which I wasn’t even yet aware of. I had to compensate every day, in so many ways. Being normal was everything I wanted. I didn’t want to be brighter than average, I didn’t want to be interesting. All I wished for was a simple, shallow, average life. Even now, having gained some distance and perspective, I still yearn for that seductive vision of normal I’d constructed at times. Life is hard, marriage is hard, being healthy and making sound decisions is hard. However, I am healthy. I don’t mean to imply that I’m perfect, but I respect myself now. I don’t carry around the self-directed hatred and blame any longer. I don’t believe I deserve traumatic experiences. I try to avoid punishing myself for perceived failures. Now I just need a Dom to do that for me 😉
In all seriousness though, I think unravelling the connection between normal and healthy is an important step in accepting my need to submit. I also think this will help me understand how to responsibly indulge my masochistic side by setting safe limits, to protect myself both physically and psychologically. I’m not there yet, but I’m journeying in the direction of the life I want to live. My past no longer holds the power to determine my future.
If you’re wondering why the word normal was italicized throughout, this was done in an attempt to reflect the vicious tone the word carries in my mind. To me, normal truly is one of the worst words in my vocabulary. It has caused me so much pain over the years; the word itself is one I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid using whenever possible.
If you’ve read my post Seduction (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-dD), you already know about Z, the hottie from my gym. Let me just start off by saying now I remember why being single sucks! Surprise surprise, things didn’t go as planned this week.
I did go to Z’s class Monday, however he didn’t take the time to talk to me one-on-one after, which is unusual. Plans dashed, I went home and started scheming. I decided to go ahead and take a more active approach, which I had initially discarded as an option. I’ve found it’s always best for my targets to think they’re pursuing me rather than vice versa. For Z I decided to make an exception (mistake #1). I knew Z’s first name, as it’s published on the website of my gym, however I had no idea what his last name is. He’s Mexican, so I assumed even if I had his last name he’d be nearly impossible to locate online. I was wrong. Inside of 10 minutes after I began searching for him, I’d found not only his last name but also his Facebook page. I went ahead and sent him a friend request (mistake #2). Reminder to self: No, it is not in fact a good idea to add people as friends on Facebook simply because they’re hot/I want to get them in bed.
Z accepted my friend request, and on Tuesday I saw he was online, so I IM’d him (mistake #3). I wanted to get to know him a little better and yes, flirt. We chatted for nearly two hours. While covering the basics such as what we do for work, I found out that he owns his own business in addition to teaching at my gym. Cool. He spent a lot of time telling me about his business and his ideas about how he wants to live his life. I was gaining a bit more insight into his worldview, which is what I was after. He said he’d love to meet me and tell me more about his business. YES PLEASE! He suggested lunch, which doesn’t work well with my schedule. We agreed to meet the following evening, after the dance class at the gym (yesterday). By that point I was coursing with excited/nervous energy. Only problem? I wasn’t sure how H would react. I didn’t tell him right away, and instead spent Tuesday evening and yesterday thinking about what to say. Turns out H was invited to a family outing in a nearby town yesterday evening, which just so happened to start at the same time as my class at the gym. That combined with the hot weather heating up our house gave me the perfect excuse to say I’d be home later than usual. I told H I wasn’t sure what I’d do to entertain myself, but that I’d find something.
Flash forward to the end of my class at the gym; I did my cool down stretching and drove to the address Z gave me. In spite of the fact that I used my navigation, I was very concerned I might be lost! Z told me we were meeting at a nutrition club, similar to the one he owns in a different city. I drove around the parking lot, but it was like I was in little Mexico! It took me a couple laps before I spotted the tiny storefront of the Wellbeing Club. Just as I finally figured out where I was suppose to be, I saw Z pull in to the parking lot. So, I parked and got out of my car. I was immediately greeted by the driver of the car next to mine, a gal I know from the gym. She was excited I’d “decided to try it!” Huh? Apparently, this is a group thing. Not what I was expecting, but far simpler to explain to H. So in we go, and there are 5 of us total. Two of the gals I’d never met before but had seen that evening at the gym. The place is completely full of Hispanics; myself and one other girl from the gym were the only white people in the place. Awkward.
Now might be a good point to mention that I really don’t see myself as racist, but I certainly can come off that way at times. I believe in calling things as they are – not very PC. When I was a teenager I went through a lengthy “Mexican Phase”, where I only dated/fucked Mexican guys. What can I say? I’m into darker skin and black hair! Plus I find accents super sexy. However, between both V & E being Mexican, I swore off Mexicans when I was in college. If you don’t know the stories there, check out my posts Playing With Fire (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-bN), Consent (http://wp.me/s4jKhN-consent) and Power and Control: Understanding Abuse, and How BDSM is Different (http://wp.me/p4jKhN-bY). I later dated an awesome Mexican guy, D, who I met on a dating website, and he was totally worth breaking that rule for. Long story short, we never slept together and are still friends 🙂 We had a ton of fun while we were dating, and hopefully I will still get him in bed one of these days! So – I like Mexicans. Really, I do! But I’m also more uneasy around Mexican men because of E. It’s not fair, but it’s also not my fault that I was a victim of domestic violence or that I have trust issues.
So, back to the Wellbeing Club with Z and the other three gals. I knew that Z’s business was about nutrition, but I didn’t realize it was the magical weight loss shake variety of “nutrition”. I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but I am not at all interested. I also have food allergies, and am very cautious about consuming new things for that reason. I ended up trying two of the three parts of this “nutrition plan”, but I only had a small amount, which both Z and the owner were not pleased about. Too damn bad! I will put in my body what I want to – I am not required to consume things simply because that would be more polite! Whilst I was trying my “nutrition shake”, Z proceeded to pitch his business to me: classic pyramid scheme. Again, I’m not saying that it can’t or doesn’t work. I’m sure it does work for at least some people, or such schemes wouldn’t be so popular. What I do know however, again, is that I. Am. Not. Interested. Z pitched his business to me for nearly two hours. Now, I had agreed to meet with him so he could tell me more about his business. I did not agree to be pitched his business – and yes, there is a difference.
In addition to my extensive martial arts training & my innate trust issues, I also have difficulty hearing. I wear hearing aids. It’s not something I discuss much or share often, however it does affect my comfort level in certain types of environments. In particular, I have a lot of difficulty understanding people with accents, and hearing in noisy environments. It’s a documented medical condition, not an excuse! The Wellbeing Club was very noisy, and of course Z has a thick accent. I had to concentrate very hard to understand him. Also, I was in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by people I barely know. It’s fair to say I was on high alert the entire time. It was *not* a fun couple of hours for me. It was exhausting, and by the end of it Z was coming off as very judgmental after I’d made it clear multiple times I wasn’t interested in getting involved in this “nutrition” business. He was rather slow, but eventually picked up on how unresponsive I was. He then started trying to get a lot more personal, and not in the way I was hoping prior to meeting up with him! He continuously asked me, “Why?” As a former extremely successful salesman, I get what he was doing and why. That doesn’t make me interested in participating! I didn’t say this to him, but the bottom line is I don’t have to prove anything to him (or anyone else!), and I don’t have to explain my life or my choices to him either. Z genuinely believes his way is the best way, and I get that he was trying to be helpful. Problem is, he failed miserably in my case.
Z doesn’t know me at all. He doesn’t know my past, he doesn’t know my strengths or my weaknesses. He underestimated me, and while I normally don’t mind that, I was quite annoyed by the extend to which he talked down to me last night. Z also has a very different outlook on life than I do. Z cares about money, and I’d be happy living penniless in a monastery, meditating all day. Z had some valid points in the reasons he gave for why his business plan makes sense, but that still doesn’t make it the right fit for me. At one point he actually had the balls to tell me I was being defensive. I explained that answering his “Why?” questions would require a lot of personal information to answer fully, and self-disclosure isn’t something I’m big on. I told him that I’m not defensive so much as I’m only giving partial answers to his questions. Z immediately “reassure” me that I don’t have to tell him any personal information. Bull Shit! That’s exactly what he was after, as getting to know more about me is the only chance he had at trying to figure out how to sell me on his business. I know, inside and out, how to sell. I recognize all the tricks when they’re being used on me. At one point, I even had to tell Z, “I don’t want to play this game.” He was asking me about sales, and tried the old classic, “Try to sell me this pen.” If I was in a job interview for a sales position, no problem. When YOU are pitching YOUR business to ME, there is no way in hell I’m going to prove MY skills to YOU. Amusingly, Z also tried (several times) to reassure me that the business isn’t about sales. Ha. Ha. Ha!
After a couple of exhausting hours, I finally escaped (only because the place was closing!). I told H I’d gone to a nutrition place for a shake with some people from the class at the gym (totally true!), and tried the shake but didn’t actually have one (I was starving when I got home). I told H I really tried hard to make friends (also true!), but that I was very uncomfortable and not interested in the “nutrition” stuff they were all talking about (it was the only topic of conversation at our table, how boring!). I admit that I sometimes complain about not having any friends, so this was me making an effort at correcting that (otherwise, I would’ve left as soon as I realized it was a group get-together). However, I definitely wouldn’t be going there again. All true! H was glad I did something outside of my comfort zone with other people, and was glad to have me home. I, however, was not in a good mood. Next Monday is going to be awkward when I go to my regular class at the gym.
I took a sick day and didn’t go to work today as I was up most the night with pain in my back. I’ve had a kidney infection a couple of times in the past, so I went to the doctor today. Good news is no infection, just muscle spasms. Bad news is I took a sick day for no reason. Later I’m heading to my acupuncturist to get my back sorted out. I’m so glad they were able to fit me in on such short notice! Since I’ve been home all day, I’ve been keeping an eye on Facebook to see if Z will contact me about last night – or anything else… I haven’t heard from him, and I’m super curious to see what, if any, his next move will be. Sadly, I seriously doubt our interactions will recover from the disaster last night. Hence the title, my plans for seducing him have now been scrapped. I have no issue playing with people who have different beliefs and/or lifestyles than H and I do (hell, I could argue H & I have different lifestyles as I’m a sub and he does not seem in any way interested in BDSM), however I’m really not a big fan of people who don’t treat me with respect. I felt disrespected last night, because Z was trying so hard to sell me that he bulldozed over all my signals that he was pushing too hard and never backed down, even after calling ME out on being defensive! He did not respect my desire for privacy or space. He wanted me to sign up right now, and I was not hitching myself to that bandwagon.
Maybe it’s time to start focusing my energies on some of the lovely ladies at my gym!?
Recently I was cleaning up my email accounts and went in to my oldest account, from when I was in high school. There are very few things still attached to that account, but one or two things of interest still show up once in a while. That’s why I log in occasionally. What I wasn’t expecting was to see was an email from E, only a couple days old. I’ve always known E had that email address, but he hasn’t tried to email me in years, so I’d kind of assumed I didn’t need to worry about it. E has tried to contact me occasionally in the past, but not in a long time. After I cut off contact and blocked him on FB, he text me once. I responded politely asking who it was, then asked if I knew him. Convinced him a new person had my cell #. He never called or texted again. It wasn’t easy though. I very likely had a panic attack in fact. I don’t know that I’ve ever had one otherwise, but thinking back on it I was terrified.
In many ways, I was a classic domestic violence victim. Even after E was out of my life and had moved out of the state, I was still always looking over my shoulder. I was afraid he would come after me, try to hunt me down. Hurt me more, again. Thoughts of E and my fear of him consumed my life. I tried to leave him three or four times at least, but he had systematically destroyed what little self esteem I had when we met and layered guilt on top of the ruins of my former confidence. E threatened to commit suicide if I left him. I was also afraid he would hurt people I love if I angered him. E knew where I lived, where my Mom lived, where my sister lived. He knew where I worked. I believed he was an alcoholic, and that he had anger management and depression issues. But that’s not true at all.
As a victim I wasn’t able to identify the patterns of behavior of my batterer. In fact, E was very controlled. E had high self-esteem. E was charming, like most batterers. He was a skilled manipulator. E never lost his temper with his boss, his coworkers, his friends or family. The only time E was ever anything other than a perfect gentleman was in private, alone with me. E only got drunk a hand full of times in the year that he abused me. While those nights were never easy, in truth they weren’t any worse than when E was sober either. As I was only 18 at the time, I had no real concept of what the normal consumption of alcohol was like. I assumed E’s drinking was a problem, something he couldn’t control. I thought he was an angry drunk. I now realize that E had fun when he drank; he was always smiling and laughing, until we were alone. He only drank when it was appropriate, such as when he had a couple days off from work. E didn’t drink to cope with stress, or drink until he was blackout drunk. E didn’t need to drink, as an alcoholic would. Part of why I was first attracted to E was his easygoing, friendly, upbeat personality. No pun intended. So, now I’ve ruled out depression (and low self esteem) as reasons for his behavior.
E’s control over himself seems obvious now, but at the time I was unable to comprehend the fact that someone in control of themselves would be capable of inflicting upon another person the things he did to me. It’s a coping mechanism, assuming E’s out of control, that there were reasons for him to abuse me. I fabricated excuses for him as discussed, convincing myself none of it was his fault. It was mine. Batterers are masters of avoiding accountability and victim blaming. I fell for all of it. I vividly remember confiding to my best friend after he’d left the state about the abuse. Her response was, “What did you do, burn the roast!?” Which, if you don’t recognize it, is a family guy quote. Point is, even if I had burned dinner, it still wouldn’t have been my fault. No victim, in any way, causes their batterer to abuse them. Violence is a choice. It is not acceptable for any reason. Everyone has the right to live a life free of violence.
For me, understanding how batterers think and work has been extremely important in helping me begin to let go of these experiences. The shame, guilt, disgust, pessimism and fear never left, even after E did. There is a seven stage cycle of abuse which shrinks over time as a batterer asserts more and more control over their victim. When I realized that E fit in to this cycle, it was another step in the right direction for me of realizing E was a batterer, which is not something I had control over at any time. The cycle is:
- Incidence of Abuse (this follows #7)
- Expression Guilt (the batterer does not actually feel guilty, but is attempting to ensure the victim remains available in the future and/or that the batterer will not be caught or face consequences for their actions.)
- Rationalization/Minimization (the batterer gives reasons why it isn’t their fault, and blames the victim. Ex. I wouldn’t have reacted that way if you hadn’t _____.)
- “Normal (or Honeymoon) Phase” (interactions with the batterer are superficially ‘better’, allowing the victim to fall in to a false sense of safety/security.)
- Fantasizing (the batterer imagines in their head how they would react in situations involving the victim. Ex. If ____ forgets to _____ again, I’m going to _____.)
- Planning (the batterer begins to think about how to turn their fantasies into reality. This may include deciding what the victim has done wrong and how the abuser will make the victim pay for these wrongs.)
- Set Up (the batterer puts their plan in to action, with built in justification for the next incidence of abuse.)
As the batterer becomes more confident in their control over their victim, stages of this cycle begin to disappear. Often, #2 and 4 go right out the window. The batterer becomes so confident in their control of the situation and the victim they feel no need to express false guilt or allow for a “normal” phase to ensure the victim’s compliance.
At this point, I’ve gained the greatest tool in recovering from my past abuse that I’ve ever encountered. No amount of individual or group therapy, nor time or changes in lifestyle had any impact on my feelings of responsibility for being a victimized. But, learning how batterers think, work, plan, their personality traits, and understanding for myself how clearly E fit in to that category, that finally made the difference for me. Prior to learning all of this, I truly believed I was different from every other victim out there. Of course it wasn’t their fault they were abused, but I was different. The truth is, we are all individuals, in unique situations. That doesn’t mean that the abuse was my fault, or within my ability to stop. This leads me in to my next topic: Why do victims stay? Why don’t they leave?
There are more answers to those questions than I could ever possibly cover, but there are several important things I can share on this topic. First of all, it takes a victim on average 7-9 attempts to leave their abuser before they are successful. I personally attempted to leave E at least 3 or 4 times, possibly more. I don’t recall exactly. One of the many reasons I always felt guilty was because I went back. Now I realize I did exactly what most domestic violence victims do, I tried and failed, and tried again. Leaving an abuser is a process, not an event. As I touched on earlier, there were many compelling reasons for me to fear E, as there are for any victim to fear their abuser. As in my case, batterers isolate their victims. The victim is cut off from contact with friends, family, coworkers and everyone else who could possibly provide a support system as much as possible. The abuser learns of the existence of all the people the victim cares about in order to implement the isolation, and therefore potentially poses a legitimate threat to all of these people. Children are also commonly used against the victim as a means of control. Although I didn’t have children, I was terrified not only for myself, but also on behalf of those I loved if I angered E.
In addition to physical abuse, victims are often subject to other types of abuse as well. This may include emotional, psychological, sexual, financial and other types of abuse. Batterers systematically destroy the self esteem of their victim, convincing them they are worthless and untrustworthy. A victim may not be able to depend on themselves enough to make even basic decisions as a result of ongoing abuse, thus erecting a powerful barrier to escaping abuse. Sexual abuse is also common. Sexuality is used as a weapon agains the victim, further eroding their self esteem and convincing them no one else would want them. Batterers are often in control of all financial resources, and may not allow the victim to work. This causes the victim to have no means of supporting themselves and their children if they leave their abuser. These are just a small number of the many reasons victims stay.
My advice to anyone who is confided in by a victim of domestic violence is, don’t ask them why they stay. This would most likely be interpreted as blaming the victim, which speaking from experience is the last thing they need. Instead, listen to them. Tell them you care about them and support them. Assure them you will help if they want it, or just give a friendly ear if that’s all they’re ready for. Ultimately, the victim is the person who can most accurately judge when it’s the best time to leave. Don’t every tell a victim they need to leave, get a restraining order, or anything else. A victim doesn’t need told what to do or questioned on their decisions, their abuser is already doing exactly that. If possible, help victims connect with local resources, professionals who are better equipped to help them, but only if that’s what they want. Otherwise, just support them unconditionally.
I hate going to my annual exam. I’m sure a lot of women dislike that particular time of year, but I absolutely hate it. Every year I seriously consider not going, risking my health rather than facing that particular appointment. I have a very specific reason for this, I find answering the questions asked at an annual exam nearly impossible. They always ask if I’ve ever been raped (or ‘the victim of a sexual assault’). How do I answer that? I was terrified E was going to kill me. He forced me to have sex on a regular basis. But I never said “no”; I never said “stop”; I never fought him. I thought if I didn’t submit completely he would kill me. I was afraid for my life, so I let E use me. But that’s been the flaw in my thinking all along; I didn’t “let” him – I survived. Cliché, yes. However, it’s also the truth. As a victim of domestic violence, my consent was not ever a consideration for E. This wasn’t because I’m submissive by nature, it’s because E made the choice to be abusive. I’ve only recently made that distinction, but it makes all the difference.
In my relationship (I’m using that word very loosely here) with E, I had no power. There was no trust involved. I didn’t have the ability to consent, as E never allowed me any option other than to surrender to his will. Even then, I wasn’t safe. Surrender was simply the safest option available to me at the time. BDSM is, when practiced correctly, the polar opposite. In any group, one can find those who are abusive; however such people are the exception, not the rule. There are a couple of very important concepts in BDSM: SSC and RACK. SSC stands for Safe, Sane, Consensual; RACK stands for Risk Aware Consensual Kink. Regardless of which participants prefer, they both include the key word (at least in my case): consent. There is a wealth of reading material available on SSC and RACK, so I won’t delve into them deeply at this point, but hopefully after reading the preceding information about abuse the difference in practicing BDSM is apparent.
For me, BDSM is a power exchange at its core. All participants: top, bottom, dom, domme, submissive, slave or otherwise must recognize all other parties’ power to consent and withdraw that consent at any time. Thus, even when deep in a scene and appearing to be completely without control, the bottom still holds the power to stop the scene. No matter how much power the top has, it will still always be secondary to the power the bottom holds simply by consenting. How is this possible? Trust. The top has to trust that the bottom will safe word if the scene becomes too much, that the bottom won’t allow themselves to be truly harmed. In return, the bottom has to trust that the top will respect their hard limits, their safe word, and any other factors which have been negotiated. BDSM is the practice of fulfilling complementary desires on a consensual basis.
Sadists enjoy inflicting pain, and masochists such as myself enjoy receiving that pain. That does not in any way override the issue of consent. Everyone has their limits, and the right to have them respected. Everyone has the right to not live in fear; this is just as true in BDSM as in the vanilla world. The trust between practitioners of BDSM runs very deep, it is a vital element. It is easy to understand how, on the surface, BDSM looks no different from abuse. However, with just a little analysis, the difference becomes clear. I personally have only limited experience in BDSM, but quite a lot of experience with abuse. I hope what I’ve learned can help others understand not only the differences between abuse and BDSM, but also how to recognize abuse and gain a better understanding of batterers and the choices they make. While the bottom in a BDSM scene has chosen to accept that role, no one ever chooses to become a victim.
I will likely continue my discussion of this topic, as there is so much more to say. However, I’ve been working on crafting this post for weeks now and don’t wish to wait any longer to share what I have so far. Thank you for reading!
There’s so much going on in my life, I’m not sure where to start! I’ve been working out at a dance studio that offers classes a couple times a week for a little over a month, and as much fun as it is I found that I really wanted to work out more often. So, in between my Tuesday and Thursday classes at the dance studio, I went to check out a local gym Wednesday evening. It was awesome! I’ve decided to join next month. It’s a two year commitment, but that’s probably good motivation for me to keep going. Also, the gym is only 2 miles from my house, where as the dance studio was close to 10 miles away. Starting in March, there are dance classes five nights a week at the gym plus a water exercise class one day a week that I’m excited to try. In addition to all these classes, there’s all the regular lifting equipment plus the pool and jacuzzi. I’m totally jazzed to start spending a good deal of time there each week 🙂
Aside from my personal fitness goals, I’ve also decided to start volunteering in my community. I actually made this decision close to a year ago, but because of school was not able to start sooner. I had an interview earlier this week for my local police department’s team of volunteers of advocates for victims of domestic violence. I’ve been interested in this program in particular for quite a while, and am really looking forward to the opportunity to help people in bad situations. The training starts tomorrow (40 hours in two weeks, on top of my 40 hour each week job!), and is all day. I’m excited but nervous; am I getting in over my head? H is pretty upset about my volunteering in this capacity. He says he doesn’t think it’s safe and doesn’t like me being away from home so much. Really the time commitment is minimal after the training is over, volunteers only have to sign up for one shift a month as a minimum and one monthly meeting. I understand that the training will eat up a lot of our free time, but that’s only a couple weeks out of our lives. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
I suspect that H has other reasons for objecting, and is simply refusing to acknowledge them. I was a bit taken aback when they asked in the interview if I considered myself a “survivor of domestic violence”. I suppose I should’ve been prepared for this question, but the (rather extensive) application didn’t ask, so I assumed they weren’t going to pry. Wrong. I took a moment to collect myself and answered basically truthfully. I never would have used that phrase to describe myself, but I suppose it is apt. They asked if I would be willing to share a bit about my experience, which was terrifying. I want to help other people, deal with their problems, not mine! Thankfully these women, who direct this volunteer program full time, understand abuse isn’t a fun topic. They quickly thanked me for sharing and moved on to the next topic. As much as I didn’t want to admit anything to anyone about my history of abuse, I’m somewhat proud that I was able to. I admitted something I’m ashamed of to total strangers out of a desire to help others. A girl could do worse.
I have long been a student of psychology, sociology, anthropology, communication, and other veins of interest. I’ve always been particularly interested in abnormal psychology, and how/why/what is different about people such as serial killers, cutters, those with eating disorders, people who attempt suicide, sadists, masochists, etc. I am well aware that I do not fit into the “normal” category, but I’m always curious to understand more about why. And what separates me from other ‘abnormal’ people? I don’t have the answers, but I’ll continue to pursue these and other questions about humanity. Anyway, where I was headed with this is that I expect to find the domestic violence training fascinating from this perspective. I’m sure I will learn a lot about abusive relationships and control tactics that I’m not currently aware of. However, I also know this will not be a cold, dispassionate, clinical learning experience. This will be highly personal and likely emotional. I’m afraid I won’t be strong enough to handle exposure to so much input that will remind me of one of the worst periods in my life. I’m afraid I’m going to let myself down.
As if my new impending gym membership and volunteerism weren’t going to keep me busy enough, H and I also started attending a new church recently. Our old church was about an hour drive, and this one is in town. Big improvement! Now that we have a church that’s close enough to attend every week, I’m finally going to do something I’ve always wanted: help with child care. I love kids. I always pictured myself having a family. Well, plans change (aka H doesn’t want kids), so now it’s just the two of us. Don’t get me wrong, I knew this long before we got married. But, I still would like to spend time with kids. Where better than volunteering at church? A couple weeks ago I was scheduled to help for the first time, and of course we were snowed in. That doesn’t happen often in my area, so the church was actually closed as well. Well, this weekend, no snow! On Sunday, I am going to go to church early to help with child care for one service and attend the other service. I’m so excited to meet the kids! I’ll be helping in a class of three year olds. I have a niece who just turned four last week, so I’m looking forward to spending time with kids around that age 🙂
With all this excitement, I’ve not spent much time with H this past week. He also had a cold, which made him less than enthusiastic about my busy schedule. We haven’t had sex all week. Even with how hard I’ve worked out, I’m this close to losing my fucking mind. Since our only plans tonight were hanging out at home, I talked him in to taking a bath with me. While we were relaxing, we chatted and I tried to talk to him about why he’s so unhappy with my plans to volunteer. H snapped at me and said talking about it would only upset him more, not help. So I dropped it. Next, I tried to talk with him about masochism. Soon as I brought up the topic, H said that those people are just confused. Wow. Excuse me while I go kill myself, that’d be great, thanks. My friend was trying to convince me the other day that H could be my dom. I think not.
There’s a comedy show on T.V. right now, and the comedian was talking about birthdays. What do men want for their birthday? Only one thing…the one thing women never want for their birthday. As if I wasn’t already aware, I’m the man in my marriage and H is the woman. It’s not exactly that this bothers me, but every now and then I’d like to be the one who can be passive. I’d like to be the one who needs supported rather than always giving support. I’d like to ask for sex and get fucked through the mattress, rather than worrying I’m going to piss H off by asking because he probably doesn’t want it. To be fair, I have something of a sex problem. It’s not new. I’m not a sex addict, but my sex drive is extremely high. Not normal range high, either. I always knew this would be an issue if I ever got married, and it was one of many reasons why I never even considered marriage a possibility before H convinced me otherwise.
I love our sex life, I really do. H is great in bed, and I love swinging. In fact H found a new couple for us to play with earlier this week. I’m really excited to meet them (they are even in our same town!). We haven’t played with another couple in quite a while, and I really miss it. Other than my recent close call, its been a long time since we played with anyone. The few guys we’d been playing with regularly were too high maintenance for me. To be fair, “high maintenance” is expecting a text back within the week they texted me. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people, and I’m not trying to be friends with these random strangers we fuck. I just want them to show up when I’m horny and leave when they can’t get it up any more. Text me if you wanna pick a day/time to show up, otherwise leave me alone! Is that too much to ask? Probably. Maybe that’s why I’m not getting laid more…
I want to be happy with our sex life; I try to keep quiet and not complain when H won’t have sex with me. But he has no idea how difficult it is. I can’t sleep, sometimes I can’t eat, I can’t concentrate (thank god my day job is so simple), and it’s borderline painful at some point because I never get a break from being aroused. My nipples are hard, I’m soaking wet, having to change my panties several times a day, and every time I masturbate I get hornier rather than less horny. It’s a vicious cycle, and the only thing that’s ever helped is getting fucked thoroughly. H certainly delivers when he wants to, but he rarely wants to. I don’t know what to do. My sex drive is a burden to him, and when we talk about it he doesn’t even bother to deny it. It’s not like I would choose to have such a constant need for sex, but it’s not a choice. I can’t control it. What does he expect? It’s not new. He’s known from the beginning about my needs. So why is it my fault that he doesn’t want to meet them anymore? I’m not the one who changed in this situation.
I love H. I would never leave him. But I really am struggling. I don’t feel like he will even listen to me, let alone actually discuss with me, things that I’m struggling with. He doesn’t understand my need to submit, doesn’t even have any context for how badly I need it. He isn’t willing to listen or talk about masochism, he doesn’t know how to be rough with me, and he is getting plenty of sex to be happy. So I’m the problem. If I could choose, I would be some averagely intelligent, shallow girl with no big dreams and no big secrets or complicated past. But that girl isn’t me, and I can’t become her. What do I do? Keep busy…that’s what I did when I was younger (cuz that kept me out of trouble so well), and until I come up with a more successful plan, that’s what I guess I’ll revert to.