Slow, but sure
Some of the tactics that the abuser employed and my own responses.
Date: 3/17/2011 8:14:39 AM ( 26 mon ) ... viewed 421 times
So, I'm an intelligent, educated individual. If I was as smart as I thought I was at that age, why didn't I just walk away from someone who displayed so many red flags? I wish that there were a clear, concise answer to that question - it's one that victims of domestic violence and abuse hear, frequently. "Why don't you just leave?" is echoed by family, friends, coworkers, associates, and others.
One of the tactics in my situation was causing me to believe that I wasn't worthy of anything better. That began with the purely physical aspects through sex, substance abuse, and physical appearance. By crossing over into darker sexua| territory, I became a "willing" participant in activities that I found distasteful, but rationalized as doing what was necessary to "please" my partner. I went along with it, and he took advantage of that single foolish surrender at every given opportunity. He frequently questioned me about previous relationships, and painted me as a purely promiscuous creature. Comments included, "I'll bet you Did It all the time with _____," and, "All women fantasize about being raped." The second comment suggested a hidden hatred of women that I did not recognize or understand until years later.
The emotional tactics ranged from financial control to spiritual abuse, and everything in between. I allowed myself to be slowly absolved of any financial matters as he took them over, one by one. The first indication that there would be trouble was the fact that he could never find and hold down a position of employment. It was never enough money, too many hours, too demanding, and so on - supervisors always seemed to have it in for him, and he was just a poor, poor guy who was being targeted, always. My father, who enjoyed a self-made social status, placed this man in positions of employment, only to have the soon-to-be-son-in-law bail on Mondays after a hard weekend of partying.
Then, came the shift or absence of personal responsibility and accountability. The fiancee did, indeed, bail nearly every Monday and told me that it was because he couldn't stand being away from me. For anyone reading this, you have to use your imagination to get the gist of the previous sentence. The abuser was placing all of the responsibility for his success/failure upon my shoulders, and I allowed myself to feel flattered by this. The thought goes something like this: He must love me that much and find me that desirable, that he'll risk losing a job just to be with me! One of the clearest indications that someone has an agenda is excessive flattery - I'm not talking about, "Boy, you look lovely," but more along the lines of, "You're so hot that I'm going to have a hard time keeping you to myself." The abuser used my need for acceptance like a bow across a fiddle, and I allowed it.
Along with the financial and responsibility aspects came religious/spiritual control. God (or, whomever) demanded that partners stick together and support one another, no matter what. The abuser would ridicule my personal beliefs that began as what I rationalized to be jokes, but later became one of the strongest tools in his arsenal. The jokes would be derisive, in nature, and always paint the Episcopalian practices that I had been raised with as archaic and utterly wrong. "It's the Businessmen's Club," is what how he would refer to it, and then he would launch into a lengthy oration to support his views. If I ever disagreed with him, on any subject, the personal ridicule would intensify from, "You've got to be joking! You can't possibly believe that!" to, "You're just wrong."
Then came the secrecy and deception. By default, I began to hold back information from friends and family. In an effort to cause them to accept this loser just as I had, I presented a much more inflated version of what he was - seriously inflated. He had Plans and he would Act On Those Plans, at some point in the future. It was Just A Matter Of Time before he finally got the break that he needed and I was committed to him, in every sense of the word. Finally, we decided to get married, on the sly - to go to the Justice of the Peace, make it legal, and then have a wedding at a later date to satisfy my parents.
My parents were also part of the control process. My father was a retired military officer who had worked his way into the Naval Academy at the age of 15 and had to wait for a year before he could enter. My mother was from an influential family of London, and was very susceptible to flattery by the abuser. In front of me, he would say to my mother, "Maria, if you were a few years younger, I'd drop your daughter and take off with you." Excessive flattery. My father, on the other hand, was not charmed by the abuser, at all, and the abuser would frequently malign my father's accomplishments by comparing him to his own POW surviving father - only a Real Man could survive being a POW, and my father only sat behind a desk ordering people around.
Bit by tiny bit, my self-confidence began to erode. Because of my system of beliefs, I couldn't leave this person that I had married - it's for Life, and the abuser used that advantage with such skill that it became as sharp as a stiletto during the darkest times. "A Good Wife obeys her husband," was the first (and, thereafter constant) mantra that I heard over, and over, and over. The first time he said it, I countered with, "I never promised to OBEY you," and I tried to defend the meaning of "obey" in marriage vows - of course, I was wrong and ridiculed for my failure to adhere to God's requirements, and obey.
Before I knew it, I had become pregnant, and the addition of another human being sealed my fate - I couldn't leave without a job, without support, without any means of assistance, with this child who was so dependent upon me. These things all happened within a year of meeting this man - whirlwind courtship, secret marriage, isolation, pregnancy, and the worst was yet to come.
But, in my mind, this man had potential - he was clearly intelligent, witty (I thought), sensual, and needed me. I allowed the "love is blind" adage to morph into, "LOVE IS STUPID!"
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