This essay has been inspired by the 'male side of gender issue' thread on the Author's Hangout. It's in no way meant to be moralizing and, maybe, even not informative but it's there.
Domestic Violence, Spousal Abuse. Ugly names huh? For hundreds of thousands of men and women around the world it's a reality. Abusers call it 'Love'; the abused, well sometimes they're so far gone they only call it 'their life.'
Nobody knows what brings it on, as abuse has numerous faces. It can be physical, emotional, psychological, monetary or hundreds of other forms that I haven't encountered, and wish never to encounter. They don't have to be all together to be considered abuse, sometimes they appear one at a time, sometimes only one form appears but nonetheless, when abuse shows its ugly face you can be sure somebody's life will be destroyed.
I wish I could say in clear explanations what is and what isn't abuse, but unfortunately I can't. I can only speak from personal experience, mine and men and women that I consider friends, and tell you what it was for us.
- It's him expecting dinner to be on the table as soon as he arrives, even though you're going to school full time, work 40 hours/week, take care of the kids and make sure the house is in impeccable condition;
- It's having to draw his bath at night and sit on the commode while he's washing so he can complain to you about his day and not see anything wrong with it;
- It's doing the grocery and buying only what HE likes because you know he won't be happy if you buy what YOU like;
- It's filling up the car and knowing the fuel will have to hold until next week because he won't give you more gas money;
- It's putting all the bills under your name but having to give HIM the money to pay it because he says so;
- It's never seeing his pay check because he says you don't need to, anyway yours is big enough for the house expense;
- It's having him talk about you as if you weren't there;
- It's him telling you he's told everybody you're stupid and you better act accordingly when his boss comes to dinner this weekend;
- It's feeling your blood freeze when he glares at you from across the room because you're enjoying yourself and he hasn't allowed it;
- It's having a conversation with someone and have them say "Wow, you're not half as dumb as he had painted you to be";
- It's cooking dinner and have him throw it all out when it's cooked because he's decided that's not what he wants to eat;
- It's having him bruise your arms and legs because he knows he cannot hit you in the face, it would show too much, and you thanking him for being considerate;
- It's being pregnant and having him tell everybody he encounters that the child isn't his so he won't lose his 'options';
- It's taking your child to the hospital and never have him there to relieve you because hospitals are for sissies and he doesn't have time to waste;
- It's having sex when HE wants and being denied orgasms because you don't 'deserve' it for whatever reasons he's come up with;
- It's telling you he doesn't want you to see your friends because they're a bad influence on you;
- It's telling you your family is not worthy of his time and you'd better make sure he's never there when you see them;
- It's keeping the kids from making noise because daddy's home and he doesn't want to hear them breathe;
- It's making sure the kids have eaten before he arrives so he won't have to 'suffer' their presence while he's enjoying his food;
- It's only watching the TV programs HE watches because he says everything else is crap and you don't need more stupidity to enter your brain;
- It's having him give you the 'silent treatment' (he doesn't talk to you for days on end, acts as if you're not there, totally ignores you) because you've decided to keep going to school even though he told you to stop;
- It's sending a wedding invitation to your future mother in law and receive a "My condolences, I pity you" as a reply and not see it as a bad omen,
- It's only wearing the clothes he tells you to, because everything else makes you look fat and he definitely doesn't want anyone to know his wife is a 'fat cow';
- It's keeping you from talking on the phone. At first it's very sweet; he's taking the phone from your hand, hangs it up, takes you to the bedroom and fucks you royally when you complain he's just hung up on your friend or family and he says he couldn't wait another minute to 'have' you but after a while he simply hangs up without reason, just because he hasn't allowed you to talk on the phone;
- It's forbidding you to work so he can keep a tight check on you.
- It's pleading to have money to buy milk for the kids, even though it's YOUR money and you've earned it;
- It's him calling you in the middle of the grocery store to make sure you're exactly where you said you would be and having to tell him exactly what's in your cart;
- It's him making you spend all your money on something HE wants, to make sure you'll depend on him for the rest;
- It's being told off when you go to the Salvation Army to buy winter coats for the kids and pay more than 5$ when he's wearing one you've just paid 300$ for;
- It's walking in the snow with your running shoes because if you buy yourself a pair of boots he won't give you money to buy boots for the kids;
- It's only cooking what HE wants, never what you would like;
- It's finding out, when you've finally got the help you needed to leave, that the bills haven't been paid for the last six months and because they're all under your name you'll have to pay them if you don't want your 'good name' to suffer;
I could keep on like that for page after page and it still wouldn't be everything. Abuse is very insidious and you only notice it after the fact.
People think that leaving is easy, however, when you've walked in an abused person's shoes for a while you realize that leaving is the hardest thing to do. The first thing the abuser makes sure to do is strip you of all your basic survival skills. You don't know anything anymore and you're afraid.
If you know of an abusive situation, please try to help put an end to it. Don't put yourself in the middle if you don't want to but get them the help they need, even if it's only a shoulder to cry on for the abused person. Every little shred of decency and goodness the abused person sees is a little bit of hope and sunshine into their life.
This essay is dedicated to my friends, known and unknown, who yesterday, today or tomorrow have to live with this reality.
May we all find shelter in the storm.