The Alabama Moderate

Painting the Red State Purple.

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How These Things Happen

Posted by ALmod on March 10, 2009

The question:

What kind of woman allows herself to be abused?

The answer you’ll normally hear:

She’s stupid.  She’s a redneck who thinks it’s normal.  It’s how she was brought up.  She doesn’t have very high self-worth.  She isn’t emotionally stable.  She’s been psychologically abused.

Oddly enough, few (if any) of the folks doing the answering have ever been a battered woman.  I keep hearing speculation from everywhere regarding the Rihanna/Chris Brown situation, and I suppose I’ve ignored it for as long as I can.  Chances are, you won’t get a woman who has been battered to give you a straight answer.

The reason:

She has overcome far too much to let you tear her back down.

So as a woman who has been in such a relationship and got lucky, I will answer this question for you.  Don’t think it’s easy for me.  It’s not, and for the reason I gave.  I’m about to put my very soul into these next few paragraphs.  I am not under any circumstances looking for so much as an encouraging email or comment in response.  In fact, I’m closing comments on this post.  I will allow trackbacks in case someone wants to share, but I’ve had enough third party insight into my “bravery” or “stupidity” for my own taste, thank you very much.  So if you do share, please keep that much to yourself.

As you can probably determine from my writing style, I’m not unintelligent.  I’m not a “redneck.”  I wasn’t raised to believe that physical abuse was in any way normal.  I was raised a Southern Baptist and was indoctrinated with all the beliefs that come with that.  I was brought up with so much self-esteem “nurture” that I’m shocked I didn’t end up as spoiled rotten and with as much a sense of false entitlement as most of my generational counterparts.

I’d dated plenty of guys by the time I was a sophomore in college, and I had options.  But what I wanted was a long-term relationship rather than all the flitting about that I’d done from relationship to relationship.

Then I met “Bobby.”  Bobby came from a nice family and was so very considerate and just special.  He had character flaws– his table manners were attrocious– but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.  And he always told me about how I made him better.  He needed me.  Before I knew it, I was engaged and in love.  Even with 20/20 hindsight, I couldn’t have predicted how things would unravel.

I can’t remember what we were arguing about.  We couldn’t agree on dinner or something like that.  It turned into a fierce shouting match, and at some point, I think I may have grabbed his shoulder.  The next thing I remember is that I was sitting on the couch when I had just been standing across the room a second ago.  We weren’t alone at the time, and when the friend who’d been there asked me if I was okay, I wasn’t quite sure what he meant.  According to him, Bobby had thrown me across the room rather hard onto the couch.  I didn’t feel like I’d been physically abused.  My arms were a little achy and even bruised, but it had been a rather intense spat.  Besides, I wasn’t one of those women.  I was classy.  I had no self-esteem issues.  I wasn’t on drugs.  This wasn’t abuse.  I brushed it off.

So after another month or so of this happening on occasion, I had little excuse when he finally did hit me, when he finally did pull my hair.  Maybe it was just a one-time thing, but I knew the answer to that one before the second and third times.  It was abuse, and I’d let it get to that point.  How?  I wasn’t one of those women.

So the delusion had worn off.  I knew exactly what was happening, and I knew I needed to leave, but it wasn’t that simple.  People would ask why I left, and I’d have to tell them something, but I couldn’t tell them that.  If I wasn’t willing to press charges, my claims would have no teeth.  If I did press charges, I had to admit to the world what happened, and complete strangers would make their usual assumptions.  He wasn’t worth putting myself through that.

My excuse when I left was that he was “an asshole.”  I left it at that.  Admitting to folks that I was abused would be admitting that there was something wrong with me, wouldn’t it?  In fact, it had been my pride and resolve (not a lack of either one) that had lead to me sticking around for much longer than I should have.  I was lucky.  I hadn’t been outright threatened by Bobby that he would come after me if I left him, though I did receive several tearful and sometimes angry phone calls from him saying that he needed me and that he couldn’t live without me.  The fact is that while Bobby might have believed that he couldn’t live without me, I knew that I couldn’t survive with Bobby.

In conclusion, I doubt that I’m a rare case when it comes to battered women.  When you look at the usual responses from folks on the outside looking in, you realize that there’s an unfair stigma attached to battered women by those who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.  Admitting that you’ve been battered is in a way admitting to those people that you fit into their neat little categories.  Going back means (at least in your own mind) that it’s really not that bad, so you can’t possibly be one of those women.  You are too strong.  You’ll never let them win.  They don’t deserve it.  Somehow, letting them win is worse than letting him win.

The question:

What kind of woman allows herself to be abused?

The correct answer:

A woman.

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One Response to “How These Things Happen”

  1. […] How These Things Happen « The Alabama Moderate. Sphere: Related Content Tags: Domestic Violence […]

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