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Can We Talk Seriously For a Moment? | Manolo for the Big Girl

Can We Talk Seriously For a Moment?

Last night, I read this terrifying and heartbreaking piece by Claudia at The Embodiment of Fat charting the progression of a violent relationship she used to be in. We all like to think this couldn’t happen to us, but the fact is that domestic violence is found in every segment of society. Rich or poor, young or old, fat or thin, straight or gay, male or female,  this could happen to anyone. I know women who have survived domestic abuse. It blows my mind that women so strong, so confident, and so centered have lived through precisely what Claudia describes.

If you suspect that your relationship may be edging into abuse, if you think someone you know might be in an abusive relationship, or if you fear that your behavior may be becoming abusive toward someone you love, please print out this list of warning signs and read it carefully.

If you recognize your relationship in that list, please call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 1 (800) 799-SAFE for help and more information.

Someone who really does love you will be glad you did.

7 Responses to “Can We Talk Seriously For a Moment?”

  1. Cambiata August 14, 2010 at 1:43 pm #

    You know, I’m a little shocked at myself. There was a man I was very in love with who broke up with me about a month ago. We were only together four months, and no we didn’t live together. But parts of this article resonate… he had a veneer of “One person in a relationship shouldn’t be asking the other how to live their life.” and any time we would see a movie or I would tell him a story about a man trying to change a woman to be what he wanted, he would say how terrible a thing that is. Yet at the same time, he always seemed to be trying to tell me how what I was doing in my life is wrong and that I should be doing things the way he suggested. And he was so loving in his suggestions, and I am a remarkably patient girl, so I never called him out for saying these things, I just admired him for having the courage to speak his mind.

    I guess the reality of his control issues really comes out in the way we broke up. He wanted me to visit for a week (we lived in different towns) while living with his sister, so I could see what living in his city was like. I agreed to this. But he wanted it in August and I thought that was too soon. Though I initially agreed to it anyway, I came back to the subject and suggested it should wait until after the beginning of the year. He was remarkably upset about it, and we argued about it for a week over emails. At the end of it, he broke up with me for being “too intense.” I suspect the real reason he broke up with me was because he wanted me to come to visit at a specified time and I wouldn’t do it; if he couldn’t control me, he didn’t want me. I’m proud to say I did not cry in front of him and I haven’t spoke to him since he broke up with me. I imagine he expected me to blame or beg him; I did neither.

  2. Claudia August 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm #

    Twistie, I just saw this – I am really blown away that it reached you like that. I agree completely – I always thought that I would never get into an abusive relationship, and it was really hard to acknowledge that I was. He was very good at justifying his behavior! Thanks for spreading the word, though – it is so important to get the issues around domestic violence out in the open.

    Cambiata, my ex talked a remarkably good game when it came to women’s rights, which was obviously a huge load of horseshit, but he prettied it up really well. It was a huge lesson to me to pay attention to whether someone’s actions matched up with their words.

  3. Toby Wollin August 14, 2010 at 5:01 pm #

    My whole attitude about domestic violence changed in 1986, when, while visiting my sister down in the DC area, I read an article in the Sunday magazine of the Washington Post about a woman who was married to the head lawyer of the SEC, The cover said it all; they had taken a head and shoulders shot of this woman and on the cover, had cut it in half; the other half was an Xray of the same other side of her head and shoulders. You could see all the healed broken bones. This woman had been beaten up in front of her three kids, thrown down the stairs while pregnant and miscarried, been dragged around by her hair. And all while this was happening, she got no support from her family, because their attitude was ‘if you have problems in your marriage, it’s YOUR fault. As a good Catholic, you need to work harder on your marriage.” She finally had to sneak out of the house while her husband was on business, take the kids and hide out. For a period of time, they were living out of her old station wagon. The reason this story came out (and it also hit the front page of the Wall Street Journal), was that they were destitute and she called her husband’s boss at the SEC to ask for money to be set aside from his paycheck so that they could eat. When the boss asked her husband about this, her husband exploded at the boss; it all came out and the husband was asked to resign. The woman eventually wrote a book about it and her now ex-husband sued her for half of whatever income she was getting from the book. HE’d been able, because he was a lawyer and people ignored his ‘little issue’ because he made his ex-wife sound like a witch, to get another legal job. She was barely scraping by with a job with a domestic violence not for profit. But for me, the blinding lesson was that domestic violence is not a ‘poor woman’ problem or a ‘stupid woman problem’ or a ‘not educated woman’ problem. This woman had a college degree; she was very bright; she came from an upper middle class family. She was married, unfortunately, to a man who believed that in order for him to have the power in the relationship(and he wanted the power in the relationship), he had the right to beat up his wife.

  4. Twistie August 14, 2010 at 6:45 pm #

    @ Cambiata: Congratulations on your escape from that one! It sounds as though there was a good shot he was looking for a victim. Abusers are often superficially charming and very good at emotional manipulation. That’s how they make you think it must be your fault when they berate and eventually hit.

    @ Claudia: This is an issue that’s deeply important to me, but it’s not a situation I have experienced from the inside out. Reading your article filled in emotionally a lot of the general knowledge I had from research. Thank you for sharing your experience so honestly and so eloquently. I felt your words needed to be read by as many people as possible, so I’m doing my best to spread them.

    @ Toby Wollin: I once read something that really resonated with me about the reasons behind domestic abuse. It was a quote along the lines that in the minds of their abusers, battered women exist to be battered. It made a lot of things slot into place for me. Suddenly I understood a little better that it doesn’t matter how outwardly successful the batterer is; it has nothing to do with power in the world, and everything to do with compensating for feeling powerless somewhere inside by controlling someone utterly.

  5. Cambiata August 14, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    @Claudia: One of the things that particularly resonated about your description of your ex and my last relationship was the description of him baiting you emotionally and then blaming you for it. My ex did that and a certain part of me wondered at the time if I was in fact “too emotional.” Luckily every loved one I posed the question to said in disbelief, “YOU? Too emotional?!”

    So yeah, seems like it was a lucky escape for me there.

  6. Cambiata August 15, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    @Claudia I almost forgot! THANK YOU for having the courage to share your story. I think a lot of women will be saved by reading it and recognizing their own relationship. God bless you.

  7. Anonymous For This Post August 21, 2010 at 5:21 pm #

    Toby: No, indeed, it is not a stupid/poor/whatever woman problem! (And the myth that is IS says a lot to me about what our society thinks of both abuse victims and poor, stupid, or whatever women, which is… not. much. Which is pretty inhumane.)

    My best friend has a PhD and some of these things happened to her. It took a call from the police to get it through her ex’s head that what he was doing was inappropriate. Because, you know, what women say and what women think isn’t worth listening to. But when a man with a gun and the authority of the state behind him calls to tell you to knock off the harassment, THEN someone of real value has spoken and it’s time to listen.

    Misogyny erases women, literally and figuratively, and race, class, education status, and anything else, doesn’t change that fact.