The Abuse We Don’t See: Prince Charming the Emotional Abuser

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You’d think after escaping one abusive marriage there’d be no way I’d get involved in a second abusive relationship. How could anyone not see the red flags? The truth of the matter is, those flags fly in so many different colors, it’s hard to see one type of abuse when you’re so busy looking for another. Not to mention women are generally conditioned from childhood to hold some responsibility for the abuse they suffer.

My marriage was my measuring stick for new relationships. I’d never date a man with addiction problems, a man who was unfaithful, or a physically or verbally abusive man. To my credit, I didn’t. Instead, I dated a sneaky abuser. He was the proverbial, cliched wolf in sheep’s clothing—the man who would charm me out of my own self-worth and never leave a mark. His abuse looked an awful lot like him being too much in love and overly interested when it began. By the time the relationship was over, I was left spinning like a top out of control looking for the reasons why, all the while feeling the deep pain of his relentless emotional abuse.

Never once did this man put his hands on me. He never called me vile names or told me he hated me. In fact, he was so smooth with his abuse and control, I’m not sure he even realizes he was an abuser.

When we first met, we were 14. We were fond of one another, but nothing ever came of our teenage love affair. 25 years later, we met again online. I hadn’t heard from him for 15 years, but the light still shined brightly above his head. I had been separated about 9 months from my first abuser. He’d been single for about 5 years. The whirlwind that encompassed me left me breathless. He was all I’d dreamed. His words were perfect for a woman like me—a woman who was still licking the wounds from the first battle I’d fought. Looking back, his words were too perfect. Everything I needed to hear came flowing eloquently from his lips.

I’m not the jealous kind of guy who birddogs around checking up on girls.”

“I’d never ask you to put me before your kids.”

“You deserve to be happy and retain some independence.”

“I value you as a human being, and appreciate your talent and intelligence.”

Who could question those words? No one ever tells girls to beware of too many right answers. Our parents tell us to look out for guys with no job, no car, too many kids, prison records, and addictions. They just never tell us “The Charmer” can be equally as dangerous.

He made me feel magical. I’d never felt so cared for in my life. Although he lived 500 miles from me, we maintained constant contact. He texted and called every chance he got. We talked for hours on the phone. Within just a couple of months, he’d proposed. I was to move to be with him the following fall. It was like a Disney princess story. He told me how he could never picture himself with anyone else. He said I was the only woman who could ever make him happy. I was beautiful, intelligent, amazing, angelic, the light of his path, and the star of his night. What I really was becoming was a cake that’s had far too much icing slathered on. I was being smothered in too much sweetness. All the sugar coating he was doing was covering up his other side.

We’d been talking a few weeks when he first accused me of having another man in my house. My son had coughed, sending this man’s imagination into a spiral. I spent the better part of the night explaining that my home is small and my son was in the bathroom when he was coughing, and that there was certainly no other man in my home other than my sons. He wasn’t buying it. From that moment on, everything I did was suspect.

My Romeo then began to demand all my online login information, including my banking. I was to deactivate any social media accounts, or rather, let him deactivate them so he could change the login and email account information. This way, only he would have control over when they were reactivated. He would need all my phone records, the numbers of all my friends and family, and even needed to call some of my relatives just to make sure I wasn’t still seeing my ex-husband. Text messages were no longer fun, but a manner to keep track of me. I was to text him every 15 minutes, and if I was leaving my home, I was to text him who was going with me, and send pictures as proof.

I dismissed all this insanity as him “caring”. He was “too far away to see for himself”. He “loved me so much, he was afraid to lose me”.  He wasn’t calling me horrible names or hitting me. How could caring be abuse?

What I never saw coming was his “caring” escalating into more horrendous allegations, and more in-depth monitoring of my life.

I was accused of giving him a sexually transmitted infection ( something he didn’t even have), of sleeping with my teenaged son’s friends, of developing relationships with people in another state in between us who I was supposedly seeing at the gas stations on my way to his home,  and many other horrid things. Yet, I continued the relationship. Sure, all the things sounded like he pulled them straight off one of those TV crime shows, but hey, he was just so much in love with me, right?

Eventually, he started to control the time I spent with my family. He let me know that even though he lived away, he could have someone watching me. He didn’t want me to perform certain hygienic procedure such as shaving, because that meant I was going out with someone. I was no longer allowed to wear makeup unless he deemed the occasion appropriate. He insisted I change my wardrobe. I was required to send photos from the classes I was taking so I could prove where I was and who I sat by. No part of my life belonged to me anymore. Even my showers were timed.

No matter what he did, though, I found an excuse. I absorbed the blame because I’d probably “done something to make him think bad things”. As crazy as that sounds, it’s what most women are programmed to believe.

If we’d only be better, stronger women, men wouldn’t have to act so high handed with us.”

“If we were more capable of controlling our morals and emotions, men wouldn’t have to control us.”

“Other men wouldn’t try to have sex with us (even when it’s rape) if we’d just not act like whores.”

“It’s our jobs to make men happy, so when they’re not, we better figure out how to make things better.”

“Its men’s’ jobs to protect us from the world and ourselves.”

“If we didn’t make men so mad, they wouldn’t have to yell at us, hit us, etc.”

All those lies were what he tried to pin on me. I say “try” as if he wasn’t successful. He was. He made me feel like a piece of dirt. I carried around guilt for things I’d never done. I felt guilty for his own self-induced worry and pain. He never had to own his own paranoia and abusive behavior. I shouldered all that for him. It was my fault, of course, because he “just loved me so much it made him crazy”.

I can’t count the nights I was kept awake by him calling me, making accusations, breaking up with me, saying he wished he never met me, and leaving me in a crying heap trying to figure out why. Many holidays, weekends, and birthdays were ruined by his own paranoid delusions. I kept patting his back and rubbing his head telling him it was all okay and that I understood. I excused every horrible behavior he exhibited no matter the cost to my emotional well-being.

Meanwhile, my other personal relationships were falling apart. Friends were furious with me for allowing this. Family members threatened to confront him. No one could stand him but me. I was lost in a world of abuse sugar coated with the word “love”.

Our relationship eventually began to dissolve. The marriage couldn’t happen because we lived in two separate states, and seeing what my son had saw, he was no longer willing to move.  5 days following our one year anniversary, Prince-Not-So-Charming broke up with me for about the 12th time. I was devastated. He even found a way to make his desire to be single my fault because I couldn’t move until my son graduated, and I also didn’t make enough money to help him build his financial portfolio. He said I was driving him crazy, and so he was done.

No matter all the abuse, all I could feel was that I wasn’t good enough. I felt like if I’d been a perfect person he’d still love me. I’d cry for hours trying to prove to him I was faithful and loving. The key is that, even though he abused me, even though he was hurting me, I was apologizing. I was trying to make reparations for things I’d never done—never even dreamed of doing.  He continued to manipulate me even though we were no longer together. All he had to do was text or call, and because of a year’s worth of conditioning, I was Ms. Hop To It.

It took almost 3 years for me to escape the emotional abuse he dealt out. He’d long since moved on by the time I did. Him finding another serious relationship was the best thing he could’ve done for me. His new relationship facilitated the end of our communication for several months. I then had time to heal, to reevaluate the situation, to mourn the loss of my dream, and to call him what he is: an abuser.

He still calls me from time to time. Sometimes I answer the phone–sometimes I don’t. I no longer feel a sense of obligation to this man. He’s simply an old friend, but I tread lightly. He had crawled up inside my brain, rotting away my sense of self like a worm into an apple. It took a good amount of time before I could cut away all the damage he’d caused, but I did it. I certainly won’t allow him the chance to infest my mind again. I don’t bother trying to psychoanalyze him. It’s not my problem what his problems are. I’m just happy to have my life back.

Looking back, I wish I’d known that “too nice” should be reason to worry. I wish I’d had the strength to say “Hell NO!” when he began accusing and controlling me. I wish I’d known that it’s not a woman’s job to be perfect. There are just so many myths I wish I could’ve seen past. Now, I just wish that some other woman, whose friends are warning her to “stay away from him”, will see past the “I love you” and face what she knows deep down inside: he’s an abuser. Don’t let his words excuse his actions. Abusers are the best manipulators. Your intuition is your armor. Stand strong. Be brave. Lose that Asshole!

If you need help escaping an abusive relationship call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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Addiction Treatment: Incarcerating the Mentally Ill

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I’m not exactly sure what people think goes on behind the doors of their local jailhouses, but it certainly isn’t counseling. Jails in the US have become institutions for profit. The less money they spend on those incarcerated persons, they happier they are. The more frequently they can keep those folks coming back, the more opportunities they have to make a profit. All locking up addicts and the mentally ill really does is to create a cyclical environment in which the addicts/mentally ill offend, are incarcerated, are released, reoffend, are re-incarcerated, and round and round we go.

Let’s face it, we do little here to address mental illness and addiction. I think we might have some utopian dream that inside the walls of our jails, inmates attend counseling, work out their problems, and are then fit for society once again. If this were true, we wouldn’t have a word called “recidivism”. Unfortunately, the ugly truth is that the “programming” attended by inmates in our county jails is usually a church service, some low-level schooling, or listening to another addict who has volunteered to speak to them. Hardly ever is there anything in the way of professional counseling. In fact, most of the time, the only “counseling” addicts/mentally ill persons receive is career criminal training. Many offenders go into jail with a B.A in Marijuana and come out with a PhD in Meth or Heroin. I seriously know one man who learned to be a meth cook while he was in jail—something he’d never dreamed of doing before.

Why would someone come out of jail only to commit more crime? Felons are mostly unemployable. So the guy with the aspiration to come out of jail and start over clean and clear are squashed. If a person can’t get a job to support their families or themselves, what are they supposed to do? They reoffend, and the system often sets them up to fail from the start.

I don’t know anyone who would pick prison over house arrest, but they probably should. For the average person, house arrest is an expensive venture that can lead to a longer incarceration than if they’d simply served their sentence. With the original sentence, often the offender will get a 1 day equals 2 credit. So, a 4year sentence is 2 years. When they’re assigned house arrest, they might serve only 2 years in the comfort of their homes, but the cost is outrageous, the rules are stringent, and in no way does this keep an addict or mentally ill person safe from their own bad decisions. If at any time the offender falls behind in payments, they’re subject to revocation. If at any time a home search or random drug test finds them in possession or to have used drugs, they’re subject to revocation. In case these public service workers haven’t figured this out, left to their own devices, newly recovering addicts will use. SHOCKER, I know. People who are fighting addiction and mental illness need constant counseling and guidance—something the courts do not afford most people on the long term. How, then, do we keep mentally ill and addicted people out of prison?

We need to remove the profitable aspect from incarceration. Greed is part of the human condition. By allowing some very greedy persons to decide they should profit from not only hardened criminals, but from the mentally ill and addicted, we perpetuate rather than cure those problems. We cannot allow the powers that be to line their pockets with the blood of our loved ones and friends.

Furthermore, we need to pull the mentally ill and addicted back from the margins and into our arms. No. We cannot let people rob us blind, ruin our lives, or harm us, but we have to let them know they, too, have a place outside the walls of a prison in our society. They must know they are valued, loved human beings. We must give them all the help they will allow us to give, and mind you, I’m aware we have to protect ourselves from the harm they might bring to us, but we still must be tolerant and accepting. Our ailing population of mentally ill and addicted people is not the enemy. They do not deserved to be pushed to the fringe and forgotten. We must remember that those who need us most are probably those we understand the least. Let the human condition show more than our greed. Let us also show that beautiful part of humanity that is our open arms. We can continue to  live in a delusional world where we tell ourselves “we’re doing all we can,” or we can work to change the way we view people who are not criminals, but rather are  sick.

(Side note: School systems think they address addiction with random drug testing, but listen up parents: When your child fails that drug test and is pulled into the principal’s office, they give up their constitutional rights. Anything they say will be used against them. They do not have the right to be questioned with mom or dad present, nor do they have the right to legal counsel. They will be coerced into signing a confession for “school use”, and then the school officials will contact the police. The signed confession will then land in the hands of the police, and be used as evidence in the criminal arrest of your child. DO NOT for one second believe this is going to be a counseling session for your child. Once your child has become a criminal, they cycle has begun. Do not allow this to happen. Advise your children to admit and sign nothing!)

Musical Tastes and SAT Scores: Contaminated Correlatives

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So I happened upon this “study” that supposedly shows that intelligence can be determined by musical tastes. Admittedly, the author states it’s not actually a “scientific” study, so it really proves nothing in the way of being a true measure of intelligence. What it does prove, however, is to be disparaging and racist.

Most of the music frequently associated with any ethnicity other than white is plotted on the lower ends of the SAT spectrum. Are we to believe that people of color are stupid? No. Surely that is not the point, is it? (Perhaps the author should clarify that.) What it does seem to point out is that more affluent schools have a higher rate of a white students. Why is that? Oh, well, let’s see: Lack of access to affluent schools by people of color—and this happens for many reasons. I won’t address all those here. The article also points to the tragic failure that is standardized testing.

Basically, charts like this prove nothing, and are quite offensive. Not to say people of color can’t like Radiohead, but why can’t smart people like Rap? Moreover, do all “smart people” veer away from music associated with certain cultures to assimilate? Is that forced assimilation?

It’s also interesting that “classical” isn’t associated with Beethoven. Maybe, and this is just my judgment, the author of this piece should reevaluate his own ability to classify and group pieces of information—maybe we should ask him his preference in music to see where he falls on his own scale.

Don’t Armchair Quarterback The Ebola Conversatoin

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You know what really angers me to no end? 4th quarter armchair quarterbacks. Nah, I’m not talking about football. What I’m talking are those people who just now decided to join the Ebola conversation.

Ebola isn’t new. We’ve been fighting this disease for decades—4 at least. The troubling thing is, I can’t count the people I know who didn’t give a shit 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, even 1 year ago.

To them, Ebola was a “foreign disease”. It was a “them” problem. So many people just shrugged it off because this virus only affected a small part of Africa. Who cares then, right? Dark-skinned foreigners die from a virus? That’s their problem, right? They probably brought it upon themselves somehow, right? —All these and many other ridiculous statements that I’ve heard prior to this year concerning Ebola.

Oh, but you let this shit show up on American soil? Now they’re ready for business.

I’m not sure why it never occurred to folks that this virus could spread, what with the advent of global travel, the automobile , the airplane and such. (in my snarkiest voice ever))Why—how could we—the great and mighty US citizens –ever fall victim to such a disease?

But now, these assholes are sitting upright in their recliners shouting at the top of their lungs, pointing fingers, and panicking.

We “liberals” probably planned this to “thin the herd”. “Liberal pansies” afraid to deal with this “the right way” (what the fuck ever that is) caused all this. Yes folks, once again it is the fault of Obama. Obama “single handedly gave us all Ebola”, and we’ll probably all “be dead by December”.—Such is the talk from the people who didn’t care last year when people in Africa were dying. These loudmouths didn’t care 2,3,4,5, 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago, either.

Is this the way to handle a global crisis? Are we just going to point fingers and say “he did it”?

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter who dropped the ball. What matters is it was dropped—and way before this disease ever touched American soil. Now, we need a solution. Blaming the current administration isn’t a solution to Ebola any more than blaming Peyton Manning will make the Broncos win last year’s Super Bowl.

All pointing fingers does is create a bigger divide. It brings nothing to the conversation of stopping this disease. Not to mention, had anyone in power so much as breathed the thought of addressing this years ago as a measure of humanitarian aide, these same fools who are whooping and hollering now would have been up in arms demanding we stop. (See where not wanting to help folks will get you?)

So far, three people in the US have been diagnosed with Ebola. Several more are in quarantine. Meanwhile in Africa—thousands of people have died, thousands have contracted the disease, and fighting it becomes increasingly difficult without clean, hot water, soap, and a vaccination.

The conversation doesn’t always have to be about us. Sometimes, believe it or not, we’re supposed to make the conversation about people who don’t even live on the same continent….and guess what? By doing so we also make life better for us all because we can explore a cure and vaccination.

This shit of people not caring about people who live differently or look differently from them exhausts me. It tires me even more that those people who didn’t care now place blame on folks like me because we are “liberal”.

So while they’re busy playing Politic Dick, what they seem to do best, the rest of us can figure something out. In the meantime, prepare yourselves for an onslaught of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and tales of panic.

Just in time for Halloween—Terrified Loudmouth Conservatives

Let’s Get Real About Sexual Abuse, Gender and Perception

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I think it’s time we quit projecting boys who are sexually abused as men. They deserve the right to say they feel victimized, too. Let’s have a real conversation about sexual abuse, gender, and perception. You can find my article, Innocence Lost: Sexual Abuse, Gender, and Perception by following the link to The Well Written Woman site.

“Passing” in 2014

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I’m really troubled by the fact so few white people are willing to admit their privilege. Moreover, I’m even more appalled that so many white people will accept people of color only if they “act white”. Although I don’t have time to expand on this at the moment, I feel white people expecting people of color to “pass as white” is an incredibly important part of the equation we’re working with. I’ll explore this more in just a few days. Stay Tuned…..