The Good Guy

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He’s going to be the greatest guy…until he isn’t.

Your friends will love the way he makes you laugh…until he won’t allow you to be their friend anymore.

They’ll think it’s just you being in love. So, they don’t think much of it.

Your family will adore the way he holds you close…until they see the look on your face.

They’ll believe the lie you tell them… again. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m really happy. So, they don’t think much of it.

Your neighbors will think he’s the greatest guy, always working on things around the house… until they hear the shouts and cries late one night.

They’ll believe it was just a lover’s quarrel, and no one really wants to get involved anyway. So, they don’t think much of it.

On first glance, no one would believe the guy who carries the conversation like him, always offers a helping hand, talks about protecting you, and generally looks like a normal, clean cut guy would be who he is.

But when the shadows fall and you’re all alone,

You’ll believe the words he says when he tells you if you could just be trusted he’d give your debit card.

You’ll just know he’s right when he says it’s your fault he can’t trust you.

You’ll absolutely believe he just gets so angry because he loves you.

As you dry your tears, he’ll comfort you with a quiet

I’m sorry I had to yell like that

You just make me crazy when other men look at you

I love you too much to not make sure you love me too.

I wish you’d remember when I tell you not to say certain things.

I wish you’d just put dinner on when it’s time.

I wish you’d not hide things from me.

Then, while you’re driving to work careful not to make an extra turn, in your mind you hope,

Today is finally the time he’ll believe you

Today is the last time you have to send him pictures of where you are, show him receipts, and let him check your phone

Today will be the last time he writes down the mileage on your car.

And it could be

Because today could be the day he finally snaps.

Today could be the day his “love” makes him tighten the grip around your neck a little too much, a little too long.

Today could be the day he finally pulls the trigger.

But you don’t leave because no one will ever believe a guy like him in the daylight, a guy who wears a suit and washes his car twice a week, could be the monster he becomes in the dark when no one is looking.

Who would you tell anyway?

Emotional abuse isn’t a crime

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, there is help. Please call -1-800-799-7233. Please know computers and cell phones can be easily monitored and never wiped completely clean. Call the number. Get help now. If you witness abuse, don’t dismiss it. Victims will often make excuses for their abusers, especially when confronted in front of them. EMOTIONAL ABUSE IS ABUSE, TOO! Just because there are no bruises or police reports doesn’t mean there is no abuse. Get Help Before It’s Too Late. Over 10 million people are the victims of domestic violence each year in the US alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

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A Direct Response to Those who Say Women Had No Right to March:

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Social media has been abuzz with opinions in the past few days, mostly involving the women around the world who chose to march in response to, what many assume, is the election and inauguration of Trump. While I would never deny many of us are left feeling disenfranchised by the surreal reality of what’s transpired, let’s get one thing clear, he is not important enough alone to warrant these marches. He’s just gasoline on a pile of smoldering discrimination many experience every day.

For those, including women, who say women are not discriminated against in the US, there is apparently a disconnect between realities. It’s undoubtedly some level of privilege that allows some to say “I’ve never seen this or that”—a privilege many would love to live. However, to be clear, one person’s reality does not mean it is the realty for all. We cannot know what every woman in this nation experiences by glancing through our own windows. To be understood fully, we have to look through all the windows from every level—a task only possible by listening to the qualitative data—the voices—so many like to deny, or worse, squelch. Maybe some have never been mistreated or disrespected as females in the US, but some have. To say we American women have it made as a whole is a damaging misconception at best, a despicable lie at worst.

Here’s the truth many would like to shove off the playing field we call protest:

If you have never been humiliated, belittled, or damaged by the process of reporting a rape within the US, you do not get to say women & women’s rights are important here.

If you have never been slut shamed for wearing the clothes you choose, or worse, been blamed for your own sexual assault because of them, you do not get to say women are held in high regard.

If you have never been denied a medically necessary abortion because a group’s religious beliefs interfere with the process of medical care, you do not get to say women always have the right to choose.

If you have never tried to attain a promotion or raise in a male-dominated field without being told to “get in the kitchen, “ being forced to flirt, or being forced to perform sexual favors, you do not get to say women are treated equally.

If you have never had to fight your insurance company to cover preventative tests, like pap smears or cancer screenings, while insurance is regularly covering Viagra for impotence, you do not get to tell women their lives matter.

If you have never been forced to either abstain from sex or get pregnant, even in the context of a marriage, because you can’t afford the birth control your insurance won’t cover, you do not get to say women have the same choices as men.

If you have never become pregnant as the result of a rape, and then been forced to give your rapist visitation rights of that child, you do not get to tell women they have the same control as men.
If you have never reported domestic abuse, only to be asked what you did to make him mad, you cannot say women have equal protection.

If you have never had to fight your employer for maternity leave, a clean, private area & the time to pump breast milk for your child, you do not get to say the workplace is “woman friendly”.
If you have never had to tell a man you have a boyfriend to stop his advances because “I’m not interested, “ or “No” were not enough, you cannot say men value women’s opinions.

This is just a short list of the discrimination women face in the US. It doesn’t even begin to touch on intersectionallity, or the discrimation felt by other ethnic and religious groups. No, it’s not Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, or India. No, we do not have honor killings and female genital mutilation, although those things happen in the shadows. However, the argument that we don’t have it as bad as them is as ridiculous as saying someone with lung cancer shouldn’t complain because someone with brain cancer has it worse. It’s still cancer, which is exactly why women rose up to meet the occasion.

We stand and fight because a man who not only openly scoffs at, but promotes the degradation of women and other minorities represents the cancer that has lived so long within this country. Trump isn’t the only problem. It’s everything he represents. Sure, maybe he is a good businessperson. Maybe his failures are fewer than his successes, but it’s how he became successful we should worry about. The way he speaks, the way he openly degrades, women, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and people who live with disabilities is sickening. To allow his presidency to become a larger reign of terror is to let us all implode.

You see, we don’t march so we can have casual Fridays, free cable, or even because we don’t like the word “pussy”. We march because when he says “grab,” “wall,” or “register,” we know what that connotes: assault fascism, and the end of the freedoms so many of us have fought for—not just for ourselves, but for ALL.

A Cycle of Abuse:Understanding Why Women Might Vote for Trump

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s the mindset of the abused woman: how we get there, why we stay there. I was an abused woman; it’s not just observation that gives me this insight. So, when I read this New York Times article about why women chose to vote for President elect Donald Trump, I heard the voices of so many women, myself included, who have excused an abuser’s bad behavior. Many of the reasons some of these women cite could come straight from an abused girlfriend’s or wife’s memoir.

One woman, Kasia Riddle, used the “good earner” excuse, stating the PEOTUS has “good business sense”. Pam Cornett said the words many abused women say when confronted by loved ones about their abusive significant other, telling others they shouldn’t categorize him: You “can’t put him in a box.” There were other varying reasons, but two were particularly bothersome and telling. Guzin Karide says she believes Trump is “a voice for women,” while Sandy Pearson is quoted as saying Trump is a “good man, deep down.” Pearson, from whom the headline of the article is taken, suggests her choice was easy when she would overlook the bad and “focus on the good.”

Women have been conditioned to “focus on the good” for centuries. We are taught from infancy to speak only kind words and to never mention someone’s negative attributes, no matter how bad they might be. Ladylike decorum trumps being truthful, pun not intended, but fitting. We’re even told to smile through pain and difficult situations; our menfolk don’t like to be uncomfortable due to our disapproving facial expressions. We’ve also been taught we don’t have a valid voice in the world. As Karide’s statement suggests, we need someone to be our voice—someone besides a female, someone who the world takes seriously: a man.

Despite our struggle to escape this unfortunate truth, the word of a man, even an abusive man, is worth far more to the world than the supposedly overly emotional, indecisive, misguided, shiftless voice of a woman, regardless of her level of experience or expertise. Thus the reason women for centuries have married men who mistreated them, stayed with their abusers, and focused on men’s “good” qualities instead of giving them the boot. After all, both men and women describe females who choose to be single as “damaged” and “faulty,” or even as “rabid feminists” not to be taken seriously. We don’t even trust other women, let alone expect men to see us in a different light.

Understanding the fact women still rely on men who leave them battered and broken emotionally, financially, and physically makes understanding why some women can look to Trump, and his plethora of male-centric supporters, as the “voice of women,” the man who will “Make American Great Again,” the “good man, deep down” who, regardless of his repulsive rhetoric and actions, will lead us into a financially and socially secure place as a nation. Men have inculcated women to not only ignore, but deny abusive actions and words in order to protect the patriarchy and its power. Escaping this harsh truth is difficult at best.

American women who speak out about their decision to vote for Trump are reminiscent of the hundreds of women I’ve spoken with who try to excuse their abusers.

He only wants what’s best for me. It’s my fault he has to be so harsh.”
“He’s not that bad once you get to know him.”
“He really loves me. He just sounds mean.”
“He didn’t really lie. He just didn’t tell me the whole truth because he knew I’d overreact. ”
“He’s better than someone else who might abuse me worse.”

I’ve heard the stories over and again—different voices, same plot. Women who’ve decided to vote for Trump are largely the same. Just as we shouldn’t judge a woman whose significant other punches them in the face, we shouldn’t judge the women who choose to support Trump. Instead, this should open a new dialogue. Maybe if we changed the way we taught women to respect men and excuse their abuse, these supporters would have viewed our President Elect through different eyes. Maybe if we taught women not to accept misogyny,they wouldn’t accept it from the man who will be in a position of power strong enough to diminish all we’ve fought to achieve.

An Open Letter to His New Ex-Wife

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Remember when I was the bad guy? Yeah. So do I. I always knew you had the wrong idea about me. “She’ll learn,” I told myself. His empty words, hollow promises, and blatant lies had reeled you in. But the truth, just like the dirt, always comes out in the wash, so they say. His wash water must look pretty filthy right about now.

It was never me keeping his kids from him as he said it was. He simply never made the effort to see them. He’d show up once in a great while, hang out for 15 minutes, and then his phone would go off and he’d be out the door. Visiting his kids was his cover, I’m sure, but as they can tell you, they only saw him maybe 10 times over the last few years. They’re adults now, but it still hurts them more than his cheating hurts you.

See, they’re his blood. He created them. He has a cosmic obligation to treat them with love, dignity, and respect. Being cheated on hurts, for sure. Now imagine if it was your father who betrayed you. So yeah. I stood up for them. That doesn’t make me the bad guy, though. That just makes me my children’s’ protector.

What you never thought would happen came true. He treated you just like he treated me. I know you’ve been telling yourself all these years that you were so much better than me—that marriage was “forever,” and you wouldn’t just walk away like I did. I thought that once, too. I thought I’d made a vow to live with this man for all my life, and I did everything within my power to make our marriage work. It was only when the lying, cheating, and abuse became so toxic our own children couldn’t live in it anymore that I made him leave. You’re no better than me just because you tried harder than me; I was with him much longer than you. I think I tried plenty hard.  You’re no worse than me, either. All of his actions had absolutely nothing to do with either of us, and everything to do with the fact he is a narcissist who uses and abuses people until they break.

I hate that you’re going through the heartbreak. I feel terrible that another person has suffered like I did. It makes me sick that another child will pay the price for his lack of ability to be a caring human being. I know just exactly how you feel. I’ve been in your shoes, so trust me when I say don’t let him pull you back in. Don’t let his tears and threats of suicide change what you know is true. If he comes back, things will be better for a few days or weeks, but then he’ll go back to his same harmful ways. This man is only capable of caring about himself. You will never be his No. 1. His child won’t be, either. Try and remember that it’s not him you miss. It’s not him you cry for. Who would miss a liar, cheater, and abuser? What you cry for is the loss of the dream your relationship could work. Your tears are you hopes of “forever” falling from your reality, and that’s okay. Mourn them. Just make sure you don’t let mourning lead to more than a little sorrow because none of this is your fault.Don’t let his mistakes and bad choices make you become despondent and depressed. Don’t let more of his lies make you lose who you are, ruin your self-esteem.  Even though they say “It takes two,” in reality it can take only one to ruin a good thing, and babe, the “one” wasn’t you any more than it was me.

 

(cover image via:https://www.google.com/search?q=an+open+letter+to&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBmo79zMDKAhWKJiYKHbsnATcQ_AUICCgD#imgrc=Mwpz6YOIcIOy6M%3A)

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)

Throwing a Flag on Domestic Violence and the NFL

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Here’s a piece I wrote for The Well Written Woman concerning the neglect of a huge sports organization when its players decide to hurt other human beings. Is this just a witch hunt against the NFL as some have said, or has breeding violent men become a cottage industry? Give me your thoughts.