I realize I didn't have the most normal childhood.
I was pretty much raised by my grandparents until my early teens.
Later on, I lived with my aunt and uncle.
They owned a bail office where I worked and lived until early adulthood.
Violence was a part of life. Our clients came in torn to shreds. On many occasions, I provided basic first aid while they signed the paperwork.
Over and over again, I'd hear the same story.
"I'm not going to press charges. He loves me. He's sorry."
One time a woman actually told a 12 year old me: "Look, sweetie. The bruises will heal, but the diamonds are forever. Whenever he goes off the handle and does something like this, he buys me a make-up present. A BIG one."
Violence was also no stranger after-hours.
My aunt and uncle used to get into rip roaring fights that would put a hurricane to shame.
By no means were either one of them a battered spouse. Each gave as good as they got. I clearly remember my uncle shoving my aunt up against the wall hard enough to leave a crack in the plaster. Without missing a beat, she went into the kitchen, got out a cast iron frying pan, and then made groaning noises like she was hurt. He came charging out of the bedroom only to get cracked upside the face hard enough to lose a tooth and brake a cheekbone. She got four stitches to the back of the head. Once when he tried to leave, she totaled her Porche into his classic Malibu. Because of their connections with the police, no charges were ever filed, even if someone dared to call the police on them. They pretty much owned their small town in Northern Nevada.
I've fought in competitive martial arts since age eight. I was teaching before I was old enough to drive. Even now, years later I'm considering Krav Maga as a way to stay in shape and re-hone old skills. Martial arts and self defense were never about real violence to me, though. Anything that is taught on plush carpet or in an air conditioned studio is a SPORT...an ART.
When I was eighteen or nineteen, I dated people with like interests. One guy was a nationally ranked ground fighter. Twice, we got drunk and argued. Things escalated.
Out of those two times, once we both ended up in the ER. (I was cut up from a display case, and he had two broken ribs.)
We both felt foolish and very sore after, but neither of us ever considered involving the authorities. To this day, I can't remember what triggered the fights.
My later relationships were pretty uneventful. A few long term boyfriends. A husband.
Another husband. (I'm keeping this one.) None of these men ever attempted to physically harm me. I never even considered raising a hand to them, either. Verbal abuse has been non-existent since my first marriage. Why? Because I grew up. I got a hold of my emotions and of my verbal skills.
. Now, despite our chaotic, crazy life, we don't even bicker. I'd like to think it is because my husband and I have exceptional communication skills. There isn't a need to. Both of us are capable of saying, "I'm not ok now. Let's talk about this later. I'm going to go do something to calm down. I'll be back in twenty minutes."
Really, it's that simple.
I think all of this has numbed my compassion for victims of domestic violence.
I really, really cannot get my head around it.
I understand the psychology behind it. I understand the theory of dependency and self esteem...of gradual control and intimidation....
But it's only the textbook knowledge, I guess. It isn't real understanding.
Another thing that has possibly clouded my judgment is the fact that I used to have a very close friend who put herself and her three children through HELL because she was in love with an emotionally manipulative, crazy person. I watched her kids go from happy, sweet boys and girl to disturbed, regressed, utterly screwed up sub-humans who listened to and repeated the things they heard in that house.
My friend had a support network and family ready to go to bat for her INSTANTLY (and we did on more than one occasion.) We paid to move her to a new house. We lived with her to babysit while she worked (the abuser was the primary care taker.) We went through days and nights of crazy drama over and over and over again. Each time, she took this person back. "Love is my crack" she used to say. I eventually cut off all contact with the entire family to preserve my own sanity. For a long time I felt like I had bailed on a friend. When she finally caught up with me years later, she told me that nothing I could have done would have made a difference. She couldn't leave until she was ready to. Things worked out for her. She's happily married to a nice guy. The kids are still screwed up, I can't get over that part.
I've learned from that mistake. My opinion of the majority of abuse victims are that they are ok with the abuse until they decide not to be. Like drug addicts, you can't help them until they make the choice to quit.
If someone close to me was suffering abuse, I'm not sure what I would do.
Part of me says "Find the abuser. Beat them to an inch of their life."
The other part says. "Meh. Let the abused know they have help and support without limits when they decide to cut ties for good."
It's a delicate subject. It's also a very volatile one.
That's the reason why I'm posting this here instead of in a blog.
If there are a lot of replies, the discussion format is easier to manage.
Being atheist means that NOTHING is sacred. All subjects are up for transparent discussion. Nothing of intellectual value is taboo.
There is an honesty in that, I think. There is also a higher level of emotional maturity here as opposed to a lot of other internet communities. Being that this is a very sensitive topic, I'd like to suggest that we practice some of that maturity.
Tell me your opinions, thoughts and personal experiences.
Keep it civil.
I'll practice what I preach and do the same.
Trolls and other nasty vermin will not be warned.