Why would anyone say something like that? You got what you deserved? Women like you are disgusting? I came across the following video this morning posted by one of my Facebook friends. It was done by a mother of 2 young kids. She is in her 20’s and she was beaten by her husband. She has a black eye in the video.
I didn’t see it on YouTube until later but thought that surely there would be people that said the typical “why did she stay?” or “why did she marry someone like that in the first place?” or “why didn’t she just leave the first time.” When I came back to look at it on YouTube, not surprisingly here are some of the comments I came across:
“He has beaten you and has cheated on you by impregnating another woman and you got back to him? What the heck is wrong with you, why did you? Because of the kids? No father is a lot better than a scumbag that beats you every time you question his actions. It’s a no brainer. How the hell did you end up marrying such a person anyways? Besides no one should hit anyone, it’s illegal”
“She loves the drama and the excitement. Nice guys are boring.”
“These types of women are extremely stupid and no one should feel story for them, it’s their own damn fault.”
“You got what you deserved. I am only sorry for your son who will now be raised by a single mother. Your son didn’t have the chance to chose his father. You chose his father. Women like you are disgusting!”
There were hundreds more comments like this and worse with a few supportive comments interspersed. Some of them are obviously the “trolls” that enjoy spewing negativity online and ripping people apart. Unfortunately, that’s common in today’s society. However, aside from the trolls, there are those who have certain ill conceived beliefs and ideas about domestic violence and the victims of it.
When I first started speaking, I was speaking on behalf of a non profit called the “Women’s Peace Campaign” sharing my story of victory over domestic violence and raising funds to help women in crisis. I would go into shelters and tell my story so women could see that victory is possible and also I would go to events and speak to raise funds so we could do more for these women still in the throws of the abuse or getting out of the abuse.
I have had more than one person tell me they didn’t understand why a women would put herself through that. Why doesn’t she just leave? Can’t she see what she’s getting into?
In my early 20’s I was in a relationship with a man who was an alcoholic. A raging alcoholic actually. I got into the relationship with him because he reminded me of “home.” I remember saying this to my roommate in response to her comment that “he stays drunk..”. Why did he remind me of home? Because my parents were both active alcoholics. Someone was always drunk in my house, either one or both of my parents. It was chaos, they were always fighting, it was always an intensely crazy environment. Sometimes it escalated beyond yelling and throwing things to one of them hurting the other one. Being with this man made me feel secure in a sick kind of way that I didn’t understand until I started to heal from the trauma of my life.
The imprint period of our lives is 0-7 years old. If we are imprinted with negative messages, we take that into our adult lives and believe it unless we change those beliefs. I was imprinted with being told I was a loser and no good and much more negativity. My self esteem was non existent by the time my mother died of alcoholism when I was 12. The modeling period of our lives is from 7-14 and those around us, model for us how to be in life. We take those negative ideas into our lives unless we break the cycle and change it. My parents fought non stop and modeled chaos for me.
So I was imprinted with being a loser and no good. Abuse, alcoholism and chaos were modeled for me as how life was suppose to be. As a result I entered into one abusive relationship after another in my life for many many years until I broke that cycle and got on a path to heal the hurt and change those messages I was programmed with.
The man I reference earlier was not in the military but I was. I was destined to be with someone like him based on the way I was brought up and what I thought about myself. A woman can’t just decide she is awesome and that she deserves a great guy when she has been told growing up and believes that she is a loser, worthless and deserves the treatment and abuse she experienced as a child. I had won many awards in the military already. I was an overachiever. It’s because I needed to prove that I was somebody but no matter what I did, I didn’t believe it.
One night he came home drunk (this wasn’t a rare occurrence). We got into a fight. He ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it at me. I ducked and ran away as it crashed into the wall and shattered into a million pieces. Had that hit me it surely would have done some major damage. Since he wasn’t successful in hitting me with the phone, he chased me into the room, slammed me up against the wall and started using me as a punching bag; face, arms, body. I was screaming in pain and fear. He caught me by surprise when he started to chase me. I was in a corner with nowhere to go. He realized someone might hear so had to “shut me up.” He threw me on the ground and grabbed me around the neck and started to choke me and telling me to shut up. (I had someone tell me why didn’t I fight back when he had me against the wall. Really? Think about that one for a minute. I weighted about 110 lbs at that time with no self defense training and he outweighed me by at least 70-80 pounds and he was in a rage).
I must have passed out because I woke up on the floor and he was gone. I had 2 black eyes like the lady on the video above. My neck on one side was swollen out to my jaw line and I had bruises all over my body. Thankfully nothing was broken other than my spirit. I covered it all up with makeup, wore the uniform sweater so you couldn’t see my neck and went to work and suffered in silence. I thought I would get in trouble for some reason. So I said nothing. This was in the early 80’s before there were any resources for domestic violence victims like there are today.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the first nor was that the last abusive relationship I was in. I kept wondering why this kept happening to me until I realized I was the problem and needed to change my idea about myself and my belief in who I was. There are plenty of blog posts about how I did that in this blog.
You would think any person in their right mind would leave right? I didn’t leave right away but eventually did. Often times the question why do you stay? Why don’t you just leave? often comes up or the idea that the victims deserved it also comes up from some people. Rather than comment on this, I found a great Ted talk by Leslie Morgan Steiner which sums up all these ideas/questions and so much more. Note: there are stupid “troll” like comments on this one as well but ignore those and listen to the message. It explains it very well.
I broke the silence and the cycle of domestic violence in my own life. I had to heal from the trauma of growing up with and experiencing domestic violence in my own life and change who I believed I was from a negative view of myself to a positive view of myself. Its simple but its not easy. However, the power is in the work.
If you don’t understand domestic violence, if you think a victim deserves what they get or have those negative ideas about those of us who were or are still victims, do some research to understand it before you make comments like those above or ask those “why doesn’t she just leave” questions. Seek to understand before passing judgment. If you are in a violent situation, there are people and agencies that will help you but you have to take the first step and make a plan to get out. Those of us who have been there know you won’t do it until you realize you are the victim and it is not how you are meant to live.