October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Why We Don’t Just Leave

I pass along a lot of information and resources on Facebook regarding Domestic Violence but I think that for some people, maybe the information hits home more when they hear someone who has experienced something, explain it from a human point of view instead of a statistical point of view.

I think I need to start being one of the humans that shares what it really feels like to be in a controlling, emotionally and sometimes physically abusive relationship.

I can only concentrate on one thing at a time, for my sanity and because it’s hard for me to focus on too many things at once.

I really want to focus on the one thing that has been bothering me the most since the NFL stories have become so visible.

Why don’t you just leave?  I would never let a man treat me like that!  I’d tell him to go fuck himself and leave his ass!!!…

First of all, don’t you think I would have left if it was that simple?  Not to mention the millions of other women who don’t leave.


Here’s a blog post I published in 2008:

DOMESTIC ABUSE/PARENTAL ALIENATION — the Connection
My 11/8/08 Blog Entry:

It was a very slow process. First he/she met someone who never had any self-esteem to begin with, then took the remnants of his/her first failed marriage or sensitivities/weaknesses and used it all to gain his/her love and trust. Little by little, he/she took everything that he/she promised, everything that he/she said and knocked every bit of security and trust down piece by piece until he/she was a shell of what he/she used to be.

If you can imagine getting support for every aspiration that you have then little by little someone degrades you and picks away at every little thing that you ever wanted. Eventually you have no will, you can’t think straight. That person has taken what you felt as love, trust, and security and made a mockery of it. Some of us look around eventually and see what we have forsaken…our sanity, our dreams, our children…and we get out of it. Some never do.

In the course of this whole process you find yourself saying and doing things you never would have dreamed of before. Fighting, physically and verbally, going to a women’s shelter and returning to the home that drove you there, submitting to just about anything that will keep the house peaceful even at the expense of yourself and your children, working two jobs because the fight to make him/her work isn’t worth it, giving every little ounce of energy, physically and mentally, to keep everyone else happy…

Making the decision to leave, in my case, meant that I had to admit that I fell for his lies and also that I had failed, again. He did everything right at the beginning. I now sincerely believe that he meant none of it. Actions speak louder than words. I left the marriage broke. When I first met him, I owned a house. I now live in a rented apartment and he lives with our son in a basement apartment. He was abusive and critical of his stepson. He was critical of my family without regard to how his opinions made me feel. His father was abusive toward everyone in the family, yet, he was allowed to stay in our world. My mother participated in and funded vacations for the kids, rent, food…, cars, car repairs…throughout the marriage but she was considered to be evil.

All of this obviously has nothing to do with anything anyone of us has done to him/her, Behavior like this is just sick. It seems to be a desperate attempt to have control of something. If these people took this talent and put it into something positive, they would be stars. That they are able to justify the insanity of taking people who have given themselves fully to you, heart and soul, and beating them into submission, is something that I will never be able to explain or understand.

There is that continuing yearning to have someone with you. To have someone in your life that you CAN trust. That loves you no matter what. That isn’t critical of everything you say or do. It’s a natural process in life but for we who have dealt with the type of life described above, it’s hard to imagine that it is something that is attainable.

We now have to deal with every negative signal that we have been trained to flee from. Anger was always amplified and mostly unreasonable. Sadness was a tool. Happiness meant that the abuser got what he wanted. The triggers are set and the only way to break them is to be in a relationship. There is no way to therapy or train them away.

Maybe now we can see the connection between Domestic Abuse and Parental Alienation…how do I heal and how do I stop being abused when the abuser has effectively taken my boy away from me? Seems to me that this would be a continuation of the Domestic Abuse. He has brainwashed my son against me…he has taken the love, trust and security of his own child and knocked it down piece by piece to get me back for ending the marriage. There is no other explanation for this behavior.

I now have to find a way to break the cycle…


This is my personal experience along with my feelings about how I got in MY situation.  I have overcome most of this but it never leaves and as far as the Parental Alienation…still working through that damage with my son.

Everyone has a different experience before and during their abusive relationship but the one common denominator seems to be that the abusive partner has a need to control and have the other all to themselves.  They seem to be expert at convincing people of anything.  Even outside of the relationship, they can manipulate people to do whatever they want.  Anyone can be fooled.  I’ve seen it happen with my own 2 eyes…not just to me.  They get what they want.  They seem to gain confidence and power from being able to manipulate other people.  They have incredible control themselves.  They can turn themselves off and on at will.  That’s why you never see it.  The minute the front door closes, it starts.

And the reason, no one tells and no one leaves…the manipulation.  They don’t get really violent until they have control.  And, when they do start getting violent, the charm that you once fell in love with, comes back in droves.

Then when you are ready to throw in the towel and start reacting with threats of divorce, etc…their threats come.  I’ll take the kids away from you!  I’ll tell them you’re crazy!  I was told that the only way he would divorce me was if I let him have full custody of our son!  So, I kept trying…

I left each marriage at least 4 times.  I went to shelters, hotels, friends and relatives houses but the mega charm and promises kept bringing me back.  Plus, I blamed myself and I didn’t want to give up.

This is the gist of what is or may be happening in a victims head.


Now, advice for the CONFIDANTE…relative, friend, workmate, acquaintance, whoever.

DO NOT tell them to just leave.  –  If we don’t, we feel too stupid to confide in you again.  If we have tried and failed, we probably won’t talk to you about it again because we feel like failures.

DO NOT comment on how you would NEVER allow someone to treat me that way!  –  It makes us feel ultimately stupid because intellectually it makes sense but we blame ourselves and even though we know that it’s wrong, we are holding on to hope that the abuser is right and we can solve our “problem” and have a great relationship.  We were hooked long before they started being abusive!

DO listen!  –  Just listen.  Tell them that if they need to talk or need help, to call you.  Keep yourself open without judgement.

DO suggest help.  –  If you know of a DV shelter or counseling service, tell them that you may know someone that can help them focus on what they need to do.

DO say something if you see signs of a change in habits or personality that seem extreme.  Things like, not going out with friends as much, not talking about the relationship as much or overdoing the romantic side of the relationship in a way you wouldn’t expect them too, losing touch with them for long periods of time, being told that the partner doesn’t like you…

DO protect the children!  If you see something happening and feel that the children are in danger, do something.  I would recommend talking to family first.  Calling Child Protective Services puts the children into a broken government system filled with red tape – avoid this at all costs!


This idea that the victims in abusive relationships are just stupid subtracts a lot of people from the total population.  We are not stupid.  Maybe we’re just idealists, romantics.  We want it to work.  So desperately that we keep believing.  It’s hard for people to give themselves over to someone.  And then, when that someone betrays your heart and soul, it can sap your will to try for anything better.

So, think about it.  It happens far too much.  We need to be more tolerant and stop being so self righteous because we avoided getting ourselves into something like this.  No abused partner dreamed of getting into this type of relationship while growing up.

Celebrate Life

chris

“Perhaps the best part of soaring is the always changing, always beautiful skyscape. Though I live in an unremarkable region of coastal plains and piedmont, the sky offers daily wonders.

Keen observers of the air, glider pilots often see things others miss. The annual migration of raptors south. The gossamers of migrating spiders glinting on our wings. A monarch butterfly 4,000 feet above the ground, fluttering its way to Central America. A tumultuous roll cloud, marking the turbulence beneath the glassy smooth but powerful lift of mountain wave, and the lens shaped clouds stacked above it. The grey tendrils that sometimes form below a cumulus cloud, marking especially strong eddies of lift. The concave bottoms of cumulus clouds that mark the very strongest of thermals. The extraordinary sensation of flying into a column of smoke rising from a field fire—opaque from the outside, but transparent once inside.

-Christopher C. O’Callaghan

The above was written by my brother for an article in a soaring magazine a few years ago.  What it shows me is his ability to see more than what is right in front of you.  His fascination with the world beyond his and his hunger to know more than the fact that the butterflies are up there, he wanted to know why and where they were going.

The message to me is that he really lived.  He didn’t just dream, he explored.  If he wanted to do something, he did it.

Three years ago today, he died doing one of the many things he had explored for the last 30 years.  He died in a collision during a soaring competition.

We were all devastated.  We still miss him desperately.  But…we also know that life is unpredictable and if there is anything positive we can extract from this tragedy, it’s that we know he lived.  And, we know he died doing something that he loved.