Getting Rid of Mr Wrong

Having recently received an unwanted and unacceptable e-mail, I decided to write this article to provide the reader with not only a riveting read but also a provocative topic that tries to offer real solutions to problems of violence in relationships, in the shape of a concise guide that transcends traditional approaches to real or perceived danger.

Right now, as you read these words, at least one woman near you is being beaten – and now another. Within the space of a few seconds women in every corner of the world are being beaten by either their boyfriends or husbands. Unlike some violence, spousal abuse is a crime that can be avoided if we act on accurate predictions of danger.

Understanding how people evaluate personal risk may help us better understand why so many women in danger stay with their violent partners. Beaten women have been beaten so much that their fear mechanism is dulled to the point that they take in stride risks that others would consider unacceptable. The relationship between violence and death is not so apparent to them. Being struck and forced not to resist is a particularly damaging form of abuse because it trains the central instinct to protect the self, out of the victim rendering them vulnerable to further abuse. To over-ride any care for the self, a woman must begin to believe that she is not worth protecting.

Being beaten by someone we love creates a conflict between two opposing instincts. The instinct to stay and the instinct to flee. Many batterers control the money, allowing little access to financial information and book accounts. The batterer may start out as a benevolent control freak at the beginning of the relationship and then soon turns into a malevolent control freak, issuing unpredictable punishment and rewards for minor transgressions that challenge his addiction to control, social insecurities and shaky personal identity.

Children who do not learn to expect and accept love in normal, healthy ways become adults who find other ways to get it. Controlling may work for a while, even a long while, but then it begins not to work, and so he escalates his behaviour accordingly to maintain his violent grip. He will do anything to stay in control, but his girlfriend/ ex-wife is chang ing and that causes him to suffer. Men in this position need Counselling and Therapy since it is a choice on their part to continue using violence as a means of controlling others.

Just as there are physical abusers who will hurt every partner so there are serial victims – women who will select more than one violent man to share their life. Social Psychologists such as Abraham Maslow, Erich Fromm and Sigmund Freud to name just a few, viewed violence as the result of an inability to communicate personal needs effectively within reasonable  boundaries. Spousal abuse is committed by people who are frequently described as; kind, caring, sweet, charming etc. The men described so, were all of these things before and during the selection mating process and often still are – between violent battering incidents.

Could these women have seen ‘warning signs’ if they had known what to look for? Falling in love requires to some degree – a denial to see faults, frankly to ‘overlook’ danger signs. In a culture that glorifies and sugar coats romance, propelling people to get married in spite of many reasons not to, the issue of selection and choice brings to attention the valuable work of Psychologist Nathaniel Branden who believes ‘luck’ has very little to do with choice of partner.The common characteristic of a woman who continues to select against her better judgement, violent men, is the woman herself. Once she understands the reasons for her choice of partner and can change her bad choices to better choices, she can then free herself from violent relationships.

So what can a woman who is being beaten do? Seek and apply strategies that make you unavailable to your partner. Take yourself away if possible and continue to remain unavailable regardless of the inconvenience it causes you. It is wiser to get away safely than trying to change the abusing partner or engaging in an emotional war, even if the police and courts are on your side. As with other aspects of safety, the police cannot fix violent relationships.

Unwanted pursuit by ex-boyfriends/husbands may escalate their behaviour to include such things as persistent phone calls and late night text messages, showing up uninvited, stalking and enlisting/manipulating friends and family to force contact. Though he would rather get back into her life, he will accept being just a friend until he can exert his mind control again and reduce her to victim status.

The taught rule in ‘Getting rid of Mr. Wrong’ is to stop all contact. He should be explicitly rejected and no contact continued on his terms. Much depends on how much emotional investment has been made by the battering partner. If he has been beating for years and ignored warnings and interventions, then a restraining order may not be of much help, especially if he has been issuing threats and other sinister behaviour.

Because victims are understandably frustrated and angry, they may look to a court order to do any of the following things; destroy, expose, threaten, change and humiliate the violent partner. Victims can often list warning signs about men who go on to become a problem. One such victim of violence who I shall call Rita shares this story:

I dated this guy called Jason. I met him at a party of a friend of mine, and he must have asked someone there for my phone number (researching the victim). Before I even got home, he’d left me five messages (overly invested) I told him I didn’t want to go out with him, but he was so persistent about it that I really didn’t have any choice. (Men who cannot let go choose women who cannot say no). In the beginning, it was flattering, he was super attentive,  knowing what I wanted. I was amazed he remembered every word I ever said (hyper attentiveness). It made me feel special to start with and then very uncomfortable (victim intuitively feels uncomfortable). He talked about serious things like children and living together early on (whirlwind pace) and of course he monitored my every movement and didn’t like me seeing my friends (isolating her from friends).

The above is all done strategically with a clear agenda by the abusive partner. He is preparing his victim and making sure that she becomes completely dependent on him for her happiness.

Amazingly, classical stalking behaviour and the characteristics of violent partners share striking similarities. The predictability of pre-attack behaviours has been confirmed in Psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz’s work and his violence inventory, listed below:-

1. Displayed some mental disorder

2. Researched the victim or victim

3. Created a diary, journal or record

4. Obtained a weapon

5. Displayed an exaggerated idea of self (grandiosity)

6. Exhibited random travel

7. Identifies with controlling historical characters

8. Made repeated inappropriate approaches

When it comes to survival signals, it is important that we take note of our intuitions and not turn a blind to our feelings – they might just save us from the mistake of finding Mr Wrong.

Only Children and Drunks Tell the Truth – Part 3

I’ve seen enough anger turn to violence amongst the drunk and the restless to know that anger in its most basic form is a cry for help, a sad loss of control on one’s life. It’s a frustrating, difficult thing for someone to have to deal with and repress their whole life, a feeling of hopelessness – the pain that delivers anger stifled away in a box somewhere, until a few drinks down the line and someone opens the lid. As long as our society communicates that men like this will never change, they never will.

Identity crisis imposes this as inevitable, as soon as we start labeling someone as an abuser, an alcoholic, obese whatever, they will become and remain that person with those attributes if that is what they start to believe. And although I think it is partially very humbling to be able to acknowledge ones’ self as abusively inclined, it is very impractical to be labeled as ‘unchangeable’ as it were. What is one supposed to do then!?

We are not used to being punished for our own ailments, if we should want to change and struggle so to do so, then it obviously is a problem, an illness of a sort and where are these men (and women) supposed to turn when the whole world is prejudiced and judgmental of their ‘illness.’ They are, quite inevitably fated to be abusive for the rest of their lives, apparently it is something quite out of their own control – of course it will remain that way without help.

I suppose Chris Brown will be the ultimate test of this: if it really is true that no matter what a man may say – that he will change, that he is sorry beyond repentance, that the echelon of his love knows no bounds…that they will not change, then surely even Brown will not be immune to this, not even the guardianship of his fame will be able to protect him, if every abuser truly is ‘incurable,’ then Chris Brown will strike again.

He has access to the best of help though – suddenly in the case of a celebrity the whole scenario becomes a situation in severe need of help amongst all the criticism of course. So if Chris Brown continues along his path of righteousness and never strikes again will the world begin to recognise that perhaps the rest of them and us out there actually really could do with a bit of help? It’s such a classic case of the abuser becoming the ‘abused’ but it seems no one is prepared to stop the cycle, only inclined to judge and to punish. I think violence is within human nature, it has been a part of our culture for centuries, seen through hunting and competition, the real issue we face today is down to being able to control it.

And who’s to say…one day when I am inebriated enough and someone does just that one thing that tickles a nerve of mine just enough to provoke my inner child to jump out, I might find myself in just the same position, just as contemptible as the outburst of Chris Brown. But, I will be excused somewhat as I am a woman. I may spend the night in a cell, I may face a fine, prosecution, conviction even, if my victim happens to press charges but I will never uphold the same monstrous reputation as someone like Chris Brown will for the rest of his life.

Because despite the principle facing the matter, despite the fact I might have actually terrified myself (and my victim) upon how far my anger reached so unpreventable, I am not as threatening, I cannot be as dangerous. Even though my turmoil and hatred might be as great as his ever was, no one will ever view my outburst in the same light as his, and is that right? I might have the same inclinations to hurt, the same loss of control, but I will never be the labeled abuser upon my one attack as I quite simply do not have the capacity to be so damaging. I’m no child anymore, and on two glasses of merlot I wouldn’t exactly be able to claim right now that I am…drunk? But I reckon that’s the truth.

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Only Children and Drunks Tell the Truth – Part 2

A common reason for violence is deeply rooted in our dark subconscious, our genes, nature and nurture hand in hand, our past can often rear its ugly head when we are at our worst states, when we have the least control over ourselves, when we are drunk. And suddenly…we are children again: there is no censor on our behaviour, an angry man may not consider the damage his force could cause upon a weaker being, all he knows is that he is angry. All we can, is feel.

And this is hard, it’s hard for those of us who have always acted impulsively, bitten sofas, pushed little sisters and knocked out the playground bully with our fists – when all this has been repressed for so long under the restraints of society, it is only inevitable that it’s all going to come out when we are at our most vulnerable, at our most base, human level – when we are intoxicated.

Can it be said that when we are drunk we do the most dysfunctional crap unrelated to our character? I don’t think so…I think when our walls are let down we actually become exposed as to who we really are, no inhibitions and all that: the chastened virgin who likes to read erotic novels in her spare time suddenly becomes flirtatious, the clown progressively gets funnier and funnier…the angry become…just that – angrier and angrier and anger without inhibitions generates violence.

Now I cannot say that I am one accustomed to intoxicating myself and becoming consumed within the red mist of rage all too often, but I certainly am more inclined to slap a fellow or two if they step out of line on the dance floor, or even if their mere presence should happen to offend me once I’ve had a drink or two…should this be tolerated just because I am a woman, and therefore a ‘creature’ of this world that can impose no real threat? I do not see eye to eye with this.

It does have to be said that when I drink I see my inner child as it were, rise to the occasion to express herself – if someone steps out of line, I will, quite uncharacteristically of my sober nature confront that person and will not oppose to using physical force or threat if my adrenaline should so adhere to. I feel more physically assertive in both a sense of defense and attack, it is just a part of who I am. I have not experienced such as yet but if someone were to provoke me as much as my mother’s old sofa or my sister’s unsolicited arrival did back in the day, if I were to feel that same sense of anger grate at me again, I can only speculate whether I would be able to control my fists.

Rihanna interview by Oprah Winfrey

I started writing this with a somewhat differing, fairly controversial agenda in mind – the new Rihanna interview with Oprah that hit the world on Thursday the 19th of August struck a chord with myself on views of violence within relationships: On the 8th of February 2009, Rihanna was brutally attacked by her boyfriend, Chris Brown, following an argument they had in the car preceding the Grammy awards presentation.

Since, Rihanna’s character and her music has been seen to take a darker turn, her lyrics and image have become sinister and tainted, this has sung out to many women experiencing, suffering from domestic abuse. Her recent televised interview has revealed that she is still in love with her former partner, Chris Brown and has since forgiven him for what happened. I have to applaud her honesty here, her humanity and vulnerability is heartwarming, it is so easy to view her as a brand, an icon of sexuality within our broadcasted world, her whole ‘new image’ as a marketing device. And although, in many ways, she is amidst all those things, very much so, a ‘brand’ she is also human and she is a woman, same as any other. Personally, I absolutely love this woman, she is a huge influence for me and I think she is so brave to speak of her personal life so openly and expose herself in the way that she has.

“I guess I’m a fool in love, but I’m willing to look so stupid until I’ve had enough” – her lyrics have always communicated her reluctance to leave Chris Brown, she clearly understood the dynamic of their relationship had changed in this one night, by staying with him she was about to make herself a statistic, another one of ‘those’ women whilst he would forever maintain the reputation of being one of ‘those’ men. unchangeable. Maybe I shouldn’t be so abrupt to say this but I do feel sorry for him: He is forever condemned to suffer the label of a monster after one wrong turn, one night, one mistake. And for what? What did he get out of it? Did he enjoy it?…Who would? He clearly loved and loves the woman.

I mean, violence is obviously very damaging to the victim but also, these days, within our culture, to the perpetrator – it is very self- destructive! So what went wrong? His inner child revealed himself on this night…this inner, repressed, abused, hurt, damaged subconscious reared its ugly head at a time of great anger. And there are plenty of men like this. I am not ashamed to admit myself as a victim of violence, and no I do not advocate that society allows violent men to continue along their path of destruction, what I would say though, is although retribution is probably often desirable…punishment is not exactly a hand out for reformation…these people need help, I know that much.

Read the final part of Laura’s article on 4 October 2012

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Only Children and Drunks Tell the Truth – Part 1

When we are young, falling down is second nature. We are taught to get up, brush ourselves off and try again. If someone pushed us down…we are taught to forgive, forget and that tomorrow is another day. As children, the whole world is a playground; some days we are suffocated with enemies, left clinging and isolated within our own walls of securities, whilst others are filled with familiar faces.

Our bodies may suffer hefty bruising; great falls from the heights of monkey bars, knocks to the head from a variegation of balls/rackets/Frisbees – paraphernalia of great perils which must be learned to be perceived within peripheral vision, and often blows at the hands/feet/legs or bodies’ of our mortal enemies of that day. As children, all other children, be it mortal enemies or just regular foes, are innocent. As children we are immune to the pitfalls and consequences of heinous sin, because as children, we cannot distinguish the nuances between right and wrong.

It is ironic really – I wish I had taken advantage further of my free ticket of emancipation from the law and morality when I was younger. I mean as a child, I remember with not such sweet nostalgia, being rolled down dirt hills in nothing more than an actual plastic barrel at about 100 miles per hour, hurtling full speed for the road ahead – basically todays equivalent of a fully-fledged adult being stuffed into a beer barrel and forced to commute via rolling along Queen Elizabeth Bridge – incredibly dangerous, albeit pretty amusing for observers.

As children there are no consequences, no censors to danger providing there is entertainment. Children are selfish, and the playground remains one of the greater places of evil I have ever encountered…it seems a precarious place for a little person to have to learn the ways of the world in, where temper tantrums and the wraths of other angry little people are endured to whatever extent under acceptance that these specimens of humankind are ‘children.’

So what is it that happens that forebodes ‘angry wraths’ and violence amongst the elders of our society? We are taught as we grow and mature that violence is categorically wrong and should not be expressed or reciprocated when we feel angry…especially violence against women or those weaker than ourselves. So what do we do instead? Lashing out, biting, hitting, pushing could actually be seen as a very natural reaction to take against someone who might aggravate, intimidate, humiliate, expose or hurt us emotionally, or physically themselves. It clearly is the reflex reaction when we are children.

I certainly recall a few sofas suffering the wrath of my toothless bite when they disrupted the path of my escapades. And when my little sister was born…on my birthday I might add, I was a typically very jealous child – bitter, resentful and…well…angry I must have been, I lost my temper on numerous occasions with her, managed to break her little finger once, bit her several times, I had a temper on me. Simultaneously though, I am told I was protective of my little sis, I looked out for her dutifully at school, I played harmoniously with her in the evenings, I let her borrow my toys and I guess she must have done something right because I do love her very much these days.

I know I was not the only child to experience such uncompromising outbursts within the playground or the home environment, I too suffered a few knock backs myself from anger ridden kids, violent attempts to knock me straight out my little boots on the climbing frame, I lost a few teeth of my own on the way. There were some of our ‘species’ I guess, who never took to this, it just didn’t seem to be a part of their temperament or nature – the timid, quieter ones, most notably the girls to be honest.

So what about the rest of us then? I honestly can’t say I recall if the ‘violently disposed’ ones of us were in the minority or not but I suppose we were excused from our sadistic behaviour upon explanation that we were children and therefore could do ‘no wrong,’ but it seems strange that society should condemn and punish something which is arguably quite natural, so highly.

Now, I don’t want to condone violence here…but it has to be questioned, – what is to become of those of us more prone to our…short tempers? Are we just to learn to get over it? Expected to pretend it’s not actually a deficiency of our character after the age of what…12? Are we to repress the pulsating desire to punch, bite our sofas and little sisters for the rest of our lives? Well yes, actually. And violence that has been inflicted unto us also, this is to leave no excuse for further acts of violence against others, despite whatever inner struggle of poor self-image, esteem, crippling psychological damage that may have been incurred – there is never an excuse for violence. And I agree…there is never an excuse for violence, but there is all too often a reason.

To discover what reason for violence Laura is talking about, check out Part 2 of her article published on 29 September 2012

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