Domestic abuse has been around for generations, years ago women didn’t work out of the house, she had to stay with the man because she was reliant on him to support her and the kids. There was a stigma attached to being a single mother, children were teased if they didn’t have a dad at home and people frowned on a mom who had a different last name than her children. A child without a father at home was a rarity and not the norm like it is today. Today! if a man and woman are together long enough to raise their children under the same roof it is a real accomplishment and unfortunately rare. When I hear someone say they have been married 30 years, I automatically ask, “To the same person?” and the astonishment in my voice is obvious.
I never thought I would be a single mom and I was. I never thought I would be in an abusive relationship, and I was. I never thought I would be homeless, and I was. I never thought I would be an activist, a writer, or someone who put her life out there for the whole world to see, and I am.
I never thought I would leave James, but I did. We don’t plan our lives to be painful, we don’t go into a marriage thinking it is going to fail or fall in love with a man who we know is abusive. None of us planned to have happen what happened in our lives. But it has and now we have to take what we have and do something with it, we have to find a way to live with it and continue moving forward because the alternative, the alternative is just to damned depressing.
So many times victims talk like they have a choice, they can choose to have their abuser change back to the person they met. Sorry, that is not an option. The only options we have are ones that we can control, how we live from this moment on is our only choice. We can choose to prolong the agony and remain in contact, allowing him to hurt us further or we can bite the bullet and go no contact and get it over with. We can feel sorry for ourselves and stay wallowing in self pity or we can learn how to protect ourselves from it ever happening again by setting boundaries, and sticking firm to them and our values. We can choose how we want our lives to be and not allow anyone to sway us. Shit happens, the best laid plans will go awry but at least if you don’t have a narcissist in your life you won’t have the person you love sabotaging you.
Relationships have changed over even MY lifetime. When I got married the first time, many women still stayed home to raise their family or they worked to pay for the “extras” but very few women worked to support the family, very few men would allow a woman to pay his way. A man who lived off of a woman was not considered to be a “real” man, and as much as I believe in equal rights and that women can do any job a man can do I still have a hard time respecting a man who lives off of a woman. I have worked with women who made more than their husbands, I have known stay at home dads, I have made more than some of the men I have been with, in fact most of them. I owned the house, I had the credit, I had the vehicles, I had the security so when I ended up dependent on James it was very hard for me to lose that control and I think that was one of the reasons I stayed longer than I should have. I thought I was having a hard time adjusting to being reliant on a man for everything, having to answer to a man about where I spent money etc. It was a very foreign role for me, and I was not good at being subservient.
Now a days women get to do it all. We can hold jobs in high places, bring home the bacon and end up frying it in the pan when we get home, cleaning the frying pan after supper and doing the laundry, sweeping the floors and dusting, AND we have to perform like a hooker in the bedroom after a long day. Somewhere along the way the scales got tipped and women now are expected to carry the whole load, or so they think anyway.
They say that domestic abuse is an epidemic, that even though there has been a campaign to raise awareness, there are still rising numbers of women being murdered or at the very least being beaten for not “toeing the line” or “living up to impossible standards” set by their abusive husbands or partners.
Every day a new woman comes into this blog saying the man abused her emotionally, physically, and financially, she has lost everything or is having to fight to retain her own home, or money that she made or had before she even met the man and yet they are still doubting themselves and if they could have done more. Why is that? Why do women feel they have to do it all? Why do narcissist get away with draining a woman of all her assets?
Personally I find it insulting when I am talking about how broke I am and wonder out loud how I will make it in years to come and someone suggests I meet a man with money. To me that is prostitution. James even said it to me when he came to me after I had my heart attack, apologized and took all the blame for the relationship failing; (then told me it was kinda my own fault he hurt me because I kept taking him back); he said that he was surprised I hadn’t gone out and found a man with money.
And when I mentioned how hurtful it was for me when he moved in with his new woman so quickly, he seemed surprised and said, “You know I had lost my job and I needed a place to live, the mice were so bad at the trailer I slept in the car. I had to move.” As if it was common practice to just go out and find a new partner based on what they have to offer in the way of things you need.
The sad part is the women give it to them, move them in without even knowing the guy just because the guy says “I love you.” Why do women still feel they need a man to survive or be of value when they are the wage earner and the one with the assets. I can see it in the case of James new woman, in a way, she always was a house wife, I know he told her that I bled him dry so it was not his fault he didn’t have anything and besides, once she helped out this one time he would be making good money and it would all even out and she didn’t have to be lonely any more. She got a husband, he got the house, the car, the money sounds fair to me.( *sarcasm )
Whereas years ago a woman might have gotten abused but in most cases she was not taken to the cleaners financially to add insult to injury. It used to be that the man would have a hell of a time getting custody of the kids, but now a days, all he has to do is a really good smear campaign, a little parent alienation and viola! he can destroy her by taking her kids away. Or if you are James you do the smear campaign in hopes of destroying any hope of me every making money again.
Unfortunately, women’s rights have just given narcissists a plethora of ways to destroy the victim. I think that is why society is having such a hard time understanding what the victim has gone through. These changes have happened with the roles women play but it hasn’t caught up to the definition of domestic abuse. People still view it as a physical thing and can’t get their heads around the financial. On one hand people think, she has a job or money, why doesn’t she just leave whereas years ago people knew she stayed because he supported her. On the other hand they don’t believe a man would bleed a woman dry on purpose because that is not the role they see men playing. When a narcissist says he was bled dry by a woman people are much more apt to believe him than to believe he bled her dry. It is the stereotypes that people have been raised with for generations and it is going to take a long time to change the way people think.
They believe bruises because they can see them, all the rest of it is her word against his and historically the man’s version is what generally happened so people go with what they know.
Don’t get me wrong! I believe women should have every right a man does, that is just my point, somewhere along the way they got all the responsibility of a man and retained all their duties as a woman. I believe men and women should each carry their own weight in a relationship whatever roles they both agree on.
I speak solely for myself now, but there was a time when I felt bad because James new woman was able to offer him money and she didn’t have to work so he had everything he wanted; a woman sitting at home waiting for him to show up and enough money that he didn’t have to work if he didn’t want to and she could pay her own way and his. I would catch myself and think, “what the hell is wrong with you? That doesn’t make her better than you, it makes her pitiful maybe.” It makes him a class A asshole, user but it is no reflection on MY worth as a woman.