Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Motherly Advice...The Dragon of Domestic Violence

 
Yes it's a scary topic this one. Not one that many want to tackle, but you're here and you've asked the question (and in truth a few of you have), so let's deal with it as best we can.
 
I'm guessing you are at a crossroads in your life. Many of us find ourselves at
these crossroads from time to time.
 
I know you've come to me for advice, so I will do my best.
 
After all, I have been where you are. Back when I was very young, I stood at this very same crossroads at which you now pause, hesitant and afraid.
 
I've been asked for this same advice by a few friends over the years. Some listened, some didn't. That I can't help. But I know my words changed their thinking forever, and perhaps it can help you too.

First of all, you have to set aside your preconceived notions of 'who this happens to'. It happens to people from all walks of life with all levels of education. I had a Business degree and a job as a Management Consultant, with my own business on the side.

You also have to adjust your idea of what Domestic Violence is. It isn't always physical. It can be emotional and psychological or frequently all three.

I was smart, pretty, well spoken, well dressed....a 'nice' girl if you like. 'He' was a dashingly handsome, greatly admired athlete from a long line of greatly admired athletes. It looked like a match made in heaven. He was sweet and charming and totally captured me. 'Captured' being the operative word. The first six months were like a dream. Gifts. Rose petals on the bed and bubble baths with champagne. Lavish gifts and heartfelt declarations of undying love. We moved in together.

Then he started to not 'like' my friends or my family, so I would find ways to avoid having them around to keep him happy. He would find ways to keep me snuggling in bed in the mornings so I was frequently late for work. He would make a 'game' of hiding my car keys so I could not go to an appointment or a social engagement, and then chastise me for not being fun any more when I got cross.

The last straw for me, after less than a year, was when he locked me in the bedroom to prevent me going to work. It was an old fashioned door with a real key and lock, and he had the key.

And so....I came to my own crossroads. When this man was good, he was charming and sweet and adorable. When he wasn't....well....he became the Dragon.

And so this was my story too. No bruises. No midnight hospital visits. But certainly lots of pain, and damage nonetheless. Lots of 'why me'? To that there is no answer unfortunately.

And so....here's my best advice, and I hope the analogy helps you.

On one side of this crossroads, is a path leading to a pretty house with a sign on the gate.
 
Inside the kids are laughing, music is
playing and a cake is in the oven, while dinner bubbles away. There's
you, serene and happy, doing what you love best and planning the next
exciting chapter in your life. You have friends who love you, a job you
adore, and children who are happy and well adjusted. Perhaps one is
getting ready to study medicine, one maybe to be a teacher, and one
has high hopes of becoming a professional musician.
 
What a beautiful and tempting life that is.
 

On the other is a path leading to a house enveloped in gloom.
 
 
One room is bathed in light and there is laughing. but it is stifled and stilted.
 
The family gather to this room for comfort, as often as they can, for in
the other rooms lurks a slumbering dragon. The family knows that the
dragon lives there and they do whatever they can to placate the dragon
lest it harms or eats you, the Mother. The dragon rules the roost.
 
The family (you and your children) feed the dragon, soothe it, tame
it as best they can, but underneath the truth is a dragon will always be
a dragon, no matter how well fed, well tended, well soothed, well housed
it is.
 
 
Sooner or later the dragon will get angry about something. It will perhaps not kill you, the Mother,
but it will find another way to hurt or maim or frighten you, so that it
can rule absolutely. You know this.
 
But the dragon has beguiling eyes, scales that
glint with mesmerizing colour and sheen, warm breath to envelope the
home when it's cold, and a hunting instinct that feeds the family and
shelters it from external harm. The family, and particularly you, the
Mother, love the dragon for it's hunting and sheltering instinct, but
underneath, the dragon will always be a dragon and cannot be tamed.
 
The dragon can also be admired and well thought of by people who are similarly mesmerized, because dragons have a way of hypnotising everyone with whom they come into contact.  
 
 
So you continue to live in fear and awe of the dragon, despite it's constant
threat. Even though you know that you are not a Gothic Princess and that the Dragon is really not your knight in shining armour.
 
The children who live here will scamper away as soon as they are
humanly able so as to escape this constant threat. They will not return,
or will only do so infrequently for their fear of the dragon is so great
that even to visit you, might mean confronting the dragon.
 
In time, they
will marry and have families of their own. In each of their homes,
will be a dragon, slumbering and waiting for it's dragon eggs to hatch, and
inhabit your children's homes.
 
And so the cycle will continue.
 
 
Which path will you choose? Which house will you and your children
inhabit?
 
Will you flee from the dragon, and prevent it laying it's
dragon eggs in your children's and grandchildren's homes?

Will you choose freedom and a full life?

Or will you choose a life for yourself and your children and perhaps
even your grandchildren, that bows and scrapes forever to a slumbering
dragon?

How long before your 'slumbering dragon' hurts or disables you, either physically, emotionally or metaphorically?
 
What if you end up in a wheelchair and can no longer protect yourself or
your children? What if next time, and there will be a next time, he
ensures that you no longer have the option of flight. A permanent disabling event that prevents you
from working to support yourself, or having the independent mobility to
escape, will take many options from you.

Whilst your fear of the dragon, outweighs your fear of death or disability or even simple emotional paralysis,
nothing will change.

You need to fear the impact of your death or disability or emotional paralysis, on your children
and loved ones more than you fear him.

You know what you have to do.
 
I know what I did. And I never looked back. Now I am the woman in the fairy tale cottage, with the well educated, contented family. I made my choice. It was hard. Very hard. But I have no regrets.
 
Not one.
 
You won't either.
 
 
 
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8 comments:

  1. What a wonderful way of putting it Mimi - I too have been there, done that.

    I wish that the lady I saw yesterday could read this.

    Perhaps it would help her understand that there are many of us out there who have had to make that decision.

    Wish my grandmother was alive and I could share this with her - she stayed until my grandfather passed away, the morning of their 63rd wedding anniversary. Thankfully they were both in a nursing home at that stage and that was the only thing that stopped the verbal comments.

    In those days it was not included in the defination of domestic violence but we know it for what it is now.

    Lynette
    XXXXX

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    1. I think things are changing for the better Lynette. Like mental health issues and many other former taboos, this one is coming out of the closet. It can only be a good thing. Mimi xxx

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  2. Thank you for this great post! I too am a survivor of severe domestic abuse... eventually one will come to the crossroad- perhaps many times... but inevitably she will have to make the choice to go. Domestic violence does not get better, only worse. Sadly, most of us who truly value our marriage vows, stay too long- some are killed, some wounded beyond hope of staying... emotionally, spiritually and physically broken. Your post was a very good analogy of domestic violence entrapment and indecision. I write too about my experiences and warn victims of domestic abuse to go. Thank you. Blessings!

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    1. I'm glad you found your path too Glenys. Hugs. Mimi xxx

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  3. I have never experienced this, and I pray my girls never have and never will. I pray that I will have strength to have faculties keen enough to be aware of it, if and when I see it. And I pray for those who are going through it. This was a bit frightening just reading it. Happy for your outcome and the fact that you can offer support.

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    1. Rita, thankyou for your comment and I apologise if my post offended or distressed you in any way. I think there is still this huge misconception that these things only happen to 'other people'. I was an educated young woman from a good family, and he was an admired athlete, as I've now amended my post to show. It was like the cheerleader and the captain of the football team kind of stuff. Nobody knew or suspected how it was behind closed doors. I am thankful that my healthy self esteem, allowed me to escape before too long. Many do not have that luxury. And yes. I can spot an abuser a mile off. Thank the stars, so will you. Warmly, Mimi xxx

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  4. Oh Mimi....you have made something beautiful out of something terrible and ugly. My heart truly breaks for women in this kind of situation and by your willingness to share your story you are encouraging others....you are inspiring and motivating women around the world! You have shared a very important message, my sweet friend. You are an incredible woman, Mimi, and I greatly admire you. Much love and big hugs!

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    1. Dearest Stephanie. I thank you. This is such a hidden issue, such an unspoken taboo, that I think somebody needs to air it and bring it in to the light. I am trying to do that, and provide support, however small and insignificant, to women who might turn to the internet in a moment of need and distress. Love, Mimi xxx

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I love hearing from you! I always respond to comments, so don't be shy! Mimi xxx