Tag Archives: intimate partner rape

R* and Attachment Parenting

It’s scary sometimes where searches for information on current political events can lead a person. I certainly didn’t expect to find the following link to two topics I never expected to see together in the same post. hisveganmama didn’t even go into the level of detail that other bloggers went into in response to Mr. Akin’s ignorant (to put it politely) statement back in August 2012, but it certainly triggered a strong response in me. I wasn’t looking for information on his statement, and I’m not certain I can re-create the path that got me from the 2012 presidential campaign to hisveganmama‘s post…

Here’s where I ended my search earlier in my lunch hour:

R* and Attachment Parenting

It caught my eye, because, well, because of what I went through with Sam and because I am strongly drawn to the parenting philosophy of attachment parenting. I don’t know why I was so surprised to see the two topics together, because my belief in attachment parenting and desire to raise Max under that philosophy was one of many topics that would result in an hours-long diatribe about my intelligence, suitability as a wife and/or mother, or other unacceptable behavior by Sam towards me.

Her description of what she struggled with as being a rape survivor and a mama is shedding light on issues that I have struggled with, but which I wasn’t even aware enough of to have attributed to being a survivor.

It seems my list of stuff I need to work through keeps growing, but I’m not really sure that I’ve truly addressed any of them, much less healed. I’m not sure that feeling will ever go away, either.

The things we forget for “love”

Oh        My        God .  This morning, I took a look at a copy of my transcript from the local university, where I studied for a couple years before transferring out of state.

Not only did my life with Sam erase nearly every bit of self-worth and self-confidence that I’d had, but I’d actually forgotten which classes I’d taken.  I’d forgotten that I had taken THREE college level math classes in high school that transferred over to credit at the university.  I’d forgotten that I was on the Dean’s List or Chancellor’s List EVERY semester while there. I mean, I remembered that I’d made the lists, but that I’d done it more than once – every semester.  No.  I didn’t remember that.  I was STUNNED when I saw my transcript.

I’d let him convince me that I wasn’t smart, that I was nothing.  I knew that I’d let him tell me that.  I’m recovering from believing him.

What I’m running into now is the idea of just how much I’ve actually forgotten.  Stuff that doesn’t pertain directly to Sam.  And it’s not just which classes I took, my grades.  Friends will reminisce about high school or college, about stuff we did, weekend trips we took.  There are, maybe not many, but a few (so far) that I don’t remember.  I do remember some when they tell the story – I think that’s normal.  Others are just blank.  Completely gone.  Not even an inkling of “oh, yeah, I vaguely remember…”

They’re not joking; they’re not lying; they’re not relaying drunken party stories.  I can understand forgetting some things.  Different events carry more weight for some than others.

For example: Jane may have been thrilled when I offered to drive her up to Portland to go shopping when she was having a terrible week.  It may have been a big deal to a freshman far from home for the first time, having a new friend from the dorm borrowing a truck from another friend to make the drive in an effort to cheer her up.  While for me… meh, it’s just a short trip, an excuse to not study for a few hours.  I didn’t remember it until she brought it up.  But when she brought it up, I did remember it.  “Oh, yeah!  It took me a few minutes to figure out how to put the truck into reverse the first time, because the shift pattern was worn off the gearshift.”

There are stories that sound like they should have made some sort of impression on me; like skipping studying to go to the beach, a car I was riding in nearly crashing during an ice storm, of which I have not even the dimmest glimmer of having experienced.

And the grades, man!  Don’t you think I should remember that I was getting straight A’s or A’s and B’s?  It’s not THAT long ago.  I can recall taking the classes, but I’m still wondering if maybe they sent me the wrong set of grades with my name on the top.

I’m curious.  Does living with an abusive alcoholic do that?  Is it some intense-weird survival mechanism?  Does it happen to quite a few survivors?

Like an unconscious thought process: He says you’re stupid, you know you’re not, but if you’re not, then he’s lying, and he’ll be mad at you for thinking he’s lying or (and) for you being smart, so remember that you’re stupid so he doesn’t get mad, so he doesn’t take it out on you…

So how to explain losing the other stuff?  Overwriting it with “How to Survive Your Alcoholic Abusive Boyfriend / Husband”  ?

Or is it just me?  Is it normal and I’m making mountains out of mole-hills?  (Pfffah. *waves hand dismissively*  You’re just getting old.  You’re not in your twenties any more, you know…)

I’m really curious if it happens to others.  I’ve got an appointment with my counselor tonight and will discuss this with her.  Maybe she can explain it.

Emotions

So.  It’s been a while.  I really need to write more.  This is my journal after all and getting everything out should help me work towards healing…  Right?

Well, the biggest news, I guess, is that I’m getting everything pulled together and think we’ll be heading back to court to revise the visitation arrangements for Sam.  Based on stunts he and the visitation supervisors pulled the weekend of 07/30/11.

I seriously do not understand anything he does.  Why?  Why?  Why would he think that he won’t be caught in his lies?  And they’re not even just to me – so really, he shouldn’t be able to blame it on me, right?  Will there ever be a time when he stops lying?  Have I said it here before, I don’t know: Sam couldn’t tell the truth if it crawled into his mouth and tried to jump out.  I don’t know why I keep forgetting that.  I don’t know why I revert to expecting that he’ll be truthful with some one – any one.  But I don’t think he can…  And here I sit spinning my wheels trying to figure something out that really isn’t logical and probably won’t ever be clear.

What I need to do is just accept that he lies.  Sam lies.  Actually, that reminds me of one of the songs about Joe by Corey in the movie “Say Anything”:  “Joe lies… Joe lies… Joe lies… when he cries.”  Funny.  (snerk) I haven’t thought of that movie in ages and funny, I’d always thought of myself as more like the character Diane Court rather than Corey, but here I am: Sam lies…

OK.  Back to me.  I’ve actually been pretty good so far this week (it’s only Tuesday…) I’ve signed up for a women’s only self-defense class at the local university and I’m looking to see what other evening classes I might want to take.  It’s crazy how excited I am about that.

Actually looking back over the past week, I feel a bit all over the board.  I’m down, I’m up, I’m happy, I’m scared, I’m elated…  It doesn’t feel normal.  But then for years, my feelings weren’t really mine, I guess.  How I felt was determined by how much Sam did or did not drink.  It was determined by if Sam had a really bad day at work and therefore Max and I had to tiptoe around the house – in the dark usually – so that Sam didn’t direct that anger at us.  It was determined by if Sam’s new co-workers or new boss thought he was “God” (according to Sam) (not a god, mind you, God) – because if they did, it was OK to smile and laugh.

So I guess, this is normal?: feeling my own feelings because I actually feel them.  It feels strange.

Waiting for the call

Russell Brand put it so well. The entirety of his tribute to Amy Winehouse was incredibly moving, however the first part of it, quoted here, is what has stuck with me today and which has me inspecting what I’m waiting for:

When you love someone who suffers from the disease of addiction you await the phone call. There will be a phone call. The sincere hope is that the call will be from the addict themselves, telling you they’ve had enough, that they’re ready to stop, ready to try something new. Of course though, you fear the other call, the sad nocturnal chime from a friend or relative telling you it’s too late, she’s gone.

Frustratingly it’s not a call you can ever make it must be received. It is impossible to intervene.

(Read the full tribute here: For Amy – by Russell Brand)

So. What am I waiting for? I find that I am waiting for that call – either Sam calling to say he now sees that he has a problem and is ready to seriously stop and to seek help or a call from his sister, should she even remember to call me, to say that Sam’s drinking has caught up with him. Honestly – what I’m really waiting for in this scenario is the call from his family. Sam is still firmly entrenched in the belief that his drinking wasn’t a problem and hasn’t affected him or any one else. Oddly enough, or not too odd, I guess, is that he’s found a perfect enabler in Ingrid, who says only Sam can say if he has a problem and he doesn’t so… yet she believes he relapsed a year ago. Not sure how one can relapse if there’s no problem, but I’m getting off track here.

Spring, Fall and Winter I used to read the local paper every day, because there was always an article about yet one more death (or sometimes more than one) related to alcohol and the cold. I read the description of the victims looking for Sam. Of course this was all before I knew he was breaking his wedding vows and sucking a new enabler into his life. Any way, this was just another version of waiting for the phone call.

The other thing I’m waiting for, which I will NEVER get, I’m sure, is an admittance from Sam that he raped me, that he intimidated me, that he denied my SELF, that he inflicted domestic violence even if he “stopped short of hitting [me].” (As if the rapes weren’t violent. As if I have no reason to fear him just because he “never laid a hand on” me in anger, as if a 6’7″ rugby player towering over 5’4″ me – roughly grabbing my breasts or my… or pushing me back over a boiling pot and hot stove is loving and not violent…) I find I still want and am waiting for that admittance.

Without the blameshifting, the: “Well, she started cleaning during my games and I know she did it on purpose, so….” or the minimizing, the “I might have done it once, but that was before I realized how much it hurt her so I slept on the couch after that.”

IT WASN’T JUST ONCE!!!!! …… IT WASN’T JUST ONCE! Not just once. And it was when he was sleeping on the couch that he’d sneak back to the bedroom, stripping as he walked, to sneak into the bedroom and pin me to the bed. Telling me to be quiet our I’d wake up Max. Don’t wake up Max.

I want him to admit he raped me repeatedly our last few years together. I want him to admit that he used fear and intimidation to keep me in the back room. I want him to admit that he threatened to call the cops on me and I would never see our son again if I continued to push him away from me so I wouldn’t be bent back on top of the hot stove. I want him to admit that Max ran into the house from the front yard to find him doing that. I want him to admit he had no right to treat me that way. I want a sincere apology.

This will never come. Never.

I wish I didn’t believe this guy is for real

Reading this article, which was posted in the Faith section of the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman on Monday, July 18, 2011, made me sick to my stomach, angry, hurt….

What the Bible says about a modern controversy

I know, viscerally, intellectually, that the views this guy is espousing are twisted exegesis; however the shock of seeing this in print from a local newspaper was …  I can’t even find the words to describe the shock, the horror of seeing someone so blindly support a husband’s right to rape his wife and use religion as a reason to approve it.

I would like to say I’m surprised by the article, but I’m not. While spousal rape may technically no longer be legal, it is certainly one of the most under-reported crimes, and generally, that has to do with the wife’s fears of not being believed and societal attitudes towards women who stay within an abusive relationship. We don’t have to look through too many recent news stories to see that even when the rape victim/survivor doesn’t know her rapist, society in general tends to blame victims for the assault. If she comes forward, it is her character that is generally on trial. Amplify that a thousand fold when the rapist is the intimate partner or husband.
I’m not even sure what else I want to write here.
ETA: The link to the article no longer works directly.  Attached is a PDF of the article.  What the Bible says about a modern controversy – Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman

I’m Angry

20110712-013313.jpg

Or maybe a better title would be I’m angry and afraid….

Right now I’m so angry at Sam that I can’t think straight whenever his name enters my thoughts. I feel like a little girl who wants to jump up and down and stamp my foot and yell, “I hate him, I hate him, I hate him!” Can I? For just a little while, a minute or so… Maybe a couple hours…

Reason?

I’ve been having horrid nightmares about the rapes again. I’m almost certain that they’ve been triggered by Max coming home and smelling like Sam. So insomnia kicks back in. I don’t close my eyes until after 1, 3 or 4 am. Eyes wide open again between 3 and 5 am. The best sleep I seem to get is after my alarm goes off at 6 am and I hit snooze until 6:45 am. (Hmmmm, maybe I should set my alarm for 1 am and a 2nd one for 6, maybe then I’ll get at least 5 hours of sleep…)

I get up and check the locks on the doors make sure the windows that are easy to climb in are closed and locked… I’m sure I drive my family crazy if they hear me wandering the house at night.

Every little mention of him brings a white-hot anger to the surface. And it’s so hard to fight and so hard to hide when it’s Max talking about all the fun he had at Daddy’s: they rode their bikes to REI (nice to know Sam can spend money at that expensive toy store while not paying child support or 1/2 of Max’s medical bills….); they played with the neighbor kids; they went to the Park for a picnic… All stuff, of course, that I begged Sam to do with Max and I when we were still together, and which was always denied so Sam could sit on the couch and watch the games and drink. So it’s so hard to smile at Max and tell him I’m glad he had a fun weekend. But I do try. Because I am. Glad that Max had a good weekend. Glad that it was one more weekend where Max didn’t call crying – hopefully safe.

I should be happy that Max seems to be getting the best his father can offer during his visits, even if Sam is just playing and not actually parenting. Sometimes I am. But right now….

GRRRRRRRRRRRR

The only word that comes to mind right now when I hear Sam’s name is RAPIST. Followed closely by the desire to RUN. Just run, run, where can I go, where? And then the anger kicks in. How dare he still intimidate and scare me! How dare I let him have that power over me!

So I guess the question is: Who am I really mad at? Sam? or Myself?

This is years after the rapes, years after the daily emotional abuse, years after being out from under the same roof as Sam. Shouldn’t I be further down the road than this? Shouldn’t I be able to see Sam and not have to fight the urge to turn around and run? In the very literal sense.

My therapist tells me often that I need to stop “shoulding all over” myself. Intellectually, I get that. I can usually, now, stop myself when I realize I’m doing that, but it’s much harder to actually stop before I do it.

Anger and fear. Fear and anger….

The Realization

Looking for or accepting help for myself can be so hard.  The first counselor I went to I was actually asking how to communicate with Sam, because, I’d heard it so often from him, the problem with our relationship was that I didn’t try hard enough to talk with him, or be with him or, anticipate what he wanted enough.  After the first session with her, the first counselor would gently suggest Al-Anon; we’d talk about addictions for a little bit then she kept changing the subject back to me and how I felt.  Honestly, I was a bit PO’d and really confused.  I didn’t know how I felt!  Why would she even ask that? It wasn’t relevant.  I wasn’t relevant.  I needed to be taught how to communicate clearly with Sam. She wasn’t helping me learn to do that.

It took quite a while before I realized that learning to communicate with Sam wasn’t really what I needed to do. But I did/do need help re-learning that what I think and and how I feel matter. I actually needed help seeing that I was not in touch with my feelings at all, but with how to deal with Sam and his moods.

For the longest time, my “feelings” were directly dependent on how Sam was that day. Was he drinking? Was he in a mellow mood (i.e. would he leave me and our son alone while he sat on the couch in the dark and drank until he passed out)? Or would he drink just enough to get belligerent and start in on me for some perceived slight?

The most two common ones (but by no means the only ones) were: if I was reading, he would come into the room and growl at me that I was showing off – that I was reading to make him feel stupid. Or he’d yell from the front living room at me in the back bedroom to turn the f-ing vacuum cleaner off so he could hear the f-ing game, and that I was being rude on purpose. On days like that, God forbid I should actually leave the back bedroom to get food because that was me being rude and interrupting his game with my “racket” in the kitchen.

As I tried to speak to my first counselor more about my need to be able to communicate with Sam, I explained to her more and more ways I thought that I had been unclear, or how I had made Sam mad without realizing that what I was saying was wrong. No matter what I said to Sam or how I said it, I was wrong. One day, when I explained yet another way I had failed to clearly communicate with Sam and his reaction, she suggested that I contact the local women’s aid shelter, AWAIC, or rape counselors, STAR. I was stunned. I was SURE that she was giving me those contacts because she wanted me to see just how bad other women had it. I thought that she wanted me to see what ‘real’ abuse or rape was. I thought she was trying to ‘teach me a lesson,’ along the same lines that Sam would, about how normal my relationship with Sam was and prove that I had nothing to complain about.

(Does any one else see how twisted that was for me to think that way? Probably. I’m probably the only one surprised by the realization.)

Now, when I look back at life with Sam, I can’t believe what I lived through and that I thought it was normal. I can’t believe how surprised I was when I went to AWAIC and spoke with a counselor and instead of her telling me that I didn’t need to be there, she told me that what I had lived through was abuse. She asked me to think about contacting STAR.

As I’ve been dealing with my issues around Sam and our relationship, I can see that I’d been dealing with depression for a very large portion of my relationship with Sam. Maybe not BECAUSE of Sam, but definitely connected to that relationship.  I went back through an old journal and found entries where I begged to no longer feel anything – no matter how that came about.  Looking back, I am astounded that I’m still here.

And still for a while, I refused help on actually dealing with the depression.  I refused to acknowledge that the relationship was abusive; that when Sam ignored my telling him “No”, even though I was his wife, it was still rape.

The realization that I did nothing to warrant being treated the way Sam did and that even as a wife, I had every right to expect my “No” to mean no, has been hard to get my head around. There are days when I KNOW that without a doubt, without a whisper of denial. Then there are days, when that whisper shows up “But he was your husband. You have no right to be upset about how your husband used you or treated you.” That whisper can be so hard to ignore.

Sleeping with a Hockey Stick

OK, not literally in the bed, but within easy reach, along with my cell phone, a land line, pepper spray and various metal knitting needles. Because I’m afraid of my ex-husband, Sam, still. Do I get that this is not really a normal reaction? Yes. Yes, I do. I gave up the bear spray and baseball bat at least. So, that’s progress, right?

Am I ready to give them up? There_ is_ no_ way_those_are_leaving_my_room_any_time_soon.

Am I really afraid that Sam will fly off the handle and come over to take out his anger on me. Yes.

He still blames me for everything that is going on in his life. He’s only working part time because of me. He’s only able to see our son when his family or girlfriend is there because of me. It’s my fault he has to pay child support. (How DARE I even ask for that!?) He has no money, because I’m taking “it ALL”. It’s my fault he has bills. It’s my fault that he drinks. It’s my fault that we never saw his family when we were married and it’s my fault that he has to see them now. It’s my fault that he didn’t communicate with any one when we were married and it is my fault that he lies to his girlfriend. I can go on and on about the things that Sam feels are my fault. I could fill so many pages with his rants.

Obviously, in his mind, nothing that is going wrong in his life is due to his drinking, lying, addiction, avoidance of responsibility. Nothing whatsoever to do with his being caught in several big lies in court or the fact that he lied about where he lived or the fact that he has raped and initimidated and threatened harm and admitted to that in court.

Maybe if he focused all of that blame and verbal vomit on his girlfriend, or any one else, I wouldn’t feel afraid of him still.

I don’t know.

I read some where about a girl placing carpet tacks at her window to keep her ex from climbing in the window. It’s not normal to read something like that and immediately think “What a frickin’ great idea!! Hmmmm…… where could I put something similar at my ground level windows…”

It’s not normal to consider planting osage orange plants outside the ground level windows because they get “horse-high, bull-strong and hog-tight” (MotherEarth News), and if I was looking at the right pictures, they have some lovely thorns. Problem – I need to be able to get out those same windows in case of emergency….

It’s not normal to sell a lovely little, fairly rare, easily spottable car because it’s easily spottable, in exchange for a model and color that is probably the most popular car in the state. It’s not normal to hope that Sam’s girlfriend doesn’t sell her car because I’ve gotten used to looking out for it when I go to stores or restaurants. (Sam doesn’t have a car of his own.)

So friends ask me “Do you feel safe now?” I tend to reply, “I still sleep with a hockey stick…..” and if they look at me strangely, I add, “I feel safer.”

That smashed fingernails feeling…

bruised fogHave you ever smashed the heck out of your finger with a hammer – or slammed it in a door – or whatever – and lost the fingernail? It hurt’s like bloody hell initially, and then, until the fingernail grows back, you have a hyper-sensitive reminder of what you did every time you accidentally touch where your fingernail was.

I think it’s a fairly accurate description of what my emotions have been doing for the past week. Not that the previous years were easy, but… The previous weekend and the beginning of last week were a serious hammer blow: first dealing with how Sam came to pick up our son for his supervised visit and let my cat run out of the house in the process and refused to move out of the doorway to I could run after Serenity, which was reminiscent of his neglect and abuse of our cats when we were together. Then triggered by my attorney telling me that I need to seek therapy because that wasn’t abuse…

So, Sam used to re-define reality and tell me that I was wrong – no matter what I said happened, even if I agreed with him, I was wrong. “No, Michelle, I did not promise that we’d go hiking this weekend.” Or “I said we’d go, but I didn’t promise, so I don’t have to do it.” “No, I didn’t ever tell you that we’d go. You’re stupid / crazy / making it up.” But I knew, he’d promised; whatever the outing was, I’d look forward to it for days or weeks. But, upon his persistent insistence that I had it wrong, I’d start doubting that I’d heard him say we would go, maybe he’s right, I’m crazy / stupid.

Now my attorney, who is supposed to be helping me through the legal wrangling, basically told me I’m off my rocker and my perception is skewed. She told me that Sam blocking my door didn’t happen, it wasn’t intimidating, it wasn’t a continuance of the abuse. Excuse me? She wasn’t there; she can’t tell me he didn’t do that. She didn’t live with Sam for over 10 years. She doesn’t know what patterns his abuse takes. Let me be clear: I do not think my attorney was being abusive – just unprofessional; there is no pattern of abuse in her dealings with me. If the courts wouldn’t see his current actions as abuse, then I need to know that. What she had no right to do was to deny that it happened or imply I’m crazy.

I guess, I’m just echoing my last post: am I being too sensitive? Because of what she said, though, I seriously questioned whether or not any of what I put up with in regards to Sam was abuse: well if I was wrong about Sam’s actions being abusive this time, maybe I was wrong before. Maybe he had every right to intimidate, threaten, and rape me. Maybe it wasn’t rape…

Why can it be so hard for me to call Sam’s behavior what it was: He was / is intimidating, his means of winning an argument or disagreement was to threaten physical violence. When it came to sex, even if he was my husband, I SAID NO. I had every right to say no and he had no right to ignore that no.

Why do I let others tell me what I experience / have experienced is not real?

I survived

I survived. Or rather: I am surviving. I did that almost by accident. I didn’t see the red flags for what they are, I didn’t see our almost 16 year relationship for what it was, so I’m not sure one can say I survived it by reason of anything I did. Maybe I’ll change my mind as I get further from the end of that relationship. I don’t know.

“I am surviving” because I’m not completely out of the relationship and never will be: I have a young son with my abuser/rapist/(ex)husband. Some days that reality is almost beyond bearing.

This blog is my attempt to make sense out of something that may never make sense, my attempt to see where I need to work on myself to heal, to be whole again, to learn to live again, to learn who I am beyond the many years of darkness, pain and confusion.

This blog is my attempt to speak out. Secrets grow in the darkness and I no longer want to live in the dark with them.

Surviving wasn’t easy, but it truly feels like healing is the hard part.