Sunday, December 16, 2012

3684 Why stay?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Technically, alcohol is a solution.


There's a discussion going on in a Mensa forum.  A woman posted something about supporting a shelter for abused women and children.  A male Mensan (a member whom no one seems to have met in person) got all het up because there are no shelters for abused men.  He's angry that whenever you hear about spousal abuse, it's all about the women.  Nobody has sympathy for abused men.  He posted links to reports and statistics showing that it's not a minor problem, that men are fully a third of abused spouses and so on.  There have been a lot of heated words back and forth.

The problem I have with the whole topic is that the numbers published by the government are distorted.  I do not believe they are a true picture of the problem.  A lot of the numbers are drawn from bitter divorce filings.  I know for a fact'*' that accusations of abuse/violence in divorce filings can be completely and utterly false, and those claims inflate the numbers.  On the other hand, I do believe that spousal abuse, like rape, is grossly under reported. 

Anyway, this guy is extremely angry and defensive about the topic of abused men, and so very angry at women in general that I came right out and asked, "Were you abused?"  Turns out his wife in her divorce filings had accused HIM of violence, as a result of which he lost contact with his children and was not allowed anywhere near his house.  The charges were proven false (How?  How do you disprove something like that?  It's the old 'he says she says' thing.), but he still has no contact with the children and he's still suffering social ostracism from the accusations.

I backed out of the discussion because he started to get irrational and scary.  I had pointed out that inflation/deflation aside, the federal tables on spousal abuse listed the number of battered women in one column and battered men in another, but did not specify the gender of the batterers, like women on women or men on men, which is meaningful information.  He spat back that gay men are only 8% of the general population, therefore they are only 8% of the battered men and therefore insignificant.  That's so irrational a conclusion that I realized there was no point in pointing it out to him.  In fact, it might be dangerous to do so.

He got scary enough that I begin to believe his ex-wife's accusations.  He was losing it.  In writing.  You could practically see the foam spattering his keyboard.  I wouldn't want to be on the other side of a table from him.  I can believe that whether there was physical abuse or not, there was probably a LOT of emotional abuse.

(Now that I think about it, I think he's the same guy who heaped abuse on me a few months ago when I dared to suggest that people who snort at the idea of global warming because they had a bad winter might be more receptive if we called it climate change.  He was vicious.  Yeah, I'm 99.9% sure that was him.)

And I don't understand why he is so upset about there being no shelters for abused men.  Frankly, I think he just hates women.

Anyhooooo, that got me thinking about all those unreported spousal abuse cases.

Why do women stay with an abuser?  Many reasons, I guess, among which are
  • Lack of self-esteem.  It's all my fault.  I always screw things up.  If I were a better/smarter/prettier person he wouldn't get so angry/frustrated with me.  I don't deserve anything else.
  • Love.  I fell in love with a wonderful guy, and when he's not being so awful, when things are going well, I still see that guy in there.  I have to help him, take care of him, maybe my love will fix him somehow. If I leave he will get worse and fall into despair and hurt himself and I can't do that to him.
  • Lack of options.  I can't leave the children with him, but I have no education, no skills, I can't get a job that pays enough for daycare and to support us. I am trapped.
  • Fear.  If I leave he will track me down and kill me.  It's better to stay here and ice my bruises than to spend the rest of my life as a hunted animal, always afraid that one day he'll be at the door with a gun or around the corner with a jar of acid.  Asking for official protection will just make him madder, and no one can protect me anyway.  At least here I know what to expect.
These are the unreported ones, and they are legion.  I wonder if men who stay with an abuser stay for the same reasons.


'*' I know for a fact because a) I worked in a family law office for a while, and b) because it happened to me.  Maybe I'll write about that some time.


little red said...

My mother stayed with a man for 10 years who abused her. He moved in with us 2 weeks after they met. She said he promptly punched her in the face and told her that if she ever left him, he'd kill her and her two children.

In the same time period, a woman 3 houses down from us was shot and killed in her home, in front of her elementary school age son, WITH an order of protection in place.

My mother never reported the abuse.

Husband pointed out this morning that most of the mass killers in the past century have been considered extremely smart, even genius. There is a fine line between madness and genius, they say.

rockygrace said...

You meet a guy. He's charming; he's personable; you fall in love with him. There are rumors about his past, but hey! He's great to you! Obviously, he's a changed man. He tells you that a lot.

Soon he's met your family, and not long after that, you're living together.

One night he gets drunk; you get into an argument; he hits you. "It was just the alcohol," you think.

Pretty soon you realize that "the alcohol" is a daily problem. And sometimes he hits you when he's sober. And you're so damn embarrassed; how can you tell your family and your friends that you picked wrong? You picked a loser.

And then one night, after one punch too many, you call the cops. And when they come, you can tell by the look in their eyes that they can smell the beer on your breath; by that point, you've got a little problem with alcohol as well. So the cops dismiss your complaint as a couple of drunks blowing off steam; they probably tsk their heads as they drive away, without any charges being filed.

And money's involved. At this point you've living in a trailer park, working a dead-end job, and there's no way in hell you can make it on your own. Shoot, even between the two of you, you can barely make the rent. When he bothers to work, that is. When he doesn't, it's all up to you. But isn't that what love is? And he keeps saying that he'll change. He brings you gifts. (That you late discover were stolen.) And sure, your family would help if you asked, but again, how can you admit that you chose so terribly wrong? You're a bright girl; how do you admit to making such a terrible mistake? And aren't you supposed to "stand by your man", to stick by a person no matter what?

Until one day you get sick and tired of it. You swallow your pride, and make a couple of calls, and discover that people have been waiting a couple of years for those calls. Waiting for a chance to help you. Knowing it had to be your choice.

Oh sweet Jeezus I'll stop now. It's complicated. And it's been twenty-five years, but damn, I still remember.

~~Silk said...

Thank you RG and red. Reasons are legion, and individual, and mostly unshared.