Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
A few years ago when my ex was at his most abusive, we were living
in a place where right next door there was a woman’s domestic violence support
group. The thought never entered my head that I should have joined the group,
though I looked at their sign every day and memorized the text on it. Weird,
now I really WANT to join this group. Why didn’t I then?
If we all realized we were not so unique we would reach out to each other much sooner.
If your ex had just come out and whacked you on the first date you would never have married him. Abuse too often starts out minor and builds over time, as in the story of
the frog in hot water. You fail to realize there is anything wrong at first;
the abusive water heats slowly so the codependent frog doesn’t jump out and
boils without even realizing it.
Only in retrospect can you say, “why didn’t I realize?”
The most important thing that you can do now is to join a group and learn the skills to
prevent abuse from happening again. You also need to learn how to recognize
whether or not a potential partner has healthy skills themselves. If they do
not, it is doubtful that they will be struck by self help lightning and
spontaneously acquire them.
-Dr. Brilliant Cliché
The Granny Doctor says: One of the best disguises that abuse wears is that of
familiarity. When something is familiar to you, it is difficult to associate it
with that concept plastered on the battered women’s shelter sign.
Don’t waste time beating yourself up, but keep this in mind- the fact that abuse is
so familiar to you means that you are going to be your own worst enemy when it
comes to stopping it. It will seem wrong and unfamiliar to deal with abuse in a
healthy manner, rather than quietly accepting it.
You need to be with other women who will help you to reinforce healthier ways of
seeing things. Only someone who has had the same problem understands the
hideous and relentless inner drive to ignore the abuse and maintain the status
quo. Join that group now. And stick with it! You may be tempted to run… but if
you do, there will never be any place safe for you to hide.