Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Domestic Violence is a choice

A new study shows what advocates and batterer accountability groups have been saying all along – domestic violence is a choice, not a loss of control. While batterers may claim that they "lost their temper," this is just another excuse in a long list of excuses for their violent behavior.

Below is the study that was just released.

I have also included two links to 2 Public Service Announcements that were done in Canada but never aired. They are controversial and I will warn you in advance, they use strong language and violence to make their point. But they truly illustrate how batterers choose to hurt only their partners and are usually well controlled in public. I would love to have this be mandatory viewing for everyone who deals with a batterer so they can understand the Jekyll/Hyde persona they can exhibit.

Just before Dan and I separated, he told me in a very calculated manner how to make sure I would never be believed if the police became involved. Here's what he said:
Step 1: Push the other person's "buttons" until they're ready to explode. If you're married or have lived with someone for very long, you know exactly what I mean by "buttons" - we all have them. But the more mature you are, the better able you are to control yourself when they get "pushed."
Step 2: Take that person to a public place and (verbally or emotionally) push them some more.
Step 3: Wait for them to get hysterical while you stay calm. The victim looks like an idiot and the abuser can say to the police "You see what I have to put up with?"
After he told me this, I must confess, I tried it out on him one time (just before we separated). Except all I did to "push" him was buy my daughter a box of Sno-Caps at Blockbuster when we rented some movies one night.

A $1.50 box of candy.

I knew when I was doing it he would yell at me. His unpredictability was very predictable at the end. After he yelled until he was red in the face (both Katelyn and Sarah were present), he stormed out of the kitchen. Katelyn (age 7) apologized to me, thinking his outburst was her fault because she had asked me to buy her the candy. I assured her that it was his fault, not hers. But I don't think she believed me.

What was fascinating to me, after conducting this little "experiment," was how stupid he looked while he was having his fit. It was as if I was merely an observer of the drama. What also fascinated me was how amused (and not afraid) I was at his behavior, probably because he had never struck me. I would not recommend you try this if your abuser is prone to battering.

In retrospect, it's obvious to me that Dan was 100% in control even when he acted like a lunatic at home. I had become conditioned to accomodate his demands in an attempt to keep the peace. Even when it meant withholding a treat from my child.

I'm very blessed that I also finally realized I had a choice too. I chose not to let my children grow up in an abusive home and I sought counsel from Harbor House. I'm blessed that my parents were willing and able to assist me financially. But I caution all survivors to keep tabs on their abuser if they choose to separate. Because that's when the potential for lethal behavior escalates.

That's when I lost Sarah.

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