As I'm sure you must know, there is much
more to the story than what has been discussed here. There is a lot more to be
said about the seven broken bones and countless black eyes, cuts, unexplained
bruises, and markings, over the five years that we were together than what I
have told you.
I am still living with the emotional
scars of that relationship. The first year we were apart I began to notice
just how badly I was damaged. When I would be on a date, and if the man moved
too suddenly or went to put his arm around me, I would immediately throw my
arms up in defense, or flinch. This did not please my dates, as oftentimes
this was in public and they didn't want on-lookers to think that they were
abusive to me.
I hadn't realized that I did this until
it was brought to my attention, numerous times. But, as a good thing, I
noticed that I could grow my hair out long without it being pulled out and
having to trim and cut it to blend it in. I noticed that I had a more clear
complexion. I no longer had to conceal bruises and cuts with make-up. I could wear short sleeve shirts without trying to always hide the
marks and bruises. I gained a little weight and looked healthier, got a tan,
started to wear jewelry and not be afraid of being accused of 'trying to
look good for someone else'.
I could go out to dinner and actually look around
at the people in the restaurant, without being accused of 'making eyes at
someone'. I could laugh. I held my head up and made more eye-contact. I was
becoming more fun to be with, less nervous, more at ease with myself and
others. It took years to over-come most of the damage.
It's very easy to 'not like' Brute's
family for smuggling him out of the state. But try to understand that it was
probably the best thing that they could have ever done. If Brute had stayed,
he may have ended up stalking me on another night, perhaps after leading me
to think that he was over me. I might have let down my guard, and then he could have
'finished what he started' on a different night.
I would have spent years
looking over my shoulder. He's the type that if he ever saw me on a date with
someone, he would have snapped, especially after a binge of drinking or drug
use. I was able to heal and get on with my life, with him tucked away out of
the state. It took me years to realize that fact. I spent many years being
upset that he got away with what he did to me. I see things differently now.
When Brute went out of town to escape
trouble, he stayed gone. He has been in trouble with the IRS, drugs, and who
knows what else. That's just what has gotten back to me. He married and has a
child with this wife. Of course, they divorced a number of years ago.
He ignores the children I had for him. They don't exist,
especially my daughter. I know that he and his wife have split up and reunited
at least once or twice before they divorced, that I know of.
I don't know if they have ever had an abuse
problem. When you live that far away from people who know that side of you,
you can do anything, who knows? But I do know that his life has been much
more troubled than mine. Money, power, appearance....those are the things that
are important to him and that family. Peace of mind, security, and comfort are
important to me. Money and power and 'appearances' do not define me.
I found out a few months ago (2004)
that Brute is now divorced from his wife. I am not surprised at all. And, of
course, his family is blaming his ex-wife for the things that happened that
led to the divorce.
His family has consistently blamed others
for the short-comings of their own children. It's easier to blame us, then
really take a good look at their own family. I accept responsibility for my
own faults and flaws, but not these folks. I have never seen a more
'cult-like' family in my entire life.
Why do we do it? Why do we stay for so
long with the people who do this? I have heard folks say that they would never
stay with a man who laid one hand on them....that with the first hit, they'd
be out of there. And like I said before, you never know how you will react in
a situation until you are there.
None of us made plans to be with an
abuser. Of course, in retrospect, the signs were there that I was in a
tumultuous relationship, right from the beginning. What the hell was I
thinking when he admitted to me that he broke his ex-wife's arm by bouncing
her off the garage door six times? He told me this during the first hour of
our first date. Duhhhh.
Oh, and of course, according to Brute and
his family, it was all his first wife's fault that she got hurt. It's amazing.
I could send Brute to the store for something and not see him for
days. I was out of everything I needed, having to use pillowcases as diapers,
yet, when he returned home and we got into a fight over it, his family was
very quick to blame me. I was supposed to give him 'freedom and
space'....uh-huh, this was easy to say, considering how his mother never had
to deal with this. I was not supposed to be angry. And if the fight turned up
violent, it was my fault, always.
In his family's eyes, he can still do no wrong.
But today, personally, I know the warning
signs that back then I either didn't know, or chose not to see. I am a
completely different woman today. And I am not stupid. I wasn't stupid
then....not really. So, why do we stay?
You stay because you already have a low
self-esteem. Maybe you didn't have an affectionate background. Maybe you
felt un-loved when you were growing up. And here's this guy...he's telling
you that he can't live without you in his life.
Imagine that....someone not
wanting to live if you can't be in
his life. You are the only one who understands him, the only one who cares,
the only one he has to turn to, and you just can't bring yourself to
being one of the people who turns their back on him, like everyone else has.
You have to be there for him. He needs you. You are all he has in this world,
his only reason for living.
And you believe this for a long time. You
find yourself making excuses for his abusive behavior....he's stressed, if
only he could get his truck back on the road, if only he could afford
insurance to drive, if only he had a good paying job, if only he had more
money, if only the landlord would get off his back, if only the family would
get off his back....then things would be fine.
And what of yourself? Well, if you can
'fix' him...love away his troubles, love him enough, care for him enough, be
there for him when things go bad, and they always go bad. If only you could
show him that no matter what, you'd never, ever leave him, then he'd be fine.
And in the end, you'd be a worthy person. You would be the winner. You
would deserve his love and better treatment from him. You will have 'stuck it
out' when everyone else failed him, and he wouldn't explode into his rages
And besides, you couldn't stand to be a
failure at anything else. You feel bad enough as it is. But if you walk out
on this relationship, on him, then you've failed at yet something else in
your life. Can't you be successful in anything? You desperately need to be
needed....you feel better about yourself if someone needs you.
How many of those big green vases from
the 'apology-flowers' does a person need, anyway? How many
'I-want-to-make-it-up-to-you' gifts do you really want? How many
'I'm-sorry-for-what-I-did-to-you-last-night' cards are in that shoe box in the
top of the closet?
And the embarrassment. How can you tell
people that you put up with an abusive relationship? After all, they just
don't understand him the way you do. They don't know what it's like. So, you
stay away from family and friends because you've run out of excuses for your
injuries. And the funny thing is, when you get an 'honest' injury from a
different source, you find yourself desperately trying to explain it
away....but if it was from him, you would have been vague and scant about it.
You feel guilty for putting up with it.
You know what people say, you know what people think. You know how
everyone feels about him in the family. You watch them fake smiles and warm
hugs on holidays, and you know that down deep inside they hate his guts. But they will give you two hours of peace and happiness, because they
know that when you get home, he's going to take it all out on you, because
he knows they hate him, too.
And you feel worse and worse, year after
year. You can do nothing right. You are too weak to give up, to weak to get
out. He's beat you down physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. And
if you were a fighter, like me, you take half the blame, and I still do. I
am just as guilty as Brute was. I will always feel that way.
The guilt never leaves you, not
really. And if you don't feel guilty for fighting back, you feel guilty for
taking it for so long. For possibly putting your children through it. For
putting your family through it. For staying in the relationship. You feel
stupid....you feel like you don't deserve better....that no one will love you
the way he does.
Well, sweetheart, he's loving you
Copyright © June 13, 2000 Cathy
Palmer-Scruggs / Catt Alexander