Right up front, let’s establish that I have a long-running reputation as “Merry Sunshine” with a pair of rose-colored glasses permanently affixed to my face. So, if you read this article and feel I whizzed in your corn flakes, please bear in mind it’s a lot like broccoli. You may not like it, but it is for your own good.
As advocates, we are taught about the “honeymoon” phases that come and go in abusive relationships. One day you hear the words, “ignorant, stupid, fat, ugly b***” being screamed at you, and the next afternoon a bouquet of roses arrive. We’re talking gorgeous roses in your favorite color. Heck, there may even be a card with a syrupy message written on it, ending in, “I’m sorry.” Two days later the vase of flowers is being thrown across the room at your head. You are wondering, “What the heck is going on?”
Those who seek with all good intention to support you may say, “Well, he apologized. You have to forgive him,” and yes, you do, but you don’t have to stand still and let the vase hit your face. One of your supporters may even encourage you to leave and seek safety, but you feel you can’t. You think, “He just got angry, but after all, he apologized.”
A few weeks pass. He becomes totally irate with the financial situation, and before you can react, an open hand comes across your face and you have a bloody nose. “Oh, my God, baby, I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me. I just get so upset when we can’t pay the bills. Baby, please forgive me. I promise, I’ll never hit you again. I am so sorry.” You retreat to the bathroom, put a cold compress on your face and wash the blood away. You take off your clothes and change into something clean, then soak the bloody garments in cold water so the stains are not left behind for others to notice when you wear them again. But he said he was sorry.
Monday comes, and the work week has begun. You are sitting at your desk when a special delivery arrives. It is that gold tennis bracelet you have wanted for so long, with a note, “I love you. Please forgive me. I am sorry.” You are, once again, placated. After all, he did apologize—again.
Thursday rolls around. Your boss gives you a last minute project that simply must be completed and ready for Friday’s meeting. That promotion you’ve had for so long in your sites may depend on this. It could mean enough income to finally break away from that abusive relationship. But, until then, you know you better check in. So, you call, get voice mail and leave a message. “Hey, honey, it’s me. I have to work late. I’ll see you when I get home.” After a few hours, you finish all the typing, making copies, collating, punching of holes, stapling and binding. Your work is at long last completed, so you step back to scan the final product, full of pride for a job well done. Totally exhausted, you look at the clock and realize it is nearly 8:00. There are text messages on your cell phone—eleven text messages. “Where are you?” “When will you be home?” “I’m really getting tired of waiting.” “When is my supper going to be ready?” You punch the time clock, walk out into the dark parking lot, alone, get into your car and drive home.
By the time you make it into the driveway it is nearly 8:30. Your heart is racing as you hurry into the house, wondering which personality will be waiting on the other side of the door. Upon entering the house you apologetically shout, “I am sorry to be so late. I’ll make you some dinner right now.” Setting your purse aside, you scurry into the kitchen like a scared little mouse.
Suddenly from around the corner of the room appears your partner, never speaking a word, and you hear a loud bang. You drop to the floor. As he stands over your bleeding body, the last words you hear him say to you are, “Oh my God! Baby, I don’t know what happened. I just snapped. I thought you were with another man.” Just before you see him put the gun to his head and pull the trigger, the last words you hear him speak are, “I am so sorry“—but he did apologize.
If you are a victim of emotional, verbal or physical abuse from a spouse or intimate partner, please check into the agencies and organizations around the country. Many are listed on the Victim Support page of my website. Some of the specific organizations that offer extensive assistance are: Family Justice Center Alliance (with locations all over the world), National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence and National Network to End Domestic Violence.
Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Life Direction & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims. Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Cynthia Brennen, on “Help, Hope & Healing.” Visit her website: orangeblossomwishes.com.
- Protecting the victims: Pols push for domestic violence registry (nydailynews.com)
- Property, Not A Person: Abuse and Domestic Violence (counselorcarmella.wordpress.com)