Please don’t ever think abusive people are heartless. They are not. I have heard their hearts breaking and their pain is real. Even more, perhaps, than the average person whose partner walks out. The abusive person works so hard to gain control over their partner that they are shattered beyond belief when she or he gets away despite everything they have done to ensure that won’t happen.
My heart bleeds for them sometimes. They swear they never hit their partner, never laid a hand on them, and I believe that in some cases.
What they don’t understand is you don’t have to actually hit someone to be an abuser. There is more than one way to make your partner fear you, stop loving you, feel unsafe with you.
They won’t entertain that possibility though. They prefer to think the break up is all the fault of interfering friends or relatives. They claim someone, usually a friend or relative, has been undermining the relationship and has manipulated their partner so well they have convinced them to leave in spite of their own desire to stay. They believe their partner would never have left if not for the evil influence of these relatives or friends.
They can’t hear the truth of what they are saying. I have spoken it out loud to try and help them see what they are saying, what they think, what they believe.
It sounds like you think the only way your partner would leave you is if someone makes them do it. “Yes,” they say, “that’s right.” I ask if they think their partner is so weak, so easy to manipulate, so completely without a will of their own that someone could make them do this to a partner they love not to mention to their children.
They usually don’t get it. They think their partner is strong but not strong enough to decide the course of their own life. Not strong enough to choose to leave – someone else made them do that!
They don’t see that, when they blame someone else, they are really saying “My partner is not a person – he (or she) is a puppet who can be controlled by pulling their strings and someone else is pulling them now instead of me”.
Abusive people get hit harder when their partners leave than other people. Other people get warned their partners are leaving. They get told face to face. They know where and when and how their partner has gone or will go. They have a phone number to reach them on if something comes up. They might even be able to pop by and see the kids.
The harder a person fights to cover all the bases and ensure their partner will not be able to escape the more savage the shock when escape happens.
The prisoner takes nothing when they leave and they give no warning. They disappear so completely the abuser is often left frantically trying to guess what has happened. Was she abducted? Is he dead? Nobody knows what has happened or where the partner is. They often can’t even find out if she (or he) is alive or dead.
The harder they try to find the partner, to get to them, the bigger the wall of people the abuser runs into and the nastier they become towards them.
Abusers who abuse women have no idea there are so many things out there, so many people, so many institutions, so much power stacked up ready to beat them to a pulp the second she calls for help.
They know, they just KNOW, all they need is an hour or two alone with her and everything will be OK – she will come home and their nightmare will be over.
They are probably right. An hour or two will give them time to make promises, threaten her, convince her how wrong, how stupid, how unfair, how mean she is being to them, to the kids, or to herself. In an hour they can make her see reason and do what is right – THEIR reason and THEIR version of what is right.
She knows the partner will convince her to come home. The people she turns to for help know it too and so does the law. That is why everyone conspires to make certain the partner does not get near her until she has had time to steel herself against the onslaught. Until the wounds inflicted on her self-esteem have had time to heal. Until she is no longer the bird with clipped wings and broken legs that abuse has turned her into.
When her wings and legs have healed, when she is strong enough to resist the attacks, demands, and manipulations, then she will face the abuser. Then she will look them in the eye and tell them face to face without fear of their reaction or their power over her.
Sadly, there is not as much support for male victims of abuse regardless of whether their abuser is male or female but there are signs that this might change in time.
Meanwhile abusers are living in a world that no longer helps abusers keep their human possessions under the thumb. A world that despises abuse and will bend over backwards to help the targets of abuse escape.
There are safe-houses, people who will find her accommodation, transport out of the state if need be, lawyers, pensions, furniture – everything she needs to get away from him.
This is Australia and no woman has to stay with a man who does not treat her with respect.
Sooner or later love that is not respected dies and all that is left is a desire to get away. Sooner or later, in this country, a way out will be found.
In some countries the law, the other people in society, and the traditions will help a man keep his wife’s wings and legs broken so she can’t get away.
Australia is not one of those countries. Any woman of any age, race, creed or culture has freedom the minute she asks for it. One phone call, one conversation, one request for help and all the forces of this society and it’s laws will swing into action to rescue her from his clutches.
I want to tell these people to open their eyes to the possibility nobody made their partner leave. They did it to themselves – they killed the love and triggered a desire to escape. I want to tell them to do something to make sure this will never happen again but they don’t want to hear.
They seek power over their partner. They want to control and own them.
They plot and plan desperate measures to achieve that. They won’t entertain the idea they might need to change their definitions of love and abuse.
Restraining orders, breached court orders, broken laws will not get their partner back. They will just result in more anger and frustration when society swings in behind the partner to help them escape.
These people may get stuck unable to accept what has happened and spend, as one man I know has, the next 20 years wanting their partner back and being desperately broken-hearted about losing her. Unable to move on and unable to be happy. A changed and broken man who can’t get over the loss.
If they do get over the loss and find someone new they will go through the same thing again when they kill the new partner’s love for them and they lose them too.
I wish, oh how I wish, I could give them a book called “The verbally abusive relationship: How to recognise it and how to respond” by Patricia Evans. It would tell them exactly how they killed their partner’s love without ever hitting them but they wouldn’t read it. I know that.
They will never believe they killed the love. They always blame interfering friends or relatives or infidelity.
Their pain is massive but they will often learn nothing from it and I find that incredibly sad.