Wednesday, October 1, 2014

I'm Not What You Were Expecting



It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month!!!

Let's pretend for a minute that you guys don't know me and allow me to take a minute to introduce myself:

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I already know what you are thinking, "I don't need to hear anymore about domestic violence because I already know what it is!!"

 Trust me, you don't. Do me and the millions of other women needing your help a favor and see this article through to the end.

I promise, I'm about to shatter your world.

As domestic abuse becomes more of a socially accepted issue, more and more women are coming out of the shadows to share their stories. As these women come forward, the picture that we previously had of what a domestic violence victim looks like has been shattering down around us.

Now I might not know a lot about a lot of things, I'll fully fess up to that, but what I do know, is domestic violence. I know domestic violence from my own story and I know it from the women that on a daily basis come and go from my house as if I have a revolving door out front.

Because of that there is one thing that I can tell you with all the certainty in the world; what some of you picture when you think of a domestic victim is seriously outdated.

You see, the thing that most people have failed to realize up until this point is that domestic violence victims are the best actresses you will ever meet in your entire life.

The world we live in now isn't the world that we lived in 50 years ago; a world where women stayed home and kept house while they tended to their injuries alone and in silence. Women no longer routinely live behind the shadows of their husbands in what would be considered the typical fashion 30 years ago. Women are out and about, taking their kids places, going to work, and just generally doing much more than working inside the home.

As times have changed, so has the profile of a domestic abuse victim. Because women have gained independence in the real world and yet are still being victimized in their own homes, it has created a socially driven level of confusion for domestic violence victims.

"If I go to work, manage an entire office, crack up the whole party with my jokes, and yet my husband still beats me at night.....does that mean it's my fault? I'm not a quiet person....I don't always keep my mouth shut....I sometimes push his buttons.....so I'm not really a victim....right? Am I letting this happen to me? Is this my fault? I can't tell anyone what is going on, because I'm not like "that." I'm not one of "those" women. I'm strong. I'm a leader at work. I'm not quiet. I'm not being abused."

We, as a society, have on one hand made it so much easier for our victims to come forward, but on the other hand, we haven't made a whole lot of progress.

Domestic violence victims are evolving with the times, they have to in order to survive. If they don't want to "get in trouble" with their abuser, then they have to make sure that no one finds out what he did to them. To be out in the world and yet hiding such a secret, they learn to hide it well; just as every species on this planet has done, they have evolved in order to survive their extinction.


I struggle a lot with telling people that I've known for years what went on in my marriage because I have never been a quiet person. As the typical life of the party with a serious streak of over-sharing, I came off as one of those people that put her whole life out there for the world to see. What I was really doing though, was throwing them off course. If I could make sure everyone was looking at the flowers growing in my front yard, no one would notice the fact that my shed was on fire out back.

Domestic abuse victims these days are chameleons among us. They are no longer just the quiet, timid, whispering wives of the past; they are also the office clowns, the party throwers, and the over sharing neighbor next door.

They are women with big personalities and even bigger secrets.

You can no longer simply profile an abuse victim by an old stereotype. What we are doing as a society is creating all of these wonderful resources and then gasping at the women who forward; thus shoving many women further into their silence.

Hi, I'm Eden. I was rarely the quiet wife. I drew a mustache on my husband when he was passed out and then I let him think his buddy did it. I hid his methamphetamine necessitated false teeth and then laughed my ass off. There were times when I knew I was going to get hit anyways, so I would say something just to piss him off so that I felt like I had some sort of misguided control in the situation. I was the life of every party, the first to crack a joke, and the one who would wish her life was over when her husband crawled on top of her at night. I got beat for folding laundry incorrectly and I was nearly strangled to death when I tried to leave with my daughter.

My abuser stole a lot from me. He stole my self worth, my dignity, my hopes, and my dreams. He broke my body and he broke my heart, yet thanks to the evolution of a domestic abuse victim, I held onto my sense of humor and spunk and then I wore it as a shield to protect my abuser.

I must have worn it well, because you never noticed me.

I am the face of domestic violence.

I'm not what you were expecting, am I?

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Let's help end the stigma, by losing the labels.





Photo Credits:

36 comments:

  1. Love it. And love the flower garden / shed fire analogy
    fyi ... Verizon wireless will donate $10 towards domestic violence awareness for each old cell phone donated during the month of October.
    Keep rockin' on Eden.

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    1. That's great to know! I've been hanging onto one that I was waiting to donate! Thanks for the tip!

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  2. Awesome. Love this piece! I hope this piece goes viral-our society needs a huge wake up call. I did my part and shared it.....Hopefully some of you will too, and we can help get Eden's message out to where it can make even more of a difference.

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    1. Ha, that would be nice! I put it on facebook but I don't think anyone shared it!

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  3. i totally understand about not being believed because we look happy! the one I hate the most is that if we aren't crying or visibly upset, there is no way we can be traumatized. what, i need to have what someone else thinks is the appropriate facial expression to be for reals?

    i had some moderately abusive relationships, nobody else knew a thing and thought I was normal and it bothered me that my friends and people I saw at work didn't act like I was inferior like I knew I was. It is kind of sick but I tried to get them to dislike me and then it just got even worse. i am in a better place now. but. I am tired of the assumptions society has of people and the mind games in abusive relationships AND the motivations the rest of society has for denying it. they just don't want to hear about it and they don't want it to be their problem.

    Keep speaking out ! The world needs your voice!

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    1. Aw, I'm sorry you went through that but I'm happy you are in a better place now :)

      Thanks for believing in me :)

      *hugs!*

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  4. Hey, have you seen this Flash game? It was made to mirror the experience of an abusive relationship. The objective of the game is to make it through a path with texts giving orders (at one point ordering you to throw yourself into a pit of barbs which kills your character). The more you follow orders, the clearer and easier the game becomes and the more you disobey, the more chaotic and harder. You get various 'scoldings' for not following orders. I found it trawling the web and played it last week and it brought up definite Feelings.

    http://www.alexanderocias.com/loved.php

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    1. Except in real life, it doesn't matter if you follow every order. You can be the absolutely perfect person.
      Fuck, you can not see your husband for a week and do absolutely nothing wron (by his account) and still get beat. So unless the game incorporates random beatings just because, than it's not really mirroring real abuse, just perceived abuse. -m

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    2. Second anonymous, what are you saying! a person can be abused without getting random beatings!

      i looked at the game and it is beautiful. I love the idea of the black and white representing being under an abuser's control and the chaotic colors trying to break free. spoiler: if you keep resisting, you are free at the end!

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    3. Anon (3:53): Abuse isn't just physical. Also, in the game, you cannot give a "right" answer or be a perfect player. For example, at the beginning you are asked, "Shall I teach you how to play?" If you say "yes," you get "you do not deserve it." If you say "no," you get, "you will fail."

      Also, even when you follow every order the game gives you, you are still scolded. You get asked questions and then the response is invariably, 'No, you're wrong, I will give you the answer.'

      Anon (4:14): I agree with you. Something about how, when you 'die' in the game and get shattered into pieces that stay in the animation and then your player walks back over the old pieces is a powerful representation about what it's like to be with an abuser.

      Also interesting, when they were developing the game, they found one of the most insulting things one can do is to misgender the users. That's why you get the opposite gender when you select. (E.g.: you select woman and get 'no you are a boy.')

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    4. Oh my gosh, I tried to try the game and burst into tears almost immediately. I think it's such an awesome concept though. They should have anyone who works with domestic violence victims play it! I'm glad someone invented it, even if I didn't actually play it lol

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    5. Sorry about that. :(

      It made me cry too, and I want to make every, "well why don't you just leave" person sit down and play it until they become better people.

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  5. I hate how society treats abuse victims. Yes, it's loads better today than it was 50 years ago, but there's still a huge stigma. There is still far too much blaming the abused and not enough blaming the abuser.

    And you're right. The "But you don't LOOK like an abuse victim!" reaction/feeling so many people have makes it really difficult for anyone to come forward with their stories.

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    1. Also, meant to add that I love this piece and hope it reaches a lot of people. Maybe it'll go viral like a commenter above me said.

      *hugs*

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    2. Thanks hun :) I'm obviously tired of society's stigma's as well. Let's break them!!

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  6. Oh thank you thank you thank you!!!
    This needed to be said after the last post (or one before that?) where the person accused us of asking to be hurt because we weren't perfect, quiet wives. -m

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    1. Your tone up there was very different. I can't tell if you are with the survivors or not.

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    2. I'm not with the survivors, I'm still a victim if that's what you're asking. -m

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  7. People think that bullies and abusers are that way because they have low self esteem or they are afraid you will leave them so they have to keep you controlled... but it is not true (maybe for some of them but not for most of them generally, most of them are vain and self centered and cocky and really do think they are the center of the universe actually.) And no, their attitude is not a cover up for being insecure or suffering from any issues of self worth, they really are arrogant insufferable bastards and that is just who they are. Dig underneath the surface and they are still the same, even deep down. Pop psychology aside, it is time that people realize that there really is a whole group of people out there who are exactly as they seem to be, no trauma or deep rooted abuse created their attitude or psyche, they are just who they are, and that they know what they are doing to others and they actually do enjoy doing it. Yes, they do it deliberately, they get off on it, they will do it as long as it works for them, and they will not change. They like being that way, it gives them great satisfaction. They love to get jobs within a power structure (law enforcement has some of the scariest ones) because they totally revel in being able to dominate and terrorize helpless people. They want to be the one in charge, they love to see people afraid of them and bowing to their whims, they enjoy abusing their power, they do know exactly what they are doing and they are good at doing it. They will never have any empathy or regret for behaving that way because they do so on purpose. The best way to get away from them is to make them want to drop you (I think Eden managed to do that) because if you leave before they are willing to let you go they will come after you. Just because. They have contempt for you for putting up with them but they will be quick to punish you if you try to stop putting up with them. So you have to figure out what would make them want to let go of you... if it would be getting fat, getting religion, being clingy and whiney, whatever they would most recoil from and want to get away from. And then slowly morph into that, so that they decide to throw you away. (It can be done, you just have to figure out what they would dislike the very most of any of the possible irritations to them, what they would least be able to tolerate or be around, and gradually become it, without doing it so much or so quickly that it triggers abuse for it. Eventually they will move on. Like being just a poor enough worker that you get fired.) Best of luck to all of you who feel trapped, but instead of spending so much energy figuring out how to placate and appease, start spending some of it to figure out how to make yourself look less and less like prey worth keeping.

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    1. WHOA! I hope Eden doesn't delete that comment so that we can get a discussion going on how WRONG that advice is! Since when is it the abused's responsibility to change themselves to stay safe? "If I get hit, I should get fat. If I don't get fat, I'm not trying to actually be free."

      WHAT THE FUCK.

      Are you serious? How is someone who is that controlled supposed to just start being even less of what their abuser wants? I know if I had gotten fat, he would have thrown all the food away. If I was a bad lay, I would have gotten raped harder. If I didn't clean at home, he would have whipped me into shape. A lazy worker that gets fired? Try a slow farm animal that gets beaten or put down.

      I really hope no one takes that advice you are trying to give out. You are going to get someone killed

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    2. Uh....well while I agree with some of the first part; that abusers do sometimes just flat out love to hurt people, I'm going to have to disagree with the second half.

      Changing who you are to displease someone else is giving him more control over you. It's continuing to loose your identity and individuality to become someone bound by abuse. I second the replier that stated how dangerous it could be for the woman intentionally becoming someone her husband hates. I think there is a difference between occasionally talking back or playing a prank on the abuser and actually becoming a version of something he hates. That's risky water and could be fatal.

      In theory its not a bad idea, but in reality the risk of more harm most likely far outweighs the possibility of him leaving.

      But, thank you for opening the dialouge. I don't think you meant any harm and I'm glad that this can be a forum for topics like this

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    3. I didn't say become someone he hates, I said become (temporarily) someone he wants to drop and leave behind. Become too dull to keep on playing with. They have to make the decision to leave, you can't or it is too risky. Face it, when you're trapped by an abuser you have ALREADY lost your identity and individuality, you have already become bound by abuse, you have already lost your freedom of choice. (Or you would leave, right?) So what you need to do to get out of the situation is figure out how to get them to decide to dump you and choose to move on from you and take their vileness elsewhere. Let you go, leave you behind, toss you aside, discard you and walk away. The best way to do that is to bore them and not engage them and yes, even do little things that would repulse them, but do it very subtly. (Act like you're trying hard to do what they want but sadly you just fall short.) They'll believe you're incompetent and stupid and boring, because that's what they tell you anyway. Eventually they'll get tired of you if you aren't any fun any more. My friend managed to get out that way, and she's like a whole new person now, and the best part is she doesn't have to worry that he cares what she does any more (their kids are over 18 so she doesn't even have to have any contact with him), he left her and so he decided she's not worth worrying about, and he's got a whole new victim/relationship.

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    4. I doubt that would work for the majority of abusers. Some of them will continue to abuse, even more so because now there's something to not like. Not to mention throw in the emotional/mental abuse.
      He likes skinny only, become fat. Okay, except well, then he hits her because she's fat. Then he calls her a fat pig, then he shoves food in her mouth because she's a fat pig. Get where this is going?
      It reminds me of when I stopped fighting back, stopped fighting against the abuser. It was self defensive but I quit. I ended up with a nearly dislocated and very painful jaw that was swollen, a concussion, a bruised neck, back and arm (severely actually) and an infection in my cheeks and jaw.
      I figured if I didn't fight back he would realize something. I actually thought fighting back set him off and he liked it because it made him worse. Well, he did like fighting back. Except, it made it worse, way worse when I stopped doing what he liked. -m

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    5. Abusers aren't attracted to what they like in you, they are attracted to the control they have over you. The less you become of what they deem acceptable, the more you are going to get beat back in line.

      Your girlfriend may have gotten lucky that her ex left, but the psychology of it does not support the theory that repulsing him is going to make him leave. In fact it supports the theory that repulsing him is going to validate his feelings that you need to be put back in line.

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  8. Victim-blaming and you are just running your mouth.

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    1. Who are you referring to here?

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  9. I think they are referring to the comment that started the thread above this one

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    1. sorry, & I was referring to the one directly above this one lol

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  10. O.k., so I think one thing on which most can agree is that being with an abuser is just a no win situation. There is absolutely nothing you can do good or bad that will change them or your overall situation in the long run. You can avoid a blowup only so long no matter what. If you do what they want, it just encourages them to keep controlling you. If you don't do what they want, they punish you. If you do everything absolutely perfectly and walk on water like a saint they will still abuse you, because, hello? They're abusers! You will get abused no matter what, right? And eventually, you may get killed no matter what. So any avenue that might allow somebody to escape is something to consider. Be what they don't want, you might get killed. Be what they like, you might get killed. Leave them, get killed. Stay, get killed. Fight back, killed. Don't fight back, killed. (Injured, crippled, maimed, etc.) Hard as it is to face or consider, the abused person really does need to try to figure out how to get out of the situation no matter what. And no, this is not blaming the victim, it is encouraging them to see that they must somehow escape despite the danger in doing so, because there is no other solution. (When all roads still end in the same destination, one might as well select the one with at least some possibility of improvement.) Yes leaving is dangerous, but staying is dangerous, so again, no win, right? The important thing to understand is that there is no redeeming feature to continuing with status quo, because there is no status quo. It always gets worse, but it's sometimes just gradual enough that you don't notice, or you do but you tell yourself it's still not that bad (like the old saying about the frog in the boiling water, they would jump out if it was already hot at first, but if it starts out cold and then gets slowly turned up one degree at a time they will sit in it until they get boiled.) Don't get boiled. It is hard to let go of everything you own, but if you have to, remember that none of it is worth as much as you are. You can't own anything if you aren't here. Please believe you are worth saving, and please believe you are worth more than any of this world's goods. And nobody else's opinions (like your family who says you're lucky to have him, your friends who think he's cute, your neighbors who think he drives a cool car, whatever,) have any value at all compared to the worth and safety of you and your self. Save yourself, please. (Because you can't keep up the appeasement indefinitely. You could be Mother Teresa and he would go off, because it's him, not you. There will always be a wrinkle in the shirt, an odd number of peas, a misfolded napkin, it will always be something.) Remember that you are not stupid, you are not a bitch, you are not any of the things he calls you, believe me. You are a person who has the right to live free, you are not a slave and nobody should own you. If you are living in fear and oppression, please do your best to come up with a way to get gone. Before he makes you be gone permanently. Life is too sweet to spend it being tortured. (And please don't think there is any love there, people who love people don't deliberately hurt them, nor are they afraid of them.)

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    1. It's a tough situation, it really is. Statistics show that most of the women (I think its 70%) that are killed in a domestic dispute are killed shortly after they have left the relationship. It sickens me!

      We need to get these women out, they simply cannot do it on their own sometimes. It's not about not empowering them as some people say when I bring this up, it's about the fact that in most cases feeling empowered is still simply just not enough :(

      My heart breaks for them everyday. I'm not the best person to talk about getting out of an abusive relationship, because I never left mine, he left me. I don't know where I would still be today :(

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  11. You wrote down the words as if theyd left my lips...

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  12. I hope you don't mind, I shared this post on my Tumblr. It's really important for people to understand this. I was the same way coming out of my abusive relationships; no one had ever suspected anything because I was so bubbly and outgoing all the time. We need to end the stigma associated with being abused and start supporting our survivors (and definitely not doubting them) so they can feel safe again. I might share this again on other platforms, if that's ok- you are AWESOME at writing and the impact your words have are something a lot of people I know could benefit from!

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    1. No go for it, share away! The post was written to bring awarness so I hope it does! Please share everywhere!

      Thank you for not only your sweet words, but your efforts in spreading the message!

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