Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Saturday, September 24, 2011

C: Personal Introspection on the Last Post

My_Story_01a My last post about domestic violence was a report—passing on information I learned in a recent class and some of my observations from my law practice.  But in the course of discussing that post with V, she jolted me into a realization that this subject had touched my life and is, perhaps, touching it still.

As most of you know, V and I have been friends for 57 years (oh, Lordy!), and we lived right next door to each other as children.  I moved away when I was about 8, although our parents had the great, good foresight to be certain we saw each other frequently (this friendship has been a life-saver for me in these later years). 

As some of you also know, I grew up with a brilliant but alcoholic and womanizing lawyer father.  I loved him very much and miss him even now, but he was a mess, and he brought that mess down on his wife and children.  He would often come home very late at night, reeking of alcohol, women would call our home…you get the picture.  My brother and I grew up in this kind of turmoil.

I can remember being quite young (5-ish?) and awakening in the night and hearing the sounds of a party.  My parents occasionally had parties in their parents fighting home, tucking my brother and me in bed as the guests arrived.  I knew the sounds of gay conversation and laughter and the tinkling of ice in the ubiquitous high-ball glasses.  On this particular night I vividly recall that it was the ice tinkling that jolted me awake and then the loud party voices brought me to full consciousness. 

I remember my puzzlement, thinking, “Are mom and dad having a party?  I didn’t know about it…” and walked down the hallway to check it out.

Well, it was not party.  The tinkling ice sounds were of glass breaking.  The “party voices” were argument.  It was a full-blown fight.  That’s all I remember—I don’t remember their reaction to me.  I don’t remember how that night resolved.  But I sure remember the episode.  Which brings me to…

As V and I discussed my last post, she brought up another incident.  “I remember that awful night when you, your mother and R (brother) had to come to my house—and it was snowing outside!” 

I have absolutely no recollection of this, to V’s astonishment.  She went on to say that my mother had come across the snowy yards with us two kids, banging on the door for help.  She well recalls my mother lifting her shirt to show her parents the bruises up and down her back.

I was astonished!  I have no recollection of this.  V was shocked at this because it made such an impression on her.

The next day my brother and I were visiting at the office.  He and I practice law together so we are together daily (our sister is a paralegal there, so all us siblings are together every day).  He asked about my continuing education classes, and I told him some of the domestic snowy night violence statistics I had learned.  Imagine my surprise when he said:

Gee, C, remember when Mom had to take us to V’s house in the middle of the night?  I was just little, but I can remember the police coming and we had to leave to go to V’s.  At first I remember that it was very odd and fun to walk in the snow with no shoes….and then when I saw the bruising on Mom…”

When he mentioned the bruising, I got a flash picture in my mind of my mother’s bruised back.  That’s all: just a flash of my mother’s bruises.

Here’s the point:  I was there during that episode, no doubt.  And, no doubt, this was a traumatic experience for us all.  It made an impression on V and R that they carry with them today. Where is the impression on me?  

Oh, I know the impression is there, alright—somewhere in my spirit.  For me this is an up-close-and-repression personal illustration of how children (and adults) can repress things that are so hurtful and traumatic that it’s just easier not to know about them.  It makes me wonder how this has played a part in shaping my life (gives me yet another excuse for how screwed-up I am).

It is a deep lesson, I think, that all parents ought to take to heart.  Don’t do things that cause so much pain to your kids that they can’t even bear to know about it…and there is very little that is more painful to a child than one parent hurting another.  Even verbal battles are damaging.  It rocks their foundation. 

As V and I talked, we commented on the fact that both of us are children of domestic violence…I’ll let V tell her own story when she’s ready, as it has a different twist than my own.  But it just lets you know that the problem is rampant in our society and the effects are deep and shadowy.

Please take heed.  C.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

C’s Social Commentary – Domestic Violence

Domestic_Violence_Car_Magnet_Ribbon If you’ve followed this blog long, you know that I cannot help but offer social commentary.

I’ve spent the last two days in continuing education.  One of our speakers was on domestic violence.  I am somewhat an expert from decades of helping women escape and trying to convince them that they should escape.  It is such a problem in our society that I think it is helpful to review the statistics.  They shock even me.  Just look at these statistics for the US:

  • According to the U.S. Surgeon General, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States. 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women.
  • 35% of all emergency room calls are a result of domestic violence.  It is the largest single reason for ER visits by women.
  • Of those who abuse their partner, well over 65% also physically and/or sexually abuse the children.
  • EVERY day .....4 women and 3 children in the US die as a result of domestic abuse. 
  • Victimization by domestic violence is usually not a single event. If a woman is abused once, her risk of further abuse is high, and this abuse often becomes not only more frequent over time, but more severe.
  • On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country EVERY DAY. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim 1993-9, October 2001.)
  • A child's exposure to the father abusing the mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. (American Psychological Association, Report of the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family, 1996.)
  • One in five female high school student reports bei346489-domestic-violence-calloutng physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. - Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), August 2001

These statistics are from domesticpeace.com, which has some very good information and links to resources. 

I just want to add a few things that the speaker mentioned, which I believe noteworthy:

There is a cycle to domestic violence.  Women will almost universally return to their abusers at some point after “official recognition” of the abuse.  The average?  Nine returns before she finally leaves.

Because of this, domestic abuse counselors offer “safety plans” to try to keep women as safe as possible during these universal returns.  These are chilling to me….listen to this, which is my close paraphrase to what the counselor had to say:

We tell our women not to run out into the garage or to the kitchen.  There are too many sharp or heavy objects there which can be used as weapons.  They are risky places to be.  We believe the safest room to be the living room because there are fewer weapons there, and there is access to an escape route.

DO NOT lock yourself in the bathroom.  If you have been one who has huddled behind a locked bathroom door, it is a very bad sign.  The bathroom is not safe because he will eventually come in on you if he wants to, and there is usually no escape route for you.  Also, you have no awareness of what is going on outside the door.  If things die down out there, how do you know if he’s just sitting there waiting on you to open the door?


Now, my two-cents’ worth:

I echo the counselor: domestic violence rarely (ever?) gets better.  It only gets worse in my estimation.  Someone in our class asked this question, “Have  you ever seen someone ‘reconcile’ with an abuser successfully, say through counseling?'”  Her answer: “It’s possible—but I can honestly say that I have never seen that happen.”

Neither have I.  What I have seen is abusers move on to another relationship where they did not appear to abuse, and I don’t know why that is.  This is not to excuse abuse—by any means—but perhaps some relationships are just a bad mix.  But if you’re in a “bad mix” relationship, you owe it to yourself to get out of it.  And, if you have a child, I submit that you have no choice, whatsoever, but to leave.

Finally, here’s what I tell my Mom clients in an abusive relationship:

When you birthed a child you gave up certain rights and privileges.  This life is no longer about your sole happiness—it is about the welfare of that baby you brought into the world.  Do you want your little girl to grow up to suffer abuse?  Do you want your little boy to grow up to disrespect women? Or would you prefer to have him grow up adjusted and be able to live a normal, happy life and make some woman happy in their marriage, providing a harmonious home for your grandchildren?

You need to think about this, because the longer you expose your little one to the fighting (yes, including verbal abuse and discord) or violence, the more engrained these patterns become to your children as norms.

And, hedomestic-violence-San-Bernardino-care’s another astounding fact: If you leave your child in this stressful situation (even just hearing you scream at each other through their bedroom wall) it can have PHYSICAL effects on their brains’ development.  I’m not making this up—too little space to go into this here,  but if you leave your child in this situation, you are affecting the hardwiring of his brain and his development.  It leads to all kinds of problems.

Remember, Mommy, your child’s fate is largely in your hands.  Who else does she/he have to rely on?  Please provide her/him with a peaceful home in which to grow up.

And, one last word for the women reading this who say the phrases below:

  • We’re different—our relationship is not like those others (for one of a large variety of reasons given);
  • I can handle this.  I know when to get out and when I can deal with him;
  • It’s partially my fault—I pushed his buttons.
  • He’s sorry—he loves me—it won’t happen again.

Well, let me say these things:  You are no different, honey.  Almost every domestic victim says those things above (counselor mentioned this, too).  If you have an abusive relationship, don’t wait nine times to leave.  Leave NOW.  You owe it to yourself, and if you have a child, you owe it to him/her ‘cause it ain’t about you and your abuser any more—it’s about that baby.  C

Sunday, September 11, 2011

C: Pet Peeve—Diaper-Whiner Dads

RANTWARNING One of the perks of being a blogger is having an outlet to vent about one’s pet peeves in hopes there is an audience.  Better than screaming to yourself.  Combine that with a day on the lawn tractor, which leads to even more over-thinking than usual, and you have a full blown rant on your hands.

The other day a friend, speaking of the father of her child, said, “Jo-Jo just does not change dirty diapers.  He doesn’t like wet ones, either, but he absolutely refuses to change the dirty ones.  It makes him retch” 

Oh, my.  This kind of thing just sends me into orbit, for it is a sign of something deeper—an infantile man.  And a bully.  Let me explain.

Jo-Jo happens to be a great outdoorsman.  He would stand over a deer he had just shot and watch the last lights of life ebb away.  He would then string up the still-warm body, slit it open, allowing the guts to spill out, and lasciviously grin at his triumph.

But he claims to have too-weak a stomach to perform some basic act of nurture and love for his helpless child?  You know, the baby who relies on others for everything—every.little.thing?  You know, the one who ought to look to his parents (both of them) to willingly and lovingly take good care of him/her?  Da-da’s stomach is too weak for this?


I’m not buying it.  Not even a little.  There’s something else at platantrumy.  I  submit it is the following:

Infantilism.  This is a man pitching a little bit of a tantrum to avoid doing a little something he doesn’t want to do.  Dirty diapers were never the highlight of my day, either, but c’mon.

Selfishness.  Goes hand-in-hand with the above.

Bullying.  The purpose of his little tantrum?  To get his wife (mother, grandmother, aunt…any sensible female who happens to be around) to do HIS JOB.  Yes, HIS JOB as a parent. 

Do not put up with this stuff—not even a little bit.  If he’s gonna be “Dad,” he needs to be “Dad.”  Okay?

And if he’s the type to let his little loved one lie there in a dirty diaper because handy females won’t cave to his bullying or because there doesn’t diaper3_f happen to be one around, then he is something much, much worse:  He’s a child neglecter.  He is not worthy to watch this kid.  In fact, you need to start distancing yourself, because this is a bad, bad omen for other areas of your life.  This is a selfish man, and don’t you ever forget it.  One who refuses the care of his own little child is seriously selfish.

For all his mid-life-crisis scumbagness, I must say that my husband never, once, balked at taking care of our baby.  He was as eager as I was to see to it that our little son had a dry, clean bottom and was comfortable in every way he could be.  Anyone with any different attitude needs to hang his head in shame.No_Bully_Zone

And you women out there!  If I hear you speak of this with a little “wink-wink, aren’t men just so silly” in your simpering voice, you need to know  I’m gunning for you even more.  Do not put up with this foolishness.  Not one second.  It’s an attempt to bully you or something worse.  And take note of this character attribute and watch for it to pour out in other areas.  If he’ll do it to his own helpless infant, then…

Now, if Jo-Jo ever reads this (he’ll have to be shown, which is just fine with me), I know what he’ll say.  “I don’t give a rip what she thinks.”  I know that, but you need to know: 

I’ve got your number bully-dude.”

So there.      C

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