Monday, October 3, 2016

Tolson 4 TEARS* on Domestic Violence, Invisible Forms

Not all forms of domestic violence are life-threatening, but domestic abuse can escalate until someone gets hurt.

If a friend says of a mutual friend, “Her husband is abusing her!” do you think of an abused woman with black eyes? Probably, yet domestic abuse may be invisible.

The following is paraphrased from a narrative in my memoir Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story

I was twenty-two years old. A friend, Sally, and I were in the kitchen my small apartment. Sally, a seamstress, was pinning the waist of my skirt for alterations. Due to stress, I'd lost a lot of weight in a short period of time. Since we'd known each other for about nine months, we were chatting comfortably as she tucked and gathered the fabric to fit my 5'4" 104 pound frame. 

My husband of a year burst into the apartment. He surveyed the situation, and, as if I were not in the room, he barked, “She wouldn’t need her clothes mended if she wasn’t such a scrawny broad! She’s a piece of work, isn’t she?”

Sally had not witnessed his verbal tirades before. I was afraid that he would sabotage our friendship.

He mumbled something about “worthless women” and slammed the door on his way out.

I wondered what I had done wrong.

Sally spoke softly, “Does he typically speak to you so mean?”

Sally seemed to be a sincere friend, so I confided in her. “Sally, it’s all right, he talks like that all the time.”

“It’s not all right. He’s abusing you.”

“Sally, no way! He never beat me or broke a bone. He never pushed me down the stairs.”

“Lynn, I've noticed. The way he treats you is awful. Does he hurt you in other ways?”

He’d grab my arm and twist both his hands around it, until I bruised. He’d say, “If you weren’t such a skinny runt, you wouldn’t bruise so easy.” He smacked me and claim it “was just a love tap.” He frequently hurt me with punches, pinches, and slaps, but it was rationalized or justified.

I divorced him a year later with Sally’s help, the guidance of a therapist, and an attorney.

But the wounds of emotional abuse take a long time to heal.

When we put a true story in front of the facts, the experiences of a victim become real.

What is domestic violence?

State laws vary in defining domestic violence but common elements include:

A pattern of abusive behavior when one person uses inappropriate power and control over an intimate partner. (click here for more information)

What is emotional abuse?

The emotional abuse pertains to what he said, and how it made me feel.

  • He made me feel bad just for being a woman.
  • He made me feel humiliated by putting me down.

Almost all abusers who are physically violent use emotional abuse.

You never know who amongst us is enduring emotional abuse. Help someone who tells you that she or someone she knows is being abused by her partner. Sally saved me.

Prepared by Lynn C. Tolson, @lynntolson author of Beyond the Tears: A True Survivor's Story 

*Project4TEARS: Telling Everyone About Rape & Suicide, so no shed tear is wasted


Anonymous said...

Thank you Lynn for witing with clarity about this oft ignored subject. In our community where we have recently seen domestic violence result in the death of women and chidren, we all need to be vigilent and do everything we can to support the victims and empower them to escape the violence.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lynn for bringing a voice to a part of our community so often silenced by fear.