Why does she stay?

The title of this post should anger the vast majority of humanity; instead, it has become one of the most common questions I was asked when in a violent relationship. At the time I excused his behavior, “Oh, he doesn’t mean it!” “But he’s a great father!” “Because I’m afraid of what he is capable of when I can’t read his moods. At least as long as I stay I know for certain what he is thinking and I know when the attacks are most likely to happen.”

Yes, these are lame excuses, but the last one is as close to the truth as I could bring myself so long ago. His threats were not only toward me, but toward someone else that I truly and deeply cared about; for that reason, I stayed, I stayed because of fear.

My point to this post is not to answer the age old question, but to ask a different question, a more deserving question: “Why does he do that?” (Feel free to transpose he and she, I use these terms loosely as it seems to be the most commonly reported.)

By asking, “Why does she stay?” We are ultimately blaming the person enduring this tragic lifestyle, exactly what the accused abuser does every single day. The very idea that his low self-esteem, mid-life crisis, ownership, superiority (or however you choose to define it) could be even fathomed as her fault is truly preposterous.

The entire relationship of violence is built on him brainwashing her to believe what he wants her to think. And most of that brainwashing is consistent of him blaming her. When we ask why she doesn’t leave we are helping him to feed into her own self-doubt.

For a long time after I left I remembered times that I “instigated” situations, I said, “Well, when things got really tense I would push him over the edge, so that I could get the beating over with.” Now, 14 years after the violence has ended I will gladly call bullshit on that thought process. The fact is that I am human, just like you, and I make mistakes, just like you. I burn dinner, I slip cusses, I cough, I laugh, and I get happy. No where in there is there a single reason to beat the crap out of me. Even if there were, suppose I did something illegal? That’s what police are for, not self-important assholes.

So, why are we still … after all of this time, blaming women for being abused? Why aren’t we asking him, “Why do you do that???”

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The Motivation Behind my Madness

A few people have asked why I have named my memoir “Farting Rainbows” or why I purchased the domain: rainbowflatulence.com. Most times this question is asked with great distaste, and that is exactly what I was going for; here’s why:

When I was in a violent relationship I spent a lot of time painting a perfect picture, I was actually hiding behind a big, stinky pile of crap … if anyone looked, and I mean really looked they would see that things weren’t what they seemed. Like, when his daughter came to visit and watched him try to smother me with a pillow. She knew, she could see that he and I were merely “Farting Rainbows.”

The signs were there, but the symptoms were vague. A few people saw it though, and they knew … they helped me out of the situation and for a short period I felt amazing joy in my life … maybe even a little bit of love in reciprocation, but who knows? Then, all hell broke loose and I went back to save lives, because the known evil is far better than unknown dreams.

When I left him for good, I had very little emotional support, I had burned those bridges the first time I had left him and then gone back. Everyone had lost faith in my word, my intentions, and my ability to survive. Maybe I had even lost faith in myself. Yet, I had four little faces looking to me, they too had survived, and I couldn’t let them down … again.

So, the fact that my choice of titles is distasteful to some, that’s fine, because the subject matter should be distasteful to everyone.

And She’s Off and Running

I’ve given this a lot of thought, public speaking that is. Not only public speaking, but public speaking about a very taboo subject, domestic violence. How do I reach out? How do I teach what I have learned? How can my message be different from others that have spoken before me, and those that will speak after me?

I remember when I was going to court for my ex-husband’s arraignment: I was alone, no advocate, no emotional support, just me and an officer from our county’s domestic violence task force. I sat in the back of the court room, my black eye fresh (and visible for about six months after the incident). At the time the officer told me that approximately¬†7% of women in my county actually leave for good, and that many of those that returned would die at the hands of their abuser. I wanted to be one of those 7%, and beyond that I wanted to make a difference in my children’s lives.

Now, 14 years later, I have made a difference, my children are just about grown, with a few of them successfully entering adulthood. Through out those years stories have emerged, the truth of what happened when I thought my abuser was the best father in the world … the abuse that my children also endured during this horrific time of our lives.

With big dreams and a little encouragement, my plan is to tell our story, through writing my memoirs and public speaking, to make others aware of the psychological make up of someone willing to beat on anyone smaller than him.