I don't understand these women


#1

…so, my sister pickes abusive, controlling men. She just left her husband with whom she has three children. Last week, he was arrested for raping a co-worker, who ran away from him, bit and hit him to get away, hit him with a paint can–a pretty clear “no.”

So, I’m reading the online article and one of the comments written by a woman says that the victim probably led him on. And, writer herself was once raped and she wrote that she was partly responsible for it.

My Bil was very controlling and isolating with my sister. She couldn’t even go to the grocery store.We weren’t allowed to visit her or to know where they were living. My sister left on the day he took her away her phone–her only communication with the outside world. She and the kids, btw, were living in a rundown shack with no running water or cooking facilities outside of a microwave. I asked my sister if her husband was ever physically violent with her. She said emphatically, “no!” Then, she paused and said, “well, he’d force himself on me in bed.”

What is going on with these women??!!?

I’ve read the magazine articles and watched the Oprah episodes, but my sister doesn’t fit what I would expect of an abused woman. My dad is a very gentle, kind and patient man. My sister wasn’t sexually abused or physically abused as a child. We had a fun, very average upbringing as middle class Americans.

What makes a woman accept abusive situations and what makes a woman say that a rape victim probably led him on?

This is confusing to me.

I wonder if the relationships a woman chooses as a teen affects her brain development. My sister chose slimeballs in high school, too.


#2

I think it goes much deeper than that. It is very hard to understand and that why counseling is important not only for her but for you. It seems to me that you are taking this very personally and perhaps you need to understand as much as she may need help.


#3

[quote="jmjMom, post:1, topic:214345"]
....so, my sister pickes abusive, controlling men. She just left her husband with whom she has three children. Last week, he was arrested for raping a co-worker, who ran away from him, bit and hit him to get away, hit him with a paint can--a pretty clear "no."

So, I'm reading the online article and one of the comments written by a woman says that the victim probably led him on. And, writer herself was once raped and she wrote that she was partly responsible for it.

My Bil was very controlling and isolating with my sister. She couldn't even go to the grocery store.We weren't allowed to visit her or to know where they were living. My sister left on the day he took her away her phone--her only communication with the outside world. She and the kids, btw, were living in a rundown shack with no running water or cooking facilities outside of a microwave. I asked my sister if her husband was ever physically violent with her. She said emphatically, "no!" Then, she paused and said, "well, he'd force himself on me in bed."

What is going on with these women??!!?

I've read the magazine articles and watched the Oprah episodes, but my sister doesn't fit what I would expect of an abused woman. My dad is a very gentle, kind and patient man. My sister wasn't sexually abused or physically abused as a child. We had a fun, very average upbringing as middle class Americans.

What makes a woman accept abusive situations and what makes a woman say that a rape victim probably led him on?

This is confusing to me.

I wonder if the relationships a woman chooses as a teen affects her brain development. My sister chose slimeballs in high school, too.

[/quote]

There can be all kinds of reasons for accepting abusive relationships. Some of them might have to do with a feeling of insecurity. Maybe your sister thought she was not pretty, or smart, or something growing up and she acts that out by dating and marrying guys who are abusive. Damaging messages for girls can come from the culture in general, like TV shows and fashion magazines, as well as school. It isn't just the family.

The abuse is not her fault, but it's a lot better that she and the kids are out of it and I hope it stays that way.

As for the rape victim who made that comment - there is a belief that people who have been through rape will support each other but that is often not the case. People who have been raped can minimize someone else's pain b/c they have not dealt with their own pain and they feel the need to say that rape is no big deal. Which is ridiculous but if someone needs to do that for her (or his, b/c males are also raped, unfortunately) own psychological needs, they will blow off other people's pain.

There is a term called victim-blame which refers to the tendency of other people to blame the victim of a crime, but especially rape b/c people tend to get more intense blame for that than they do for other crimes. People who have been raped are capable of victim blame, as well as other people. They might feel shame about their own rape(s) and deal with that by attacking someone else who talks about rape.

Some people feel that rape should be a shameful secret and if a person talks about it openly, that she or he is doing something wrong. It sounds like that woman felt responsible for her own assault (which, I don't know if that is reasonable) and reacting by attacking someone else. That's a bad way to react and it shows she has not processed her own issues. I think sometimes for rape survivors, someone else's discussion of rape is painful and hits a little too close to home.

There is a book called After Silence: rape and my journey back by Nancy Venable Raine. That book is interesting b/c it does not focus on the rape itself, although that is discussed, but on her attempts to talk about it and the number of people in different situations who wanted her to be quiet and/or go away.

Some people are very supportive though. Some rape survivors and other people will really support someone who has been through it.

As for your sister, you and/or she would probably need counseling to try to figure out why she did this. A therapist may or may not be able to make a guess (which would only be a guess, most likely) about her reasons from talking to you, b/c you would have information about your sister and your family. Also, a lot of people don't see rape in marriage as "real" but it is. There is a book called Real Rape, Real Pain that addresses this.

Best of luck to you.


#4

Most of the time I think it has to do with a woman’s low self-esteem. Some women subconsciously don’t think they deserve anything better.

Sometimes a woman will find herself in a situation where at first the man seems quite normal but changes after they are married. Such men are master manipulators and convince the woman that everything is her fault.

For example, the wife cooks something the husband doesn’t like. He yells at her, hits her, and storms out. The next day, he sends flowers with a note that he loves her and he’s sorry, he will never do it again. She wants to believe this and they talk. He tells her he’s sorry he became so angry, but that he had a rough day at work and just wanted to come home to a nice dinner. Implying it’s her fault she was yelled at and hit. She thinks if she learns how to be a better cook she can prevent him from hitting her. She feels responsible.

It can be a very difficult situation for a woman to leave.


#5

[quote="Anne1964, post:4, topic:214345"]
Most of the time I think it has to do with a woman's low self-esteem. Some women subconsciously don't think they deserve anything better.

Sometimes a woman will find herself in a situation where at first the man seems quite normal but changes after they are married. Such men are master manipulators and convince the woman that everything is her fault.

For example, the wife cooks something the husband doesn't like. He yells at her, hits her, and storms out. The next day, he sends flowers with a note that he loves her and he's sorry, he will never do it again. She wants to believe this and they talk. He tells her he's sorry he became so angry, but that he had a rough day at work and just wanted to come home to a nice dinner. Implying it's her fault she was yelled at and hit. She thinks if she learns how to be a better cook she can prevent him from hitting her. She feels responsible.

It can be a very difficult situation for a woman to leave.

[/quote]

That's true. A lot of abusers are charming, which is one way they get away with it, and they sweep a woman off her feet with a Prince Charming, fairy-tale courtship. This is not about selfishness on the woman's part but rather she may think that she has a strong bond with someone who will take care of her and whom she can take care of. Often in a dating relationship like this, other people envy the woman and if she expresses concerns, they may say something like, how can you have doubts b/c I would love to have a husband who is so concerned about your feelings/buys you jewelry/is so handsome, etc.

And then he "wins" her and the abuse starts which is gradual and can be slow for a while.

Not all abuse is like this; sometimes the guy is obviously a jerk and maybe an attraction there is a "diamond in the rough" type thing where the woman feels like she can heal him. Or maybe it's a combination of both.

Abuse is about power and control and once the man "wins" the woman, he has her and will probably treat her worse than he did when they were dating. Many abusers think that they can hurt people who are their "property," but not people who are independent.

(spoiler about chick-lit book)

Irish author Marian Keyes addressed abuse in her book This Charming Man. She tells the story of an abuser from the viewpoint of several women who loved him. They are all different from each other and it shows the appeal he had for each of them.


#6

Some of us attract those types for whatever reason time and time again.

Why do women stay…I never have but I think there are 2 major reasons some do. Self Worth and children.

Many of these women feel they are worthless without a man. They get brainwashed into to believing this by a society that only values the couple or by the abuser who brainwashes them by demeaning them and talking down to them all the time. Such as everything is their fault…if only they were better at whatever then the abuse wouldn’t take place type of language.

Many stay to keep the children with their father and to keep the family unit together or because they don’t feel they can make it on their own with the children

:o:eek:.


#7

I think many women, even in frankly abusive situations, have the perception that it’s all their responsibility. In a way, the abuser lets the woman have the illusion of a certain amount of control. “Oh, if I’d just keep the house cleaner, have sex with him more often, don’t even think about questioning any of his decisions, then he’ll treat me better”. To some women, admitting that they actually have almost no control is very difficult to accept, and leaving the abuser is to admit they are unable to control him. Also, many abusers turn on the charm and promise to change their ways when the victims show any signs that they will leave…all of that is really just another way of exerting control over the victim.

Often, the abuser succeeds in isolating and alienating the victim from other sources of support such as family and friends. Sometimes the victim will actually support the abuser when they abuse others (the worst case would be children, but also parents, friends, etc), hoping this will show him that she supports him and protect her from abuse. Often, an abused woman (or man) doesn’t think anyone will take them in, and thus actually sees no alternative to staying with the abuser, or feels the “devil I know is better than the devil I don’t”. Often abusers threaten victims that if they ever leave then “I’ll sic the best lawyers I can hire on you, and I’ll take the house, all our financial assets and get full custody of the kids”. Even if this is not a realistic threat, the victim is so controlled by the abuser that she believes this wholeheartedly. Often, I see posters counsel abuse victims to leave for the sake of setting a good example for the children, but if the victim is convinced that the abuser will take the children away, then she might decide to stay thinking that as long as she stays in the household she can be a good example to offset that of the abuser.

And, of course, many abusers actually threaten (worse) violence if the victim “dares” to leave him. And since many serious assaults and murders actually occur shortly after the woman leaves the abuser, a woman who takes such a threat seriously may actually be quite rational.


#8

I know a lot of it for me was that I was so completely isolated that I felt it ws my fault. I also began to feel as if none of these things were happenning and that I was blowing them out of proportion because other people saw him as a wonderful man. What helped me was when his ex-wife came down not only with her story but with all of the emails in his own words of things he had done to her and it was my story. She needs counseling - and it is a process. There will be a lot of tears. The anullment will help. God bless you and feel free to PM me if you wouldl like.

Oh and read this statement from the USCCB - it is one of the first things that really started to open my eyes - and NO, I don't want to start a political discusion on the USCCB.


#9

Or (as was my case for a long time), the fear of what could happen during those unsupervised visitation every-other-weekends if I weren’t there to mitigate the damage when it was happening. The circumstances have sufficiently changed that he’s not going to get anything more than supervised visitation.

And yes, he used to threaten that he’d just leave me (destitute) with the kids and “I’ll just pay child support and live in a $75/week room” (when I knew he wouldn’t pay support) “but the cars are mine” (they’re not–just because they’re titled and registered in his name doesn’t make them his, they’re marital property) “and I’ll take both of them and then I’ll sic social services on you and they’ll take the kids away from you because you won’t be able to provide and you can’t keep the house clean” (funny thing–after I kicked him out after his arrest for raping another woman, the house got so much cleaner without any real effort). And yes, he did his level best to keep us isolated from everyone else. The irony is that he wanted me to get the job I currently have (oldest son’s theory was that he was cheating on me then and wanted me not as aware of his comings-and-goings, plus the fact that it would free up more money for him to spend on his other women if I were also bringing in money). Well, it turns out that I’m really very competent at my job (and there are very concrete measures–I’m a relay operator, and I just had my annual review recently and scored 100/100 and thereby got the max raise possible for this year). My direct supervisor told me often how good I am at the job, he talks about me “behind my back” to others in management about how well I do, and little by little my self-confidence started coming back. That, of course, really ticked him off and frightened him.

Well, it has been hard, but I have managed to hold it together and I have a court date very soon.

But as far as what makes women accept the abusive situation before they’re “trapped”? I think it’s, as I’ve said in my case, rather like the frog that fell into the pot of water on the stove and someone turned the heat on. At first, you just don’t notice that there’s something not right, it’s too subtle. In my case, having him be arrested for an unrelated matter serious enough that he was in jail for days was like being that frog and getting scooped out of the pot. Then, the thought of going back in – well, now, it was clear “hey! that’s hot! I’m not going back in”. Part of that was Peter, who had just turned 12 the day after his father was arrested, commenting to me on his birthday “you know, it’s so much more peaceful in the house without [father’s first name] here”. Yes, Peter calls his father by first name now, rather than father/dad because he is so angry with the man. So, Peter’s comment helped me see that what I had tolerated for fear of what would happen was actually something that should not be tolerated and so now … I’m not. It takes most women 6-8 times of leaving before being able to make it “stick”. This is only the second time for me, but it will be the last. But I also have the support of family (mine and several of his siblings, believe it or not), I’m in counseling, and I have a plan for the next 50 years of my life (I’m only 44).


#10

As to why she chooses creeps to start with:

I've known several women who have this Harlequin Romance idea that "I can change him! He's not bad! He just needs the love of a good woman!"

It's like Florence Nightingale complex or something.

I have also known women who, for some reason, thrive on drama and conflict. A nice, normal guy is too boring. I have cringed at hearing about engagements, and want to say : "So you fight constantly, break up and make up regularly, fuss and scream -- and you'd like to continue doing that FOREVER?" But they don't think of it hat way -- somehow, they think marriage will change their man.

I think it's the #1 mistake women make regarding marriage. Thinking that somehow, the man you marry is going to be different afterwards.


#11

[quote="Sierrah, post:6, topic:214345"]
Some of us attract those types for whatever reason time and time again.

Why do women stay...I never have but I think there are 2 major reasons some do. Self Worth and children.

Many of these women feel they are worthless without a man. They get brainwashed into to believing this by a society that only values the couple or by the abuser who brainwashes them by demeaning them and talking down to them all the time. Such as everything is their fault...if only they were better at whatever then the abuse wouldn't take place type of language.

Many stay to keep the children with their father and to keep the family unit together or because they don't feel they can make it on their own with the children

:o:eek:.

[/quote]

There is also undetected mild traumatic brain injury which can occur during a beating and that can make functioning in life more difficult. That does not take away from intelligence but it can cause difficulty with brain functioning in an area, like speech, and it can be hard to spot b/c often there are no acute symptoms that require immediate medical treatment, and if the person sees a neurologist, nothing might show, unless there is structural damage or bleeding, especially if the neurologist exam is months or years later.

A lot of people have traumatic brain injury from a variety of causes: assaults, car accidents, falls, etc. and some of them are living with long-term consequences. I had traumatic brain injury due to physical abuse by my mother at the age of 4 and I ended up with aphasia, which is a speech/language difficulty. I had enough speech and language to function so it was not noticed, but I've pursued intensive speech therapy as an adult.

Having an injury doesn't mean it's your fault but if there are temporary or permanent changes, it can make functioning even harder. Signs to watch out for are signs of concussion: dizziness, loss of consciousness, double vision, etc. among other things. It's possible for the actual injury to the brain to be mild and then there would be anywhere from mild to severe effects, which may be temporary or permanent.

Also, abusers may have acquired traumatic brain injury from childhood or other physical abuse and that could be why some people think that life is hard. It is not an insignificant cause of mild learning or other disability.

This does not make it the woman's fault. Just as broken bones make it harder to function, dealing with dizziness and other possible effects of injury make life harder.

The brain is very "plastic" so healing can take place at any time, some times it takes a lot of effort but it can be done.

Also as someone else said, the most dangerous time in a relationship with domestic violence can be when the woman leaves b/c she is trying to be independent and a lot of abusers don't like that. Leaving often has to be planned pretty carefully and the woman and children might really need someone like her parents to provide a place to stay and maybe financial support also.


#12

I’ve also heard a couple of practical suggestions for women who want to be safer but can’t leave:

  • make sure there is a room in the house with a door that locks from the inside and is not easy to open from the outside when locked, and a phone. If it is a land line with the possibility that wires could be cut, keep a cell phone hidden. That way if something starts, it’s easier to get to a safe place (at least temporarily safe) and call for help.

  • if the abuser starts to get angry, it helps, if you are talking to him, to make sure you are standing between him and the door so that you are closer to the door than he is. That makes it easier to leave the room.


#13

Also make sure if one of these women starts talking to you about the situation you avoid language that could imply you are question or disbelieving her. Most likely the abuser has told her no one will believe her and she will extremely sensitive to it.


#14

That’s true too. Saying something like, he doesn’t seem to have that bad a temper to me - how could he get so angry? could convince a woman that it’s her fault. Some abusers are really different in how they treat people who they feel “belong” to them, vs. how they treat other people. And they are not abusive all the time, as many people say, at least not at first. Abusers have problems with anger management and impulse control, so they can get angry on impulse and it’s hard to know what upsets them in advance; a pattern can be extremely difficult to figure out, meaning that life can be hard for the woman and children. People who react violently on impulse are often able to conceal that from other people.

The OP seems to be very supportive, but I know not everyone is.


#15

I think it is also very important (especially in a setting like CAF) to consider the possibility of abuse when a woman starts to discuss problems in her marriage. Often, such women get generic advice that "it takes two to make a marriage work" and to "work on your own faults and work on being a more supportive wife", etc. While I'd agree this is the case for most marriages, such advice can be dangerous in an abuse situation. Often, a woman takes such advice to mean that the problems are all her fault and that she deserves the abuse, or that if she was just a better wife, then the abuse would stop. Which is just what the abuser would like her to think.


#16

Not to also remember the other great statement that I heard alot since many in my Parish community were students of my husband - "I don't want to be in the middle." It caused me to have to leave town running.


#17

[quote="joandarc2008, post:16, topic:214345"]
Not to also remember the other great statement that I heard alot since many in my Parish community were students of my husband - "I don't want to be in the middle." It caused me to have to leave town running.

[/quote]

I'm sorry that happened. My Catholic friend, who was 12, was murdered with her mother when her father set the place on fire and shot them and committed suicide. Despite the fact that they were devout and went to Church a lot, no one helped them, even though the police were at their place a lot (they also didn't help).

It does not make me feel better that awareness of domestic violence in 1981 was not what it is today. It was not only the murders, but the fact that the parish and the Archdiocese acted as if nothing happened afterward. Instead of saying, it's terrible how a father could destroy his family like that, and we have to face that terrible things happen in this world - to the Catholic church and community it was as if my friend had never lived at all.

There were two priests in the parish. The pastor was Irish, from Ireland, and he seemed kind of out of it, a vaguely nice guy who went through the motions. The other priest was sexually abusive and embezzled money, and he was forced to leave the priesthood.

I'm sure other parishioners cared about this, but I didn't know who they were. With the newspaper it was the same thing. The family was white and the father had a high-ranking, prestigious position while my friend and her mother, who was ill with schizophrenia, were "no one." The newspaper did not provide any supportive coverage either before or after they died.

The concept of "keep the family peace" and "keep the family together" is common in a lot of religions and also among people who are not religious. That can be dangerous. These kinds of murders are not the norm but it can happen that an abusive man can seriously injure or kill his wife and/or children when they try to leave. And even if the injury is not physical, he can try to effect financial ruin or get custody despite physical abuse, as other posters have commented. That's one reason why women can be trapped unless they have resources and supportive people outside the home.


#18

And the sad part is that if you got a chance to read the 1992 statement that I posted above from USCCB on how to handle it the priests and pastoral staff that do not take an active role (and granted your families situation happenned long before that and I am so sorry but at least they are now in the loving arms of Our Father) are out of compliance of the instructions of the Magisterium.


#19

I don’t know why women choose bad men. But they often do. Even murderers in prison get fan letters and proposals of marriage.

Channel surfing the other day, I happened on one of those true crime shows, in which a rather young woman was being interviewed by the police about a murder. She was shown a photo of the man she claimed did the murder. “I really wish he wasn’t a murderer,” she said, “he’s just so hot.”


#20

Having been in such a marriage, I would say that it is a complex problem that requires lots of counseling. I think Jim G does bring up a good point, sometimes it really is a matter of choice. For whatever reason, some women just love men like that. Someone once told me that her mom was like that, kept marrying the jerks and seemed to love all of the drama. There are even women who are proudly “sad girls”, who think that is who they are and where they belong. I am not a drama queen nor a sad girl. I am just thankful to be out, and thankful that my kids have far more normalcy in their lives now. I am also thankful for the support that my family gave me. I’m not sure though that all of the support in the world would ever lead to helping a woman who wanted to be in that sort of a relationship.


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