Abuse Survivor Bees Willing to Share: Red Flags You Missed Early?

posted 4 months ago in Relationships
Post # 30
9744 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2016

Mrs.MilitaryBee :  I’m so glad he finally got what was coming to him, and so angry his family conspired to help it get so far.  So twisted.

Post # 31
293 posts
Helper bee

Mrs.MilitaryBee :  you and your children surived such horrible things… And what you’re doing as a survivor is really inspiring and impressive. You must have helped so many people in these years.

Post # 32
22 posts

wineosaur :  Your story reminds me so much of my ex-husband.  He would take his lunch breaks with me at my college.  He’d come over to my college library when he got off work to “hang out” while I did homework or projects.  At first I thought it was supportive and fun, but then he refused to leave.  He would refuse to leave me alone whenever he wasn’t working.  He accused me of cheating (or wanting to cheat).  That ironically made me want to cheat.  But I didn’t, I just left him instead.  

He also overspent both of our incomes on stupid things (financial control over me).  He never asked if I needed money for anything, how much gas I had in my tank, etc.  He just took and took, and I gave everything up.

Post # 33
1118 posts
Bumble bee

I was emotionally abused in my marriage.  

The biggest red flag that I seriously regret missing/not paying closer attention to was the way my ex H treated his mother.  

She’s a super difficult lady… always negative, always the victim, definitely a hoarder.  However, there is absolutely no excuse for the way he would speak to her.  

I’d be in the other room while he was on the phone with her, and I’d hear him firmly say, “Mom, stop talking, I’m trying to answer you.  WHY are you freaking out right now?  MOM, SHUT UP.”  And then he would repeat “shut up” over top of her talking until she stopped so he could then boss her around and tell her the “right” way to deal with her problems.  

Another red flag was his treatment of other people.  He was completely intolerant.  Kept insisting that the “gross gays in the building” would hit on him when he would take the dogs downstairs to potty.  I was in the elevator with him once, and he said, “SEE??” when we got out.  They were just being polite, no reason to be so homophobic.  He gave me the silent treatment for a day after I didn’t agree with him.

Oh, and the moment of HUGE dishonesty when a store he was working at closed… he took one of the speaker displays from the store (which had holes drilled in the bottoms and thousands of hours of play time), bought a brand new set of the same speakers from a different big box store, and “returned” the old ones in the new packaging, keeping the new set.  I was so upset with him that day that I sat in the car and cried while he went in to essentially steal from this store.  

These were all instances before we got married… I wish I had been paying closer attention, because all that happened later was escalation.  

Post # 34
945 posts
Busy bee

pinkglasses :  I like to think so. I have tried very hard to remove the stigma of DV from the minds of people I talk to at schools and colleges. I try to remove the stigma from the victims themselves. Often time shame is a major contributing factor as to why victims dont tell anyone. 

I know that I was terribly ashamed to tell anyone that my ex husband was beating me. I thought I would be blamed for it. Your self esteem is already in shambles, you dont need the added shame of being blamed for it. 

When I was in the hospital recovering from the last beating. I considered going back to him. I was being discharged after a month. I thought if I went back to him I could handle the beatings but at least I would be alive and not dead. Thats how screwed up my thinking was. A DV advocate at the hospital was helping me get dressed in the bathroom and she turned me toward the mirror and said “look at yourself.” Even a month in the hospital I still had deep bruises, cuts and stitches. She forced me to look at myself. She counted the stitches to me, the bruises, and then she took the photo of my daughter out of my purse and said, now picture those bruises on her little body, because that is what your husband will do next. 

I broke down and cried. I needed to hear it. After his one visitation I was granted full custody with a restraining order that still stands today. 

Post # 35
293 posts
Helper bee

Mrs.MilitaryBee :  oh my. I’ve got tears in my eyes just reading that. It is hard to understand from the outside why an abused person goes back again and again to their abuser… and sadly it is easy to pass judgment on the victims for going back. It’s horrifying.

You must have been so strong to get you and your children through this. I think it is particularly inspiring to meet a survivor who got herself a better life and is doing so much good to other people. Just… wow.

Post # 36
424 posts
Helper bee

musicstan :  The situations do sound very similar, I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’m glad we were both able to get out! 

Post # 38
945 posts
Busy bee

pinkglasses :  I appreciate that. You know what really helps to open people’s eyes. Talking about it. Not shying away from admitting that it can happen to me or anyone. Anyone can be a victim of DV. I Before it happened to me, I made the wrong assumption that DV only happened to people of lower socio economic status. I have seen victims, male and female, from all walks of life.

What people dont seem to understand is that abusers can be charming, even endearing when they are wearing the mask. They are master manipulators. They have had years of practice and training on how to spot a vulnerable target.  They know how to keep you walking a tight rope that there is no hope of keeping balance on. 

The only way we can address this problem and deal with it, is to acknowledge that it can happen to anyone, and that we must not ever blame the victim. Victims have enough trouble without the added shame. If we keep the subject taboo then men and women wont come forward when they need help. We must realize that abusers are manipulative, sneaky, charming, endearing, and highly adaptable when they need to be. Its not easy to spot one.

A case in point. We had a woman call the shelter several times but refused to come in. Her abuser was deployed in the military to Korea and she would sit in the home stateside with the lights turned off because if he got a bill that was high when he came home he beat her. He had cameras installed around their house to monitor her every move. From across the globe he could control her every move. He kepts a tally of every infraction and when he came home, she suffered severe beatings that lasted days at a time, often she was bound by chain to the bed in case she thought to report him to the police after the beatings. 

It took more than 2 years of secretive phone calls away from the cameras, in the garage,  before she finally allowed us to help her.  

ETA: one of the worst things I hear people say is, if she knows he beats her and she goes back then she must like it, or well she went back to him so it must not be that bad.  You have no idea how insulting that is to someone who is experiencing domestic violence. Victims have a very warped emotional sense after being with an abuser. Often times going back to an abuser seems like the only choice when faced with poverty, the threatened loss of their children, the victimization by the system and even victimization by people who make comments like the ones I mentioned at the beginning of this ETA. 

Post # 39
293 posts
Helper bee

Mrs.MilitaryBee :  what you tell is awful. Such an eye opening.

How did that woman decide (or how did you manage to convince her) to get help after two years? If you feel comfortable answering of course. What is it that makes people finally get out?

Post # 40
945 posts
Busy bee

pinkglasses :  Sometimes the abuser injures the victim to such an extent that death is imminent if they dont call for help. Sometimes the abuser themselves make the call for the ambulance thinking they can come up with some convincing story that the victim was injured. Sometimes the victim leaves after a child has been beaten. There is no accounting for when people leave. If there is intervention where a victim feels safe they may grab onto that hope and leave. Thats what the DV shelter I worked in did. We helped them with child care, helped with the restraining order process, gave them job training, worked with companies to give them employment, and after they had worked steadily we provided them the money directly to landlords for 6 months to get them on their feet. Through donations we were able to provide all the things to start anew, clothes, furniture, utilities and in same cases a car. Most victims leave with nothing but the clothes on their back. So we provided in a way that poverty was not a contributing factor in them returning to their abuser. Long term counseling was a must to deal with the left over emotional trauma and set them on a path to being a healthier person and to make healthier choices. 

As for the lady whose husband was deployed. He came home and beat her badly, she said worse than all the other times. He left her unconscious in the bathtub and she when she came awake she couldnt get the bleeding to stop, she became fearful that she was dying. He was back on the base for the work day, and she called the shelter. We knew something was terribly wrong, she gave us an address and we were able to dispatch police and the ambulance. She came into the shelter after a hospital stay. She was with us for a year, because the psychological damage was severe. We eventually convinced her to go to her family, whom were very supportive. She continued counseling and herself started volunteering at a shelter where her family lives. She is now the director there. Her ex husband was dishonorably discharged from the army, and served time on a multitude of charges. 

Post # 43
8748 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

Mrs.MilitaryBee :   pinkglasses :  On top of what Mrs.MilitaryBee said is the sad reality that even if those things happen they go back. I have had many a day where I arrive at a safe haven to pick up someone going to court to face their abuser and they aren’t there. They have gone back. Or they get up on the stand and lie and the court pretty much has to let their abuser go unless there is some other charge as well. 

Unfortunately society is really good at telling people experiencing domestic violence to leave but really bad at actually supporting them to do it. Once someone leaves they are in an even more vulnerable situation. For example here in Australia if you leave a domestic violence situation you are entitled to a once off emergency payment if you have low income (about $500 but it differs on circumstance like kids etc). Now this is great but in order to claim this you need to go to a centrelink office, pretty hard to do when you are injured and scared. Then most commonly, because most centres do not have counsellirs on site, they stick you on a phone with a counsellor in the middle of the open plan centre and you are asked to recount your story to the counsellor who then decides if you fit the eligibility criteria for the payment. This is after you have already recounted your story once or twice to another worker to even get put through to a counsellor. So yay they approve it but then you don’t have enough identification or documentation (because you left in a hurry) so your payment is refused.

There is a huge disconnect between services needed and services available. 

Post # 44
293 posts
Helper bee

j_jaye :  sadly, here too services are disorganized and inefficient. Not the same thing but similar, in middle school I looked for help for my (mostly non physically) abusive mother. There was a different social worker at each appointment and I had to recount my story multiple times… Sitting by )my mother’s side, before going home with her. I’m told the same happened to other people.

Post # 45
156 posts
Blushing bee

I have had two relationships with guys who veered into physical abuse territory (grabbing me, physically restraining me, trying to physically prevent me leaving and getting in my car, throwing hot chocolate in my face, dragging me) and here are some of the early warning signs from these two relationships:

* Both were jealous and possessive. The one was EXTREMELY jealous. I was not allowed to have any male friends, and he did not like me doing anything with anyone without him – even going out for coffee with a female friend. He even went into my Facebook page and deleted guys he felt threatened by.

* He needed to know what I was doing at all times and needed “proof” or reassurance of this. He flew off the handle once because I took a sick day from work.

* He checked my phone, Facebook and email constantly – sometimes in front of me while I was using it (peering over my shoulder), and sometimes behind my back.

* Both the abusive guys were very insecure and required constant reassurance, which was hard to give because I was frankly very unsure of them as partners.

* Both of them fell for me extremely hard and extremely fast, and pressured me to feel the same way about them.

* The behaviour escalated, from angry outbursts, to swearing and yelling, to verbal abuse (name calling) and finally to getting physical (it was at the point that it got physical that I left both of them, immediately).

* The one was very controlling. He had to have his own way all the time – from what we had for dinner to holding the TV remote. If I did or said something he didn’t like, he would lecture me for ages. Also on the subject of being controlling – he would withdraw affection at times too, become really cold, and this would upset me.

* Both of these guys threatened suicide on a few different occasions. This was a huge clue that they were emotionally very unstable.

* Then there was something I noticed about myself. I am not an angry person or someone with a temper, but around them I was angry A LOT of the time. I later realised how much I resented how stifled and unhappy I felt.

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