By Cranford Blackmon
I love what we do through our company (LaBCaF.com). What I don’t love are the things our classes and blog posts are meant to stop, or at least decrease the likelihood of happening: sexual violence, assaults, abduction, and domestic violence, to name a few.
Our focus on “self-protection” is our effort to teach women of all ages to avoid trouble rather than have to handle it with “self-defense.” You know the old but accurate proverb “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” right? In the case of family or significant other violence, that wisdom can be used at any time. If you are already in a situation where you are being abused, physically, psychologically, or emotionally, then you might think that “proverb” isn’t of any use to you now. But that isn’t the case. You still have the opportunity to stop it from happening to you any more (or to your children any more). That too, is self-protection.
But I’m getting a little off track here. Today’s topic is about the “sweet side” of domestic violence. What can that possibly mean? It is a part of the violent actions that may seem to be making things better, but as is often the case with violence, there really is no “good” part of intimate abuse.
The “sweet side” of abuse that I’m talking about here is the part where your partner starts “making up” for what has been done. The apologies. The gifts. The declarations of love and devotion. The promises that it will never happen again. The post-abuse extra attention and loving attitude that is supposed to prove it won’t happen again; that proves the sincerity of your abusive partner.
It feels good to be loved again, right? It feels good to know it was “just an accident.” It feels good to know the abuse was caused by the alcohol or the drugs, not by the person you love and trust. Of course it feels good! It is a reassurance of love, a re-commitment to your safety and the “true” nature of your relationship, right? It feels “sweet,” especially compared to what happened just before. No matter how many times the violence happens, that “sweetness” that comes right after your partner “realizes” what he did is a welcome change that can soothe the pain, whether it is physical or emotional.
But there’s a problem with that kind of cycle. Believe it or not, it can actually cause you to become MORE connected to your abuser. In the already heightened state of stressful emotion a victim of abuse is experiencing right after the violence, the flood of sweetness and “caring” can fill the immediate psychological need for safety even if it was insincere. Even though you might be clear “mentally” that HE is the one who just caused this pain, emotionally you may feel that he is the one “fixing” what he just did. This kind of pain/pleasure jumble can have a VERY dramatic effect on the victim of the abuse. It can actually act as a means of creating a confusing yet powerful bond.
An abuser might not consciously realize what he is creating within his victim’s mind by doing this. But it happens still the same. It is the kind of thing that happens when one person is actively trying to brainwash another. I read a terrible story about a woman’s experience being raised in a satanic cult where this very process was used to create a bond between her and the cruel abusers who tormented her. (You can find her story by searching for “Teal Swan”). Even though she clearly knew that the same person who was hurting her was also the person comforting her, the immediate application of “love and support” by her tormentors still created the bond the cult members desired.
As far as how we men behave, I have a bit of bad news for all of you. We men don’t really change much, especially after we’ve become adults. I’m basically the same person I was right after high school (which was a LONG time ago). I have the same sense of humor. The same things attract me. The same things anger or frustrate me. I think most of us men are that way. You can’t really change who we are or the way we respond to stress, anger, depression, or intoxication. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m NOT saying men can’t change. Some men do. But in general, we mostly stay the same.
What does that mean in today’s topic? If someone has already shown you that they are willing to be verbally, emotionally, or physically abusive, well, it’s probably not going to change. Even if you want it to REALLY badly; even if you love that person. An abusive attitude and physical abuse doesn’t just show up “suddenly.” The will or the desire to control someone else through whatever kind of pain is something that has a long history in that person. Most likely, without treatment and professional help, it won’t change.
If you see this kind of behavior, it should be a HUGE red flag. It is not a challenge to see what a wonderful man you can change this person into. Protect yourself and your family so you don’t have to “defend” yourself and your family.
I found a great TEDTalk by Kristin Carmichael who works with victims of domestic abuse. I’ve posted it below. Please watch it and see what you can learn.
You deserve love, affection, and faithfulness all the time, not as a repayment after violence or for hurtful words. You deserve it and are WORTHY of it every day in every situation. If the person you are with can’t agree to that, you should probably find someone who can.
(Update: Some of our programs have changed. Subscribe to our email list to stay up to date.)
With hope and concern for every woman and every relationship,