Thursday, July 31, 2014

Abusive Relationships: Devil You Know vs. The Devil You Don’t

Something bothers me...something I never got a real hold on when I was a pastor/counselor...why do abused women stay in abusive relationships? I have heard all the answers, and it all boils down to fear of the unknown and fear of their mate. How can the unknown be scarier than a miserable life with a miserable abuser? Anyway here is Kellie Jo Holly and I highly recommend her site to those of you who are getting the idea all is not right in Camelot?

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In abusive relationships, the devil you know seems better than the devil you don’t. We go back and forth over leaving our abusive mate, wobbling between fear of them and fear of the unknown. It’s a tricky balancing act, especially when our partner seems to know just when to put on their nice mask. The sweet phases of an abusive relationship add to the confusion and indecision about just what kind of devil we know.

What kind of devil can be so sweet one minute and so nasty the next? And why can they act kind for long stretches and then turn back into monsters over meaningless situations or words? Why do they hurt us? Why do we stay? Will this relationship hurt the children? Can this relationship last? Should I stay to see if it gets better? Should I run and not look back?
Unfortunately, I am incapable of giving you those answers. And honestly, the longer you take contemplating what those answers could be, the longer you’ll be stuck with the devil you know.
It is natural for our brain to contemplate why the abuser is either nice or mean. Our brain likes comparisons. It likes weighing two things against one another, making a choice and learning from that decision. But don’t let your brain fool you into thinking the abusive person is part nice and part mean. Don’t allow you brain to divide the behaviors because they’re both part of the same devil; the flip-flopping, sour then sweet abuser is only one person. The idea that such a monster could hold true kindness is laughable when you think about it.

The Devil You Know

Take 90 seconds and watch the trailer for Maleficent. Pay attention to Maleficent’s beauty, her strength, her confidence … and her wicked, wicked smile. Angelina Jolie plays the part so well I felt ice daggers piercing my heart…so much beauty hiding the ability to produce so much pain.
(this only takes a few seconds to view...go look)
That 90 second video sums up the devil you know. In the trailer, we see about two seconds of Maleficent seeming innocent, even sad perhaps. But when it comes to your abuser, the innocence, sweetness and caring is the mask. Underneath every smile and soft word lies the venom of a cobra. Your partner CAN be so sweet. They can woo you back time after time. But the sweetness does not give evidence to a dual personality or even a mental illness (about 10% of abusers have those, the same rate as the general population).
No, your special breed of devil only pretends to be loving. At least Maleficent removes her mask – we can see her for the wicked person she is. Your abuser offers no such honesty.
Your abusive partner will lie to you when there’s no reason to lie. They will give you the moon and then take it back as punishment, all the while believing the moon is theirs to give. The abuser kisses like a vampire, one second so deliciously your legs waver unsteadily, the next second as vicious a bite as you’ve ever known. You know this devil. It is not angelic and then evil. This devil is evil dressed in angel’s garb.

The Devil You Don’t

Thinking of leaving an abusive relationship can be scarier than staying in it. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't...or so we think.The devil you do not know remains unknowable until you step into it. Leaving abuse behind offers the sweet mystery of life and broadens your mind and reopens your heart even if fear remains. You will find the space to breathe, to think, to decide and to do. No one tells you not to do anything. No one tells you what to do.
The freedom you’ll feel is tempered by great responsibility. You may have children to protect and teach. You might need to take a job for the first time in your life. Or you may need to live on your own, alone, without feeling lonely and empty inside. It is your responsibility to take care of you, and you will finally understand why taking care of yourself first is not selfish.
You will discover the devil you didn’t know is you. The unknowable devil that filled you with dread is only you. In the abuse, you did not grasp how strong you are or how quickly you can rebound from failure or pain.
It is scary and exhilarating to get to know yourself again. One moment you feel tiny like a speck of dirt batted about by a breeze, and the next moment you feel happy to be like a mighty boulder rolling down a hill – unstoppable and unafraid.
In reality, you, the devil you didn’t know, is both a speck of dirt and a boulder. You are both courageous and afraid. You are strong and weak, happy and sad, free and burdened. But this is okay. YOU are capable of living on the continuum between any opposites. YOU are able to re-balance yourself as needed. It is okay to feel how you feel.
It is okay to be who you are.
Please, be who you are.
I would like to introduce Kellie Jo Holly and also acquaint you with her story:

About Kellie Holly, Author of Verbal Abuse in Relationships Blog

Kellie Jo Hollywith my soon to be ex-husband for almost 18 years. I retain the relationship with him because we have two sons together who are now teens. Leaving the marriage did not end the abuse. Stopping verbal abuse has more to do with my reaction to it than convincing him to stop!
I spent years trying to anticipate and thereby control his moods (especially his angry moods) with no success. Even though my intentions were good, the outcome was very bad.

Verbal Abuse and How I Lost Myself

During the course of my marriage, I let go of myself and my own reality in the effort to understand his way of looking at things, his perception of the world, his reactions to events. With so much concentration on him, is it any wonder how I ceased being myself? Under extreme pressure to control my environment (him), I let my own soul fall by the wayside.
Now, a short time from leaving the relationship as it was, I struggle to separate my own identity from the person I came to be while living in the battleground of our marriage. Some days are easier than others, but I see dramatic progress in my ability to detach from and accept the role I played in our abusive cycle; I am healing, and I want to share that journey with you.
See you next blog,

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