Break My Bones

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“You picked this gimpy shopping cart on purpose just to annoy me.”
“Why would you buy a car without me there to help you?”
“I take you out for lunch on your birthday and this is how you act?”
“Don’t be such a child.”
“You turn your back for one second and it burns!”
“You have anger issues.”
“If you gain weight, it’ll be in all the wrong places.”
“Can’t you just shut up and figure it out on your own?!”
“You’re wasting my time.”
“You’re boring me right now.”
“If you don’t do as I say, I will break up with you right now!”
“You’re incompetent and useless.”
“If you don’t like it, then stop reading my text messages.”
“That didn’t hurt! I nudged you, I didn’t kick you!”
“So what, now you’re gonna tell your family and friends that I abuse you?!”
“You asked for it!”
“It’s ALL your fault!”
“F&#K You!”
“You’re being a bitch right now!”
“You’re making me do this.”
“You’re just being a crazy c@nt!”
“Shut the f%#k up!”
“I’m not hurting you! How does this hurt?!”

Don’t let it get worse. End it . . . while you can.

~Lindsey V.

Addicted

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I don’t matter. My needs, my wants, my feelings, have all taken a back row seat to my partner’s need to feed his insatiable appetite for drugs.

Alone. Alone in my bed at night, alone with my thoughts, alone in my struggle to make a living.

The Man Cave. HA! More like Drug Cave. Lines of white powder, lines of crushed pain killers, broken ink pens, and powdery dollar bills. Everywhere.

What is happening? What has become of my life? When did I allow this evil to creep in and take control?

No more. It has to end or I have to leave. I’m drowning. Drowning in fear, in constant misery, in depression. Make it stop. Make him stop.

I don’t matter. Only the high matters to him. So I’m gone. I’m nothing.

. . . I would have been worn down to nothing . . . Eventually, his addiction would have destroyed us both.

Drug addiction is a need to satisfy a habit that is stronger than the urge to eat when you’re hungry. A need so greedy that everything else becomes non-existent. Some drugs are more intense than others, each yielding their own unique consequence, and each possessing the ability to change the addict’s personality drastically. Irritability, paranoia, depression, and irrational anger are just a few of the behavioral changes that accompany drug abuse. Chemical changes take place in the user’s brain which interfere with their judgement, ability to think clearly, control their behavior, or feel normal without drugs. People that abuse drugs are more likely to abuse their loved ones due to the adverse effects from using and the need to satisfy their high. According to the NCADV, 61% of domestic violence offenders also use/abuse substances. Often they try to blame their battering on being under the influence; however, substance abuse treatment does not “cure” abusive behavior. Their thought processes are highly irrational and even the tiniest irritation may throw them into a rampage. When you mix this issue with someone who already exhibits abusive tendencies, the behavior is exacerbated.

I had no rights to voice my opinion on his drug abuse, and when I did, I was met with ultimatums. If I wanted my partner to give it up, then I had to give up my occasional glass of wine. And by occasional, I mean once every few weeks I had a glass or two. In my opinion, it was entirely unfair. Some might have said that if I wanted my partner to quit badly enough, I would have given up my freedom to enjoy a glass of wine. Why? Why should I give up any legal freedoms in order to get my partner to stop doing illegal things which were destroying our lives? His ultimatum was a manipulation technique, another way for him to regain control over the situation. A way for him to justify his actions.

He said he was sorry. But the addiction to pain killers never stopped. I tried overcoming it. His family tried an intervention. I felt pressured to stay, to be another June Carter, a woman whose love was so powerful it cured her man’s addiction. But you can only try for so long, after that you are just enabling it. Some things never change. Some people don’t want to change. Some habits are too hard to break. And sometimes we need to open our eyes and see them for who they really are.

If I had stayed and tried again and again and again to be his June Carter, to be his whipping boy, to be his crutch, eventually I would have been worn down to nothing. Eventually, my depression would have been too much to bear. Eventually, his addiction would have destroyed us both. If there is anything that I want our readers to glean, it’s that sacrifice in the name of love is different than sacrifice in the name of selfish desire. At some point you have to learn to let go, for your own sake.

~Christa G.

Escapist

 

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I am an escape artist. I binge-watch Netflix. I play video games. I avoid as much news as possible. I hole up in my apartment with my husband and avoid the outside world like an agoraphobe or hermit when I’m not working. This is how I cope with stress. I deal with so many people at work that by the time I have the choice between being around people or just veggin’ on my couch at home . . . I choose the couch. Hands down. No contest. Couch! And when the existential dread sets in, I turn the volume up louder on my TV and let my mind drift into the fantasy playing out in front of me . . . hypnotizing me.

Escapism is not healthy stress management. Gradually, I feel my memory getting worse and worse, especially on particularly stressful days. Minor annoyances can send me over the edge and one snide comment from a customer will put me in a sour mood for the rest of my day. I have escaped so much that I resent reality. And when reality hits, I feel my emotions taking control of my mind and my body.

In an effort to improve my lifestyle and help heal my brain, I have purchased a book by Henepola Gunaratana on mindfulness meditation, Mindfulness In Plain English. The benefit of mindful meditation is that it helps you gain insight into yourself and the world around you. It is the opposite of escapism. You learn to focus your mind on the root of your hatred, greed, desire, and/or jealousy. And by focusing on the root, you learn to treat the cause rather than the symptom. I am no expert on the matter, of course, seeing as how I just bought the book. So I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. But I am excited to take a step toward a happier and healthier me, rather than the morose and bitter version that has been playing out these days.

There is also some interesting research that has been done on the effects of long-term stress on the structure of the brain. Higher cortisol levels in the brain can be helpful in high stress situations that would require the “fight-or-flight” instinct, but over time, if these levels are prolonged, it changes the structure and connectivity of the brain. Your brain can actually shrink, resulting in memory loss, depression, anxiety, and eventually, Alzheimer’s. Thankfully, we can repair any damage that prolonged stress may have caused through regular exercise and mindfulness meditation.

My couch-loving self decided to start with meditation . . . because f@#k gyms.

Anyway, enough about gyms. I thought this would be a helpful book to recommend because those in abusive relationships know all about prolonged stress. And healthy stress management is vital since victims are in a constant state of “fight-or-flight.” Abusers are incredibly volatile. There is never any warning when they may explode or lash out. In the beginning, I was surprised by my abuser’s abrupt and unprovoked outbursts. But eventually, I expected them every day. I walked on egg shells, dreading his scorn. Well I am done paying the price for his ignorance. My body is done. My mind is done. I say we all take back control. I will no longer ignore the pain that he caused. I will no longer ignore the symptoms. I am done escaping.

~Lindsey V.

Where It Begins

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Life. It holds so many uncertainties. So many inequalities. So many injustices. As a human race we are a profound, complicated, and diverse people. Some are driven by power and riches. While others are driven by love and the need to help others. What makes us so different? What drives one person to be hateful and yet another to be understanding? There are so many factors that affect our behaviors and frame of mind. The majority of those influences take place during our childhood, when every decision, situation, reward, and consequence molds us into the adults we eventually become. With that being said, will childhood bullies develop into abusive adults? It would seem the most understandable outcome, since bullying is a child’s way of exuding power and control over their peers. So then, are we wrong to assume that a child displaying bullying behavior will only continue to intimidate and abuse others later in life?

Most children who display bully-like behaviors are experiencing abuse themselves . . .


According to a study performed and published to the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, it has been confirmed that bullying as a child can be an early precursor to adult domestic partner violence perpetration, at least in men. The study was done in Boston and focused on men at three different community centers. The study suggests that men who exhibited frequent bullying in school were at a much higher risk for aggressive and abusive behavior toward intimate partners. Of course, this is only one study that took place among a group of men, confined to one area. However, this has been a question for years before any studies were recorded. Another study published in the September 2010 Psychiatric Quarterly states that adults with a history of bullying are 10 times more likely to lie than those with no history. The study also suggests that they have a higher likelihood of stealing and cheating. Concerns are, of course, not limited to men that were bullies. There are plenty of girls known to have bullied their classmates, as well.

So where do we begin?  Is it possible to rectify the behavior of a bully in order to prevent abusive tendencies as an adult? We must first look at the environment of the child in question. Most children who display bully-like behaviors are experiencing abuse themselves, or they are witnessing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) between their parents. Unfortunately, without just cause or evidence that those children are in danger, they cannot be removed from those situations. It’s up to us to help inform children, at their young and impressionable ages, of what abuse looks like and how it affects others. Parents that have children in school can look into what programs are implemented to prevent bullying. And if you don’t have a child in school, but you want to help raise awareness you can look into programs being used in your local school districts. Are the programs effective? What can the community do to help promote them? What programs are being applied that are also available to parents and community members? How can we better a child’s home environment? These are just a few small steps to get where we need to be. It takes action to get a reaction, and we want that reaction to be a decrease in the amount of bullying taking place among our children. In turn, we will see less IPV in the future.

I recently became aware that my 13-year-old son is dealing with bullies at his school. It is incredibly alarming to know that these boys are subjecting him to belittlement, humiliation, and rejection. The mental deterioration that takes place during abuse can be devastating. I have taken action and scheduled counseling sessions for my son. This allows him the ability to express his feelings to someone in order to gain an understanding that he is not worthless, dumb, or ugly as these kids make him feel. But what of the bullies? They also need guidance. They need an understanding that their behavior is not okay and could possibly lead to harsher behavior as an adult. Domestic violence awareness and our fight to end it starts with our children. It starts in our schools. It starts in our communities. It starts with our future generation. We will never see an end or decrease in abuse until we stop the behavior before it begins.

I urge you to stand up in your community. Make your voice heard. For the sake of our children, put an end to bullying. We need to make a difference, we need to fight to end abuse, and we need to start where it begins.

 

~ Christa Gayle