Category Archives: domestic violence

Healing from the trauma and pain of domestic violence.


                                   

I’ve been divorced since February 14, 2006, although my husband continued to be in my life even after our divorce up until the Spring of 2009.  This was a relationship that began on Oct. 19, 1974.  He and I had four children.  Our youngest child died in a car accident in 2008.  He was just 20 years old.

I can write about any topic it seems, all except about my experiences living in an abusive relationship. Abuse, and the fear which accompanies it, was actually the backdrop of my entire life beginning in earliest childhood up until my relationship with my husband finally came to an end four years ago.  There is a lifetime of abuse swirling around in my brain all the time but I can never seem to calm myself long enough to write about it.  I also have a lifetime of journals that I wrote the whole time I was married which I can no longer read because they plunge me back into reliving my nightmare.   I try not to speak about the abuse in the hope that the memories will just go away. 

However, something curious happened to me yesterday and it made me reconsider my strategy of just ignoring my memories.  You see, my current strategy is to just go along living my life hoping that the trauma and pain of a lifetime of abuse will just simply fade away into the sunset, and I’ll finally be free.  That if I keep it buried long enough it will cease to exist.  That if I simply ignore the nightmares and flashbacks and keep the lid on tight to the pot filled with memories, a pot which is perpetually boiling and threatening to spew, that this is what it means to take my life back.   

This perspective of mine was completely challenged yesterday when I came upon a video that was circulating on Facebook.  The video is about a young women applying make-up to cover up bruises she supposedly got from her husband.  I did not know the video is a actually public service message designed to illustrate how domestic violence is hidden, so when I tuned in I actually thought it was real.  Here is the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-XHPHRlWZk&feature=player_embedded

So, I’m watching this video and I started crying and I kept crying for two hours.  I cried so hard I started to hyperventilate and it took all my strength to regain my composure.  The tears were because I lived like that for so many decades with my husband and also grew up with a father who was very abusive, physically and emotionally.  I didn’t cry because I felt bad for myself either, that was definitely not why.  I was crying because I could feel the fear welling up in me, I was reminded that I was the girl in the video.  I was having a flashback to the life I thought I’d successfully forgotten and it scared me terribly all over again.  There is a difference though now, and it’s that I felt free enough to cry, something I never would allow myself to do for most of my life.  I even wrote a song called. I Won’t Cry.      

So, I realized yesterday that the trauma and pain can not and will not miraculously disappear not matter how much I pretend that it doesn’t exist.  I need to begin to share.  As of right now I am really not quite sure what all of this means or how much I will actually be able to share.  I already feel nervous about writing what I’ve written here today.  I worry that all my terrible memories will haunt me for the rest of my life, similar to the way a veteran suffers with memories long after he or she returns home from combat. 

I’m not sure how to start sharing my memories.  I know I have to though because I don’t want them to die with me.  I want them out of my brain and maybe my experiences will help other people find strength.  It doesn’t mean that I hate my ex-husband or wish him or anyone else any harm either.  I honestly wish him well.  It’s actually not about anyone else, especially not him or my father it’s just about me trying to heal and find some peace.  The only way to do this is to be honest and not cover up my memories anymore.  

I suppose I could just start by sharing one of my journal entries.  I guess one day I’ll just open a journal and pick the first one I open to.  I have no idea when or if I ever will.  For now, the journals are just collecting dust in a box in my bedroom.    

Please leave a comment if you want, I’d like that.  You can also share about your experiences, too. 


             

     

   

Sharen Wendy Robertson owns the copyright to all posts on this Blog.

Domestic violence: my truth, my song, my words

     
                       I am a singer/songwriter/writer at the present time.  However, for almost 50 years my life and my world revolved around two abusive men (my father and my husband).  This was my life ever since I was born.  I never knew there could be anything other than this way of life either.  I just assumed this was the way everyone lived.  I really had no idea how or the courage to free myself from any of it.  My fa
ther died in 2008 and so I am free now of his abuse and also my son died in 2008, and these two events were the catalyst for my finally getting free from my husband.  Now I live peacefully by myself, healing from a lifetime of trauma.  I have yet to learn to trust or what it means to have someone love me without hurting me.         

               Funny, now how the tables have turned for me because of my music and through the internet, now my “whole world” really is the whole world rather than just my husband. Now, from this new viewpoint, it amazes me how narrow (or maybe innocent) my perspective was. I am also amazed at how much power and authority I entrusted to just one single person in a sea of 7 billion. It really amazes me looking back at this now.  I will never do this again.  I have entrust my own self with power and authority in my life.   

               I was in a relationship with my husband for 36 years, from the age of 14 until three years ago.  He was my husband for 28 years.  Although there were things about him that I loved, for the most part he was a violent, angry, arrogant person with me, yet I stayed with him all those years.  I loved him, or I thought I did.  We also had a family together and a business.  It was the only kind of love I knew.  I take responsibility for the fact that I did stay, though.  I don’t blame him or anyone.     

              I don’t really know if he is violent now that we are not together (maybe it was just with me).  I am in the process of writing a book about my life, which consisted of an abusive childhood and subsequent abusive marriage.      

             I was a guest of Suzanne Perry on the “Global Forum On Domestic Violence.”  During the interview I talk openly about my life and how the violence and abuse have affected me.  I am not completely comfortable yet sharing on this topic, and I don’t know if I ever really will be but I am trying really hard to be honest and open in the hope that I will stop feeling ashamed and embarrassed.   I’ve also written a song which expresses my experiences living with domestic violence, from childhood through marriage.  The song is called, I Won’t Cry. 

           Please feel free to share your story with me.  I hope my honestly helps you.         

This is the interview link:

Global Forum On Domestic Violence

I WON’T CRY  on YouTube

I WON’T CRY  on iTunes



Sharen Wendy Robertson owns the copyright to all posts on this Blog.

The Lifelong Impact of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence



I WON”T CRY – domestic violence song

Regardless of how we are raised, childhood experiences always impact
our future lifestyle choices. We are all products of our environment.
Sure, our genes play a crucial role in molding our personality but our
environment also has an undeniable influence. For children exposed to
violent, abusive upbringings, the lifelong pattern of dysfunctional
behavior is almost impossible to break.

Children rarely talk about how they are treated at home.
Why would they when they simply assume and imagine that it is no
different for them than it is in any other household? In addition,
children living in abusive households also carry the fear that they or
their parent will get in trouble if they tell anyone what is going on at
home. Therefore, the abuse usually remains secret throughout childhood
unless it is revealed by chance.

In the meantime, children accept the abuse and are usually just
relieved at the beginning of each new day when their parents are not
angry. They interpret this lull to mean they are “still” loved, and they
are grateful. Without ever having their feelings acknowledged, they
just assume they are to blame for situations and that they’ve done
something to deserve the way they are treated. Regardless of the fact
that it may be due to a parents lack of child-rearing knowledge, those
early experiences of abuse still impact and influence the course of the
child’s life and relationships.

This type of upbringing teaches children to never
question why. In addition, they learn to have unrealistic faith and hope
in harmful, hopeless relationships. As adults they are often victims of
domestic violence, finding themselves in abusive relationships very
similar to what they experienced in their childhoods. Similar to child
abuse, domestic violence follows a pattern known as the cycle of abuse.
This cycle almost always includes remorse from the abuser after an
abusive incident, which in turn fosters a delusion of hope in the
victim. The cycle of abuse, with its grand promises, is an illusion that
keeps many locked into unhealthy, destructive relationships.

Domestic violence usually follows a familiar pattern known as the cycle of abuse. This pattern is described by Domesticviolence.org in four steps:

  1. An initial abusive incident occurs (can be sexual, physical, or emotional)
  2. Tension builds, with the abuser trying to quell their violent
    tendency and the abusee trying to “keep the peace” until, finally,
    another incident happens
  3. Make-up: the abuser apologizes, often promising never to do it
    again or, conversely, trying to shed blame by saying that the victim
    “asked for it” or is “making a big deal out of nothing”
  4. Calm: both parties act as if nothing is wrong, and do their best to ignore the mounting problem.

Although abusive relationships can be incredibly difficult to end,
this is especially true for those people who have also experienced abuse
in their childhood. Regardless of the fact that these relationships are
harmful, without knowledge or memory of how else to live, child abuse
victims often find themselves repeating patterns of behavior that mimic
what they knew growing up. 

Ann Veilleux, MSSW, LSCW gives this explanation of why women stay in abusive relationships, from:  Why Women Stay  “Women that stay with abusive partners very often have had abusive
parents. To them it’s normal to get hurt by the people you love. Their
self esteem is very low from childhood  mistreatment and is further
undermined by violence from their partners. No wonder women can’t give a
good reason for why they stay: It would take therapy (and education) to
understand it themselves. If they had good therapy, they could learn
that they didn’t cause or deserve the abuse. Then they would leave.”

The truth is that the
experiences in my childhood are the framework for how I perceive myself and my
world, and they are also the foundation for the choices I’ve made in my
life.
  As a child, I never talked about how badly I’d been treated, no matter
how traumatic the incidents were. I simply buried the hurt and never brought it
up to anyone. I was just glad at the beginning of each new day that my parents
still seemed to love me. This went on throughout my formative years without
anyone acknowledging my feelings or that what was happening was wrong; I just
assumed it was always my fault, and that I’d done something to deserve the way
I was treated.  Although it may have been
my parents’ lack of knowledge on how to properly raise a child, ignorance is no
excuse for cruelty.

The first boyfriend I ever had I married. I met him when I was 14 years
old. We married just as I turned 18 years old, a few months after I learned I
was carrying his child. I wish I could say that he changed and became abusive
after we married because that would make this so much easier to understand,
but, the reality is that in the four years that we dated through high school I
was subjected continually to his physical, emotional, and mental abuse on every
level. I tried over and over again to end our relationship but the sweet talk,
promises and fear of abandonment always brought me back with him.  My upbringing taught me to never stay angry
with someone who “loved” me, and that I should just be grateful if someone
wanted to be nice to me after mistreating me. 
I just hid how I felt, pretended it didn’t happen and never mentioned it
again for fear of being hurt again.  My
upbringing also taught me about hope because in the cycle of violence the abuser
almost always exhibits remorse after an abusive incident; this remorse in turn fosters
a sense of hope. 

 I stayed with my husband for the next 28 years, and so did the cycle of
violence. We built a life, which included four children and several successful
family businesses. Honestly though, simmering just beneath the surface of
everything in my life was my fear of him. 
I honestly thought I loved him and could not live without him.  Classic battered women’s syndrome.

 The dynamic of power and control between my husband and I was
established at the beginning of our relationship. It was a cycle that we both participated
in, and it prevented us from ever experiencing a “healthy”
relationship with each other. Throughout our tumultuous marriage there were
three restraining orders, four stays at abused women shelters, visits to the
emergency room, and numerous visits to marriage counselors. We were locked into
a never-ending pattern that neither one of us was strong enough to break. It
always came back around to him being physically and mentally abusive toward me,
and also to our children. The cycle of violence, with its false sense of hope,
prevented me from ever give up on trying to make our relationship work. I
always wanted to believe his remorse was sincere and believe in hope, and I
did
not want to live my life without him in it. This was all I knew.

 Prompted by physical abuse which escalated to a very dangerous level for
me (and included a grand jury indictment against him for rape and assault),  I finally divorced my husband in 2006. Yet, even as we stood there in
court, I wondered why he could not change his ways, enabling us to save our
marriage and all the years we’d spent together. 
I wondered how he could let things end this way. I still hoped, even
after the judge accepted our application for divorce, that my husband would
find the strength somewhere inside of himself to change. Regardless of the hurt
he inflicted, the loss I felt from being separated from someone I’d been with
since I was 14 years old was emotionally devastating. I still, even after
everything we’d been through, had not given up the hope that one day he’d
“get better.”

After the divorce we still tried to be “just friends.” This
proved to be a frustrating and impossible arrangement based upon the history we
had together, and the fact that the dynamic was still there between us. Yet,
even though we both knew this to be true and even though we
were already
divorced, it would take a tragedy of incomparable depth to finally and
completely sever our relationship.

The life-altering, random day was August 7, 2008. Our 20 year old son
(the youngest of our four children) was driving home from work. He lost control
of his car, crashed into a tree and died instantly. For several months after
the accident we did spend more time together consoling each other; however it
was soon apparent to both of us that there was nothing left between us to hope
for. My hope that we could ever share life together again was finally gone. It
took our son’s death to help the both of us move on and thankfully we haven’t
spoken to or seen each other in over three years.

 I started writing and recording songs after my son died and have
produced two cds in the past two years, Whisper On the Wind (which is dedicated
to my late son) and From My Heart To Yours, both of which are available on
iTunes, Cd Baby, and on my website. One of the songs I wrote after producing my
son’s cd is called, I WON’T CRY and it deals with my experiences living with
domestic violence.

I remember back two years ago how terrified I was to actually go into
the studio to record my song. It was with tremendous fear and determination I
recorded that day, along with taping a video of me singing. While I recorded my
song a marvelous feeling of empowerment came over me, stronger than anything
I’d ever felt before. The song is a testament to the truth that early childhood
traumas, experiences, and conditioning can and often do determine the way a
person lives their adult life. But even more important, my song is one of
strength and survival. I sing for myself and for anyone looking for the
strength to end an abusive relationship. I pray that my song will help others
find peace, loving light, and courage in their journey.

Sharen Wendy Robertson owns the copyright to all posts on this Blog.