I write humanitarian documentaries – profiles of artists and scientists, of individuals who are environmental stewards and humanitarians, of those who sacrifice themselves to help others. I write truth for a living. I say this because there is the other side, too, that needs examining, the sole of the shoe that stepped in the wrong place in the cow pasture – the abuser.
It starts subtly, often in an email, a few words, a line or two – “I don’t like your shoelaces, I don’t like your tone, your avocation, your career choice.” You heed it little, go on with your life. And then it escalates. This is battering; it is abuse. It escalates into verbal bullying and/or physical abuse. The abuse can be perpetrated by man against woman, woman against man, woman against woman, the prevalent teen-against-teen, or a group bullying a single individual, as in cyber bullying, lobbed by petty terrorists brandishing sharp-edged words from behind the shields of their computer screens.
Verbal battering comes up behind you. It knocks the pins out from under you, because it is unfounded – and often sprung on you by someone you trust implicitly. It doesn’t stop: it is a battering diarrhea. It is cruel. It can cut deeply. Verbal abuse will kill your spirit if you let it in.
Whether by physical force or verbal, abusers follow a classic pattern: the abuser batters, then apologizes – yet delivering an apology riddled with accusatory words; for example, “I am so sorry; let it fall on me that you are not realistic.” And then batters again. It is an effort to control.
It is important that individuals learn to immediately recognize subtle signs of abuse before they escalate, and they will.
Recognizing and identifying the early signs of battering and abuse cannot be stated often enough. Therefore I believe it is time I resurrect the two magazine stories I have published on this issue, under my journalism byline. These stories never fray around the edges; indeed, they elucidate the classic pattern of abuse, what you can do about it and where you can get help. Of course, since these stories were published in the past, you will need to research help organizations presently operating in your neighborhood.
Here are the links to these stories:
Linda Lovelace: The Deeper Implications. I published this essay under my byline Carol Child in South Bay Magazine, Redondo Beach, Calif., 1980.
Witney’s Lights. Bringing the issue of domestic violence from darkness into light. I published this story under my byline Carol Child in Middletown Life Magazine, Middletown, Del., Spring/Summer 2009. Quincy Lucas, now Quincy A. Rose, Ed.D., is currently Department Chair, Master of Arts in Teaching at Tusculum College, Johnson City, Tennessee.
You have hit the nail directly on the head when it comes to abuse. Subtle abuse can be especially hurtful as the person being abused may not at first realize what is happening… and slowly like darkness closing in one can no longer see the sunlight. Sadly, the abuser may not realize they are in the wrong… control is a controversial subject that needs to be looked at more thoroughly. Hopefully, the abuser will educate themselves and stop the abuse. Great points, well made.
I hope you read both magazine stories, Gwynn. Thanks for your thoughts.
Abuse by any other name is still abuse. Were the abuser to turn about and seek education (s)he would lose control.
Therefore the need for advocacy of raising awareness and for support.
Yes, I have read both articles and studied the patterns of abuse due to my own family situations. Subtle abuse, that one is almost not aware of, or doesn’t feel “good” can almost be more damaging than outright abuse. When you are being hit you obviously know what the problem is, but when the abuse is subtle through words it can be equally painful or worse as one doesn’t know exactly WHAT the problem is and how to define it. I’m very familiar with this type of abuse.
Our dear Gwynn,
Samantha and I are both sorry to know that you suffered abuse. We are glad, though, that you have taken positive measures to learn about the pattern and to reverse the effects.
One positive outcome of your experience is that it enables you to understand and help the North Kitsap…Coalition kids.
Now … it’s warm and raining here today. I think I left our blog snow shovels outside; I’d better find them and put them in the closet before Samantha finds out and wallops me over the head with one.
An excellent article. I personally read the book by Brownmiller, Against Our Will and I am current reading a very interesting book by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. entitled Women Who Run With the Wolves. This book also addresses some of the issues of abuse.
The film, Deep Throat, I remember very well. I was an inquisitive young girl when it came out and I registered in my mind the cry that it caused in our society. I am very sorry that Linda Lovelace had to experience abuse, and I must admit that it is soothing to know that she did not do that on her own free will. I truly hope she can overcome her pain.
Thanks for reminding me of “Women Who Run With the Wolves,” Patricia. I have been wanting to read that — one of many on my long list.
Interesting about “Deep Throat”: When the film was released, my magazine editor wanted me to do a think piece on Linda Lovelace, so he took me to the theater, in a sleazy section of Hollywood, not far from Hollywood and Vine, where we watched the movie. Not my usual arena, but I’m glad I went; I learned about and was able to raise awareness of abuse. And then in 2009, I was thrilled to see someone in Delaware chosen to ride on the inaugural train with Joe Biden and Pres. Obama, someone who not only was advocating awareness of intimate partner abuse but also lived in the town next to mine — Quincy Lucas, now Quincy Rose. How could I pass up writing such a story.
The last I heard, which was some years ago, Linda Lovelace (Linda Susan Boreman) was married (to Larry Marchiano) with children and living in New Jersey or on Long Island. She died in Denver, Colo., April 22, 2002, of injuries sustained in an April 3 car crash. She was 53.
I should say, too, Patricia, that Linda Lovelace told her side of the story in the book “Ordeal,” published in 1980.
Thanks for commenting.
I read both the pieces Samantha and they are as relevant today as ever. The bullying and need for control happens on the macro-level as well. Sadly the abused often colludes with the abuser which is why it is so important that resources are made available to the abused, so that they know it is not right on any level.
As the comments have said, we need to be vigilant at all times.
Thank you for reading the pieces, Susan. Yes, they are just as relevant today. Their frequent resurrection raises awareness hopefully to prevent the abuse of bullying and need for control from reaching the macro level.
Yes, as the stories tell, the abused often colludes with the abuser: the abused thinks she (or he) is doing everything wrong, that she/he is to blame — as the abuser would have her believe in his/her effort to maximize control.
Great words, as usual, Carol.
They speak of the truth, Marsha. Thank you.
Very, very powerful stuff, Samantha, and something that we unfortunately can’t relax our vigilance in regard to —
Yes, powerful, T.J. Can’t get much closer to the human condition than that. And the causes, effects and remedies cannot be reiterated often enough.
Thanks for coming by and commenting. It’s good to see you here.
An important issue, for sure, Carol. I thought about this in political terms. Made me think of Putin. Sad what’s happening over there, though I don’t know the answer.
Hope you are staying warm, my friend.
Hugs from Ecuador,
Yes, I do extend this to thinking of it in political terms, too, Kathy. I am dismayed at what’s happening in Ukraine. I have pondered this, and I don’t know the answer, either.
Thank you, my friend, for stopping by. Snow again today, but the good news is the neighbor girls, young teenagers, have shoveled my walk; so, I’m staying warmer than I expected. What a treat.
I’m finally catching up and commenting on your marvelous blog posts. Just as I read the one about your dogs’ unpleasant antics, I learned that I will be Wallie-sitting for six days for my friend’s Bichon-poo, Wallie. So far, he has impeccable house manners.
Hugs to you from Delaware.
I’d like to help. It’s snowing again, and I can’t find the snow shovel again….
Thank you for addressing this important topic.
With the pervasive dog whistle sociopolitical milieu imposed on us by the nepotistic and dynastic that are in power, seeking more control, dehumanizing others in order to engorge their coffers; it is no wonder, the mob, whether or not they are kind, generous and compassionate people, take on petty tyrannical tactics to feed their starved sense of self importance.
Yes, it is well to be informed and vigilant.
In the words of Madonna, “I’m not your bitch, don’t hang your shit on me! ”
Ever and sincerely,
In this specific instance of individual, often intimate partner abuse, it can lead to physical or spiritual death.
Thanks for reading and commenting, R, as ever.