I usually couldn't give a rat's ass what Oprah says or thinks about anything. I know, how un-American of me... I also won't read any book that makes her list. But I digress...
It was nice to see a snippet in the news about Oprah wanting to tell Rihanna that if he hits you once, he'll do it again. And again. And again. It's true, sister. I hope Oprah can reach her.
I don't like to talk about it, but I was once in one of those relationships. Thankfully I was never punched, choked or bitten, but he was working toward that.
It was emotional, verbal and psychological abuse that began slowly and over time escalated into shoving, pushing, physical threats, throwing things at me and breaking my belongings - lots of shit broken.
In the beginning it can be very subtle - giant red flags I now see with hindsight. At the time, you may not fully recognize it or don't want to believe it's happening. There's also the lame thought that you can change him. Needless to say, you can't. No one can, though I'm a big believer in traction. Six months in traction might do a lot to help someone reevaluate his life. If only.
That's another job I would enjoy. A oil-soaked Louisville slugger and a list of names. Available to start now. Anyway...
Over time, they can get inside your head well enough so that you lose the strength to leave. Your confidence and self-esteem erodes as the shame builds. You want to get out or cry for help, but the fear and shame is paralyzing. If you get caught talking to anyone about it, that will mean more pain. It also doesn't help if they spend all your money, leaving you financially unable to get out.
The situation is very sad, but one silver lining might be that people might better understand how common it is. Being rich or famous doesn't make anyone immune to domestic violence. More important, abuse isn't always just physical. If someone is trying to control another person in any way, it's wrong. No debate. What might seem harmless now won't be in the future.
Looking back, it's hard to say what might have helped me. I had to find my own way out when I could make it happen. If I had a ton of money and rich friends, I have to think I'd have been able to leave much sooner. At the same time, if I wasn't strong enough to do it, it may not have mattered. (Thankfully I had just enough money and a wonderful friend who was a lifesaver.)
Until Rihanna realizes on her own that he is nothing more than a poisonous parasite, there's not much anyone can do to help. At least she has the financial resources to get out whenever she's ready. I hope she gets there soon.
If anyone out there is wondering if you're in a healthy relationship, get help. Talk to your friends, read corny self-help books, go online, but most important, trust your gut. If that little voice is telling you something doesn't feel right, it isn't. Don't ignore it. You're not alone and many other women have been there.
There's lots of help out there (here?). For example:
- DA signs and symptoms
- Signs of Domestic Violence
- DV - Recognize the Patterns
- National DV Hotline
- Women's Aid UK
- Women's Shelter info & links on Wiki
- La Casa de las Madres SF