“This was on the days that went smoothly. If they didn’t go smooth, which there was never an indicator for the “tornado” days, then insert a borage of insults toward me, verbal abuse, mental abuse and behind closed doors…sexual assault and rape.
Let me invite you in to one of the “not so smooth” days…”
I know that most of your must be thinking, “Are you kidding? That is on a GOOD day?! It gets worse?!” Sadly, the answer is yes. It gets much worse. Let me expose the psychology of this. If it doesn’t get worse, how can a victim be grateful for one of the “good” days? How can we normalize abuse if there is nothing worse to compare it to? How can we be grateful for just a black eye if we haven’t been to the hospital with broken bones and both eyes swelled shut? How can we be grateful for just having the kids in the house if they haven’t been removed at least once?
“Whenever I fought back and said “you’re just drunk, being mean” or “you saw me mopping the floor today when you came home during lunch”, he’d say “I never saw that, liar” or “what are you gonna do about it?”, “you think I’m being mean? Leave. No one will miss your trailer trash ass. No one will give a shit.”
Confusion and misdirection is another tool that abusers use to keep a victim in place. Nothing makes sense. Abusers are so good at taking what we know to be fact, throwing it in a blender, and pureeing reality until it doesn’t resemble anything a victim can recognize. There comes a barrage of tactics that attacks our “Hierarchy of Needs” (Maslow); challenging our perception (emotional safety), creating a sense of helplessness (physical safety), and devaluing (sense of belonging).
In theory to have a healthy sense of autonomy, there are some basic needs that need to be met; Food, Shelter, Physical Safety, Emotional Safety, Belonging, and Love. When these fundamental needs are attacked a co-dependency can form to have those needs met. For more information about this concept look up Abraham Maslow: Hierarchy of Needs.
“There were threats made to me that if I don’t shut my mouth, mind my P’s & Q’s, he’d call the base police and have me thrown off the base. WITHOUT MY PROPERTY, OR MY CATS. That “by the time I got proof anything was mine, he’d throw it all out and by the time I got the paperwork for my cats showing they’re mine…they’d be dead.”
I was officially a “hostage.”
I was stuck. Saw no way out. I never knew when he’d be home during lunch, so I couldn’t pack my things. It was a 2 trip deal back to my father’s. He’d catch me. He also had friends watching me. He knew when I went to the store. When I went outside to water the lawn, or get something from my truck. He was right, I was useless at this point.”
So often people say and think, “Just leave! Your life is more important than any of that!” On the one hand IT IS THAT SIMPLE. Ultimately, that is the choice that many of us make. However, in all fairness, it is an excruciatingly difficult choice to make and as many have witnessed, the very last resort. Mr. Smith has ferreted out all of Jenn’s vulnerabilities, values, and beliefs attacking them all to hold her hostage. Her cats are like children to her and she wants to protect them like a mother. Jenn is not a material person by any means, but what she does own holds great sentimental value. I think most of us can appreciate how reverse psychology works. When challenged that she was “less than”, Jenn dug her heels in to prove that it wasn’t true. Any one of these barriers can be difficult to break through, they can feel impossible to navigate when they come in combination.
“People just loved him to death. Thought he was the Ruler De Supreme. They worshipped all that was him. Anything he said was Law of God to them. No one saw what I saw. No one would hear me, they’d run straight to him. I was alone.”
Isolation. A big player in creating co-dependency is isolating a victim so they feel powerless to leave. This is particularly difficult when the facade of being a model citizen is put into play. Not only is the victim isolated, they start to question their own sanity. With so many people telling the victim what a great person the abuser is the victim has to start wondering if maybe they have misunderstood events, perhaps the abuser isn’t being abusive after all, and then the victim starts to wonder if it is possible that he or she isn’t crazy like the abuser has been telling them. In short, hostages of Domestic Abuse and Violence can either feel hopelessly trapped or can develop a form of Stockholm Syndrome in order to survive.