This week finds me well and truly back on my soapbox. Because I am feeling suitably goaded to address the somewhat emotive subject of the lack of support and comprehension offered to victims of abuse. The fact that too many people in various circles (friends and family, law and order and other professionals) simply don’t ‘get’ what it means to be held captive in a manipulative relationship.
I know many of us here in the Lovefraud community have already experienced the indignity of having to convince people of the validity of what we know to be true. I’m of course familiar with the remarks from well-intentioned friends and relatives that go along the lines of “he/she always seemed such a nice person!” “Surely, if what you’re saying is true, you’d have noticed something beforehand?” “You must have got it wrong, all relationships have their ups and downs you know!” “You’re saying he/she is a what…? A psychopath…? Have you completely lost your mind…?”
With the space and wisdom that hindsight offers, I guess those kind of comments are to be understood and even expected from people around us who care, but who simply can’t comprehend that psychopathic individuals live and breathe among us. Caring people who most certainly also struggle with the idea that it was happening so close to home and that, by association, they were duped as well!
To Understand We Must First Un-Learn
To put it in to context, the phrase “we don’t see things as they are, we can only see things as we are” is never so true when explaining a new concept to people. In order to take new ideas on board, the person doing the learning must find ways to understand what they are being taught. Puzzlement, questions and sometimes bewilderment are all perfectly natural responses in the learning cycle. Often, particularly in adulthood, this process involves shifting existing beliefs or long-held opinions – turning the previously ‘unbelievable’ in to something that is appreciated and recognized. That’s all well and good, and it’s perfectly understandable too – goodness knows I’ve been there myself, both as student and teacher. The jury’s out on which role is the most taxing…
The thing is, though, this natural learning process becomes so very much more difficult to accept when the “unbelievable” relates to experiences that are being shared by somebody who has suffered from abuse and manipulation. At that moment in time, all that the ‘victim’ needs is support and understanding. But when the subject in hand involves accounts of deception, gas-lighting, control, loss of self-esteem, and that feared word “psychopathic”… well, then it simply serves to make explaining the horrors that much more galling. That much more painful.
Because it’s hard enough for us to realize the truth ourselves. And even harder to come to terms with the fact we’ve been duped and manipulated. Harder still to then reach out and ask for help! When that request typically comes at our most vulnerable time, and is met by (understandable) disbelief, then those well-intentioned people we’ve chosen to share with end up creating further pain, deeper shame and more excruciating guilt within us – in short, the re-clarifying of what happened become a repeated process of public tarring and feathering.
You know what? I can live with that. I can accept that it’s merely ‘not knowing’ on the part of friends and family who, at the time, caused me to turn the emotional knife once again on myself. At the time I knew no better myself than to respond in that way. Now, with distance, I can understand and empathise – and I’m grateful as well, because it’s highlighted the need to educate more people about the intricacies of this subject. So no, there is no axe for me to grind there. But then, this is only one small part of recovery. This is a part where we can feel confident that any hurts caused are unintentional.
Professionals And The Law
Then there are the other parts. The parts where the professionals step in. Where these qualified, respected, wise pillars of society are expected to at least remain open-minded. In many cases they are also expected to provide accurate useful support and guidance for our next steps – that’s why they’re professionals. Isn’t it? And yet this is the part which has once again prompted me to bring out my soap box. I am deeply concerned and angered by what I see as professional ignorance and ill-informed judgements. Ignorance that, in my opinion, protects the wrong-doers and in doing so continues to force abuse further underground. In this particular instant, I am talking about the law – or perhaps the interpretation of the law.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the idea of the law to protect the innocent, maintain a level of order and keep our society working for us rather than against us? Well, that’s what I’d always thought. I’m finding, though, that increasing focus on political correctness is steadily diminishing the effectiveness of our laws when faced with deliberate deception. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-political correctness per say…. I AM anti the fear-based interpretation of guidelines that result in too much ‘covering of backs’ and losing site of what’s important.
What do I mean?
Well, there have been a couple of episodes over recent times that have rattled my cage. One is a very public news story in the UK about Tina Nash, a young mother who had her eyes gouged out by her psychopathic partner – Shane Jenkins. The sickening attack in her own home lasted 12 hours. She describes it as “silent and prolonged”. He attacked her while she was sleeping, knocking her unconscious and trying to strangle her, before blinding her in the most horrific way. He was sentenced this month to a minimum of 6 years in jail, and is currently being held in a mental hospital. Yet he has been allowed to tell his story, blaming his victim for prompting the attack, and telling people he’s “not as evil as everyone has made out, I’m actually really chilled”…! The attack happened in April 2011, but Tina says she feels he’s still controlling her, even now that he’s locked away. She says he deliberately chose to tell his story on her birthday just to spite her.
Soap-box And Fury
Surely, that in itself is wrong? How can society allow the twisted delusional bragging of a convicted thug to be printed in our newspapers? What effect will it have on the victim – in this case a 32-year old mother who will never see her children again? That, alone, was enough for me to dust down my soap-box…. But then I read these words that this brave woman had said a few days earlier and my blood started to boil:
“My life has been in limbo as I have not been able to have the treatment and counseling I so desperately needed whilst Shane has had a team of experts, professionals and psychiatrists assessing and ensuring his wellbeing and that he received the treatment that he required…”
WHAT? After surviving everything she endured, she has not been given any treatment or counseling, while her ex-lover (held on remand since the attack) has had a team of professionals ensuring his wellbeing…? My heart bleeds for her. Has the world gone crazy…? Well, I’m saddened to say that I believe in many cases that yes, it has. I believe that we’ve lost our ability to judge what’s important over our need to tick boxes and ‘do the right thing’ to prevent being sued by the wrong-doers.
Is it any wonder that so many victims stay quiet while the bullies continue to get away with it? We’re protecting the wrong-doers, and pushing the truth underground.
My other, very tiny, but very personal gripe is around the on-going shenanigans with the legal eagles finalizing my book. I was going to disguise this part of the story by introducing it as “a friend who is sharing her story”. Then I thought, no, I won’t do that. Because if I do, then I too become one of the faceless crowd who suppress the truth. And that’s not who I am.
So, my gripe in this instance is to do with some professional opinions detailed in a libel report. This is a document prepared by lawyers for the publishers, checking whether they may be open to any kind of libel claim as a result of the book they are publishing. Fine, I understand that. But what I don’t understand or agree with are many what I believe to be ill-informed comments, most of which I am not at liberty to share for the moment. There is one, though, that is innocuous enough to repeat, but the message behind it burned in to my soul. It is in relation to my ex-guardian. In the book I talk about one particular evening where this person slapped me across the face. This occurred more than 30 years ago, but I am being asked what proof I have that this actually happened – together with the implied advice that if there is no proof then the story should be removed. Why, you may well ask? Because it’s so far fetched? Because these things don’t happen behind closed doors? No. Because it’s possible that the individual concerned might one day read my book and, even though names and places have all been changed in order to comply with privacy laws, this person might take offence and try to sue me or the publishers.
The law, it seems, has become grotesquely skewed, and is now protecting the bullies and questioning the victims. Innocent until proven guilty may well have been the starting mantra…. I fear that in the case of victims of abuse, the mantra has shifted, and guilty until proven innocent is becoming the new reality.
Well this particular ‘victim’ is sick and tired of staying quiet, bottling up emotions, and being a ‘good girl’ in order to keep the peace. So listen up you army of ‘do-gooders’ and ‘politically correct’ professionals who have lost the gumption to stand up for what is right. The tide IS turning… And I will continue to do everything within my power to speak up for true justice.