I was just going to comment on this post by TK regarding the potential signs of an abuser, but I had so much to say I decided to reblog and post my comment here. It might be helpful to read her blog post first, then my comment, but do as you wish!
Reading this brought a lot of ideas to my head, so I apologize if this is a very chaotic. I’ll try to be concise, but if you read my blog, you know I’m not! 🙂
A few years ago my little sister, who is a reporter for a local news station, interviewed an old crush of mine for a feel good story. When I say old, I’m talking like from the time we could walk until about 4th grade. So, you know, we’re talking some pretty serious stuff here. Well, off camera, he mentioned to my sister that I was the first girl he saw naked. Let’s be very clear here: I remember none of this! And if it happened (and that’s a big if) it must have been when we were very little so really, he saw nothing!
But it brought to mind another incident when I was little that I do remember. We were visiting a family friend who had a son my age. He locked me in a room in the basement and wouldn’t let me out until I flashed him my chest. Once again, my memory is fuzzy. I remember the incident, but not whether I actually went through with it. Regardless, we were like four, so no real harm done.
Except there was. It was my first experience with males demonstrating abusive behavior. I know, he was four, but still. The humiliating feeling of being forced to become an object of ogling and treated like a thing as opposed to a person was somewhat devastating. After all, I still remember it a good 34 years later. I haven’t encountered much in the way of abusive men since then. I’ve been lucky. Many girls have not been. And men too.
In TK’s post she asks what you would do if you suspected your child was the abuser in a relationship, and I think it’s a great question. Thinking about that humiliating experience I had as a child, my sons would be in serious trouble if I ever found them behaving in such a way. For that matter, whenever I hear a song or see a demonstration of inappropriate behavior to a female in movies, I’m sure to talk to my sons about it. Sometimes combining that with threats of dire retribution should I ever discover them treating another person with such disrespect. So I guess I would say I would definitely approach my children if I felt they were exhibiting abusive behavior, or even warning signs of said behavior. Relationships take respect, and if your being abusive, even minorly abusive, it shows you don’t respect your partner.
Case in point, my ex-husband and I showed disrespect to one another on a daily basis. Obviously, since we’re divorced, it wasn’t a healthy relationship, and it went both ways, but I’m going to highlight a particular story.
We were having a party with all our friends (we were in our early twenties) and a particular friend of his invited someone I really didn’t want there. When I politely asked this friend not to bring her (there’s a whole story behind this I won’t go into) he refused. I was so angry. He shouldn’t bring people to my house when I specifically asked him not to, but instead of taking my side, my husband took his friend’s. This was a pattern of behavior in which he always put his friends first, but it culminated this time in a heated argument in front of everyone. Then I really lost my temper and punched my husband in the face. I am so not proud of this, and though it didn’t make a huge dent in my psyche at the time, I later began to recognize that my behavior was abusive. What was he going to do? If he hit me, he’d be the abuser and no one would think twice about what I had done.
So yes, in response to more of TK’s post, females can abuse just as men can. It is important for all of us, male and female, to recognize warning signs of abusive behavior in ourselves, our partner and even our children. Respect is key. Respecting those we love: husband, wife, children, friends, is imperative to giving them the love they deserve. And you certainly can’t expect them to respect you, if you don’t respect them. It has to start somewhere, so let it start with you.
My Dating Red Flags series of the past few weeks was aimed at showing people the often subtle warning signs of an abusive relationship using my experience. While I didn’t face any physical violence outside of unwanted groping and gripping, I still consider what I experienced to be abuse on the mental level. The blogs I wrote were primarily aimed at warning signs for girls, but that has me wondering, what about the boys?
You know what, that’s not right either. My piece doesn’t have to be taken in a heteronormitive fashion. Maybe my experiences can provides lessons and warning signs for everyone. Gender doesn’t matter when it comes to red flags. Men and women can both be victims of domestic violence and said violence can be perpetrated by men or women. As such, my real question has nothing to do with boys. What I want to address is the…
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