Nightmares are Made of This (long)

Awhile back I posted a Ryan Adams and The Cardinals song that I like. It wasn’t long before I was informed that Ryan Adams has a reputation as an abuser of females. Yesterday I read that Marilyn Manson’s reign has ended. Further investigation showed that he has mentally and physically tortured his partners and others for years. I found this page that gives details and testimony by one of his ex partners, Evan Rachel Wood

Here’s one youtube clip from the article. Please be warned, victims of this kind of abuse may be triggered by watching it:

Since the #metoo movement gained the limelight, a steady stream of men who have visited chronic abuse, exploitation, and worse upon females has paraded its way through the media. Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, Louis CK, Jeffery Epstein, Donald Trump, Jonah Hill, and many others. The spotlights were on them (which seems to have faded lately with the distractions of the orange stain and a worldwide pandemic.) Remaining in the shadows are millions of other women, (men, and children) voiceless and helpless, under the spells or fear of their abusers.

I am a survivor of intimate partner violence. My ex-husband was physically and mentally abusive. It was only in retrospect that I could see what he was doing (beyond the obvious.) Also in retrospect it is clear to me that my ongoing childhood sexual and psychological abuse by relatives and others had programmed me to be more susceptible to abuse and exploitation as an adult. I knew I had to get away from my husband but didn’t have a clue on how to do it safely. Statistically a victim of intimate partner violence is most at risk when they try to leave. After chronic health issues convinced me that the stress was taking itself out on my body, it became more urgent to get away, as I knew I wouldn’t survive if I stayed. I worked on getting enough education and training to get a job that could allow me and my children to stay out of a homeless shelter.

One book I read that helped me understand that 1) I wasn’t crazy; and 2) I wasn’t alone was, “Surviving Domestic Violence: Voices of Women Who Broke Free,” by Elaine Weiss. Each chapter is a woman’s story. Each has a different walk in life and describes the abuses from their unique perspectives. Most important, each woman outlines a path they took to break free from it.

women who broke free
Image link

After reading this book and other research on the phenomena, some might call scourge, of intimate partner violence, I felt well-educated and confident that I would recognize any red flags in men I met. There was no-way, no-how I was going to go through that again. There was no-way, no-how I would subject my sons to it again.

Men came and went for other reasons. Twenty years plus had passed. Recovered for the most part and self-sufficient, I didn’t need a relationship – but I wanted one. You know how, when you throw intention to the wind, the universe moves with it? My new boyfriend was open, honest, and forthright with his past “mistakes” and said he felt it was better that I knew right up front what his history was. It really felt like providence was shining down on both of us as he had been single for a long time also and wanted to share his life with someone. Best of all he displayed none of the red flags of the abuser. In my mind the waiting had paid off — my real soul mate had shown up. What I learned later is that this was the “love bomb” phase in the campaign of a narcissistic toxic abuser. As the cycle progressed things shifted to control, gaslighting, and other methods of psychological harm. I won’t go into a lot of detail but I’ll give you one example.

We’d taken a long drive in the countryside. There was a small, unmonitored “you pick” blueberry field where you put the money in a metal box where we would go and pick the best blueberries I ever tasted. My ex clipped a couple dozen offshoots from the bases of the bushes. We brought them home and he planted each in a small container with rooting powder. They were doing very well. Then we got into an argument of one kind or another. He went and pulled every one out of its planter and destroyed them. His family was coming over for dinner the next day. They knew about our blueberry project and asked how it was doing. I had to tell them that they were now destroyed. The family members exchanged significant glances but nobody said anything. I was embarrassed to tell them and felt guilty because I took on the blame of the argument that led to the plants’ destruction. (Later I learned he’d had this MO with several previous partners but they never told me.)

Thankfully, I was a strong enough person to eventually leave him after a couple of tries and MUCH anguish, but there was no doubt I’d been traumatized in a way that harmed substantially. Again, only in retrospect, was I able to understand what had been happening. Just by chance (or divine intervention?) I came across a youtube channel by Shahida Arabi that diagrammed the playbook of toxic narcissist abusers. Her knowledge and terminology was so valuable in being able to get a handle on it!

It’s been a few years now since that relationship ended. I’m not sure whether to call it a blessing or not, but my ex is in prison now and so has no means to contact me. It has given me time to continue to heal.

Since the childhood abuses, the intimate partner violence, and the gaslighting, all of which depend on secrecy and isolation to continue, it often felt like I was cursed in having these things visit me. I know better now. I know that the world is immersed in a patriarchal atmosphere that ignores, protects, and/or fails to hold accountable those who harm the vulnerable. Knowing the atmosphere, where victims know that the system is not designed for their benefit but instead for the benefit of the perpetrators, they are reluctant to step forward.

If you are an abuser, we’re coming for you. The #metoo movement is widening the spotlight. You won’t be able to hide in the shadows as easily anymore.

If you are a victim, know you are not alone. REACH OUT. It’s the biggest step you will ever take.

For men who don’t abuse, SPEAK OUT if you see it.  Don’t let your bros slide.  It matters.

The World Health Organization has a fact sheet here.

For the US, the hotline to call is:
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

For other places, I don’t know how to direct you in the right direction. Please find a way.

26 Comments Add yours

  1. Paula Light says:

    Terrible. I’m so sorry. I’ve had emotionally manipulative partners, two of whom I’d label toxic narcissists, but I was lucky not to suffer physical abuse. It is really hard to see the flags when someone begins as a nice person. It’s not our fault! ❤️❤️✨✨✨

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Paula thank you very much for your support. I’m sorry you’ve been through the hell of toxic narcissists. Comparing the two — if they can be compared — I think the narcissists are worse than the physical abusers (depending on how extreme the physical abuse gets.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sadje says:

    Very courageous post Li. I’m so sorry for all that you faced and I am happy that you found the courage to leave both these abusive men. Thanks for sharing! Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much, Sadje. Two strikes, pun intended, is enough for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadje says:

        You’re welcome! I think that would be so for many.

        Like

  3. pendantry says:

    That video was heart-rending. I’m glad that this ‘Phoenix Act’ appeared to have gotten the green light, and hope that it will do some good.

    In solidarity, I have created a booklinker.net link to the book you recommend, to make it easier for non-USAns to access it quickly:
    http://mybook.to/WomenWhoBrokeFree

    PS ‘Long’? I don’t think that was a particularly long post.,, although I suspect it may have taken you a long while to compose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much for your solidarity and am glad you linked the book. It made a big impact in my world at the time. I pulled a list of quotes from it that I should plug into goodreads. Well, it’s long for me anyways. I like to warn the readers it isn’t a 1 minute or less read.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my goodness, Lisa, obviously, I had no idea and I’m so sorry about all you endured.

    There’s absolutely no excuse for abuse behavior – none!

    I’m glad your situation seems to be much better now. I hope the wounds the past undoubtedly must have inflicted on you will completely heal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you very much for your kind comments, Christian.

      Like

  5. badfinger20 (Max) says:

    I’m sure it’s in the book Lisa…but I’ve known some women in terrible situations…they get out of it and they always seem to like the bad guys…it’s like a vicious cycle that they will never escape.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      It’s not in that book, but I know what you mean. I’m sure it has something to do with the role models they had growing up, any history of abuse, and any of a number of different reasons that will set up that kind of “trauma bond chemistry” (my term afaik.) Another thing I didn’t mention is the backgrounds of the abusers. I know for a fact that the two I got connected with had horrifically traumatic childhoods. My old mentor said, “Hurt people hurt people.” The good news is that there is always hope, for both the victims and the batterers. In my own case, I still don’t trust myself to “choose right” so I don’t choose at all, and that seems to work best for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

        I’m sorry for all you went through. Yea that saying makes sense. It looks like if you would go through a lot of hurt you would get not to do it….I watched my dad fall asleep in his food because of too many drugs…right there taught me no…bad thing but I did pick up bad habits so yea I see how that would happen.

        I do wish both sides would get help.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. msjadeli says:

          Thank you, Max, for your support and this dialogue. Both need it but rarely does the abuser think they do. They can be court-ordered all day long but if you don’t “buy into it” you can have years of therapy and not take in any of it. If internal change is refused, then external compliance must be put in place and enforced. (Sorry if I”m talking like a P.O.)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

            No it’s fine…it sounds like a drug abuser…who cannot get helped unless they want it…really want it. It’s hard to show an abuser if they bottomed out though…not as easy as with drugs.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. msjadeli says:

              😦 it’s a mess and the kids are always the ones who suffer most

              Liked by 1 person

        2. msjadeli says:

          Max, I am sorry you were pulled into trauma through watching your dad. Sometimes it can go just the opposite way like you said where you reject way of life, but so many times, the generations follow each other. In my parents’ case, there was never any physical abuse (at least on me; my brother got it bad though from my dad) but my mother was extremely psychologically abusive to us kids.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

            No I never had physical abuse whatsoever…so I can’t say I know how other people feel who have. I felt sorry for him even at a younger age. I was a latch key kid…just left alone a lot but mom had to work so many jobs…so I can’t blame that on her.

            Liked by 1 person

        3. msjadeli says:

          let me add just a little about my mom’s abuse: she never broke bones but she loved ripping my hair out, slapping me across the face, and sitting on me and saying horrible things to me while I was trapped

          Liked by 1 person

          1. badfinger20 (Max) says:

            Yea I’d call that physical abuse Lisa…Slapping someone to me is the ultimate insult…the “you don’t respect my space” insult. My sister got some of that from my mom…my sister was always in trouble. I made trouble but I was smart about it and didn’t get caught….she did treat my sister unfair…trouble or not.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. memadtwo says:

    It takes courage to tell your story, but it’s so important that people know they are not alone and it’s not their “fault”. Even without abuse, women have for too long felt they were only defined by their relationships with men. Your determination and strength is inspiring. And we must all support each other. (K)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you for the solidarity, Kerfe. Yes ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ghostmmnc says:

    So sorry to hear of the years of abuse you had to go through. You are strong, brave, and courageous to have withstood all of this and come out the other side. Thanks for sharing your story, and may it in some way be of help to others in similar situations. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Thank you my friend for your kind and supportive comments. My greatest hope is that it will help others but coming out with my own story. I think this is the first time I’ve talked about all 3 in one post. After seeing what I saw about Marilyn Manson’s victim speaking out, I felt compelled to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Change is tough gal even from a bad situation. Support is crucial. Good for you to make it and move on. Not an easy thing. Now you are in a place to help others. Part of the solution (I know t sounds clique but it’s true). Your experience is so valuable for those who need help. Remember to enjoy the good things you have and I’m sure you have lots. later. CB

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I appreciate what you’re saying. Thank you. Your visit to my blog today has been nice. Hope you make it a regular stop 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just keep doing what you have to to stay healthy.
        Ive enjoyed your stuff. Always something here for CB. You never know when Im going to pop in.

        Liked by 1 person

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