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.
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.