Good morning from Texas, y’all!
Boy oh boy, was this an eventful weekend for yours truly. Between the devastating Superbowl loss (#GoHawks!) and getting very limited sleep due to *drama llamas in pajamas*, I’m exhausted. Woof.
Let’s talk Superbowl first. I stayed home alone to quarantine myself because we think I may have the flu. I was worried that I would be miserable, but I actually had a pretty awesome time. I nommed on some delicious Costco strawberries and slurped my chicken and rice soup with abandon. I got to snuggle up in pajamas with kittens for hours. I live-tweeted without shame. Most importantly, I was able to stay glued to the TV and not feel like I was neglecting social responsibilities, yay! The game was SO fun to watch, and I couldn’t be more proud of the way my hometown team performed. I love the creativity, energy, and resilience the Seahawks bring to the game of football. It is always a joy to see who is going to shine on gameday, and yesterday, I think my personal MVP was Chris Matthews. He put his head down, did his job, and propelled the Hawks forward every time he got a handle on the ball. Bravo, good sir.
The loss was devastating, but honestly, I was only sad for about five minutes. Once I recovered from the shock of losing when the win was within arms reach, I remembered that this was just another game – granted, the most important of the year, but in many ways, no different from any other game. Yes, we lost, but gosh darn it, we made it all the way to the SUPERBOWL, and we made the Patriots work HARD for that victory. There’s no shame in that loss for me.
Alright. Superbowl aside, this weekend was an emotional roller coaster for me. Without divulging any personal information, I’d like to address an event that happened in my social circle recently. My boyfriend went out with friends earlier in the weekend, including a couple we know who I will call Person X and Person Y. To make a LONG story short…
While drunk at a club, X pushed Y hard enough that my boyfriend felt uncomfortable letting them go home together. He texted me, asking me to pick him and Y up, which I was more than happy to do. It took almost three hours of negotiation, yelling, crying, and lots of driving, but at the end of the night (4 am ish), Boyfriend and I were able to convince Y to spend the night at our house and let things cool off. We both talked to Y about her personal safety and made sure Y knew we are there to support them, and that ANY physical violence is unacceptable in a relationship. In the morning, at Y’s request, we dropped Y off at a neutral party’s house where Y and X could talk. I still don’t know if they ever did discuss the events of the previous night. I was very uncomfortable leaving the situation like that, but I didn’t know what else to do. I made sure that I told a mutual friend who has experience working with victims of domestic violence and she checked in with Y, and then I had to let it go.
A casual reader (or observer) may think that what I felt and did was an overreaction to a single physical outburst on the part of X, who is otherwise someone I very much trust. I absolutely stand by my decisions, however, and I will do my best to explain why. Domestic violence and abuse is a crappy, thorny, painful issue to deal with, as far as I’m concerned. (For a great definition of what I will be classifying as ‘abuse’ or ‘domestic violence’ here, please visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website.) As a younger woman, I have had several friends who I now think were in abusive relationships. I am ashamed to admit that, in multiple cases, I chose not to talk to them frankly about my concerns. I am grateful that most of them have been able to extricate themselves from those toxic relationships, but I will always regret not saying something when I had the chance. During a visit with some college friends last summer, we discussed how abuse adversely affects the brains of children, and how long it can take for the brain to recover. Yes, abuse causes injury to the brain, even if it is only – ‘only’ – emotional or secondary abuse. Therefore, when I see or hear red flags, I say something now, even if it scares me or makes me ‘the bad guy.’ I have made the promise to myself that I will never stay silent again. Sure, X may not escalate and become physically abusive towards Y, sure it could have been a drunken fluke or mistake, sure my boyfriend may have misinterpreted the situation, but even if there is a tiny 1% chance that the relationship is becoming abusive, I want to know that someone has spoken to Y about their safety.
Abusive relationships rarely start out that way. Often, they start out seeming ‘too good to be true,’ in fact. Abuse can start showing up in small ways, and escalate slowly enough to keep the victim complacent. (I hate the word victim – does anyone know another word I can use here?) I’ve heard a great analogy: if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out immediately, knowing that it is in danger. If you put a frog into a pot of cool water, however, and slowly raise the temperature to boiling, they will remain in the water and die. Chilling, but apt.
The last thing I want to express is… difficult for me. X and Y are both people I consider to be friends, and good people. What happened sucks, and I hope it was a one-time thing. However, it goes to show that you can think you know someone, and even like someone, and behind closed doors, they can be abusive. I read a wonderful book several years ago which I recommend to everyone: “I Just Don’t Want To Talk About It” by Terrence Real. It addresses the complicated issues of depression and abusive tendencies in men, and how someone who is an abuser is not a monster, no matter how easy it is to feel that way. This applies to all genders, of course. Someone who is abusive is not necessarily evil. We need to remember that, although priority number one is always ALWAYS to remove the victim from the situation and provide them with support, the abuser also need to be encouraged to seek help. As hard as it is for me to admit based on some of my experiences, I do believe that most people can be rehabilitated and go on to have healthy relationships if they are provided with the right treatment and guidance.
I apologize for the heavy posts lately, but this issue is very important to me. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions, corrections (always welcome!), or if you need help.
Resources for survivors and their families:
–Domestic Violence Hotline
–National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Again, I am always available through my contact page for those who need support, or help finding information about their local resources.