Recently I’d been very disturbed, saddened and angered by accounts of ladies who file for divorce on the grounds of domestic violence. My heart goes all out to them–or perhaps I should use the word “us”, since domestic violence is something that can happen to any lady. Nobody marries a husband expecting him to eventually hurt her physically on a regular basis, right?!
So today I want to write briefly on the 3 things ladies should take note after divorcing their domestically violent husbands.
Somehow the accounts from wives who faced domestic violence do remind me of the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast”. Have you ever wondered who’s the “Beast”? I’d sometimes also wondered what sort of a curse it took for the once handsome young prince to be transformed into a beast.
And I’d always considered if such things do happen in real life. And yes, I think they do.
So let’s try to understand a violent husband via the metaphors of “a prince” and “a beast”. Essentially, the husband probably had been a “handsome prince” before the marriage, to the wife. However, when it became apparent for both parties to undertake adult responsibilities after marriage, things might start to go haywire as the “beast” aspect of his personality emerges.
I like how Psychology Today phrases it:
“Being challenged by a relationship partner can be distressing. In these instances, whether they are experiencing an insult, a perceived threat, or an extreme provocation, both men and women who engage in domestic violence are very often acting on their “critical inner voice”. This “voice” is a destructive thought process in which people are telling themselves negative things about themselves and their partners. The more a person listens to these thoughts, the more they feed feelings of being wronged and of needing to retaliate, sometimes escalating to a point of becoming violent. Examples of such thoughts include:
• “She/he is controlling you. Don’t let her/him act like you are weak.”
• She/he is making fun of you. Who does she/he think she/he is?”
• “How dare he/ she treat you this way! If he/she really loved you he/she would…”
• “She’s/he’s probably cheating on you. You are such a sucker.”
In addition to listening to this critical inner voice, couples involved in domestic violence have often forged a destructive connection, an illusion that they cannot live without each other….The formation of a fantasy bond further encourages the attitude that one person can define or victimize another person in some way.
Thus, people are more likely to feel entitled, mistreated, and righteous in their anger toward their partner. It sets the stage for rejection to be experienced as potentially life-threatening, intensifying reactions to any perceived threat of abandonment. A person may feel desperate to get the partner “back in line” because of feelings of not being able to live without him or her. The lack of personal responsibility, separateness, and accountability that results from a fantasy bond can provide a gateway to acting out emotional or physical abuse.”
So here are the 3 things I wrote in my notebook after thinking about the accounts:
After leaving a violent husband, be sure to get some sort of emotional support.
(Source: The Straits Times, Dec 2015)
Post-divorce, having supportive peers or a support network seems to be essential. Be sure to reach out; you don’t have to deal with this alone.
I know it’s super difficult lah! When you are overwhelmed with shame, guilt, depression, self-doubt–the intense feelings of “what could I have done differently”. 😦
I know how you feel. I haven’t even been married, but my dear friend, I know how it feels like to be completely rejected by someone you love.
But you are not alone. You don’t have to be alone. Women in Singapore have gone through the painful process of divorce before, and 68.5% of them ranked “having supportive peers” as the number one criteria for coping and moving on.
So–please, do reach out. If you are afraid of being judged by your friends, talk to a counsellor or a social worker. They are professionals, they understand, and you’d really feel better. So please, please, please reach out.
You are already very strong to have survived domestic abuse, and you are already very strong to tell yourself–“No, this is not right, I deserve better”.
2. Domestic violence is not caused by you.
(Source: Disney Wikia)
I wish to emphasise to all my readers that domestic violence is never OK and nobody should stand for it. Thing is, wives put up with domestic violence because they love their husbands, and because their husbands probably blame them for losing control.
Simply put, it is the insecurity of the husband that drives violence. But reasons for domestic violence usually isn’t because of traits unique to the wife–insecurity can be brought out by a lot of reasons.
In a sense I just think it’s very unfortunate (and honestly, unlucky) to meet a guy who hits his wife in marriage. So don’t blame yourself–the relationship, i.e. timing, pairing, compatibility, external factors, pressures, “unresolved childhood”–just didn’t work out. It’s impossible for you to have known this before the marriage, because all you see is a prince, not a beast.
You’re still a beautiful princess inside out. 🙂 Don’t ever doubt that.
3. Move on and never look back.
Focus on your healing. An extremely painful chapter of your life has closed, so don’t look back anymore.
I know it’s super hard to let go! As women, many times we’d been conditioned by society and the media to aspire towards marriage, and when a marriage breaks down like that you might be filled with shame, guilt and depression.
You might even tell yourself “I’m such a failure, can’t even maintain a marriage, I’d wasted X years of my life.” There might even be a critical inner-voice within you that says “I’m shit, and that’s why he beats me. I can’t even help him. I’m useless and I’m a wreck.”
When you have kids, it might even be more stressful. Because instead of a trauma faced by one person, it becomes a trauma faced by you and your kid, for life.
Then what about the house. 😦 Land-constrained Singapore unfortunately, makes it a bit more difficult for divorced women to buy houses.
But–my dear friend, the past is past. What happened has already happened. We can only learn from the experience. Let go.
Domestic violence is not about you. It’s really not about you! If anything, the abusive relationship happens because you are nice and trusting. You did love him, and you did try to compromise, and at every point in the relationship you did your fucking best in hope that the relationship would work out.
Life has to go on and trust me–many, many good things will happen to you in future. You emerge stronger via this experience, and will cherish more good things in life because you have learnt not to take things and relationships for granted.
Do you know how I’m so sure of it? It’s because you have a kind heart and soul. No woman who willingly gets beaten up is evil. So–you deserve better, my friend.
Let go and move on. A beautiful life is waiting ahead of you.
I’m going to end this post now, and if you are currently stuck in a marriage that is characterised by domestic abuse, I’d encourage you to reach out to talk to a divorce lawyer, or confide in a trusted counsellor or social worker.
Be brave, take the first step. Don’t bear the pain in silence.