Columns Dec 14, 2011 at 4:00 am



I love savage!! Happy Holidays!! Prost
Ooo. I don't like the letter written to the "older" woman thing. Girls can be mean. But nothing wrong with being older.

@ LACA - First I applaud and respect you for your willingness to table your kink while you grow in your relationship. I think part of being GGG is understanding that there are limitations due to circumstances beyond your control - the fucker abused him. He's sick and deserves to be in a deep circle in the bowels of Hell. You and your partner are left to pick up the pieces after a terrible person did terrible shit and that sucks (I know that first hand). I sincerely hope that you and your partner find peace.

You say that you feel so connected to her that you don't need your kink indulged to feel fulfilled - but i suspect that's a "for the time being" statement - meaning that you will at some point in the future feel that you may feel you need your kink indulged to feel a complete satisfaction in the sexual aspect of your relationship. Why do I say this? Because your kink is already on the table and known to both of you.

As your desire to engage in your kink ebbs and flows, ALWAYS be open and honest regarding your feelings relative to your desires and the effect it is having (or not having) on your psyche. And always respect your partner's point of view (I suspect that you already do and always will).

HOWEVER - and it's a big However - with time passing and tastes changing, there is a possibility that the desire you feel to satisfy your kink will diminish. People's tastes can and do change. We grow, our bodies change, we produce less testosterone and estrogen, we deal with life changing events, et cetera...

I hope your relationship continues to grow and you find peace, serenity, and happiness with each other
Holy SHIT, Batman! Was LACA's girlfriend unhappily married to my ex??
Bless you, LACA, for being compassionate! And all the best to you and your GF! I hope it works out.

Hang in there, SIP. Hopefully it doesn't become a Brad-Jen-Angelina manage-a-trois situation. Time heals.
If LACA's girlfriend was married for years to a guy who abused her violently in bed, she could probably use some therapy to help her figure out why she stayed so long...
Erica @5:

If LACA's girlfriend was married for years to a guy who abused her violently in bed, she could probably use some therapy to help her figure out why she stayed so long...

I usually think you're pretty awesome, but I have to say, this sounds dangerously like blaming the victim. Many -- possibly most -- abusers seem very charming and attentive at the beginning, and only reveal their true character gradually, as the relationship becomes increasingly committed. Contrary to popular wisdom, you can't actually boil a live frog to death by heating the water, but the principle applies here nonetheless. Moreover, abusers tend to be skilled at making their victims feel guilty for "causing" the abuse and/or terrorizing them into a state of learned helplessness.

It's easy for somebody who's never been in an abusive relationship (or who's been in an abusive relationship with an abuser who tipped his/her hand early on) to ask "why did you stay so long?" As I see it, this is roughly the same thing as asking a victim of stalking "why didn't you get a restraining order?" or asking a victim of bullying "why didn't you get those kids expelled?" It's adding insult to injury. It's a shit cherry on top of a cyanide sundae. It's both unkind and utterly unhelpful.
I suspect the woman LACA is dating is one of Newt's exes (or her spirit transformed)
@5 EricaP: I usually consider you spot on, too, but am inclined to agree with echizen_kurage here.

@6: OMG, you NAILED it!! You also described my ex-husband to a T!!
Ted Bundy came on as handsome, charming and attentive, too, before brutally murdering dozens of women and girls in five states across the U.S. Then he finally got caught, tried, convicted and put to death. As a law student, he also knew all the angles--and had the audacity to gloat about being sent to the chair.

Learned helplessness acquired from an abusive relationship is something like returning home from being held a prisoner of war or a combat / PTSD situation, and can take months, years to fully recover from.

Hopefully, LACA is patient enough with his girlfriend (and it sounds like he is) to fully help her over the trauma of a violently abusive marriage from hell.
Spot-on answer to LACA Dan. Your clear-headedness about sex is such a benefit to your readers... I can't imagine what kind of answer this poor, sweet guy would get from Dear Abbey or Caroline Hax.

I'm actually with Erica.
Wondering why an adult woman stayed in abusive relationship is not the same as asking a child why they didn't get bullies expelled.

I actually think that's a telling analogy, but I'll skip what I was going to say about that for tldr sake.

Some women are more susceptible to remaining in abusive relationships than others. Some are more inclined to go down the cognitive road that their boyfriends and husbands try to lead them on. That absolutely does not mean it's their "fault". Nor is it negative or insulting to imply that a woman may be psychologically vulnerable and could use help. I dislike that implication and I think it helps perpetuate these kinds of cycles, to be honest. The stigma around mental health is so ingrained that people take it as an insult or an affront (insult to injury, you say!) when someone even suggests it. Here's an example: I work with a lovely, sweet, funny girl named... I'll say Cat. She's also extremely bony, scarily so. A while back I was having lunch with another coworker (say Lena) who was saying how some other girl was calling Cat anorexic. As an insult. I had to say "well, it's obviously bitchy to say it that way, but I think Cat probably is". Lena was mortified that I would say such a thing. "No, she's a nice, sweet girl."
As if that's incompatible with having a mental illness?

In my opinion, a lot of abusive boyfriends do tip their hands early on, just not in ways that most people are attentive to. That's really not to your point though.

Someone I love very much (close family member) was sucked into a controlling relationship several years ago, with a parner who cut them off from family, friends, everyone. It's been years since I last got to see them.

Who do I blame? Who do you think I blame?
But that doesn't mean I don't know that the vulnerability was there first.
Sorry to do an AOL here - but people don't necessarily need therapy after one oppressive, abusive relationship _that ended_. The reasons that people can get sucked into those have been well explored and don't necessarily have too much to do with the personal characteristics of the victim. People need therapy if there is an ongoing or _repeated pattern_ of oppressive, abuse relationships. I suppose they might get therapy after the first one if they feel vulnerable, but let's stipulate that LACA is telling the truth and his relationship really is healthy and supportive. Why does she need therapy? It's not broke, don't fix it.
@11 name,

Therapy doesn't come in one shape, size, or flavor. It doesn't come from one source either (though professionals are trained to deal with the things the rest of us don't really want to). Simply being able to talk out our frustrations is an example of what could be termed everyday therapy. While not broken, sometimes people need tuneups to be in the best condition possible, and to head off breakdowns before they occur.

I had a similar experience - not around kink but simpler things. Even touching was difficult for her. But, we've talked a LOT about it. I also had to be ready to stop everything and make sure her guilt for us stopping was eliminated... that it was ok to stop.

We finally got to a place where what we do is just between us.... 95% of the time. One big help was for me to read "Allies in Healing" by Laura Davis. (geared more toward abuse of children). Even the act of trying to understand was appreciated by my partner.
I'd indulge you with your spanking fetish, LACA! As long as we're on the subject, I too liked to be spanked... Mmm, yeah... I like your style, baby... Wanna? ;) +~
This is a great article backed up by science about abusive relationships…
S.I.P. seems aware that the connection between her husband and herself had been fraying... What are you going to do if your needs just aren't being met at home? It's a bit of a kick in the ego that the broad the husband took up with for a fling was much younger, but can wifey do?

She can begin taking better care of herself: inside and out. Get into shape but *moreover*, be confident! Walk it. Be and carry yourself the way that got your husband to be hot for you in the first place. Marriage needn't end the romance or the journey.. Why should it? Appreciate what you have, and cherish it.

It goes a long way.. :-) ~+~+~+~
@ 15: I used to be in an abusive relationship with my own self... (Not physically abusive, just beating myself up a lot internally)...

At some point in anyone's life, you learn to just give in and begin attending to what has haunted you your whole life, or has been a source of unresolved stress or something..

I fell in love with the love of my life about a year after I began a therapy regimen. The timing of that happening is not lost on me one bit. Heal yourself and love yourself better, and you may find love is ready to find you, because you're now better equipped and present to be in love now..

Life is good.



@16: Why do you think she's not taking good care of herself? That is a terrible assumption to make. My husband cheated on me, and I'm in the best shape of my life, working out every day and running several marathons a year. I'm also extremely confident so that's not the issue. Sometimes cheaters just cheat, even when they have something great at home.
@6 I think everyone could benefit from some therapy with the right professional. Someone not involved in one's life, who can help one figure out how to achieve one's goals in life and move on from any negative patterns learned in childhood or after. It helped me a lot.

@8 "Learned helplessness acquired from an abusive relationship is something like returning home from being held a prisoner of war or a combat / PTSD situation, and can take months, years to fully recover from."

And you don't think that having someone professional to talk to might be helpful in that recovery process?

@11 She's not able to explore light spanking at all, and yet her partner has those desires. If she had been raped and couldn't stand PIV, would people not think she could use some therapy? Why is light kink (a few spanks) different? What if he can't even squeeze her ass because that reminds her of the abuse?
@18 Yep. Absolutely. So - how are you doing? Are you guys trying to work it out?
@ 18 You're right: I generalized the situation. If it wasn't that she wasn't hot enough, then maybe it was just that they drifted apart some, and needs and attention wandered or something.

True: sometimes cheaters just cheat. I wouldn't put up with that shit, though. I wouldn't do it (and, thankfully, haven't) and I wouldn't put up with any of that if it happened repeatedly, and for no genuine reason, other than getting a piece of new strange.

Who knows, lalalicious (good name, btw!)? Not all couples are mated, or, connected as well as either one of us would wish to believe.

You do make a point from the wife's perspective: if (or, your example works here) she's taking care of herself, is confident and is otherwise doing her part to uphold her end of the happy marriage, then maybe it's just something the husband needs to figure out: possibly through therapy, if it heads that way. I'd sooner break up with someone and leave rather than to diminish what we shared by cheating.. If you're not happy, you're not happy. Figuring out what does make you happy can sometimes be a lifelong task, but it just saddens me when people who were once close and happy begin to fritter away; the connection begins to weather..

S.I.P's wife sounds awesome. The husband must be an idiot if he's giving up the steak dinner at home for some beef jerky (no pun intended) from some young skeezer down on the corner (hangin' with the sluts! ;-D LOL...!!)

Thanks Lalalicious for a good read.
Cheers On.
I bet LACA would also benefit from therapy; he has been through a difficult situation recently (being abandoned by his wife), and is probably psychologically vulnerable as well. Not his fault, not saying that he (or his girlfriend) is damaged goods -- just that sometimes life changes like this provide an opportunity to slow down and assess.
"The passage of time is your body's enemy on the physical-perfection front—and his, too"

Not always, not for everyone. Some of us find graying hair to be very attractive, for example. "Character lines" can make one's face much more interesting and charismatic. A little extra weight around the midsection is quite erotic for some. "Perfection" is in the eye of the beholder, and does not always mean society's stereotype of youth and tautness. For some of us, the changes over time can enhance attractivenss and sex appeal. Embrace and celebrate them!
@ 22. Hi Erica. I dig what you write in here, so Thanks. I hope LACA finds peace, too. It's sometimes a long, wandering path to get to a point where you become brave enough to try therapy. Especially, as you said, when you've been so psychologically vulnerable that you can barely function with a minimum of outer armor, you know?

Like attracts like: whether it's a positive or negative thing. No matter what it is: therapy, a cool new hobby, a new friend :-) : if it helps you to outgrow and move on from bad past conditioning, then how cool would that be? Especially when it comes time to have a family with someone you trust, like, love and respect: giving your family the best of what you had growing up but -hopefully- with a minimum of what brought you down and troubled you when you were growing up... Breaking the cycle of any kind of abuse, really.

But then, no one can really help of be of any help to anyone else unless you somehow help yourself first towards health..

Good thread so far. Thanks again, EricaP. Peace.
@ 23. Hi. That's sweet what you wrote, about what is sexy and what isn't: the eye of the beholder thing..

I'm 42 right now, and I have light dashes of gray hair around my temple areas. I do dye my hair; I don't feel like an elder statesman or some matronly type, so I opt to dye my hair.

Wrinkles and lines? I'm pretty fortunate that my skin is decent shape. I drink a lot of water and fluids, so I'm hydrated that way.

Come to think of it, if you can somehow find peace and tolerance each day for the world inside and around you, you may find that you don't age as quickly, or as roughly.

I actually love being as old as I am now. I still have my wits, my enthusiasm and everything: I just also have time, experience and self-knowledge to enjoy what I have, and appreciate it and work it.

I'm happy to make my partner happy. It makes me happy to be able to and it inspires me to look how I feel: great :-)_. Life could be worse!

I wish more people had SIP's mentality.
I hope she and her boyfriend get through this!
I suspect that ericap is less intending to blame the victim, and more intending to say that learned helplessness is something worth talking to a therapist about, which is very true.
Why on earth are you jumping on EricaP for suggesting therapy? That poor woman had a shitty experience that continues to affect her life (and relationships) in a negative way... she was abused into silence for years and could probably use some guidance and support in making THIS relationship as open and healthy as it can be. She's got a great partner, but that will only take you halfway. The rest is up to her, and she SHOULD be concerned how that abuse changed her automatic reactions and responses. She needs to deprogram herself from survival mode, living with abuse, and while it CAN be done without professional help by some people, that doesn't make EricaP wrong for suggesting it. We all could use a little help now and again.
@19 regarding @11, because spanking someone, physically hitting them, is an inherently dominating behavior. PIV sex isn't.
Great Savage Lovecast idea.
@ 27: Hi Midnight Rider. It's just the pain that someone carries; just learning that it's ok to want better for yourself even when you barely feel it to believe that you actually want better. I remember days like those.. I think everyone does at some point in their lives.. Sometimes though, it can all be too much, and you start pleading mercy with yourself to figure out a way to live better...

For me, I always a bit angry along with my more despondent, or, depressed phases of my life.. I was angry for knowing congnitively that I shouldn't feel bad about my lot in life, but, yet I did.. Just wanting to start answering your own questions about yourself, and grow and heal from it. It's only ever too late when you die.

Any way for someone to express what is going on inside themselves, to let it out, to set it free, I'm ALL for it. Wanting more for yourself after periods of pain and wilderness is to be applauded. It takes guts to admit you could feel better, and then you set out to begin doing so.

Anywhere where the person who is troubled, and/or who opts to go to a therapist; anywhere they can feel safe and not feeling judged: that's the place to be. Good friends, family... Sometimes outside sources are better. I've been there..

I hope it works out for everybody. :-) Peace...

@27: +1 My sister has been in one shitty relationship after another. If you look at each one individually she, the victim, can't be blamed. However, consider her entire history and one is forced to acknowledge that *sometimes* the victim does bear some responsibility. That's not to say my sister is at fault, just that she could probably take steps to recognize what pattern of behavior is leading her to make these poor decisions over and over.
@19 EricaP: Everyone's recovery process is different. Everyone's definition of therapy is different.

Mainly, the basic point that I am agreeing with made by echizen-kurage is the cycle of an abuser. @6 had that correct. And yes, getting over learned helplessness and knowing that one is deserving of so much better usually takes some time. Excellent therapy for me was in returning to a lost passion of music. Talking to someone can help, but didn't always work out for me. Plus, therapists can be expensive.

But what works well for me might NOT have the same desirable results for LACA's girlfriend.
Now that makes sense, doesn't it?
@32 repete: Excellent point made!!!! I'm still re-evaluating past behavioral patterns from long ago, in hopes that the old mistakes don't get repeated again.

So far, so good.
@20 Hi Erica - Yes, we are trying to work through our problems and both want to stay together. It's been 7 months since I found out about the affair, and we have bad days and good days. More good days than bad days as time goes on, so things are improving, although we still have issues to work out - especially involving our sex life, which has been really blah since the affair. It's frustrating. I was actually thinking about writing into Dan for advice about that...

@21 I think it was just drifting apart in my situation. Sometimes all those things you to do keep yourself attractive for your partner (exercising, being successful at work, etc) actually put distance between you. Not that this justifies cheating, of course it doesn't. You're right, it's a weak move to cheat when you are unhappy in a marriage instead of separating. Believe me, before this I thought no way in hell would I ever put up with cheating. But when it happens to you, and you're forced to look at yourself and your partner and your relationship under the harsh light of an affair, you might make a different decision. There's no easy answer. But who knows, I might change my mind tomorrow. ;)
@29 Personally, I'm not persuaded by that distinction. In my experience, a lot of sex involves play around aggression, desire, need, and, yes, dominance. But then I'm kinky, so I may just not understand polite, egalitarian sex.

@33 Yes. Also, trying different styles of therapy can be helpful. For me, cognitive behavioral therapy showed much better results than just talking about my problems. Music worked for you - that's great. As for cost, insurance will often cover some of the cost, and many therapists offer a sliding scale so they can assist people who are not able otherwise to afford it.
i'd like to add my two cents about the efficacy of therapy, garnered from decades of experience:

1) cbt and dbt--worth it.
2) all other forms of psychotherapy--waste of time and money.

Ms Erica - Your opening suggestion @19 is the sort of thing that seems to be a can't-hurt proposition and I'd tend to agree at least with the spirit, but I've known people for whom therapy would be counterproductive, sometimes specifically and sometimes in general. Probably the exception, but enough to keep me from agreeing to universality.

As for LACA and his situation - yes, she might, with therapy, reach a point of being able to explore spanking (I think you occasionally tend to a little too much optimism that being able to explore means being able to indulge means being able to develop an equal kink; not sure if that's happening here, but you can be a bit of a Slippery Slope), which is hardly a guarantee that he'll be spanking merrily away for all eternity. As he at least presents with willingness to forego this kink, that's the direction I'd look first (and I am not asking LACA to do something I have not done myself).

I don't think it will be all champagne and opera, though. So often where one sees guilt there is a guilt-inducer; it's worth a look even if it's not a strong suspicion. And then there's the impression that this is his only kink; how strong is it?
@29,36 -- I agree. Our vision of sex tends to be very 'tender' and 'fairy-tale-like'. That is definitely a part of it. But there is more, of course, even in vanilla relationships. (Dan said a few times that people tend to eroticize things they fear -- hence BDSM and cuckold fetishes, etc. I don't entirely agree with it, but I agree enough to make one further question: why do people eroticize the things they fear? Why transfer that to the world of sex? Why not transfer it to some other area, like sports, work/career, etc.? It's as if sex had some inherent essence that made it easier for us to transfer things like our deepest fears to it...)

@33-36, 19 (and others discussing abusive relationships): one thing one doesn't hear very often is that, with some frequency, the abuser himself is also being 'manipulated' in the process, like the proverbial frog in the water slowly brought to the boiling point. I mean that some abusers (say, first-time ones) are not simply evil people planning to make another person suffer just for the hell of it; they can start out as someone who has a problem or issue or something they don't want to talk about, but somehow assume others can see and should be helping with; but since they don't talk about it nobody (including their partners or SOs) is helping or taking care of it. So they (the abusers-to-be) get angry and, say, start making snappy remarks that are misinterpreted or misunderstood or even ignored (since the partners/SOs still don't know that there's 'something', 'some issue' that is not being addressed)... which leads to more anger, which leads to maybe going a little beyond snappy remarks, and then a little more...

In other words, there are some pretty normal (even good) people who get trapped into abusive behavior because there is something they are not dealing well with. If this thing is not brought to the fore and finally delt with adequately, their abusive behavior can escalate into all the areas we know about (including severe physical abuse). And yet in some sense the abuser himself is a victim of something (s/he abuses because s/he suffers, as it were; perhaps more exactly, s/he abuses because s/he's angry and hurt that his/her suffering is not being noticed). I think this is why, as is often noticed, abuse victims have a higher-than-average chance of turning into abusers themselves.
@28: I never said that seeking therapy is wrong. It has helped me several times throughout my life, especially in coping and healing. Therapy can, indeed, be expensive, however. Some health insurers are picky about which therapists they'll cover, and they might not always be good fits or be able to provide the kind of assistance for the one seeking therapy.

Please re-read my statement from @33, to EricaP: "Everyone's recovery process is different. Everyone's definition of therapy is different....

But what works well for me might NOT have the same desirable results for LACA's girlfriend."
One thing that the Savage Love comments community seems to have in common is the idea that we all have a right to pursue our every kink. But sometimes we don't (if the kink is sex with children); sometimes we can't (50 ft. woman, unicorns, centaurs, Brad Pitt, etc.). And sometimes, for some reason, we choose not to. LACA has chosen to forgo his kink for admirable reasons. I don't know that he was looking for advice on how to get his girlfriend to come around to wanting it.

Perhaps the knowledge that he has this kink, yet refrains out of love and respect for her comfort, desires, and abilities, will do her as much good as therapy.
@38 "you occasionally tend to a little too much optimism that being able to explore means being able to indulge means being able to develop an equal kink...a bit of a Slippery Slope"

Granted. Maybe LACA's relationship isn't going to last long anyway, and for now, he does seem willing to do without. But in long marriages, I do think people should explore, indulge, and, yes, even try to find pleasure in the other person's kink. Twenty, thirty, forty years of sex with another person is a lot of time to stick to the same thing that worked at the beginning. I don't mind your presenting the opposing view, of course :-) But all I can do is speak from my particular experience, for whatever that's worth.
@39 anklosuar: I agree with you on some points, but not all of them.

I survived a bad marriage, but wouldn't dream of doing to a guy what my ex did to me. But that's history. That was then this is now. I'm so over my ex it isn't funny, and what happened to me ten years ago certainly isn't the next guy's fault. By the way, I don't see myself as a victim, either. For one thing, the source of the abuse no longer exists in my life; I've moved on.

Although it's difficult, abusers can also choose to break the vicious cycle holding them and their commonly isolated victims captive.
But anyone--male or female-- with abusive behavioral patterns has to WANT to change, just as someone in a bad relationship has to want to leave for something better.
EricaP is exactly, precisely, spot on correct in her first post re: the girlfriend benefiting from some professional guidance to help her understand why she stayed within the marriage as long as she did. There are a few important things to note about this statement:

1. This is not about the girlfriend working through her demons to get to the point where she can endure a little paddling now and again. That suggestion was not made in the vein of GGG girls will do what it takes to get with the program.

2. Understanding why we make the decisions and choices we do helps us to break free of the cycle of making bad decisions and choices that put us at emotional, psychological, and physical risk.

Santayana said " those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it". That is just as applicable to our own personal history as it is to the greater context of world history.

3. No part of Erica's suggestion aims blame or fault at the girlfriend. To do so would serve to victimiize her further. Instead, Erica's thoughtful suggestion of seeking a greater understanding of herself serves to empower this woman. Since when do we discourage that?
Thanks Dan for your response to LACA! I've had moments of self doubt that my kinks make me less sympathetic to victims of sexual abuse. It's reassuring to know that other people worry about that as well and that being kinky doesn't mean you lose your morality.
@ EricaP,

I think everyone could benefit from some therapy with the right professional.


Sure, why not?
You ever hear of a physical?
Sigh. Well if you want to get that nitpicky, you're technically right. But no one starts therapy without first doing some kind of assessment of what the problem is.

I can't speak for Erica, but I think everyone could benefit from an assessment meeting, or whatever the term for it is.

I actually thought you would infer what I meant.
@46 - 49, I used to think I didn't have any issues. No therapy for me, man, I'm totally fine. But with all the stuff going on in my life, I finally went to one, for the first time ever. Oh, wow. I'd been holding on to a lot of issues from childhood. Now, granted, I've always been functional. But I think most functional people would benefit from finding a therapist with whom they click, and getting a good airing out of whatever baggage they might be carrying around. If you get your checkup, and it turns out you have no baggage, you're happy as a clam, then more power to you. I think 9 out of 10 functioning people in the US would find it helpful to learn more about what goes on in their head when they make decisions, pick people to date, procrastinate about calling their mother, etc.
I could get the checkup, turn out that I have no baggage, but be a lot poorer after paying for it. And that's assuming that I get a therapist who is completely honest and not trying to convince me that there's something wrong with me.
@ 49, why would someone infer a meaning that's different from the words you explicitly wrote?

Maybe, at some point in the future, people will have routine mental health screenings, like people today routinely go in for physical exams but did not in the past. But that's not reality today, so I'm sorry to say that that makes your comparison a poor one.
lalalicious @35 I'm sorry to hear your sex life has been worse since the affair. When I first found out, I couldn't imagine ever having sex with him again. But 24 hours later, after rehashing and rehashing all the details, I jumped his bones, maybe because we'd been talking about sex for 24 hours straight, or maybe as a way to change the dynamic, or maybe because he touched me the right way -- I can't explain how it worked. But it did. I'm probably not the right person to advise you here, but for me, it helped to realize that I'd been hurting him for much longer (I had a longstanding bitter joke about how he must be cheating on me because he worked such long hours...) We were able to come together and help each other with the pain, even though we had each caused some of it.
@52 - have you ever asked a friend to recommend a therapist, and then asked that therapist if they have a sliding scale, or can recommend someone who does? If you're interested, except for cost concerns, then you might try that.
Abusive therapists are not unheard of.

The idea that most functional people should go to be assessed by a therapist as if it were a medical examination, where they could be pronounced "without baggage" or "in need of therapy" sounds like bunk to me. A medical doctor can at least show you test results to support their diagnosis, a dentist might be able to show you your cavities on the x-ray, though I've heard of dentists whose patients need more work when the dentist has a vacation to pay for.

It seems that some people put a whole lot of faith in therapy. Maybe it's not such a good idea for everyone, especially someone who has been the victim of abuse, to put oneself at the mercy of another person so readily.

I have no doubt that therapists have helped many people in need, and I'm glad they're out there. But just because a therapist helped you, it doesn't mean therapy would be a good idea for everybody else.

A cheaper starting place might be reading self-help books.
@52 Matt,

Before you have experience with therapy there is no way you need it. After you have experience, it can be hard to live without it.

If you've had any 12 step type experience, the reality of not being alone with problems perceived and not yet perceived is profound. But if you haven't had the experience it's pretty easy to dismiss both the problem(s) and the relief. And if you don't have any problems, you're a better person than I.

@ 55, thanks.

@ 57, your remark tends to underscore one of my concerns about therapy - that it can end up being a longterm crutch for those who enter it. I certainly hope the goal is that the patient can one day live without it.

I wasn't dismissing anything, so I ask you not to put words in my mouth, and also to apologize for doing so.
@ Matt from Denver, I can tell already you have issues and would benefit from some therapy if you ever let go of your ego enough to see one.

But more generally, I don't believe there is anyone in the world who is completely mentally healthy and would not benefit from some skilled therapy.
@ My:

Unfortunately, I don't have time to respond to your comment as thoroughly as I'd like to, but let me be clear about one thing: when I described Eria's comment as "adding insult to injury," the "insult" was not the implication that LACA's girlfriend would benefit from therapy, but rather the implication that she was somehow complicit in her own abuse. Yes, I acknowledge that some people are more vulnerable to abuse than others. But no matter how you try to spin it, saying that a woman coming out of an abusive relationship needs therapy "to help her figure out why she stayed so long" absolutely reeks of blaming the victim. (A straightforward reading of Erica's comment seems to suggest that this is the central reason that LACA's girlfriend should seek therapy -- not so she can work through her trauma and put it behind her, but so she can discover why she "let" herself be traumatized in the first place.) Would this question come up in the course of therapy? Yes, probably, although not necessarily in quite those words. But I maintain that it's a cruel and counterproductive way to frame whatever psychological issues an abuse victim may have.
@56 - it's you, not the therapist, who decides if you need more therapy. But your point is valid that if you're susceptible to doing what you're told by authority figures, then therapy might be a bad idea.

David Burns' book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy provides a good introduction to cognitive behavioral therapy, and taught me that it wasn't all bunk (even though it's hard at first to understand the difference between CBT and The Secret). Only then did I understand what I might be able to get out of talking to someone with some CBT training.

@58 I ended mine after six months, but some people thrive with ongoing therapy. Therapy can be a crutch, or it can be like exercise for the mind.
@60 I apologize for phrasing it badly. okay?
"But more generally, I don't believe there is anyone in the world who is completely mentally healthy and would not benefit from some skilled therapy.

Amazingly, most of the world cannot afford such things, and historically most could not do so, yet they all seemed to manage just fine. As if, humans were designed to live their lives without therapists. Wow, what a concept.
Ms Erica - I would like to think we could coexist. You do remind me a bit of Brand with his ALL OR NOTHING. There's more to this post, but it keeps insiting on not coming out properly, and I've decided to stop trying to force it.
@58 Matt,

I apologize most freely, but ask that you reread @57 not as a challenge, but rather as a sadder but wiser lament. In my case I am working my way up to a crutch from being completely disabled. As it happens I have done so completely by therapy since all the medications I tried in conjunction with a neuropharmacologist did nothing to help. The 12 step reference is in part a legacy of self medication from when I was younger, but is still a valid expression of the power of shared experience and honesty (or therapy by other means). I would even recommend pastoral counseling under some circumstances, if it weren't so unpopular around here. As far as I am concerned there is one overriding truth: in my case therapy has and is worked. If it is taking a long time, it took longer to create the situation in the first place.

@ Matt

I thought it was a pretty logical implication of what I was saying, maybe it wasn't clear for other people, but I don't really feel like dissecting it any further than that.

Full dislosure, I'm Canadian. We have the free healthcare so going to a psychiatrist is free also. I'm assuming you're American, then?

Other kinds of therapists are not free in Canada but they frequently offer their first (and sometimes second) meetings for free.

Finally, the long term crutch thing may be true, but as someone mentioned above, not all therapy is the same. CBT has a limited timeframe and the patient is not encouraged to continue past it.

@65: has worked and is working...


There are many things in the modern world that are radical changes from the past. In my case, had sulfa drugs not been available for my father during WWII, I wouldn't be here. In addition, without glasses I am legally blind, with them I have slightly better than normal eyesight. Even the rising incidence of Alzheimer's disease (and other chronic diseases of the elderly) is an indicator of our "changing the world" by successfully decreasing the risk of death from other means long enough for the disease(s) to occur.

If you have a problem with the concept of mental health care, then ignore it. If you have a problem with the cost, then get a health plan that covers it, or move to Canada. In my opinion they have the right of it; quality and quantity of life as a priority.


I appreciate that. I know your comment @5 wasn't intended maliciously, but it was just one of those things that got under my skin and rankled, you know? But now that I've said my piece, I feel better.
"As if, humans were designed to live their lives without therapists. Wow, what a concept"

Humans weren't designed. That's stupid.

There's three other things that are stupid about your statement.

1. People lived before toilet paper, before running water, before birth control, before electricity. That doesn't mean that saying most people could benefit from these things isn't true.

2. I don't have interst in debating this fact in depth with you, but sometimes new problems exist that didn't exist before. Did you know that? There's this virus for example, you may have heard of it. It's called HIV and it's killed millions of people? Yeah, a lot of the world can't afford medication for that. That probably means that we shouldn't bother to try to stop it. What about obesity? Ever heard of it? Sometimes the circumstances of modern life create problems that modern life may also need to fix.

3. Finally, your "they all seemed to get by just fine" statement is also... hideously ignorant. If you do even a cursory look into the long history of mental health and mental health treatment you'll see that's.... so... ugh my brain is bleeding that's so stupid.
@70 like :-)
@10 Please don't compare being abused to having a mental illness. It is a dangerous comparison because it suggests that there is something wrong with a woman, not the abusive asshole that hurts her.

@32 If you truly believe what you are saying about your sister who was in many abusive relationships, then you are also saying that eventually, it IS okay to blame the victim. That eventually, if someone gets hit enough and stays, the next time they get hit, it is their fault. If we are truly to believe in a non-violent basis for relationships (and our society) it must always be unacceptable to use violence against another individual. I'm shocked here that we can't agree that nobody deserves to be hurt in a relationship, ever, period.

@39 You sound like an abuser. If not, you certainly have a lot of sympathy for them and spent most of your comment trying to build up a false basis for why abuse happens. While it is true that many abusers have been abused, that doesn't make their abusiveness OK. Lots of people who have been abused choose to have healthy relationships. Abuse is a choice, and being abused DOES NOT force one to abuse another. After working for 2 years with both abusers counseling groups and victims groups, I understand that the hallmark of abusers is their ability to stay calm and collected and make the victim feel crazy/out of control/isolated. An abuser wants the power and control in a relationship. In order to maintain it, he has to keep himself very much under control at all times. It is a mistake to think of abusers as people who simply "flew off the handle" or "got to the boiling point." Research is very clear that people who abuse do not just do it once. There is no such thing as a one-time abuser. Abuse is a pattern of behavior over time where one person systematically takes power and control away from another person. I have known so many victims who are amazingly strong people--if they weren't strong, they wouldn't have survived. I challenge those of you who want to agree with 39 to read accounts from victims and those who do therapy with abusers.

@everyone stop making excuses for abuse, its never ok. and don't blame the victim. period.

So... everything I wrote went over your head eh?
@10 Are you really comparing being abused to having a mental illness or an eating disorder? That's wrong on so many levels. Being abused is not a mentality or a mental illness, its a crappy, and sometimes deadly, situation that some one in every four women in the US ends up in at some point.

@32 Just admit you are saying abuse is OK. It's just that for you, it's only OK after a while, when victims should have "learned their lesson." I've worked with hundreds of abused women, and none of them wanted to be in abusive relationships or sought out abusive partners. This is just a facade for victim blaming and it's shameful.

@44 In section 2 you say that women need to understand the bad choices they made that put them at risk for abuse. This is just another way of saying that its women's fault that they are abused--if they had just not put themselves at risk! Yes, we all put ourselves at risk when we start a new relationship and from 2 years of experience working with abusers counseling groups and victims groups, I know that you can't spot an abuser by the way they dress, their age, or how they treat you (in the beginning). And you certainly can't spot abuse in public--any abuser knows that to continue the abuse they need to masquerade as a healthy, loving partner. Abusers often maintain excellent standing in their communities as a way to hide their domestic behavior. An abuser is smart and knows how to rope someone in before starting to use extremely strategic tactics of power and control in order to make the victim so afraid of leaving that she stays in the relationship. It is true that therapy is helpful for abused women, to start to understand the tactics of power and control that abusers used and how the dynamics of abuse have affected them. Therapy is NOT for abused women to sit around and try to "figure out" what is wrong with them to have chosen abusers. This is why victims rights groups DO NOT suggest therapy for an abused individual--it places the responsibility and blame for the abuse on them, not where it belongs--on the person who perpetrates the abuse.
@39 "In other words, there are some pretty normal (even good) people who get trapped into abusive behavior because there is something they are not dealing well with"

You sound like an abuser. If not, you certainly have a lot of sympathy for those poor abusers, because really, its not your fault if you hit someone if someone else hit you first, right?

The way you describe how someone might abuse the first time, its like you are trying to build an understandable rational, so we can sympathize with abusers and say to ourselves yeah, i guess if my wife/husband did that and i just got madder and madder i would have hit him/her too! don't make us join in on your quest to normalize abuse and make it sound like a reasonable outlet to those deal with daily annoyances.
@61, Thanks for the book recommendation, EricaP. It sounds like a great idea to learn more about therapy, and what the different styles are, before getting into it. Seems like that would help people get the most out of it, if they're going to go down that road.
I just wanted to say that, with all this discussion about "CBT" here on Savage Love, the first place my mind went to was not "cognitive-behavioral therapy".
It's a cavalcade of misinterpretation!
LACA - no guarrentees, but you may find in time your girlfriend deals with her past by developing a related kink.. My first boyfriend was physically and sexually abusive, not admittedly in the systematic beating/spanking to tears way, but he would slap or kick me for minor transgressions (not changing channels on the tv quickly enough or if i dropped something he would kick or slap me for it whilst i was trying to clear it up) and force me to have sex or do things I wasn;t comfortable with.. as a result I became very emotionally sensitive about any kind of violence or anything that made me feel vulnerable, going apeshit if someone did something like grab my wrist and was quite inhibited sexually, couldn't abide anything where I was not in control, to the extent that I couldn;t even do it doggy style.. but over the years this has kind of morphed,and I now have sexual fantasies about being tied up, or put over my boyfriends knee and, relatively gently, spanked which we have started to explore and love being taken from behind and fucked in the ass.. I don't quite know how this flip happened, my very perceptive, understanding and damned sexy lover was a big part of it as I felt safe to explore knowing he wouldn't abuse the situation, but I also suspect maybe it's because the relationship between fear and excitement is so close, and I may always have had this inclination and not really acknowledged it, but it has definitely helped me deal with my past to open up about this and explore it with a partner I totally trust.. So short answer, it may not be ruled out, eventually, with alot of patience and understanding and good, trusting sex :0)
@75 I think @39 was trying to say something like this:
We are not born with a fate to be an abuser or non-abuser. At some point some people will transition from simply having the potential to be an abuser to actually having a history of being an abuser. We obviously want to minimize the number of people that do this, so maybe we should look for more ways to treat the potential abuser before abuse occurs.
I understand poorly stating this can sound like blaming the victim or sympathizing with the abuser, but there are simply too many potential abusers to ignore the possible benefits of preventative treatment. (Milgram and Zimbardo both demonstrated the normality of potential for conformist/institutional evil, and it isn't much of a stretch to think that this extends to individual evil.)
@78: I second that!
74-Matkoff-- "Being abused ... is a crappy, and sometimes deadly, situation that some one in every four women in the US ends up in at some point."

Are you saying that 1:4 women are beaten up, bloodied, getting their bones broken and landing in emergency rooms at the hands of their boyfriends or husbands? If that's your assertion, could you site some statistics? A glance around you will let you know that you are incorrect.

Or are you saying that 1:4 women are in relationships where their boyfriends or husbands sometimes do things that they don't like or that could lead to the bloody situation if things went differently? This could be the boyfriend getting mad, yelling at her, storming off in a bad mood, insulting her, saying something he regrets, apologizing later, and eventually, if things don't go differently, building a strong relationship based on mutual disagreement, communication, compromise, apology, and the woman sometimes being the one who gets mad, yells, storms off, insults, does the regretting, and apologizing. If this is your assertion, your 1:4 statistic is low.

If that is your assertion, if scenario 2 is what's being given as the definition of "abuse," then you're in danger of trying to get attention (and public sympathy, and money) for a problem by saying it's more widespread than it is while the public is coming to the conclusion that it's not as bad as it's portrayed.
Matkoff-- Your posts can be summed up as follows: All abusers are evil men who want to beat up women (or one woman) for some unknown reason. To do so, they must plot, from the beginning, to engage on a campaign to weaken their target's self esteem to the point of thinking she deserves it and to isolate her from friends, family, and support so she has nowhere to turn when things get worse. Any attempt to examine or explain the abuser's emotions or motives (other than he wants to be mean) is equivalent of excusing his behavior, and anyone who does so must be an abuser himself.

Is that right, or did I get it wrong somewhere?
@74 Yes I was drawing a comparison.
And I repeat:
Nor is it negative or insulting to imply that a woman may be psychologically vulnerable and could use help. I dislike that implication and I think it helps perpetuate these kinds of cycles, to be honest. The stigma around mental health is so ingrained that people take it as an insult or an affront (insult to injury, you say!) when someone even suggests it.

A person can have psychological issues without having a mental illness, by the way.
Haven't gotten to read the whole thread, but, per the "Should everyone get therapy?" Disccussion:

I do think it's possible that everyone COULD benefit from therapy. Not will, could. Most people do go to therapy only when they have problems. And it can be difficult to make yourself vulnerable to a stranger when you're already feeling vulnerable in every day life. This is actually an argument for seeing a therapist when everything is "fine". If you're able to build up a trust relationship when you aren't feeling vulnerable, it will be easier to open up when you are.

Personally, I am going through a pretty stressful time in my life. I, luckily, found a therapist I clicked with, and see once a week. Once I'm over this bump in the road, I plan to continue with her, though probably less often. Sometimes you don't even realize something is bothering you until you talk it out with someone. Also, I'd rather continue speaking to her on a regular basis so I don't have to "start over" the next time something comes up.
It is never okay to abuse anyone. Both sexes can be abuse: with woman, they are usually emotionally abusive. With men, they are usually both emotionally and physically abusive. Either way, there is never an excuse. I have known quite of few of both sexes unfortunately. I do agree that sometimes the abusers don't realize what how horrible they are being because they tend to be narcasisstic assholes who don't actually care about anyone but themselves.

There is never an excuse for abuse, period. Defender of abusers can go fuck themselves because it sounds like you are excusing their actions. What the hell is wrong with you? I'm guessing you're both guys who have abusive tendencies.
82- Cite statistics! Mixing up sight, site, and cite is one of my pet peeves, and I went and did it.

Years ago I was one of those feminists who thought that asking why a victim stayed so long with her abuser was taboo. Now I'm realizing that neglecting to do so gives more even more power to the abuser. Not asking is saying that her motivations and emotions don't matter, that they don't deserve examination. It makes her even more at the mercy of the abuser. Helping her get to that place where she can wonder about her own actions and inactions is empowering. It can help her get past her fears, help her see that there is a great deal she can do to be in control of her own life.
@88 sexual urges are normal, and so is seeing a therapist. But it's also possible that the affair led him to notice some stuff going on in his head around "is this what life is for?" "how do I know if I'm ready to settle down?" or "Is it okay for me not to tell her that I also had an affair with a guy?" He may enjoy having someone he can talk to honestly about his situation.

Wow, I just gave a strong recommendation to the book "Healing Sex" by Staci Haines just yesterday! To anyone who has been, or is intimate with, a person who has been abused sexually, this book can be very helpful. I work in the sex industry, and help keep couples intimately connected - this is an excellent resource. (so much so that I don't care where anyone buys it, even though I do sell it.)

I agree with the idea that the woman in LACA's letter should explore why she stayed as long as she did - but a GOOD therapist will make her get to the reason(s) why on her own terms. Gently nudging someone to get the help they could use is not wrong, but must be offered as neutrally as possible. "Honey, I found some resources for people who went through what you did, and I hear they do great work. Here's a couple of numbers and brochures," and leave it at that. It's like anything else - if she's not ready now, it won't work. And if when (if) she's ready to explore it, that would be great, but I think it's not crucial if she's in a good relationship now. As long as she maintains her boundaries in other relationships as well. (i.e., she's not letting her boss, her mom, her pastor walk all over her)

I hope that is a helpful comment!
@90: Thanks! I'll check it out.
Does such a story have to be phoned in? What about us deafies? Email somewhere?
I hate that Dan only focuses on the sex stuff with affairs. I actually agree that sexual fidelity should not be the be all end all of the definition of a good marriage, and if it was just purely a sex issue, then I'd agree that people need to just get over affairs and be satisfied with good long-term relationships. But - and he says this briefly - all affairs, even if they really are just one night stand sex - are also a betrayal and a breaking of trust. Especially when they involve lying, putting their spouses health at risk, breaking the "contract" of marital fidelity that the spouses agreed to, etc, they can be devestating. I'm afraid people who have cheated are going to read Dan's flippant "give yourself some time and you'll just forget about it" Responses and feel like their spouses are being ridiculous for caring about being cheated on. Or that cheated on spouses are going to feel guilty for not being forgiving and cool and progressive enough because they are devestated by their partner's affair. It's not just reconciling sexual fidelity, it's also dealing with someone who has lied to you, showed that they are selfish enough to not really care that they are doing something that might cause them to lose you and might cause you public embarrassment and putting your health at risk if they continue to sleep with you too. Cheating is so much bigger a deal than just getting used to the fact that sexual fidelity is not so important. I wish Dan would clarify that better in his cheating responses.
@93 - The rest of the world broadcasts the message that cheaters are terrible and those cheated upon should feel devastated and should leave the relationship. Dan is a lone voice saying, "Everyone is human, everyone has flaws. Now you know that your spouse has lied to you. What are you going to do with that information?" He doesn't tell people they have to stay, but he says they should at least consider staying (even though the rest of our culture says the only way to get back your self-respect is to leave.)
@43 (aunt grizelda), sure. Not all victims (or abusers) have to follow the exact same pattern, since humans, being humans, always have other things going on (other problems, other contexts, other desires/wishes, other people in their lives, other boundaries, other personalities, etc.).

It's just an oft-repeated observation that many an abuser has a past as an abuse victim. My own personal observations of this phenomenon lead me to believe that this is involved with the abuser-to-be's emotions concerning his/her own victimhood, either via projection (anger at past abusers is transferred to others) or via the sense that one's victimhood is being ignored (by someone important in our lives, or by everybody) -- the latter leading from feelings of injustice to desires for revenge.

I'm glad that's not your case; being able to escape the evil influence of this baggage is a reason for happiness indeed. I was also 'shell-shocked' in my childhood and youth, and I also managed to move on to a more normal life. Yet I almost didn't. There's this other path I could have followed, which would have led to me being one of those angry, frustrated abusers who torment those naive enough to come close. At some points I almost did follow this path. Almost. Why I didn't is one of the big questions of my life.
@93, I was going to say mostly what EricaP has already said above. I'll add only one more issue: lying is lying. Lying about sex with others, aka cheating, is not as such different from lying about other things (say, about the secret use you've been making of your joint savings account, or about having abandoned some addiction, or about having wholeheartedly and sincerely converted to your spouse's religion, or...).

Yet many of the lies in the above list are not treated by our culture as automatic deal-breakers, for which only permanent separation would be an appropriate solution. Note that many of them have the same problems as cheating (depending on what you are addicted to, you may be putting your spouse's health at risk; if you've been gambling with your joint savings account, you're putting your spouse's future solvency at risk; if your conversion to your spouse's religion is not sincere, you are breaking some very solemn promises; etc.).

Only cheating is apparently supposed to be this immediate deal-breaker. I don't think that this is fair. Also, even though Dan did give the advice you mentioned to this particular LW, how often has he also recommended LWs to DTMFA their CPOS of a spouse? I'm sure some CPOS could use Dan's advice to manipulate their spouses; but then again, any of Dan's concepts (say, GGG) can also be manipulated in this way.

The sad truth is that it's not the words and soundbites coming out of a person's mouth that guarantee s/he is a good person (or an evil manipulator), but the use this person puts these words to. You have to look at what this person is doing with these words, what consequences s/he is aiming at. You have to know the person. That right words ('cheating isn't always the end', 'be GGG') can be used for evil manipulative ends is one of life's unfairest and saddest features. This doesn't mean, however, that said words aren't right.
Sex (PIV, at least) creates new human beings.
I would say it's quite unique in this sense.
Ms Maria (or do you prefer Ms Goddess?) @90 -

That seems a most helpful comment. Of those commenters whose first response concerned therapy for her, you may be the first one to frame it in terms of how he should approach the possibility (and this is, after all, his letter). I salute you.
94 and 96 - I'm 93. I guess I wasn't clear. I didn't say that Dan should tell people to immediately leave anyone who cheats on them like the rest of the world would say to. Or that no one should give cheaters a chance. But I still feel like his response to SIP was very flippant.

Essentially, he said "just believe him whenyour bf says he loves you and wants to be with you when he says he does" and "don't worry about the images, they will go away in time.". That's it. I guess he was just responding to her two questions directly and assuming the rest is being taken care of. But the message at the end is that she should get over his mistake because we're all shown to be "monsters" in time and sex becomes less important than long-term sharing, so who cares about a little cheating. I feel like that is lessening the impact of cheating - its not just someone getting a little sex on the side that doesn't affect the spouse at all. Just like with other gambling and addictions and whatever your other examples were, do you really want to trust this person again with your health and your future and your feelings? It's more than just "whatever fidelity isn't that big of a deal.". That's all I'm trying to say.
@99 I think Dan's saying that he doesn't know if SIP's boyfriend is going to be faithful in the future (and neither does SIP, or the boyfriend); Dan also can't promise SIP's boyfriend will always be attracted to her. But those questions are ones that no one can ever answer for sure. If you can't accept that and move forward, then you can't be in a relationship. Take 'yes' for an answer, says Dan, because the alternative means being suspicious and alone.

As someone who has had to go through all this, I find Dan's advice heartfelt and practical, not flippant.

As for the "monsters" remark, I think Dan meant that by age 80, we'll all look like monsters (to our younger selves, anyway), but we can grow to love each other regardless of our looks, by shared decades of experiences (both sexual and otherwise). I don't think he meant that we will necessarily treat each other brutally. (Though that's probably a little bit true too. Doesn't Dan say elsewhere that marriage is all about accepting each other's apologies and sharing orgasms?)
Thanks EricaP. That makes sense. I'm going through it right now so maybe it's a little too fresh. I don't want to be made to feel like I'm not being progressive and cool enough about sexual fidelity since my husband's affair (just found out two months ago) was and continues to be devastating to me. Yeah it was only sex (no emotional attachment - he had just met the woman). But the sex isn't the reason I was so upset by it and the sex isn't the reason I will probably leave him even though he's trying hard to win me back.
@74,I resent the implication that all abusers are evil masterminds, brilliant and purposeful deceivers who trap their helpless victims with magnificently-planned schemes. Christ, how much power do you want to give abusers? Are you willing to grant any power or choice to those who were abused?

Personally, my abuser was a bit of an idiot. I've no doubt she occasionally thought out her power plays, but all in all, most of her behavior seemed to be learned by trial and error. And no, she didn't wear a neon sign stating she was an abuser when we started dating, but at a certain point it became apparent...and I chose to stay. I wasn't some hapless damsel in distress, wilting in her evil clutches. I could've left earlier than I did, but I decided to stay because I hadn't yet figured out that I could have what I want out of a relationship without having to endure psycho bullshit. I needed to figure out that I not only deserved better, but that there were plenty of people out there who are willing and able to commit to loving relationships.

I didn't reach that conclusion until after she finally took it one step too far. I left, then spent quite a bit of time pondering why I put up with so much for so long. Since then, I've learned to avoid anyone who shows abusive tendencies. Is it 100% foolproof? No. But I've saved myself a lot of additional pain by realizing there are things I can do to increase my chances of continuing to live a happy, healthy life surrounded by people who love me.

This doesn't mean my past abuser is in any way innocent or that her behavior was justified. I wasn't to blame for her violence and I'm not letting her off the hook. But I refuse to consider her some sort of diabolical genius when she was no more than a fucked up asshole. And I absolutely refuse to be painted as a swooning victim, stripped of all choice and independent thought.
@101 I'm so sorry for the pain you're going through. Part of me wants to ask about your situation, but I understand one might not want to go into details while still processing...

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