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 think everyone could benefit from some therapy with the right professional.
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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
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.
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.
@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.
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.
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.
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.
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.. :-) ~+~+~+~
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.
@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?
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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...
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?
So far, so good.
@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. ;)
@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.
1) cbt and dbt--worth it.
2) all other forms of psychotherapy--waste of time and money.
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?
@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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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?
Sure, why not?
You ever hear of a physical?
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.
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.
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.
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.
@ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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...as if, humans were designed to live their lives without therapists. Wow, what a concept.
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.
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.
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.
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.
@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?
@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.
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.
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.)
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.
Is that right, or did I get it wrong somewhere?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I would say it's quite unique in this sense.
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.
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.
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?)
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.