Arts & Entertainment
Dear Jody: In another abusive relationship
Originally printed 1/21/2010 (Issue 1803 - Between The Lines News)
Q: I got out of an abusive relationship three years ago. Now I'm afraid I'm in another one. I thought I would never be in another one because I wouldn't pick an abusive person again. It took me six and a half years to get out of the old one. "Gerry" was hard to get away from; he threatened to kill me if I left him. Finally, I moved out of state to get away from him. (That took a lot for me to do, not just because I still loved Gerry, but logistically, it was very hard.) I'm quite sure he doesn't know where I live now, but somehow, I guess it doesn't matter because I'm back with another Gerry. The guy's name is "Damon."
When I moved here to Michigan, I promised myself that I would start new: new job, new friends and hopefully a new love - without abuse this time. I was so determined. Well, I got two out of three. The new love is as bad as - or worse than - Gerry, like going from the pot to the cauldron.
I met Damon two months after I came here. He was so gentle and good to me. I couldn't believe how he treated me and all the attention I got from him. He wanted me with him all the time. He acted like he really cared for me. He even got really jealous if any guys even looked my way.
I had told him about Gerry and that he used to smack me around. That's how I put it because I didn't like the word "abuse." At the time, he would just look at me with this terrible look on his face. I thought that he was as horrified as I was by the abuse from Gerry, but now I'm not sure what he was thinking when I told him, because now he says that he sees why Gerry had to smack me - though, in fact, Damon does far worse than smack. He punches and kicks - in places that don't show bruises.
Damon doesn't like my family and doesn't allow me to see them. I decided on Michigan because many people in my family live here. But now I don't even get to see them because of Damon. When I ask him why I can't see them, he says it's because they don't like him and I should respect him by not associating with them either. I realize that my family, for the most part, is rather cool to Damon, but not so much that he couldn't be there.
He also doesn't like my friends. He has reasons why he doesn't like each one of my friends. Mostly the reasons seem lame. He thinks one of them is hot after me - that's most of my guy friends. With my female friends, he says that they are a bad influence on me - how that is, I surely don't know. So, I don't see them anymore. He doesn't think he needs to explain himself. I would just once like some evidence of "being hot after me" or being a "bad influence." I'm starting to feel like maybe I just deserve what I get. (Just to be fair to Damon, he can be so very sweet and attentive and he likes to buy me presents.)
I'm feeling lonely these days and mad at myself for getting into another relationship like this. I don't know how I got here again, and this time, I'm not sure how I'll get out. Damon hasn't threatened me like Gerry did, but then, I've not made any noise about leaving him either. I don't have it in me to move again and start over, especially in a place that I wouldn't know anyone - moving here I had some old friends and family. I'm feeling depressed and hopeless.
Jody, how did I do this again?
A: To start with the question of how you got into another abusive relationship, you didn't learn the signs - red flags - of abusers: possessiveness, getting their victims isolated from family and friends, and "making up" for the abuse by bringing presents and/or being extra nice after an abusive episode. You didn't say, but I would guess that Gerry did that kind of thing as well.
I'm concerned about your depression, because depression saps energy. You need to visit your doctor, tell him/her what's happening, and see if you can get on an antidepressant so that you can function better in order to get yourself out of this situation. (Don't let Damon know the true reason you are going to your physician.) After that, you need to see if your family and friends would give you a place to stay for a while, or find a shelter for people who are battered. There are places for men as well. Your physician may know of a place; if not, call a shelter and ask. A shelter is a good place because they have people and counselors who will help you in the ways that you need it. If you don't find shelter, then you need to find a counselor so that you can get support and learn how to not get into another relationship like this again; otherwise, you are likely to do it a third time. Good luck, and let me know how things go. I care.Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. Reach Jody at DearJodyValley@hotmail.com. The "Dear Jody" column appears weekly.