Recently I read a moving, sobering article about a great woman who was stuck in an abusive relationship.
I couldn’t believe what I read. Here was a super-smart woman — a doctor, in fact — who was letting a man beat her up, literally and figuratively, for five YEARS.
At various points, he kicked her, choked her, and even held a gun to her head. Dr Karen E Johnson was fearing for her life. And yet she still stayed with him.
The pattern is a familiar one: he was ‘romantic’, made breakfast in bed, said sweet nothings to her, and did all kinds of other nonsense that sucked Dr Karen in and kept her with him.
Let me make it clear: men should be the protectors and providers for women — not their attackers. Any kind of physical violence means you need to get out. IMMEDIATELY.
I don’t know what it takes for a smart woman to wake up, realize that it’s not okay for a guy to raise a hand on her EVER, and walk out. Or call the police.
The statistic I heard was that it takes 5 attempts before a woman finally leaves her abuser for good. And it almost always takes outside help — from a friend, family member, therapist, social worker, concerned neighbor.
Whatever it takes, I want to take this opportunity to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT. You have my full permission and support to break out of this. To get you started, here’s an excellent article about the signs to look for BEFORE a guy gets abusive. It’s well-researched and very insightful:
Tell Somebody: 10 Surprising Signs You’re Dating an Abusive Guy by Liz Brody, Editor-at-Large of Glamour Magazine
And here’s the link to Dr Karen E Johson’s website, where she has two free ebooks, Five Ways to Find Out if You’re In an Abusive Relationship and 5 Ways to Take Your Power Back: DrKarenEJohnson.com
Here are some excerpts from her article ‘Secrets and Lies’ in the collection Living Proof: Celebrating the Gifts that Come Wrapped in Sandpaper (edited by Marcy Cole & Lisa Nichols). This is what got me going:
“Stupid black b___!” he yelled. “Stupid black b___!” I hear him yelling in my head as if he were right here. Edgar was everything I’d ever wanted in a man: “eye candy”, good dancer, great in bed, distinguished, educated and successful, a physician like myself. He was so good with Jamaal, who needed a father figure. He was a fabulous cook. He loved to play Scrabble and golf. And such a romantic! We met in the winter; between the end of January and right up to Valentine’s Day, he orchestrated a series of love notes so I received one every single day…I fell harder for him than I had ever fallen before. I finally had what I wanted.
Our first months together were paradise. Edgar knew exactly what to do, and he did it masterfully. And then “we” turned into a nightmare. The perfect relationship had somehow become my big dirty secret…
Another time he bruised my eye and it turned a blazing red. Gary, one of the other partners in our practice, took me aside and said, “Karen, tell me Edgar did not do this to you.” I lied and said he hadn’t. “The reason I’m asking you this is,” he said, “the last woman he dated told me he put his hands on her.” My stomach flipped: so there were others. But I wasn’t ready to face the truth. I painted on my best professional, stoic face, and replied: “I don’t believe a word that woman says.” The conversation was closed…
…A new rage exploded in Edgar. He pushed me onto his bed, grabbbed his handgun and pointed it at me, screaming “I’m going to blow your motherf*ing head off! And then I’ll call Jamaal to tell him about it! He yanked me off the bed. I fell to the floor. He kicked me and stomped me on my left hip. “You’re right!” I cried, in pain and terror. “I shouldn’t have said anything. Please don’t do this!” He would kill me. I could see it in his face — the man I loved wasn’t even in there. I’d known about the gun. Why didn’t I see this coming? I pictured Jamaal, alone without a father or mother. I saw him identifying my body at a morgue. That pain was more grueling than the beating.
As I understand it, the abusive men are supremely manipulative, making it extremely difficult for the abused women to escape — through threats, promises and violence. So prevention is the best measure — avoid these guys from the get-go. And if it’s too late for that — please please reach out to someone. Your friends are ready and willing to help out.