My take, is one from both an abstract and subjective point of view.
Here I sit, bewildered and betwixt, angered and longing; loving and hating.....
For I have a label...... A label that is haunting and terrifying, however a lot of men have found themselves falling within a grey area like me..... but this label sticks and once stuck, destroys lives, relationships and families.
But this label, although it most certainly has its uses and in the end, highlights an urgent need to change in a lot of apt circumstances - it is all too often being thrown around far too readily.
For I believe, not only from a subjective point of view; but also an abstract one too....... that greater focus needs to be in the actual detail, rather than a tick and flick sheet that seems to be implemented all too often.
It goes without saying, I am not for one second advocating for, or excusing or encouraging for that matter, any type of spousal abuse be it male or female. This is a topic that has been thrust into an all important limelight and greater awareness of this issue needs to be brought into the community.
(Caveat) If you or someone you know is a victim (male or female) of physical domestic\spousal abuse - please contact the authorities in your locality as a matter of urgency.
But - I wish to also point out, that whilst there is a great need for public awareness and individual awareness, is this awareness causing a panic state and for a lot of men, including yours truly; to be accused of having the potential to commit such abhorrent and dastardly acts - when in all honesty, nothing could be further from the truth.
Let me provide an example: I had an argument with my (now former) significant other. I (love) loved her more than you could imagine. I asked her to marry me and..... hopefully going to expand our family with a new addition. We were a blended family and after having our ups and downs, we finally got things together and it was bliss. We joined households and this was a milestone in what was supposed to be the beginning of the rest of our lives.
However, after some significant stressors being thrown our way in a short period....... things became stressful..... I figured, everything has its ups and downs, right?
However the argument that was really needed came, but it turned into an explosion of frustration which; in hindsight, was more frustration from the external factors than what my beloved was responsible for - but then, we all know what is said about hindsight.
The argument was an incredibly unpleasant one; heated exchanges, swearing and raised voices (by admittedly yours truly) and unbeknowns to me, when I walked out of the room to cool off for a moment, what I wasn't aware of was she had brought her daughter into our bed. I walked in a while later and began to continue the exchange without knowing my step-daughter was in the room (as she was hidden by the covers).
This in itself, cripples me to begin with. I felt truly nauseous when I realised that she was in the room and heard the continuation of the argument. I can assure you, there were no threats of violence or actual violence or anything of the sort. It was a heated exchange.
Following this, I saw the tears start to flow from my significant other - which without fail, always made me back off and think I was being an arse. She became quite upset and said she wanted to go for a drive. I said she was welcome to go - however I was worried about her driving in her current state. I offered to drive her wherever she wanted to go, or she could walk etc etc but I at least wanted her to calm before driving as I knew she was in no shape to drive.
She ended up staying, and from here, the argument dissipated and that was that.
However this is where the plot thickens.
She went and sought assistance following our 'big-bang' from a counselor, something we had discussed going to, together.
She went on her own and when she came back, I was mortified just as I was angry and upset.
Her therapist advised that her and her daughter were in danger, that I was a domestic-abuser and that the situation would only escalate. That I couldn't be trusted and that I was a threat to the personal safety of her and her daughter.
Following this, within 2 weeks - my fiencee and step-daughter were gone from my life. Accused of being an abuser and that i was controlling as I wouldn't allow her to leave on the night in question.
I was mortified. I was sickened. I was......... crushed.
I could never ever, imagine doing anything controlling or manipulative. I mean, after all - I loved them both and miss them terribly, even after all of the accusations and horrible things that have been said.
Desperate for answers, I sought my own advice - I sat with a therapist and went through (in far more detail) every iota of what I had done, said, what she had done, said and left no stone unturned. I was desperate to find out...... was I what I was being accused of?
I was shown a table with various points in front of me......
- Do you yell at your partner?
- Do you give your partner periods of silence (silent treatment)
- Do you withhold sex from your partner as tool to achieve compliance
- Do you call your partner names
- Do you demean your partner
- Do you control your partner through finances
And a plethora of many others.
It was a very rigid, black and white checklist to identify if you\your partner engages in certain behaviour and if so; you are at risk of either being harmed by an abuser or you are harming as an abuser - with an overall resounding message..... if you see any of these behaviours; you're in danger and you need to get out!
When I looked at this, I broke into tears uncontrollably - as I am sure a lot of other men and possibly women have too.
The therapist then said a simple question....... answer honestly and frankly, how many of these do you do on a regular basis and then how many do you do when you are in an argument or going through a disagreement stage with your partner?
The results were incredibly different.
The therapist then explained, clearly; there are some stress management and emotional issues that are tied up in this situation; however in the event that you have been true and forthright in your answers, placing a label of domestic abuser, is rather premature; considering there are a variety of other issues at play.
I suddenly felt a large amount of relief, however then concern that I had engaged in ways which were not conducive to a healthy, harmonious and mature relationship. I screwed up - but what then seemed to surround me, was this overwhelming feeling of despair....... that my now former partner had beliefs that I was a dangerous monster capable doing unspeakable and heinous things.
Since this time, I have been walking around feeling as though I have been kicked repeatedly in the guts. It just never goes away......
I feel I have lost my wife, I have lost a daughter...... I have lost a family. I don't doubt that my actions on that night, especially now with the benefit of assistance I received from therapy in how to manage emotions when they're feeling as though they're about to boil over, were terrible. I did get angry and upset, I did raise my voice and I did use profanity in our disagreement and yes; I did stop my beloved from driving her car whilst she was in an extreme state of emotional distress. But never did I, want to or have intentions or the mindset, to control or threaten or manipulate or harm. It just didn't enter my psyche, even whilst in the middle of an argument saying things I now regret.
I feel wrongfully accused - even though some wrong doing was most certainly done on my part.
In an attempt to gain further understanding of this, I have commenced a significant amount of research into this topic. The amount of people who are finding themselves at the same end of a pointed finger as myself is something that I can't help but feel is astounding.
It seems that more often than not, although there is this extremely high need to protect victims and potential victims of domestic\spousal abuse...... and educate people to the warning signs, there is in some cases a 'knee-jerk' reaction being implemented, where after a few short questions are answered - all of a sudden..... families, relationships, children's lives, financial matters and just lives in general are left in complete ruin; as there doesn't seem to be much investigation into these matters which may show certain characteristics of danger signals, but in reality dont fall into these categories.
I am aware that this 'my-take' is most certainly going to strike nerves with some people out there, especially genuine victims. Please do not mistake what it is that I am trying to achieve by posting this piece as a means or a ploy to downplay the significance, prevalence or dangers in relation to this topic. I am fully aware, not only professionally but now in this case personally that there is a growing need for investigation and support in relation to people who find themselves in these circumstances.
I am merely trying to raise awareness and highlight the fact that whilst there is this overwhelming need for support and education and protection of victims and rehabilitation programs for abusers; there are people who fall in the grey area of this very important topic and like me, there may be many more out there - with their own emotional issues or ways of processing emotions in arguments that aren't healthy - but because of a very black and white viewpoint, lives are ruined and families are shattered and hearts and minds are broken.......
And these will continue to be the stories or confessions - of the wrongfully accused.