Stand up against domestic violence

Victoria Andersen is a mother, graphic designer, law nerd, fundraiser, pianist, advocate, writer, watchdog, a rebel WITH a cause, and a bleeding heart. She can be reached via email at victoria@fayette-news.net.

Sometimes the works of our enemies work in our favor. They are a bittersweet reminder of what we’ve endured. What we’ve survived. That we are still here. Breathing. Living. Surviving. And best of all, thriving.

What do you think of when you hear the term “Domestic Violence”? Do you think of a woman being thrown across the room? Beaten with a man’s fist or a baseball bat? Bruises? Cuts?

What if I told you that there is so much more to it? What if I told you that there are ways to kill another human being without one physical touch? What if I told you that I would rather be hit than subjected to psychological warfare? Bruises heal, but the pain from internal scars never go away.

Domestic Violence, also known as “Family Violence” in Georgia statewide and “Intimate Partner Violence” (IPV) by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is one of the most complex and misunderstood threats to society today. Many books have been written, hundreds, if not thousands of pages, of studies published, and yet we, as a community, still fail to help victims losing their property, their homes, their jobs, their sanity, their sobriety, their families, their children, their ability to function, and literally, their own lives.

Some people cringe when they hear people talk about “abuse.” Too many think the alleged victims are making it all up because the accused abuser is charming, seemingly kind, successful, and, disturbingly enough, has gained sole custody of the victim’s child(ren). So of course, there must be something wrong with the victim, right? She/he must be crazy, wouldn’t you agree?

I certainly hope not. Such conclusions are most of the time absolutely and unequivocally wrong. And we as a society should be ashamed of ourselves. Ashamed for blaming victims for enduring heinous criminal acts inflicted on them and their children.

Abusers thrive on power and control. They actually enjoy watching their victims suffer. When they lose control of their victim, they up the control tactics until the victim is at his/her mercy again. It is a sick and twisted way of being, but it happens more than I am sure you’d care to understand, much less, acknowledge. Because if you acknowledge this real and disturbing threat to our our communities, to our friends, colleagues, etc., that would mean you have to act, and do something about it. Well, let’s be honest, most of us are too busy and self-absorbed to take the time to understand, much less help.

Abusers come in all shapes and sizes. And they wear a variety of masks. They are hard to spot in public, but reveal true evil behind the privacy of their four walls. They will stop at nothing. Abuse can be inflicted on a victim on many levels including, but not limited to, social, financial, emotional, mental, physical, sexual, and legal.

Abusers coerce, threaten, intimidate, humiliate, name-call, isolate, and steal from their victims. They will minimize and deny the abuse, and even blame the victim for the abuse. When the victim decides to not be controlled anymore and leaves, most of the time for the sake of their child(ren), the abuser will pay lawyers, and anyone, for that matter, anything to manipulate the legal system and take away the her/his children. Consequently, this leaves the victim on a path to insanity, impoverishment, physical illness, and, worst of all, suicide.

They are controlling, manipulative, entitled, and disrespectful. He/she feels entitled and embodies a twisted sense of ownership. The victim belongs to him/her, always. Even when the victim has escaped, and the abuser has gone to another relationship or marriage, he/she will continue to stalk said victim. They will not stop until the victim is completely and irreversibly destroyed. Dead or alive.

Distortion campaigns and false accusations are a favorite tactic implemented by abusers. When they realized that they have lost control of their victim, they get desperate. They must stop the victim from presenting themselves as credible, sane, and rational. Because if the victim is strong, healthy, and believable, this puts the abuser at risk for being exposed, and sometimes, charged with respective crimes.

So they gather as many  in the community, including any man the victim has been involved with (who are most likely also abusers because her low self-esteem and vulnerability attracts these types), to believe that his/her victim has gone crazy. They paint her/him to be a drug addict, an alcoholic, a sufferer of all sorts of mental illnesses.

And get this, they will even project saying the victim is the abuser because how could she/he possibly have multiple abusers in her past? Surely, since she/he is the common denominator, she/he is the real problem? Well yes, she/he may have issues with self-esteem and depression, but that does not mean the abuse did not happen, and that it was deserved.
Society fails to look at the big picture. They fail to notice that a victim is truly a victim when they ARE the ones suffering with emotional, mental, social, legal, financial and physical health issues AFTER leaving their abuser.
And guess what happens next? The victim is blamed. The victim is treated by society as the problem. The victim is blamed for not contributing to society as expected. Great, let’s poor salt into the victim’s open wound. That’ll solve everything, right?

How would you feel if someone had abused you for years on all levels, unlawfully stole your children who you will never see again, and convinces friends and members of the community that you are the crazy one? I would venture to say you’d lose your mind, and that you’d be suffering from all sorts of health issues while being unable to keep a job.

Domestic Violence is one of the most insidious forms of cruelty I personally know to mankind. I know because I have endured it for so many years. I lost my own two older boys because of a judge that was angry at me for investigating his misconduct and improprieties, and enabled procedural trickery. My abuser’s lawyer mailed notice of a custody hearing, of which was returned to her by the post office, and consequently I was unaware of the hearing and therefore not present. As the primary custodial parent, I had suddenly lost custody to my boys. And remember, victims are left impoverished, so I was unable to hire an attorney to properly fight these unlawful actions.

Pain and shock doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling, and am still feeling today. When I heard the news of this devastating, and unlawful, loss, I was faced with two choices: I could either die or live. And if I live, I had to choose to either survive or thrive. I chose to thrive. And thriving included me studying and researching law on my own because I could not afford an attorney because my abuser had already caused me financial ruin.

I have suffered a roller coaster of emotions, lots of health issues, impoverishment, loss of friends and jobs. I lost my life. I lost my livelihood. I lost my children. And with no evidence of parental unfitness. While I fought for my boys, my abuser refused to let me even talk to my boys while telling everyone that I didn’t even attempt to contact them. This is known as “parental alienation.” It is a tactic abusers use so they can blame the victim for losing their children. Heinous, really.

The lies are endless, but the pain he has caused my boys is the most inexcusable of everything I have touched on herein. Because of ancient Georgia step-parent adoption laws of which do not require there to be a finding of parental unfitness, only a period of time without contact between the biological parent and the child(ren), plus unpaid child support, my abuser’s new wife adopted my boys. Yes, my abuser purposely planned this by refusing me to talk to my boys despite all my attempts to have contact with them, while telling everyone I refused to pay child support of which I could not afford. Remember, I couldn’t keep a job because of health issues and being on the run from this threats to harm me. So how could I pay almost a thousand dollars in child support a month? Procedural trickery, at best.

The good news is I used my pain and circumstances for good, and to help others. I would not wish my pain on my worst enemy. This year, I was involved in proposing legislation to change said step-parent laws to mandate that a finding of parental unfitness be substantiated before the Court can grant said adoption. In addition, I wrote legislation (Georgia State Senate Resolution 504) requesting a study committee to look deep into the insidious heinous actions of sociopaths and narcissists that are affecting our families and children.

I used to binge watch the legal drama CBS series, The Good Wife. I remember being so excited, and relieved, that I had found an outlet that understands my pain, and my unbelievable experiences. “It is only a movie or TV show,” they say. Well, if it works for you, I say go for it.

I remember in the very first episode of the series when Alicia Florrick is back to work after raising her children for many years because her husband was exposed for being involved in public corruption. She innocently had to deal with the unfair and very painful and humiliating, consequences of her husband’s lies, and indiscretion.

Alicia was helping her first client, in a pro bono case, a young mother who had been wrongfully accused of murder while in prison painfully separated from her daughter for months as she awaited trial She (client) was allowed time out of prison to visit with Alicia at the law firm’s office. She looked hopeless, defeated, and was in more pain than words can describe. She turned to Alicia and asked her, “Does it get any easier?” Alicia responded, “No, but you get better at it”.

And that is what it is really about. Not faking it until we make it, but doing everything that we can, each day, each hour, to take care of ourselves and heal the way that will have everlasting effects. I found that if I try to act strong when I am really dying inside, the pain grows. All this “get over it,” “just be positive” nonsense is a paradox at best, and enables a continuous vicious cycle that nobody knows we are battling inside.

What if I told you that it’s safer to stay with your abuser? That’s it’s wiser NOT to report your abuser to the authorities? That being submissive and staying with your abuser is the only way to prevent losing your children?
Crazy, I know. Yet true.

I could go on about this issue, but I leave you for now with this. Domestic violence is a serious public health issue that needs YOUR attention. Let’s work together to save lives, and finally, let’s hold the real perpetrators accountable. And finally, let’s help the victims so that they can have a second chance at a normal life.


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