Friday, January 27, 2012

Standing up to my abusers

My family of origin tried to terrorize me again today.  How?  Well, my maternal grandmother has been staying with me in my apartment to help me adjust for nearly a week.  Grandma and I have had a wonderful time together.  Grandma has helped me to set up the apartment, to clean the dishes and the furniture, and to cook food.  She has been an enormous help.
I had one amusing incident with her yesterday.  So she woke up at 8 a.m., and I got up around 10:30 a.m.  I saw that grandma had not made herself breakfast.  When I asked her why, she explained that she had no bread in the house.  She absolutely refused to make breakfast without any bread, even though we have plenty of eggs in the house.  So we walked together to Publix and made sure to buy her white bread (and also meat, dairy, and pareve dish towels for the household).  I didn’t make breakfast until after we returned from the store with the bread in hand.  Grandma waited four and a half hours for her first meal on Thursday, all because she wouldn’t eat breakfast without bread.
So back to the story.  My mother is supposed to come on Sunday to deliver some things to me and to see me.  She is also supposed to pick up my grandmother and bring her back home.  Well, my abusers thought they could pull a fast one on me.  My mother insisted that my dad had to come on the trip, using the flimsy excuse that she needed my dad’s help to carry the dresser with her.  I said we could easily hire the maintenance people in the building to put the dresser together for me. 
Then I realized what was really going on.  My mother was trying to convince me to let my dad back into my life on a full-time basis.  My dad and I had enjoyed ourselves at dinner watching football last week.  However, my dad also terrorized me when he, my mom, and my grandma came to visit me in the domestic violence shelter on December 25.  Based upon that experience, I had made a firm rule that my dad could not see me face to face. 
My friend Monica warned me that my family would try to test the limits that I had set for them. And this is exactly what happened.  My mother was testing my limits by pressuring me to let my dad come to visit me at my apartment.  I knew in my heart that it was time for me to set very firm limits with my abusers.  Having spent her whole marriage in captivity, my mother is trying to drag me back to captivity alongside her. I refuse to let her do this to me.
When I refused to let my dad visit me, my mother hurled the worst insult she could possibly issue against me: comparing me with my dad’s mother.  My mother said that I was doing to dad exactly what his mother had done to him. His mother was a profoundly evil human being who never did a good deed in her whole life and who brutalized my father severely, definitely emotionally and possibly physically as well.  I knew this comparison was ridiculous and said so.  In response my mother escalated by telling me I am not allowed to email or call her anymore.  I am now restricted to texting her.  That’s fine with me.
My grandmother also sided with my parents against me.  She threatened to leave my apartment immediately if I refused to let my dad visit me.  She also told me that I could not come to her home if I persisted in my refusal to let my dad visit me.  My grandmother tried to terrorize me with threats that my dad would kick me out of the apartment and leave me in the street.  My grandmother does not understand that financial support does not give my dad the right to terrorize me.
I responded by calling my friend and fellow survivor in Boston, Monica, who had offered to let me stay with her for three weeks.  I told my grandmother that I was fully prepared to move to Boston if need be to escape the abuse.  I was prepared to give up this apartment if need be to put a permanent end to the abuse.  I also notified my best friend in Boston Elana to be on call if I should need her support.
My abusers see me as prey to be controlled.  They don’t realize that I am now a survivor of abuse and not a victim anymore.  Having claimed my freedom, I will never return to captivity.  But I know in my heart that the only way I could recover from past abuse is to put an end to present abuse.  There is no way for me to help my fellow survivors escape from abuse if I am still in captivity.  I am determined to continue on the path to freedom no matter what the cost.  Having spent my whole life up until 7 months ago in a state of prison, I am determined never to return to that awful state in life.      

Friday, January 13, 2012

Forced to flee…from a domestic violence shelter

I just realized that today is Friday the 13th.  The Western superstition concerning Friday the 13th is based  upon the fact that the Catholic Church slaughtered the Knights Templar on Friday the 13th during the Middle Ages.  For this reason most buildings in Western countries do not possess a 13th floor. 
Last Monday night I had a surreal experience.  For weeks I insisted that I did not want my dad to sign the lease for my apartment.  I felt that he would be able to re-assert control over me if his name were on the lease.  My mother had falsely promised me for weeks in response that my dad’s name would not be on the lease.  She also pretended that she alone could sign the lease in the name of the real estate corporation that she co-owned with my dad.
But in reality she and my dad knew all along that my dad’s signature was necessary for me to obtain the lease.  My mother has no independent income and therefore no credit.  Thus, she cannot sign the lease on her own.  In addition, her signature on the lease is largely irrelevant because really my dad is the only one who can sign the lease.  My dad has a steady income as a physician lasting over 30 years.  And so my dad could have easily signed the lease on his own – without my mother at all.  My mom is only on the lease for symbolic reasons – to appease me. 
So on Monday night, once it was too late for me to protest, my parents sprung upon me the terrifying news that my dad would be the primary signatory on the lease.  My parents had obviously manipulated me by earning my trust and then breaking it.  By this time, Monday, January 9th, the domestic violence shelter was scheduled to close in less than a week, by Sunday, January 15. 
Upon receiving this devastating news, I was completely terrified.  I cried powerfully for over an hour in reaction to this news.  In response the house manager “Jane” came downstairs and verbally assaulted me in an incredibly vicious way.  Rather than hugging me and comforting me in response to my distress, Jane only added tremendously to my feeling of trauma. 
Jane demanded to know what was wrong in a hostile tone of voice.  Sensing that I was in immediate danger from a severe verbal assault, I cried to her and pleaded with her to leave me alone. I remembered how she had sided with my abusive father against me during a frightening conversation several weeks earlier, utterly dismissing my concerns about his abuse and implying that he had never actually abused me.  She had said I had no right to refer to my abusive parents as ‘my captors’ and that I should be so grateful to them for their financial support that I should overlook and tolerate their horrific emotional abuse against me.
This time I told her that she didn’t care about me and so I begged her to leave me alone.  But rather than leave me alone, she unleashed a well-planned and effectively orchestrated verbal assault against me.  She repeated her cruel insistence that my parents had never harmed me and insultingly told me to look up the word ‘captor’ in the dictionary.  She further hurt my feelings by saying that I was a well-educated person, but I was also a slob who ate food off the kitchen floor.  She also defended her attack on me several months earlier and added that she didn’t appreciate me telling senior management about that assault against me.   And to add insult to injury, she told me to quit crying about my dad’s presence on the lease.  
It was obvious to me right after the assault that Jane had previously planned this attack against me and was simply waiting for the right moment to unleash it.  I suspect this because Jane had not simply attacked me blindly but rather had carefully prepared a detailed list of insults that she planned to use against me.  I think she had drawn up a list of the three most devastating things that she could say to me based upon over six months of living with me.  I had confided in her about my history of parental abuse and about many other painful issues in my life, and now she turned this information into a weapon to be used against me. 
Her abuse was much more severe and sophisticated than my dad’s abuse against me.  It also painfully reminded me of the fact that one of my prior therapists “Shirley” had done exactly the same thing to me just over a year earlier. Around October, 2010, I had been seeing a therapist for nearly 3 years.  My father had stopped paying Shirley’s fees because she had criticized my dad for abusing me and my mom for colluding with him against me. 
Shirley at first promised to see me even after my father stopped paying her fees.  But several weeks later she turned against me even more viciously than Jane.  She drew up the list of the most painful things she could say to me – and hit me with all of them at once. Among other things she called me an abuser in order to maximize my sense of trauma, fear, and pain.  Knowing how hard I work not to become an abuser and to break from both my father’s patterns of living as an abuser and my mother’s life as a victim, she hurt me in the gut.
I could not believe that I was being subjected to such severe verbal abuse at the hands of the house manager / employee of a domestic violence shelter.  It seems to me that this kind of abuse violates the whole purpose of living in a shelter.  The shelter is supposed to be a safe place where victims can go to heal from the trauma of abuse by their partners or parents, not a source of additional trauma for already frightened abuse victims.  I was very vulnerable to Jane’s abuse because I had still undergoing a fragile recovery process from a lifetime of abuse at the hands of my parents and grandmother.  In addition I had counted on the shelter to be a safe place where I could process and overcome the abuse I had previously suffered in other environments.
I felt as though my worst nightmare had come true.  I was in shock to realize that Jane had hated me all along for having more money than me and was just waiting for a chance to brutalize me.  It was hard to believe that the house manager of a domestic violence shelter could be a vicious bully and verbal abuser.  Jane’s assault completely destroyed my sense of safety in the shelter and made me realize I had to leave it immediately.  My friend Monica, a fellow abuse survivor, agreed with me that it was shocking to see a DV shelter turned into a place of vicious verbal assault against an emotionally vulnerable victims.      
I could not sleep all night in reaction to this assault and went to bed late and woke up late.  I told my mother what happened to me on Monday, and the next day she announced that she was coming to pick me up from the shelter on Wednesday.  I had two appointments on Wednesday: to see a nationally known psychiatrist who specializes in Asperger’s and to meet with the owners of an apartment where my dad had signed the lease for me. 
I had originally planned to stay in the shelter until it closed on January 15 and then move directly into a rental apartment.  But it was clear that I could not stay in this shelter any longer because I was now under vicious assault in this environment.  I first looked into staying in a youth hostel for four days in Miami Beach but decided against it because the cost was over $85 a night, or $344 for four nights. 
My mother suggested that instead I should move out of the shelter on Wed January 11 and come spend 4 days with my grandmother.  The plan was to move me into an apartment in Miami Beach on Sunday January 15 or Monday January 16.  I agreed to this plan because after suffering this abuse in the shelter I welcomed the opportunity to return to my grandmother’s house temporarily.  I had basically reconciled with my grandmother a month earlier and she had apologized for threatening to throw me out of the house and to take away my food.  She said she was just trying to scare me and didn’t expect I would have the courage to run away like I did.  She said she realized she had been very mean to me and she was sorry. 
On Tuesday I spent the day packing to move back to my grandmother’s house.  I was also crying to the senior management of the transition house where I had been staying.  I explained to Julia that I was devastated because the system had thwarted my attempt to liberate myself from my abusive and toxic family of origin.  And I told my fellow survivor Monica that I was terrified of having my dad as the primary signatory on the lease. 
Monica suggested that I should consider going to court to seek a no-contact order against my dad.  I didn’t know how I could do this with my dad paying the rent for me.  But Monica explained to me that I could get a no-contact order against my dad that specified he had to pay the rent for me.  I don’t know if I actually plan to do this, but I feel empowered knowing that I have this option should it become necessary. 
For now I am refusing to see my dad face to face because he terrorized my mother and me during his visit on December 25 to the transition house.  I am in phone contact with my father for now, but I am prepared to suspend or end this phone contact with him if he abuses me again.  And I am prepared for the possibility that I might need to seek a no-contact order against my dad in order to put a permanent end to his abuse against me.   
I feel safe in my grandmother’s house for now and am looking forward to hopefully moving to Miami Beach in either mid-January or early February. Also my mother told me that her best friend “Christine” told me she read my account of my dad’s assault against me on December 25. Christine said that she thought I am such a good writer that I should write a play based upon my experiences.  Christine also shared my writing with another person who agreed with her assessment that I should write a play. 
It is clear to me that my career is writer.  I am writing a book on verbal abuse in intimate relationships.  I am also thinking of doing freelance writing in fields ranging from women’s issues to disabilities to military matters.  And my mother suggested I consider writing children’s books.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

interesting dynamics

I am going through an interesting dynamic with my family of origin.  I have reconciled with my mother and grandmother, but I have made a firm decision to keep my father out of my life at any costs.  Having been forced to endure his abuse all my life until six months ago, I know in my heart that I will never let him back into my life.  Having experienced freedom for the first time from abuse in the past six months, I know that I will never go back to captivity or slavery again.
For this reason I refuse to let my dad visit me.  I also refuse to take money from my dad and to work for my dad under any conditions.  I won’t allow my dad’s name on the lease for my new apartment. I know that as long as I am financially dependent upon my dad, he will see this as license to brutalize and assault me.  For this reason my primary goal is to become financially independent of him. 
I know that I have finally found my calling as a writer and advocate for victims and survivors of verbally abusive relationships – both spousal and child situations.  It may take me some time to turn this calling into money.  But I already have a web site at which is spreading virally and I can see that my vision of creating a global community of survivors is beginning to come to fruition. 
I have found among my fellow survivors a high degree of understanding, compassion, solidarity, and support which was completely lacking in both academia and the corporate world.   I know now that there is a safe place for me in this world:  among my fellow survivors of domestic violence and child abuse, both male and female.  I have felt that my experiences were validated and understood instead of belittled and used against me.     
This experience is allowing me to finally begin healing from the pain of rejection at the hands of academia.  I thought academia would be a safe place to share ideas where intellectual talent was highly valued.  Instead I found a very vicious environment filled with petty office politics where the ability to fit in socially was more important than intellectual talent. 
I concluded that academia is pseudo-intellectual and not really intellectual.  The traditional Orthodox Jewish scholarly world is much more intellectual in the true sense of the word than the academic community.  I found a higher degree of real scholarship among educated Orthodox Jewish laymen, including businessmen, who spent their spare time learning Talmud than I ever found in academia.