Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Wanda"

Too many of us have friends or family members who have been victims of domestic (physical) abuse. In a number of cases, the abused chooses to stay with or return to the abuser, after separation.

In a case close to my heard, the abused person, (let's call her) Wanda, not only stayed with the abuser for over a decade. After breaking up, she stayed in contact*, talking on the phone, eventually meeting in public, then in private.

At this point, she seems to have cut direct ties with him, but there are other (less dangerous) examples of her allowing or embracing negativity. It's hard to be a friend to someone who does these things, putting themselves in harm's way - especially if they want you to listen to each new development.

In this case, Wanda's daughter was allowed to contact the abuser to borrow one of his cars, so that she and her friends could hang out. (Wanda wasn't willing to let her daughter borrow her car, since it's the only one she has.)

I told Wanda that I'm surprised she allowed this and that it's sometimes hard to listen to these things.

Wanda responded by saying, "Well, West, I'm sorry that your world is only black and white and has no shades of grey. My world, however, has plenty of shades of grey."

Well, this sarcastic and condescending statement pissed me off.


Despite how much it reminds me of recent accusations people have made about how I'm a hypocrite who's not really open-minded or willing to be exposed to ideas that differ from my own... I'm at a point where I want to cut this person off, completely.

It's tough to bear witness as she makes poisonous decisions that affect her and her child. This, combined with other irrational behavior and fundamentally flawed reasoning from her makes me feel that her presence in my life is poisoning me, as well.

I didn't realize it before, but I've recently come to discover that this decision makes me feel as if I'm abandoning someone that I care for. But, as I've said before, I'm really, really tired of fighting. It's not just "digital heartbreak," as someone put it, that fatigues me. It's an issue on- and offline.


So, what do you think of Wanda's decision to allow her daughter to borrow a car from the only father she knows... although he happens to have burned, beaten up and threatened her mother countless times?

What do you think of my reaction her choices and behavior?




* - Now, this is an area where I agree with Nikki and others who don't believe in maintaining friendships with ex'es. If the person was violent and you still had a hard time convincing yourself to leave him, then once you get away, STAY away.

16 comments:

Stoяmy Dazέ said...

Wow There is alot to cover in the post.

I don't agree with maintaining a friendship with an ex. I don't think you have to be rude, if you come in contact be cordial, but I don't think you should be on the phone talking or holding a friendly relationship with someone from your past. Afte all they are ex's for a reason.

--Usually Men don't see this, Until it comes back to bite them in the ass. (Yeah I went there)

As for Wanda I do think its wrong for her to allow her daughter to use the abusers car. After what she went through (and I am sure her daughter seen It) Why would she put her daughter out there like that.

Abusers are violent, angry people he could snap at anytime when he wants revenge on Wanda, and low and behold the daughter brings the car back

...a recipe for danger. Sorry that just isn't wise in my opinion.

As a survivor of abuse. I think she is unwise (I hate to say dumb, but hey, you know what I mean) She should cut off all ties and stay completely away from him.

This can be a very volatile and dangerous situation.

If I were you, I wouldn't cut off ties. If she is a friend. She just might need you in the not too distant future.

West said...

re: "I don't agree with maintaining a friendship with an ex. I don't think you have to be rude, if you come in contact be cordial, but I don't think you should be on the phone talking or holding a friendly relationship with someone from your past. Afte all they are ex's for a reason."

And that reason may have nothing to do with their inability to "be on the phone talking" or "hold a friendly relationship."

re: "--Usually Men don't see this, Until it comes back to bite them in the ass. (Yeah I went there)"

I think that's an overreaction. Like with a lot of things, it depends on the situation and how you handle it.

re: "As for Wanda I do think its wrong for her to allow her daughter to use the abusers car. After what she went through (and I am sure her daughter seen It) Why would she put her daughter out there like that.

Abusers are violent, angry people he could snap at anytime when he wants revenge on Wanda, and low and behold the daughter brings the car back

...a recipe for danger. Sorry that just isn't wise in my opinion.

As a survivor of abuse. I think she is unwise (I hate to say dumb, but hey, you know what I mean) She should cut off all ties and stay completely away from him.

This can be a very volatile and dangerous situation."


That's how I see it. If that car came back damaged or if he just snapped, it'd potentially be a very fucked-up situation.

re: "If I were you, I wouldn't cut off ties. If she is a friend. She just might need you in the not too distant future."

When is enough enough, then?

Stoяmy Dazέ said...

I just replied to all of this and blogger is giving me the fugg-Around so here goes...

In response to the first part of my comment, about men, I didn't mean anything bad by it. It has been my experience that men see nothing wrong with maintaining a relationship with an ex.

I can only speak as woman and from my experiences.

There would be nothing wrong with that if a woman wanted the same thing.

Women hold on to relationships until they can't anymore, they love hard and deep. If you had a good enough relationship that you still want to stay in contact, she is not going to accept that its over.

Most of the woman that I know if they are still friends with an ex. They still want the ex.

You know...When it comes to friendship, enough is never enough. When it comes to True friendships.

Me telling you not to give up on her, doesn't mean I think you should listen to her tell you how much he has changed, or how much he loves her.

If he hasn't gotten help, Nothing is changed he is Sick.

She doesn't see it, and unfortunately that is the sad part, because she has to want to help herself. she is not going to leave that situation until she's ready.

Most likely most of her friends if they are still around, probably feel much the same as you do. I find most people who go through abusive relationship alienate their friends. All I am saying is If she comes to you, she needs you.

She will go where she feels safe.

West said...

re: "You know...When it comes to friendship, enough is never enough. When it comes to True friendships."
and "Me telling you not to give up on her, doesn't mean I think you should listen to her tell you how much he has changed, or how much he loves her."
and "All I am saying is If she comes to you, she needs you."

I think I'm a true friend, but I don't think true friendship must be defined by a never-ending torrent of irrationality and abuse.

Unfortunately, that's too big a part of who she is and, she's certainly not going to stop being irrational, self-poisoning, or silent about her choices, just for my sake.

Most importantly, as she likes to say, she ain't changing.

One thing I'm trying to improve about myself is my expectation or hope that people will change for the better. I'm still not prepared to say it never happens, but it happens so infrequently that there's little point in hoping so doggone hard.

My friend isn't friendly enough, so maybe she shouldn't be my friend, anymore.

chele said...

Having never been in an abusive relationship I absolutely cannot relate to Wanda and her choices. If she were my friend or my sister I would not cut her off but after the saracastic comment I would stop giving advice and I would request that she no longer share the details of her relationship with me.

I think she is putting her child in danger by exposing her to this man. I think she's crazy as a loon for maintaining this relationship.

West said...

re: "Having never been in an abusive relationship I absolutely cannot relate to Wanda and her choices. If she were my friend or my sister I would not cut her off but after the saracastic comment I would stop giving advice and I would request that she no longer share the details of her relationship with me."

She's cut off ties with the guy, to my knowledge, but there have been plenty of examples in which she's put herself within arm's reach or, in this case, allowed her daughter to be in contact with him.

Even if she never mentioned that particular guy, again, she brings up these other dudes that she's allowed to mistreat her in other ways. S'why I say these things are too big a part of who she is.

re: "I think she is putting her child in danger by exposing her to this man. I think she's crazy as a loon for maintaining this relationship."

I feel the same way about her exposing her child to him. I guess that's a form of maintaining the relationship, like you say.


I just know that I'm trying to divest myself of such irrationality and pain. There are some things we can't change, but there are others that we can. Another friend told me that I'm a glutton for punishment (for putting up with certain stuff for so long), but a glutton with a limit.

Hmmm...

James Meeley said...

West:

Wow, man. That's a tough spot you are in. Sadly, I see very little in the way of options that don't either cause you continued undue greif, or end the friendship badly between you both.

I'd say that I agree with chele, in that you should just tell her that you no onger want to hear/talk/know about her personal "romantic" life. Of course, if it is as a big a part of her as you mentioned, that might not be possible.

The only other option, as sad as it is, would be to cut your losses.

I have a father who is an alcholic. He's tried stopping for me, my siblings, my mother, his mother, God, the law, just about everything you could. But there is one person who he has never stopped for: himself. Until he does that, he'll never be sober, only "dry."

In much the same way, your friend is like that, only with men, not booze. And just as I couldn't keep being the conscience and voice of reason for my father and his bad habit, neither can you be for "Wanda." And despite her cheap shot at you, that's exactly what she seems to use you for (even when the advice you give isn't what she wants to hear). You can't keep doing that. To her or yourself.

Perhaps a break with her is best for you both. If the friendship really means anything to her, she will see that she much chnage the way in which she's been using it. And if it's NOT that important to her, well, better to find that out now, before you end up getting into a situation that will only bring you further pain and heartache.

I know it might sound harsh and I know it won't feel right, as giving up on a person usually never does, but sometimes the only way you can help, is to let someone take the fall all the way to the bottom and hope they survive the fall to pull themselves back up. I think that's the situation you have with "Wanda" right now.

Sorry I can't give you a "magic bullet" solution to this, but I somehow doubt you really expected one, either. Best of luck with this.

West said...

'Preciate it.

Yeah, I don't see any way to maintain the friendship while telling her to keep her love-life to herself... especially if I'm going to want to talk about my special someone.

As you say, there's no magic bullet. But this is really buggin' me.

Again, I appreciate the candid advice and feedback - past and future.

viperteq said...

This post hits home for me. I had an Aunt who was in an abusive relationship. For awhile my Uncles would intervene and she would break up with dude, but then she would always end up taking him back a few weeks later.

After awhile my Uncles got tired of the flip-flopping and told her that if she got back with him after helping her again, that wouldn't help her anymore as she seemed to want to be in that relationship.

Eventually, she did end up dumping him. But one day he came to her house asking if they could talk. They ended up getting into an argument and he murdered her. He is now in prison. Every year, my cousins and I take a trip up to the prison to convince the Parole Board not to let him go free. I think it's a freaking shame that WE have to convince THEM of that......

West said...

wow.

This really hit home with ME: "They ended up getting into an argument and he murdered her."

Dude showed up at Wanda's home one day, unannounced (apparently, he'd followed her to find out where she was living) and he pulled a gun on her.

No one was hurt, although he was eventually arrested.

Wanda's story could easily have mirrored that of your loved-one. I'm sorry your family had to deal with that - both the loss and the annual Parole Board meetings.

MzNewAgenda said...

Some people are addicted to chaos. Some may feel that their life is not exciting enough without the drama going on.

As for your friend. She has to get sick and tired of the endless cycle. It's like she is dating the same man over and over....just a different name and face. Once she recognizes this and takes the time to get to know Wanda and be ok with loving Wanda for who she is, she is doomed to repeat it.

I had a pattern of dating men that were not good for me. Until I stepped back and really looked at the "same man different face" I was dating and got to know and love me, I too repeated the cycle. It's different for women because sometimes, we validate our own existence through our affliation with others.

Be her friend, tell her how you feel. But make sure you tell her in a non-judgemental way. She may not realize that her self esteem is in the toilet. Tell her to remember this phrase:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” - Eleanor Roosevelt.

West said...

Thanks for the advice, mznewagenda, and welcome!

re: "Be her friend, tell her how you feel. But make sure you tell her in a non-judgemental way. "

This will sound awful, but I'm not sure I can do that. Here are two reasons, why:

1) Wanda is hardcore. She curses like a sailor and speaks somewhat harshly, even to her friends and family. She doesn't necessarily mean anything by it, but being her friend isn't for the faint of heart.

The point is, having a frank discussion with her is hard to do without things getting kinda raw.

2) We've been friends for so long, I'm not sure that it's in me to turn back time and start trying to talk to her in a way that I believe will result in more snide remarks from her.


Or maybe I just don't really get how one can make a judgement about someone else's life and decisions... without getting judgemental. Maybe this is an area where *I* need room for improvement.

Thoughts?

MzNewAgenda said...

Ok this is going to sound really crass but:

Often we are assholes when we have control and self esteem issues. I know because I am guilty of the behavior. I have been known to be a mean a sarcastic witch. However, I am really a very nice person. Yet when it was a situation where I felt I had "little or no" control or something that delivered a direct blow to my self-esteem, the agitated me came out. Before long, I had gotten used to "living on the edge" and that became me all the time. I have since realized that and now try to take a breath before I speak so it comes out smooth as butter. O I may still be saying "Go to hell" yet it comes out sounding like a trip to the Bahamas. Sounds like Wanda may need some counseling, beyond what a friend can do. You may want to suggest that.

I know I know...I see you looking at the screen sideways "Black folks don't do therapy." We damn sholl need to though. LOL

West said...

re: "Sounds like Wanda may need some counseling, beyond what a friend can do. You may want to suggest that.

I know I know...I see you looking at the screen sideways "Black folks don't do therapy." We damn sholl need to though. LOL"


No, I hear you.

I've suggested just that, but she's not having it.

I wish there were a way of getting through to her, but most folks don't look at the evidence to form conclusions. They form conclusions and only pay attention to evidence that they think supports those conclusions.

From Wanda's perspective, the fact that her daughter didn't suffer a violent attack from this man must be proof that she's safe around him... and that Wanda's decisions are sound.

Maybe, in this instance, she happens to be right, but even if that's true, I think it's just cuz she got lucky.

Wanda, Jr. being around that abusive asshole scared the hell out of me, but maybe it's just not my business and I should mind my own.

MzNewAgenda said...

He wasn't abusive to her back THEN because he had another target in mind. I believe that everyone (yes everyone) has the potential to be violent given the right circumstances. It is what we CHOOSE to do that separates the criminals from the rest of society. Unless he has sought counseling and got some help, once an abuser always an abuser and he is going to have the potential to take it there. See most abusers react first, that is how they become abusers. She may have never given him a reason before. Or if she (Wanda Jr.) did, he took it out on Wanda Sr. Without no Wanda Sr. to take it out on, if she messes up he could hit first show remorse later. That is a situation that she really should not place her daughter in if she is worth a damn as a mom.

West said...

I really can't argue with that.

I just one or more of them see this on their own.