Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blog Tour Redux, Day Five: Celebrating Domestic Violence Month

Originally posted at Pirate Penguin Reads where Sandy, who claims she is neither a penguin nor a pirate, navigates the page-y seas of all the books she reads.   

I'm thrilled to post this one today because February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month -- a month where we can celebrate all we've done to help teens by talking about teen dating violence and by recognizing how much more we need to do.

If you are wondering if  something's off with someone you are dating, then try contacting  They have a 24 hour chat line, too.  And it's worth a few minutes of your time.

Cycle of Abuse

was inspired by the stories of abuse I heard when I was coordinating a domestic violence legal clinic. But not one moment of abuse in the book is based on any specific incident I heard. Rather, I based it off the pattern – a pattern so predictable that Lenore Walker coined it, The Cycle of Abuse. For those of you who have read Split, I have inserted short excerpts from it where the pattern presented itself in the book. Here’s the pattern:

1. Tension-building phase. 

It’s palpable. The stress is building. The air around you feels weighted and charged. You try to diffuse it. Be silent, dress right, be funny. None of it works. 

She used to get quieter when my dad was gearing up for a big one. She never spoke that much anyway, but when she sensed my father’s stress, our dialogue would turn into me monologuing, just to fill the room. 

2. Incident of Abuse. 

The tension has snapped. You’re a target. Of a verbal explosion. Maybe hitting. Maybe worse. 

I froze and watched him fire his foot into Christian’s stomach, cock it and slam it into his back and then his face. Christian’s head hit the cement with the distinct thud that I came to associate with concussions. 

3. Reconciliation. 

Now you get flowers, dinner, apologies, remorse and… blamed (sometimes subtle, sometimes not.) But no admission of fault. 

“Go,” she says, “and I’ll come to you.”

I want to ask her when – before he takes her to Orchestra Hall before they spend a dinner at the Russian Tea Time and a weekend at the Drake, or after the next beating, when the cycle starts again. 

4. Calm. 

Then, life returns to the speed of normal. The tension will build later because the timer has begun its countdown again. The abuser gives you space to breathe but little control. 

Taking a beating isn’t that remarkable in our family. It’s not as if the earth shatters or time stops. You get up the next day and go to school…overall, you just keep moving at the speed of your life. 

Inside the cycle, you keep thinking it will get better. But the cycle repeats faster and faster and you’re on a downward spiral. Eventually, you might admit that it won’t get better, but you don’t know how to get out. 

You believe it’s your fault. It isn’t your fault. The abuser chooses. Abusers can chose to hit you in the stomach so your bruise won’t show. Abusers choose to wait until there are no witnesses. If they can choose all that, then they can choose not to hit you, too. But they don’t. 

Hard as it is, you can leave. 

For help in creating a safety plan, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (TTY: 800-787-3224), or the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at (866) 331-9474 (TTY: 866-331-84530).  

No comments:

Post a Comment