Okay, blog peeps! I need a bit of advice. I’ve gotten out my journals (oh, god, what a sad, sad mess they are. Depressing!) and begun my “fictionalized autobiography.” It’s moving right along – I don’t think 50,000 words will be enough at the pace I’m going. I really, really, really, hate that man! I may need a new keyboard before all is said and done, too.
But that’s not why I’m posting here tonight. I need a bit of advice. I have this idea that it would be much more effective to break into the main action on occasion with a “narrator’s” comments, explaining the steps an abuser takes to suck in their victim and the stages of the emotionally abusive relationship as it happens.
The prologue is written, and the next section is well underway. No chapters yet, just year headers. Here’s what I had in mind:
Time for your friendly narrator to step in. Because hindsight is always 20/20, Cat did not see what was happening to her life as events occurred. In order to more clearly illustrate the stages of an abusive relationship, I will be stepping in from time to time to point out Red Flags and explain the process of the brainwashing that must occur for an abuser to get and keep control over their victim. Domestic violence knows no gender – please forgive me for phrasing my comments using the same gender pronouns as the main story for the sake of continuity.
Winter and Spring of 2000 saw her marriage collapse. It was marriage number two and her husband of 4 years was cheating on her. At the same time, he was being cruel to her son from her first marriage and starting fights with her over imagined slights at every turn. He was calling her many times a day, asking what she was doing (working at the office) who she was with (Tom and John, the only two other people who worked at the office) what she had for lunch, when she was coming home, whether or not she was stopping at the grocery store, and on and on.
The calls were an embarrassment to her and she kept them as brief as possible, answering in monosyllables, hanging up as soon as possible, hoping it didn’t cause a problem with her boss, hoping no one was listening.
He was, of course, drinking in every word. After a couple of months of this, he finally said something.
“Why does he call you all the time? Doesn’t he know you’re at work? What does he think we do here all day?”
“I don’t know. I don’t care. He is the way he his. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
“I would never treat my mate that way! If he’s so suspicious he should come down here and see for himself that you’re working. It’s just not right!” He angrily pushed himself up to his desk and went back to work. At last, she had a warrior on her side. The thought warmed her heart.
As the months passed, she shared more with him and always he was outraged. He had a lot to say about relationships and how people who love each other should not maim each other. He was devastated at the ending of his marriage and filled with regret that they hadn’t been able to work things out. He never said anything unkind about her, but he did remark on some of the things she did that perplexed him. He claimed she threw a screaming fit when he went over to their house (which, he said, she refused to sell or vacate) to get some towels – she was incensed that he was taking the “good towels” and insisted that he only take the old ones. He was saddened that she didn’t care if he had nice towels and did not understand her bitterness over bath linen. He shook his head sadly and said, “I’ve spent my whole life leaning how not to hurt people and now she does this. It boggles my mind…”
He said so many things that echoed her own thoughts that she began to long for him. Here was a man who felt the same way she did! Her husband continued his affair, denying that anything was going on between him and the secretary at his office, refusing to let her go or to leave, continuing his harsh treatment of her and her son. She was depressed and looking for a way out of her life.
What do you think? I envision a short narrative paragraph after a particularly telling event or scene that explains what the narc just did and how her reactions are dictated by what came before. I want to show the gradual erosion of her Self at his hands in order to help people who haven’t been in this kind of relationship (or those who don’t yet know that they are) understand that it’s not something that happens overnight, but a slow, deliberate taking by the abuser until the victim is a hollow shell.