Saturday, April 11, 2015

Abusive, Destructive, Controlling Relationships--Part 1

I'm finally ready to address a topic that isn't easy to talk about--destructive, controlling, abusive relationships.  It's a topic people rarely talk about, and usually don't understand.  I know I didn't (and in many ways still don't!), until I took a college class on interpersonal violence a few years ago.  And let me be clear that I am NOT talking about my own marriage relationship--I feel incredibly blessed to have a great relationship with my husband.  It's not perfect--but it's healthy and loving. 

Our son Joe's was not.  And even just writing that brings back such incredible heartache and pain.  For those who don't know, Joe died from cancer in 2007, at the age of 21.  I won't go into the details of his abusive relationship, but I will say that he was the one being destroyed (men CAN be the victim of an abuser!).   He didn't just die from cancer, he also died from a heart broken by pain and control--and we all lost part of our hearts.  There are some things I will never understand this side of heaven. 

Kids from healthy families CAN get mixed up into negative relationships, and honestly, even when Joe was falling into his, I didn't know the warning signs.  Neither did he.  And that is why I'm finally writing about it, in hopes someone else might be spared. 
 
Happy times--Joe is in the back, between James and me

We teach our kids to be safe in so many other ways.  We teach them about stranger-danger, hot stoves, and busy streets.  We lecture them on making good choices, eating healthy, wearing seatbelts and driving safely.  We warn them of the dangers of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, STDs and other communicable diseases. 
 
We talk them about friendships, dating, pre-marital sex, and intimate relationships.  But we don't usually teach them the warning signs of an abusive relationship.  And as a therapist taught me, regarding how our son got involved in an abusive relationship, if a child has never witnessed a destructive relationship, they can easily get sucked in. 
 
I'm writing about this topic over several posts.  In my typical up-down-all-around blogging fashion, they will be interspersed with other topics.  And in my continued process to try to forgive my son's abuser, I have removed all photos of "She Who Shall Not Be Named."  And that reference shows that I still have a long way to go in the forgiveness category.  I will blog about forgiveness too.   

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