Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Controller…

It’s the controller on the video game that gives the player the power. The total power! It is through this controller that the individual has the control over the whole game—hence the name.

This controller allows the individual playing the game to control where their character goes in the game, what their character does, what their character does not do, when the character does what it does, even whether the character gets to “come alive” or not—based on whether the individual in control chooses to use the controller to turn the game on in the first place.

Sometimes the individual behind the controller totally takes their control for granted; many of these times, totally unaware of his/her controlling nature.

With a video game, this is okay. Ultimate control over the forces of animation is no crime in this grand country we live in; it’s when the sense of power moves beyond the directional arrows and the “A” and “B” buttons that issues may occur.

It’s when a sense of control over another individual takes place that issues can arise. It’s the manifestation of one’s need to control in a relationship that can sour the experience. It’s this sense of control (which can be in existence for a number of different reasons), that leads to a power struggle, as well as a self-worth battle. The power struggle can be between the two individuals involved, while the self-worth battle(s) are battled with one’s self.

Not always, but a large portion of the times, cases of domestic violence are tied to issues of control. It’s unfortunate that sometimes one’s desire for control seems to only be to be met through harming others.

An Oprah episode today, covering an abusive husband situation, noted that more than 50% of marriages today are abusive relationships. This is under the understanding that “abuse” includes sexual, physical, and verbal abuse.

It is sad.

Though I do not have a number, I feel safe in saying the majority of this abuse is suffered by females. And also, not having a statistic, I am willing to say a majority of this abuse comes from a desire for control in the relationship from a male.

I have had the experience of working one-on-one with clients who have been at the receiving hand of domestic abuse. I have heard stories of some of the most horrific sexual abuse/rape cases, as well as some demoralizing physical abuse. Not to mention lives that were filled with continuous expression of verbal hatred and belittling.

Victims of domestic violence are for sure in a tough situation. Granted, living with the physical and emotional pains of the abuse can seem unbearable, but include the difficulty in getting out of the situation into the puzzle and one’s view may seem hopeless.

In an advising position, I struggle with the thoughts of knowing what to even say.

How do you tell a woman who is being beat day in and day out by her husband/fiancé/boyfriend to just leave when she has no other place of shelter to go to? How do you tell her to run away when she has no money for herself? How do you tell her to go hide from her attacker when he has threatened to hurt her family if she ever left him?

Often times the fear of leaving is more frightening than the thoughts of the up-coming punches. One would more readily deal with the pain of the actual abuse than the fears of their “where to go,” the “what about my family,” the “what about money,” etc. In some cases the abused individual has carefully weighed these options, but resorted to staying in the relationship because of the “safety” (as oxymoronic as it may sound) that the situation provides.

But what’s even sadder is when the victim in the controlled relationship is so vulnerable that she denies her own self-worth to the extent of believing she is deserving of this type of abuse. It’s when this woman being abused believes she is nothing without her abuser. When she believes she can not live without the controller. It is then, that the controller has reigned to complete and ultimate power. It is then that he has the ability to turn the game on and off, so to say.

How can a situation get to this point? What does a victim believe that allows her to feel needy of the control? What does a controller do to achieve this sense of complete control?

To answer those I share with you this story. The words of how a controlling relationship works—how it’s experienced. And more importantly, the understanding of what a controlled woman in a relationship must understand to be able to be released…

I wish you didn’t love me. I wish you’d make this easy. It was love that caught me; now it's fear that keeps me with you. I want to be by your side, so I can close my eyes to the growing emptiness inside that kills me when I'm with you.

You try to break me. Try to hate me, so you can fall out of love. You want to make me believe that I'm crazy. That I'm nothing with out you.

I feel you in my shadow. My heart feels cold and hollow. No matter where I run I see, your eyes always follow me. You try to hold me—try to own me; keeping something that's not yours. You want to make me, believe that I'm crazy. Make me think that you're the cure.

It's unbelievable, but I believed you. Unforgivable, but I forgave you. Insane what love can do; that keeps me coming back to you. You're irreplaceable, but I'll replace you. Now I'm standing on my own—alone.

You're still haunting me, in my sleep. You're all I see, but I can't go back. Cause I know it's wrong for us to go on, and I'm growing strong, to confront my fears.

Amazing! Utterly amazing, in my opinion. I do not believe a therapist could describe the situation of what is happening to a victim and what she must be able to see to “get out” any better than that!

That’s it. That’s honestly it to a tee, in what I would say is probably 90-95% of controlling relationships.

It is when a victim can view her situation in a view such as that, that she is believed to have had a full-fledged full-circle moment. When she can see what her controller is doing to her—distorting her beliefs, causing her to feel as she is—she can begin to “stand on [her] own.”

It’s a beautiful thing! Seeing a victim come to these realizations!

The parts bolded in the story I bolded to emphasize the most important realizations, in my opinion, that once the victim can see these, the enlightenment has begun. These are the most important keys to being able to “be released.”

Whether it is a marriage, a long-lasting dating experience, or even a newly found romantic relationship, control issues can be present. It is when the issues escalate to a level of interfering with someone’s ability to function on his/her own that considerations need to be reviewed…

…does one continue to play the game, or turn it off?

[Note: the “story” mentioned above in smaller italicized font is the lyrics from the Kaci Brown song entitled Unbelievable. While I have extreme amounts of respect for this song and the power and brilliance of its lyrics, I prefer not to display song lyrics in my blog entries in the typical form of “song lyrics”—as in stanzas with a preface announcing “song lyrics.” If you are interested in why this is, you can ask, but for now, I will save the blog entry space end with this.]

1 comment:

A. Lo said...

One of my oldest friends was in a series of abusive relationships in high school and after, and it used to make me so angry. The crap these guys told her was totally untrue and meant just to hurt her, and I couldn’t understand why she believed it. (One of them even told her that he never hit other girls he dated, he only hit her, and wanted to find out why that was, so would she go out with him again?) I think she just didn’t think enough of herself to get out of it. In fact, when I went off to college, my worst fear was a middle-of-the-night phone call saying that one of these guys had finally beaten her so badly that she was in the hospital, or worse, the morgue. And since my friends and I never told her parents, it would be my fault for not sounding the alarm. I could never talk her into giving these guys up completely or getting a restraining order, so I really just yelled a lot. At her, to my other friends who knew, etc. I think she’s doing better, and I hope these guys have moved on, but they have a sneaky way of sitting dormant for a while and then coming back. Like herpes.

If I had it to do over again, I would tell her parents in a heartbeat, even though I know it would mean losing her friendship, which I value very much. I just know that she will carry the internal and external scars from these guys forever, and that’s not fair.