A lot has been on my mind with the whole Ray Rice thing going on. You know, the NFL, Ravens star player, domestic abuse issue? You know, the video, well the two videos that finally got the NFL commissioner to take a stand with punishments for this behavior, which at first were pretty lenient, but now are stronger? You know, the story that poor Ray Rice not only got cut from his multimillion dollar a year job with the Ravens, but also got suspended indefinitely from ever playing football again?
You know, the story that now has his wife (then girlfriend when he beat the shit out of her on video) speaking out to the press about how unfair this is and how he is a good man and that she does not fault him? You know.....THAT story.
Well, it got me to thinking about my own 30 year marriage and I had to ask the question: So why did I stay?
You see the Signs were there from the very beginning. Even his mom who adored me tried to warn me, saying over lunch, "you may want to rethink marrying my son. You are in love with love and he is in love with sex." Well, darn...ya think? He was a 21 year old man...aren't all men in love with sex and all women in love with love? What I didn't know was how prophetic she was being as within a matter of months the sexual demands and then abuse and sexual addictions raised their ugly horrific heads. So why did I stay?
And then there was his boss who took me to lunch (we hung out with him and his wife) one day and told me that if I was smart I would move out and cut my losses and leave my husband. He said, "He isn't who he portrays himself to be and my wife and I are really scared for you." So why did I stay?
That is the question being asked by so many now of Ray Rice's wife....so why did she marry him, if what he did was so horrific? And why is she staying?
And why did I?
You see I stayed for 30...count them 30 fucking years! And that is not a pun for sure!
So not to go into the gory details as most of you can find them other places on my blog, but suffice it to say that this man I decided to marry never once physically hit me; drag me; or physically abuse me. Nope....he just sexually abused me and emotionally and spiritually and psychologically abused me to the max. But you see, don't you, that him not hitting me made me think he was not abusing me.
Now get this: I was a social worker in child and family abuse. Yep...right there in the midst of it working with abused women too. And I would go home every day and not once think I was being abused. I just knew I was continually being put down and expected to do things sexually that I hated! It wasn't until I was continuing therapy after I left this SOB that my therapist finally got me to realize that I had been an abused woman! Holy fucking shit! And to think....me the social worker never figured that out? So why did I stay?
The same reason Mrs. Ray Rice is staying. We were both lied to by the patriarchal culture that has convinced us within a shadow of a doubt that it is our fault that everything happens to us and that on some level we deserve it...us worthless pieces of shit! And so we stay. Now that seems like an easy cop-out so let me count the other reasons I stayed (only realizing these after some time in therapy and reflection!)
1. I was 20 when I was married in a church and my vows said "Until Death Do you Part." I was told that these vows were make in front of God and that he would be one pissed off god if I ever left this man.
2. I wasn't willing to kill him to get out of the marriage although I will confess that the thought occurred to me many a nights after I laid in the bed next to this man who had just raped me anally as payback for an argument we had.
3. He had done such a great brainwashing on me that I really didn't believe I could survive on my own.
4. I had children with him and I so wanted my children to not be from a "broken home"; so let me assure you that our home was as "broken" as possible and we were all "intact"! Another duh...really moment!
5. I truly believed that since I had made my bed, I had to lie in it forever. Even when going to my pastor for counseling (major mistake) I was told that it was my responsibility to understand my husband's need for sex and that I was to stay and help him at all costs. Even after revealing all the porn in the house, the pastor told me I was Hosea (from the Old Testament) and it was God's will for me to stand by this man.
6. I didn't want to FAIL! I come from a long line of no one gets divorced in our family and I didn't want to be that first born, practically perfect (haha!) woman who could not keep her family intact.
7. My husband was also a social worker and threatened to take my kids away from me as he had a degree in Parent Education and would win in court. And I believed him...he was that good at convincing me it was all my fault!
8. I was an Abused Woman....that is why I stayed.....we don't know how to get out! We don't have the confidence or the self esteem to look the devil in the eye and say "Go Fuck Yourself!" And so we stay!
But you see one day, it was Enough! One day all the 30 years of this Man telling me I was NOT Enough...was Enough. But what opened the door was finding out how much damage had been done to my kids as they were growing up and I could not have them watch me stay in this marriage. I owed it to my son to demonstrate what a Strong Confident Self-Assured Woman looked like and I owed it to my daughter to show here how not to repeat the pattern!
This is what People don't get: IT'S THE PATRIARCHAL CULTURE that causes women to Stay and people to get upset when the NFL comes down on a man, who beats the living hell out of his girlfriend, after she marries him and says he did no wrong!
Here's the clue: