|Doctor Daniel Detton speaks to the coalition.|
The annual domestic violence luncheon was held in the Castle Dale Park on Oct. 16. Larry Heaton welcomed the crowd to the lunch to increase domestic violence awareness and pointed out that Koni Liston of the Ivy Attic had donated the purple balloons to the event. Each year a purple balloon represents a victim who lost their life to domestic violence. Last year there were 12 balloons and this year 2002 there were 21 purple balloons. He also introduced Sheriff Lamar Guymon who represented the Emery County Sheriff's Office. They work with domestic violence victims and are the first to respond to domestic violence situations. He introduced Daniel Detton who is a psychotherapist who treats relationships and was the guest speaker for the event.
Detton said, "I am pleased to be here. When thinking about what topic to speak on the question comes up again and again. Why do women stay in abusive relationships? I have been working with relationships since 1982 and treated 1,600 relationships and individuals. A large number of those individuals lived with abuse and violence in their youth and data supports that fact. Individuals involved in abusive relationships have a difficult time leaving. Women sometimes view themselves as nothing but victims, but by the time they are in their third abusive relationship they begin to think they might have a part or a role. Why does someone stay? Sometimes someone will get out of the relationship the first or second time abuse occurs.
"So many stay and are abused over and over. Relationships and marriages don't last like they used to. In the classroom these days children who are living with both biological parents are in the minority. Women who are abused don't stay forever, the average stay is six years; which can be five years too long. But, they do leave and are leaving more and more with the help of programs where they can find assistance for themselves and their children.
"Why do women stay? Fear is a major factor; fear for physical and sexual violence and the reoccurrence of that violence combined with the fear that the violence will become more severe. They wonder what will happen to them and their children. Four and one-half million women are severely abused every year and most don't fit the old stereotype of a whining, nagging woman who provokes the abuser. Most of these abused women try to negotiate with nonviolent responses in an attempt to assure it won't happen again. The abuser doesn't understand why they do it. The victim from the very beginning starts struggling with developing strategies to escape if the abuse continues. It's difficult to conceive that this person loves you if they abuse you.
"Generally those who are abused view who they are in relationship to others. If things are going well then they feel good about themselves, if things are not going well then they feel bad about themselves. Their partner is their central concern and they feel they have the responsibility to provide for him. That role has been defined socially and religiously with emphasis on the role of the women to make the men happy. In the Western culture the women learn that from a young age and we won't even talk about the women's role in the Eastern cultures of the world. The man is viewed as the head of the household. The abuse to a female takes its toll, she tries to suppress what has happened to her and she doesn't deal with it. It manifests itself by taking a toll physically and emotionally. She may develop migraine headaches and fatigue.
"She might try to minimize the amount and intensity of the abuse and she begins to repress it and set it aside. They might rationalize that it wasn't that bad.......it could have been much worse. Surprisingly women who come in for a restraining order have difficulty remembering what has been done. With a restraining order you need specific information and sometimes it takes an interview to bring it out, because these women are in denial. When the unacceptable occurs then the defense mechanism is to repress how bad it hurt and how they felt.
"They hope their relationship isn't doomed; when domestic violence sticks its head up. They feel they've made a huge mistake and their relationship is over. Sometimes with the threat of the law becoming involved the relationship might improve for awhile.
"Most perpetrators were victims before, in our effort to help victims we also have the responsibility to help perpetrators. It is treatable if you draw the line quickly and face the issue immediately. The victim will seldom have that power again as violence continues over a period of time.
"Battered women feel it is their fault if they can't fix it and they feel responsible. The man has convinced them that it was their fault, 'if you hadn't of done this, if you hadn't of done that.' The abuser also might show remorse and promise not to do it again. He might show remorse, he might buy her something, he might bring her flowers. She might believe he is sincere. He believes he won't do it again. That doesn't tend to work. The abuser isn't just experimenting with abuse. 'Hmmm, I've never tried abuse before, I want to see how it works.' That's not the case. Sometimes the women might think that the time between the episodes of abuse is worth it......worth staying for. These women have low self esteem sometimes anyway, without putting up with abuse. Admitting something is wrong is a supposed cause of embarrassment and shame for them in this culture of narcissism. In Greek mythology, Narcissus looked into a pond and was fascinated by his image. When he reached out to touch it, it disappeared. He starves to death by the pond trying to make contact with his image. The message our society sends is that image is more important than who you are. The media emphasis on how we look and how we appear all have this emphasis.
"Abuse doesn't just stop with the mother or the child it goes both ways. The women feel shame that they are not loved by a spouse and can't bring security to their family. They feel shame about financial powerlessness. They have no money, yet they are expected to leave. Domestic violence programs help women to leave even though he controls the purse strings. The women feel shame because they want to be seen as successful wives and mothers, that is a major factor.
"They form a traumatic attachment to the abuser and this attachment overrides their urge to escape. If you wonder how they can be attached to an abuser, think back to what it's like to be a child. A child has unconditional love because of their dependency on their parents for their sense of identity, food and clothing. Love and dependency are co-mingled. Adult love is not that unconditional. A lover of self won't tolerate abuse. You can't address the issue of dependency in a logical way....it's not logical. Human logic doesn't work in understanding people.....how you can have love and hate at the same time. They stay and stay because they fear abandonment......the fear of physical injury is not as great as the fear of abandonment. Trauma never resolved is still happening. If you don't resolve it, it is still happening and you can't put it in the past......you regress back to when the trauma occurred. Humans with post-traumatic stress are not typically weak people. Those men from the special forces were strong individuals....anyone can be traumatized.....none of us are so strong that it couldn't happen to us. You live with it and it lives with you. Those traumatized in Vietnam say it is as real as yesterday, even though it happened years ago. One veteran described it as living with it today, yesterday and tomorrow, too.
"If a woman has lived for years with abuse they may forget the rules for healthy conduct. Another barrier for women in getting out is that they are not conceivably aware of the impact. They have difficulty in giving up a relationship because so much of what they want is in the relationship, except for the abuse. Another great problem in leaving is that they feel that no one else would love them or want them. Their perception of love is flawed....love has hurt them too much.......and also, 'I must be in love because it hurts so bad and inflicts pain.' These women have a phobic fear of being alone. It is an irrational fear and they can't just decide not to have it. Grandpa knew about these fears, if a kid was thrown off a horse he put him right back on or the kid would have a phobic fear of horses......today they have a new concept....shoot the horse.
"The kids who were in the library at Columbine and saw students shot, were traumatized by the library. They boarded the library up and didn't let anyone back inside. Those students who could see into the library windows from a classroom on the other side of the building could see that nothing was happening in the library now......they could leave the trauma behind....it wasn't happening anymore. The students should have been let back in after it was over to be shown that it wasn't happening any more. It shouldn't have been boarded up. Vietnam vets still think it's happening. We are just becoming educated on psychotrauma starting in the 90s. Domestic violence traumatizes children and spouses. Abuse also traumatizes abusers. Those Vietnam vets were traumatized by what they did. If you do something so bad and wrong you will traumatize yourself. When something happens to you..... severe trauma..... several victims of this thought that they must have caused it. Children in a divorce situation think that they caused it. You need to talk to kids and let them know they had nothing to do with it. In one case a child, 8 years old, had a disagreement with his father on the very night the father left the marriage. The child thought for three years that he had caused the divorce. He began having troubles, when they finally got to the bottom of it and explained what had happened to the child....that it wasn't his fault...all of his symptoms disappeared. Trauma must be resolved.....if you keep reliving it...it won't go away. You need to understand and interpret it. Domestic violence causes trauma. Victims have a distorted view...love and violence are fused and interconnected. It is not good enough to just get out of the relationship......you must get past the experience the relationship brought. One case I had the woman found a man just the opposite of her former relationship and she told me....'I'm hitting him.'
"So much of the women's identity lies with the aggressor. Many of these men are extremely successful in their careers. They have big homes, diamonds, furniture and they identify with the man who produced those things. They repress and deny that he abuses them. They have migraine headaches. It's difficult to have a healthy sexual relationship, but the guy requires that she do so. He tries to reshape the woman....every so often he wants her to dye her hair or other changes. There exists the belief that the two of them can fuse into one....without integrity and individuality. Some of these men want a trophy wife who will enhance their image. These abusive men are not a pleasure to be around at work either.
"Secure men do not abuse women. They love their wives and their daughters. If they have one challenge it is to love their sons as much," said Dr. Detton.
Dr. Detton's book covers a realm of topics, including information on children who were misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder when they were really suffering from trauma. The book is now available at all the county libraries.