Eat your vegetables
Sit up straight
LEARN YOUR LESSON
Abusers are lesson teachers. They punish without thought. Woven through all of their words seem to hold the same message…”Learn your lesson”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard Kara’s Ex say that “she needs to learn her lesson”. Abusers are the best punishers in the world. They have an ability to make you learn your lesson. Innately everyone has a way in which punishment hurts them most. Mine is condescending words and yelling. Nothing can shut me down faster than yelling at me or being condescending towards me. My husband and I had a really frank conversation very early on, it went like this… “If you yell at me – peace out, I will never yell at you.” He believed me…and I have held up my end of the bargain. What is amazingly odd to me is how often women say their husbands have tried to teach them a lesson.
Point in case: Kara and the X were in a heated argument (they always were) and in the hours to follow or within the next day her X would say you need to think of a punishment for the way you spoke to me, treated me etc. She would say “I apologize, sorry, blah blah blah” to which he would say “No, what is your punishment?”. OK imagine Kara and I having this conversation. I would be sitting on the floor with her (we were on the floor a lot, we both had small babies and toddlers at the time) – and look at her and squish up my eye brows and say “WHAT? A punishment, make it up? – I don’t get it”. Because he had already begun to abuse her sexually my thoughts were that he must mean a “favor”. I asked using blatant wording (that I will kindly spare you from) and her reply was “I don’t know, next time I’ll ask.” So the next time she asked him and that only enraged him. Looking back at that conversation I shake my head, talk about flirting with danger. I don’t think either of us really knew the extent of his abuse or what he was capable of. We were both in the “fix it” stage. Some time later he asked her again “What should your punishment be?” So the next time it happened here we are sitting in her living room on the floor, me with my twisted eyebrows wondering how now she could make something up to him. I guess it took me a few times to realize how ludicrous this was and keeping the peace was just not an option. We brainstormed and laughed at the idea of being punished…I said jokingly “next time, be sitting in the time out chair pouting when he gets home”. We got up and sat in the time out chair – we are both small women - sitting in the time out chair is completely plausible. We laughed so hard we cried as we would hang our heads with our hair all a mess, making pouty faces, pretending temper-tantrums. I made sure to leave before he got home. I don’t think Kara ever used the time out chair because we were just starting to learn about Domestic Violence. We were just starting to learn that there would be no punishment that would suffice his need. Poor Guy to have to live with such unsettlement. Seriously.
What are other ways abusers punish:
- withhold emotions or feelings
-cut down who you are and where you come from
-belittle your accomplishments
The punishment aspect of abuse is an odd one. Ok – think with me for a moment; whom do we punish and for what purpose. Punishment is usually meant for children (or criminals), punishment is given to help redirect a behavior or steer a child into conforming. Ex: Don’t run in the parking lot…we scold or reprimand our children as a means to teach them to conform to society’s standards and to protect them. The abuser punishes as well. Abusers are looking to get you to conform to the person that they feel you should be. Punishment is used as a form of control. A woman I recently met was punished for saying “no”. She learned her lesson. Her punishment was long enough and severe enough that I can say with 98% certainty she will never tell him “no” again. Abusers take punishment to a whole new level…ensuring the person being punished never makes that mistake again. They make it count. PLEASE let me be clear, you don’t have to be hit to be punished. Often times the worst punishment comes in other forms.
Kara and I were recently talking about the idea of punishments. She said “I am glad I never learned my lesson”. Me too, Me too!