Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Guest post - dealing with violence

I habitually post a link to my blog postings to various Facebook places and tweet it.  One place I post is a Facebook group called Poly Friends All Over.  One of the comments to my last post was really helpful to me and I asked the author for permission to post it as a comment to my blog posting.  She was kind enough to agree to that.  Unfortunately it exceeds the length of comments.  Fortunately I happen to know the blog author intimately and she (me) was pleased to step-aside and post Felix's comment as a guest blog posting. I hope that this furthers discussion but more I hope it helps someone else like me in this bizarre situation.

From Felix A.:   When do we interfere with partners who are having issues? [link to blog posting]

Wow, that article [touched by violence] actually made my heart pound.

In answer to your question above, I think, as soon as you notice that something is wrong. Abuse and dysfunction flourish in isolation but when those who witness it speak up it can be enormously grounding
for those involved who may have lost sight of what acceptable behaviour is and can provide an avenue for a victim to ask for support without having to initially overcome the shame of admitting it's happening in the first place. So, good for you for speaking up when you did.

As for the questions in the article - how to feel safe again - is there some way to achieve a state of absolute protection. . .trauma is caused by a sense of powerlessness, of lack of control. The unpredictability of this act, in the heart of your home, the place where you should feel safest, committed by someone who you allowed under your roof and considered a friend, has to have shaken the very foundations of your faith in your ability to judge character and foresee the outcomes of situations.

In order to live our lives, we all need to know that we are able to assess risk with a reasonable degree of accuracy. We all learn as we go of course and we all know that the bizarre and unexpected can happen once in a while, but our ability to make decisions - and to feel safe - is predicated on the idea that we can generally predict the possible outcomes of our decisions.

From what I have read here it seems to me that there is no way anyone could have really predicted this.

As I understand it, escalation of domestic violence from verbal abuse to deadly force in one single moment is quite rare. As someone who has experienced domestic violence I'm sure that you're keenly aware of the patterns and dynamics of that type of relationship and if there had been clear indications that the situation was becoming physically unsafe it's likely that you would have picked up on them. However, whatever the actual chances of such a sudden escalation may be, it happens, it happened, and statistics are rarely comforting.

The fear and apprehension that you feel now is a natural reaction, not only to the horror and proximity of the event, but to having your worldview shaken. The mental replaying of events, searching for foreshadowing that may have been overlooked or actions on your part that could have prevented this, is your mind's way of reintegrating your worldview. It will run its course.There may be some wisdom gleaned from it which you can apply to future situations, and that would be empowering, or you may find that - in your own considered evaluation - you did everything right. That you did everything you could, everything that you are willing to expect of yourself or anyone else in such a situation.

You will feel safe again. At first once in a while, then later, most of the time. You are safer now than you were the day before the shooting - but you didn't know that - and from there springs your apprehension.

There maybe a time of reevaluating your loyalty to people versus your willingness to be in proximity to volatile relationships, for it is true that there is a greater risk of interpersonal violence in such relationships, but where to draw the line? Where to find the balance between safety and compassion? There are two risks to be assessed here. There always are. One is of the all possible perils that come from without, the other is of the risk of making a prison of fear, of locking the doors of your house and your heart so tight that neither joy nor sorrow may enter. Every soul must trade these things off against each other and because of that there is no absolute protection. Even if absolute physical safety could be somehow assured, it would come at the price of never really living.

I don't know where you will find your balance between these things, but I do know that you will find it. I also know that it will always be changing and evolving, and always has been, it's just that right now you are acutely aware of it.

But that's the long view. Right now fear is keeping you up at night. This is again, perfectly natural. You have been through trauma and your body is probably still full of stress hormones, who wouldn't be jumpy? But also, who wants to live in fear?

I could tell you that this is a time to be very gentle with yourself - and it is. I could tell you that eventually the fear will fade as you process your trauma and life moves on - and it will, if simply allowing time to wear it away is what you choose to do.

What I want to tell you however, is how to banish fear. Immediately.

I know it can be done as I have done it, in a situation which had some similarities to your own. The trick is to simply refuse to feel it. I don't mean suppress it and refuse to acknowledge it. I don't mean distract yourself or run from it. I mean face it full on and blow it right out of the doors of your soul.

It is done like this: To grow so weary of its ugly presence in your life, or so pissed off that such a thing dare haunt you, especially at a time like this, that there comes a moment when you simply say no. No to its dark, dank, energy clinging around you and suppressing the brightness of your being. No to the unsteady quivering in your chest. No to the tenseness in your shoulders and no to ears constantly straining for the slightest sound out of place. No to even one more moment of being its victim.

Stand and feel how the floor rises up to meet your feet, solid and strong. This is your ground.

Yes, you are vulnerable, but so is everyone else. Yes, people can be dangerous, but so can you. This is not safety, it is acceptance. Acceptance that whatever may come your way, you can deal with it, and you can do so without fear, because you choose to. Know that you cannot control everything that will happen. Yes, it is wise to take precautions. This is not fear, it is reason. They may work or they may not. Do listen to your instincts, a feeling of fear related to an active situation is usually an important signal that there is danger present - but that is a very different thing than fear born of that which is past - that ambiguous and nebulous fear which taints the future moment by moment.Cast it out. It has no place within you.

Feel your shoulders and spine relax, feel your breath come easily.

Know that this, this decision, the ability to refuse to be afraid, is always and ultimately within your control.

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