OOP Survivor Blog

Four women and five children die every day in the U.S. due to domestic violence. Read President Barack Obama's Presidential Proclamation announcing his commitment to reducing the prevalence of domestic violence in our country.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

How do you trust again?

I recently received an email from an incredibly insightful woman who is on her own journey of recovery and healing where she hopes to regain the ability to love again. She asked me how my experience of being in an abusive relationship has shaped my actions and perceptions of men.

I thought this was a great question and it really made me stop and think. I know I've gone through stages over the past year where I've felt a total lack of faith in ever being able to have an honest and loving relationship again. Men seemed like the enemy. I was so blown away by all of the overwhelming deceit and the horrific abuse that I experienced while married to Neil Zucconi, that it was difficult to look beyond it all and envision myself dating again.

Fortunately, I happen to have some really good men in my life who have helped me tremendously through their friendship as I've gradually gathered my strength and my faith back. My first husband has been my steadfast best friend through thick and thin over the past 25 years. And I also have some fantastic friendships with men whom I've known since elementary school, as well as colleagues, family friends and neighbors, who have all helped me shift my perception and renew my faith in the fact that only a very small percentage of men out there are bad eggs. I just happened to pick one, but it was through no fault of my own.

I guess I got to a point a few months ago when I made a decision not to let what my ex did to me affect my inherent trusting self. I've always been a very trusting and open person. And I'm not going to let a monster change that. Because that's part of who I am. And I won't let a person or a life event strip part of me away. I feel good about dating now. I've got myself back - my confidence, my sense of humor, my happiness, my tremendous appreciation of my life....and I'm happy to share it with someone else.

I know that I'll find more heartache and struggle and I proceed through life. I don't bother with having faith or trusting that I won't. That's futile. Because it's going to happen. But.... I also know that I'll get through it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Sudden violence and a face that says a thousand words

I took a little hiatus from this blog over the holidays and can't say that I really missed this topic much at all. I obviously started this blog for a reason - to express myself and heal during an inordinately stressful time in my life - and over time it has morphed into more of an advocacy piece that hopefully will help others find help and heal as well. Even as positive as that is, it's still hard to be in this realm because of the memories of the past year that get stirred up. So the past few weeks have been a good break for me.

But, as it happens, the tragic shooting six days ago in Tucson somehow, in a weird way, drew me back here.

At first it was just the shock of the sudden violence that got to me. It hasn't been all that long since I experienced the shock of violence in my own life, and I guess I'm still slightly sensitive. Maybe my PTSD symptoms are still holding out just under the surface, waiting to strike too quickly. Plus it hasn't been easy seeing this absolutely evil-looking, bald man staring me down from every newspaper I've picked up over the past few days. That has been enough to make my stomach drop. When one of my friends called me to say that the accused Tucson shooter, Jared Loughner, reminded her of a photo she had once seen of my ex-abuser, that totally gave me the chills.

Another thing that freaked me out was a segment on Channel 3 News that provided insights into Loughner's face. Yes, his face. A professional "face reader" who has worked with the police on various investigations was asked to "read" Loughner's face and provide info on his character. The two photos below are both of Loughner: the one on the left shows the left side of his face paired with its mirror image, and the photo on the right shows the right side of his face with its mirror image. How wild that this is the same person! The face reader said that he obviously is a sick person because the two sides of his face are so completely different. Apparently this is common among people with....issues. Especially those who try really hard to portray a certain persona to others when, in reality, inside they are completely different.

I also just happened upon an interesting article in The Washington Post today about schizophrenia. Again, I got the chills. The author pointed to the discussions raging in the media on whether or not we should blame politics or mental illness on Loughner's turn to horrific violence. And of course the old debate of whether Loughner's apparent schizophrenia is innate or due to external factors has provoked thoughtful discussion as well.

I guess a similar debate could go on with regards to domestic violence. Does a person become an abuser due to outside influence or is abuse simply part of that person's biological makeup from the get-go just waiting to rear its ugly head?

When it comes to schizophrenia, according to the author's research, external factors such as politics or violent media have no connection whatsoever to the illness. And, sadly, schizophrenics also apparently suffer from anosognosia, which means the inability to have insight into or knowledge of one's own illness. So someone like Loughner doesn't believe that he is ill. So therefore he most likely can't be helped. Hmm.....sounds like someone I knew.

I swear, those photos of Loughner truly give me the creeps. Especially those strikingly menacing eyebrows on the left image. Yikes. If you're interested in watching the "face reading" segment on Channel 3, click here. It is fascinating. Even if it does kinda make you want to hurl....