The New Senior for October 1 2014
Domestic Violence Prevention Month
By T. Myers
A serious look at a serious subject this month friends: October is Domestic Violence Month. Since it is a real problem for families in South County and it affects all generations. I would like to address the problem in this column.
I have been following a local woman, Teresa Garner, for the past two years. She was the victim of physical and emotional abuse from her longtime domestic partner- to the point of suffering a brain injury and physical injuries that were compounded with years of emotional abuse. We saw that she was trying to get help and after it was discovered that her ex had sabotaged the police response calls to give her help, she not only lost the battle in the courts to keep her long-time home, but now she lives on her property, afraid to leave for fear of losing the only home she has known for close to thirty years.
Like so many women and families that live in an abusive cycle of constant hurt and lack of safety, Deschutes County continues to have high numbers of women, children and even some of the men who are subject to devastating experiences on a regular basis.
The news has been filled with the cases of domestic violence with the NFL players who either beat their fiancé, or hit their small four year-old child with tree branches. People are talking about it.
Unfortunately, we have many situations right here in our neighborhoods that are actively violent on a daily basis. Children come to school with circles under their eyes for lack of sleep- because they are put in the middle of the fighting between their own parents. Sometimes they are hurt by a violent parent and they say nothing because they are so afraid. Women often stay in these relationships- especially in our area, because there is no place they can go. We have no women’s shelter- or children’s shelter or shelter of any kind in the La Pine area…
The psychology of the abuse cycle is so ingrained in the behaviors of a family in crisis, that breaking the abuse cycle is difficult. It is difficult for a woman who only has known how her life has gone to see that there are other possibilities. For a child who does not want his family to break apart, there is fear that disclosure will lead to even more loss- this time a parent or both parents. For a man in an abusive relationship as the victim, there is often embarrassment about the abuse and denial that he will not be able to stand alone. Not one of the victims believes at first, anyway, that there is life after abuse. When it comes to the perpetrator, there might be some guilt feelings or remorse about their actions, but not ability to control the behaviors that lead to abuse of a spouse or child. And abuse escalates. The violence grows and becomes more venomous and destructive as time goes by and soon there is no feeling of trust left and the relationships are usually unsalvageable.
When the victim fights back- usually in hopes of finding a way to stop the victimizer- it rarely works because the physical turns to a mental and emotional powder keg that blows up and causes more harm than good. Point: A wife that hits back makes the partner angrier and he hits her even harder to control her and the beatings intensify. No one wins.
Domestic violence is a game played to win. Domestic Violence- like rape- is all about control of the other person. It is about dominance. It is about destruction. And the destruction can be accomplished by hurting a person physically, emotionally or mentally until a real break occurs.
Two years later, I watch this lady friend in Sunriver going through the process of how her own relationship ‘broke’ and her realization that many of the fights and “problems” were carefully instigated and manipulated by her former partner- in front of his friends in order to make her out to be unstable. Her partner actually succeeded in making other outsiders believe that she was, indeed, unable to hold it together in a stressful situation. Gaining the upper hand, he withdrew the funds from their joint accounts, hired his attorney and sued for the holdings they had accumulated over many years of living together. Leaving her high and dry, she had no funds for legal representation and lost her battle in court to stay in her own home.
Now, after months of separation and time to consider what happened to her, Teresa Garner is aware of how her injuries have affected her thinking and she is building up her ‘interior’ life so she can see a future for herself. Garner has a hard time living on a small disability pension and holding her ground in her long-time home. As hard as it is- she is still there. She still has hope that the courts will see that she was the victim of years of abuse and should be awarded the property she lives on. Garner still has hope that someone will be able to assist her in her desire to remain at home. If you can help her or other victims of local domestic violence situations contact the hotline below. You can also contact the Newberry Eagle. 541-536-3972
Domestic violence as defined by ORS 135.230 (also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, and intimate partner violence) is a pattern of abusive behaviors by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, or cohabitation. Call the National Domestic Violence hotline 1-800-799-7233 for help for yourself or for a friend!
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