From Hell to Happiness
By Marilyn Redmond

I found the right man for me. We could communicate into all hours of the night. He sat behind me in the band rehearsals in college. His clarinet and my flute playing on stage kept us attending the same functions and classes. Meeting at a dance the first night of school made me aware he was a good dancer, and I thought he was attractive.

We dated during our four years in college. Some times were better than others; however, I saw the difficulties we experienced as typical differences that couples have, not as a way to control and manipulate me. By our senior year, we were becoming closer and considering ourselves engaged. Then I got pregnant. Instead of getting married in June after graduation, we changed the date to March. My parents were stunned. Their straight A, first chair flute student who did everything, so perfectly was not so perfect. Our daughter was born the following fall. That year I stayed home with our child and took a correspondence class I needed to graduate. Then I returned for my last two quarters before teaching for 30 years.

At first I did not realize the money I made from teaching, became his. He picked out my clothes and made me do all the house and yard work. One evening when exhaustion overwhelmed me, I said 'No' to his request for sex. That was the first time he strangled and raped me.

During the remaining years in my marriage, I was dependent and scared like a little animal. I did what he said and jumped as high as he told me. Without an identity, I was a slave in my own home. My going to church did not change this. Didn't everyone believe God is for other people? I saw my mom treated this way, and I did not think my life was going to be any better. That for me was humility.

In our culture, relating to a person with a similar inner identity is known as love. This reflection is a way of validating yourself, However, not everyone functions in a level that is healthy and considerate of others. Many couples fall in love because they have found themselves in another person. Meeting the man I would marry was comfortable to me. This was the first time I could communicate comfortably with a man. We seemed able to converse about anything. We had common interests as musicians and teachers. A family was important, and having a home to share was ideal.

A chronic progression from deep issues growing up brought me to a place of desperation. Parts of battering and abuse came to awareness, when he tried to kill me. My denial overlooked the earlier signs. In recovery, weekly visits to a psychiatrist gradually exposed and explained the levels below my facade to friends and co-workers. "Abuse of another is the perpetrator's unhealthy attempt to medicate or relieve deep fear of personal incompetence, impending doom, and impotence. Indeed, during violent episodes a false sense of personal power is experienced," states, Sally A. Maker. The drug of violence is adrenaline.

When the victims leave the abuser and the abusive situation, they usually suffer from adrenaline withdrawal with symptoms of nervousness, headaches, increased anxiety, panic attacks, the “shakes”, sleep disorders, and an increase of hyper vigilance and other difficulties. All addictions function in similar ways. Alcohol withdrawal is comparable.

Again, a relapse (returning to the abuser) is part of the addictive pattern, because of the victim’s physiological disorientation and their need to feel normal and energy to function, in spite of losing their investment and its fantasy. A mixed sense of self-betrayal and relief stops the withdrawals in returning to the familiar. An unrecognized element is sex addiction with its related behaviors such as pornography. It can be a catalyst as Dr. Dobson of "Focus on the Family", related after his interview with Ted Bundy. Because epinephrine (adrenaline) is a powerful stimulant hormone secreted under stress, arousal, or the need for increased vigilance or power, the victimizer recreates the assault for another "fix."

Former US. Surgeon General C, Everett Koop attests that family violence and addiction are pandemic. He challenges health professionals to see that interpersonal hostility and domestic violence are important to them. Battered, obsessive, and other addicts wanting to recover need recovered counselors or psychotherapists with a high level of expertise or those in recov­ery themselves who share their experi­ences for recovery. Professionals with an extraordinary attitude of understanding about their own limits and a long-term commitment to the therapeutic process offer diversity addressing the complexity of this malady. It is a long, slow, persevering path to wellness.

Issac Asimov's Foundation states, "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetence." His answer to why there is much violence in the world is "Because there is so much incompetence." By the grace of God, I was not among the 28,700 that entered hospital emergency rooms for concussion like my sister-in-law. My psychiatrist visits contributed $39,000 to the annual medical costs in the United Slates for domestic violence. These visits kept me treading water until acquiring living skills and other knowledge allowing changes in my life-style. I used sick leave from work including 175,000 days nationally missed from paid work. Some of these were days I went with him on demand or stayed home in a frantic state. My medical costs during the violence and in recovery are includ­ed in the $44 million for the country. Without family treatment and treatment for Valium/alcoholism I would not be alive today. All addictions are similar.

With over 15 years of recovery, my life is my own. My opinions, hobbies, interests, and activities are for me. I help others, too, but not at my own expense. Being an example to women who are struggling is a high for me. Teaching them the lessons necessary to be whole, happy, and independent is my most fulfilling work today.

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