I'm reading this book as a part of my therapy. In all honesty I started out doubting that this book really applied to me. You see I knew my X was mean to me. I recognized that he treated me very disrespectfully- but he didn't hit me. I didn't identify myself as a "victim" or an "abused woman".
Part of what I'm struggling with, emotionally, is that I feel this need to prove myself right or correct. I give detailed accounts and suffer a great deal of anxiety when I feel like people don't believe me - or if my version of events is questioned. I can't figure out why its so important for me, why I have a desperate need to be approved of and believed.... my Dr. believes it's a long standing issue developed from having to constantly stand my ground with my X and argue my worth in an effort to gain respect - which I never managed to achieve.
It's becoming clearer to me that manipulation and mental abuse is just as dangerous to a person's well being as physical abuse. If you suffer a bruise or a broken bone there are people all over the place who will encourage you to leave him - to offer support and assistance. When your abuser uses words, intimidation, financial pressures, and disrespect it's easily hidden and many will tell you to "work it out for the sake of the kids" or if he's truly manipulative he'll seem friendly and generous of spirit to those outside of his marriage and they simply won't believe he's capable of being abusive.
How many women hear "He's such a good father, you're so lucky" as though that's an excuse to bully, disrespect, and hurt you behind doors. One of the chapters in this book deals with the "good father" who is abusive to his wife - and how many of us will overlook our own hardships for the sake of our kids.... but it's all a big lie. Because a good father treats his wife with respect at all times. A good father is a partner and a supporter to showcase to his children how they should expect to be treated in their adult relationships. Plus, kids see and know more than we give them credit for. They wake up hearing angry voices at night, or catch glimpses of tears when we don't know they're looking. My X left my girls with a horrible example of how a man treats his children and his wife. All I can hope is that I do better by them in the future and I find a masculine roll model that shows them love, respect, patience, and strength at ALL times, not just when life is easy and there isn't any kind of stress or conflict.
I think BLT is that kind of man. All of the warning signs identified in this book are exact opposites of his daily behavior and choices. He's kind above all - even when other's aren't looking. He's mature, respectful, patient, generous with time and open to laugh - even at himself. He accepts responsibility for his actions and apologizes if he's in the wrong.
My goal is to identify how my behavior changed over the years in response to mental and emotional abuse, and then figure out WHY I do the things I do so that I don't repeat the mistakes I've made in the past. I think a large part of it is simply accepting that I was in fact mistreated, and then accepting my own value so that I don't allow myself to treated this way again.
Now if it were just that simple... but I'm trying. I'm growing. I'm learning.