Archive for July 17th, 2011
Chloe met Luke their freshman year of high school and began dating him shortly after. The shy couple often fanaticized about their future together and discussed each other’s aspirations.
“A big part of our relationship was based on dreams — things that weren’t real or ever going to happen,” Chloe said.
She enjoyed his enthusiasm and spontaneity, but early into their relationship, Luke began to control her. He would criticize her clothes and makeup, saying that her style made him uncomfortable.
If her hair was down or he could see Chloe’s bra through a shirt he would scowl at her. She learned quickly that wearing form-fitting shirts and jeans angered him and he would react with an insult or painful twist of her arm.
“You look like a slut,” he would say.
She began to wear sweatpants, baggy T-shirts and was forbidden from shorts. Even after changing her fashion, he would still find her appearance unacceptable. To please him, she wore her hair in a ponytail and avoided make-up. The thought that someone might see Luke’s girlfriend as pretty was reason enough to manipulate her.
“I lost all my femininity and that was how he wanted it,” Chloe said.
His control in high school continued after they became college students. If she spoke with anyone, especially a man, he would question her about the details. Chloe sacrificed friends and social life so Luke would know where she was at all times. He isolated her from others, justifying his actions with jealousy.
One night, Chloe was driving with Luke sitting in the passenger seat, seething with anger. He broke up with her hours before because she had straightened her hair and worn mascara. Suddenly, Luke snapped. He punched Chloe across the jaw, causing her to swerve and nearly lose control of the car.
With the two both crying, Luke said, “Why do you hurt me like this?”
She was used to Luke blaming her for his outbursts, but how could he be the victim if blood was seeping from her mouth.
The next day Chloe had to explain her bruised face and fat lip to parents and extended family.
“I got elbowed while dancing,” she lied.
Deceit was common while she dated Luke. His promises of marriage and a future with children kept Chloe hoping that one day they could live together in peace.
She was ready to become who Luke wanted her to be. She abandoned friends, gave up her art, changed her style and accepted his blame. In return she expected his love, but instead she received his abuse.
Chloe said she worried about riding the bus or elevator because if a man would speak with her, she would have to explain herself to Luke.
“Being friendly to someone was flirting,” Chloe said.
Without Luke in her life she would be alone. She was willing to keep him happy by surrendering her hobbies as a talented sketch-artist and photographer. When she found joy outside of Luke, it created problems and he would limit her expression with a barrage of insults.
If he went to parties or out with friends, he would expect her to stay at the dorm and pick him up afterward. Once he got in the car, the questioning began.
“Where have you been? Who were you with,” Luke would shout. “I don’t believe you.”
Soon into their freshman year, Luke turned to alcohol to vent frustration. A casual beer turned into binge drinking. After a night of drinking, he would become angry or depressed and would threaten suicide to keep Chloe close.
“If you ever leave me, I’ll drink myself to death,” Luke said.
When she brought up her career plans and interest in art, Luke would mock her ambitions. He said her art was worthless, a waste of time. If she mentioned it again, a slap across the face would remind Chloe of his disapproval.
“Why would you make me do that,” he would say. “I don’t want to do that.”
After he hit Chloe, their relationship would enter what psychologists refer to as the calm, or “honeymoon” stage of the abusive cycle. The two disregarded the violence until the tension grew and Luke beat her again. The sequence repeated for nearly five years.
After a day of classes in the fall, Chloe excitedly went to Luke’s dorm to tell him that she applied to study abroad. She sat next to him on the bed, explaining the program in Spain, aware that he intended to travel elsewhere. She hoped he would understand her dream to visit the coast of Barcelona. He didn’t.
Luke grew upset and began to shout at her. When she calmly described her plan, it only provoked his fury.
He threw her to the floor, hands clasped tightly around her neck.
When he finally released her, she gasped for air and crawled away. The two began to cry and Chloe staggered to her feet. She walked toward the door, but he hurried to stop her.
“I’m really sorry,” Luke said.
“No, I’m sorry,” she replied, hugging the man she loved.
“It’s going to get better, I promise.”
He swore that one day soon he wouldn’t have to hurt her. That they would live near the water, raise a family and teach their children to sail — the dreams Chloe always held onto.
Chloe continued to date Luke, changing nearly everything about herself to please him. He would comment on other girls, saying how beautiful they were and how he’d like to sleep with them.
Chloe noticed that those women differed from what he insisted she look like.
“They were the tall blondes who wore makeup and had fashionable things,” Chloe said. “I had a sense of fashion before he took it away from me.”
Near the beginning of the 2009 spring semester, the couple was talking when Luke accused her of cheating.
“No, I would never do that,” Chloe said.
“Well, I have,” he replied.
Her own anger gave her confidence. She stood up and faced him as he listed three different women, one of whom was a former friend of hers. For the first time in their relationship, Chloe’s rage pushed her to assert herself.
“Fuck this, fuck you,” Chloe said.
She slapped him across the face and stormed from the room.
Despite his insults, manipulation and abuse, she was devastated. Chloe hated the thought of being an ignorant girlfriend whose boyfriend cheated, used and beat her. She avoided his contact for days then broke up with him later that week.
Without the domineering presence of Luke, Chloe made up for lost time. She quickly joined a tight-knit group of friends, began to draw again and bought a new camera. She created a Facebook page, which Luke forbid her from having, and within a day received an insulting message from him—“delete.”
Life without Luke was liberating. She used art to express herself and eventually switched majors to art and design, a move that Chloe said would have infuriated him.
Chloe also made a close friend, David, who kept in contact with her as she visited the Barcelonan coast. After she returned from traveling, the two began dating. He would be one of the first to know about her experiences with abuse.
While she’s concerned that the effects of her abuse may eventually catch up with her, she remains positive and hopes to empower others who are victims like she was.
“You’re not the only one,” Chloe said. “If someone would’ve said ‘you’re beautiful and worthwhile’ it would’ve had more of an effect on me than just ‘you can get help.’”Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Tension in a relationship can be deadly to a couple’s sex life. In many cases, conflict is at the root of a sexual problem. Other times, a sexual issue strains a couple’s ability to get along. The following issues are often connected to sexual problems.
Anger and frustration. Accumulated anger, hurt, disappointment, and resentment can fester, destroying closeness between partners. These pent-up feelings often extinguish the flames of desire. For men, anger and frustration can interfere with arousal and getting an erection. Likewise, the breakdown of trust can be devastating to a woman’s ability to reach orgasm. Both partners can suffer loss of libido in a conflict-ridden environment. This type of disappointment turns toxic when one or both partners resort to criticism and defensiveness — two of the major harbingers of divorce. In addition, one member of the couple may unconsciously withhold sex as a way of expressing anger or to maintain the upper hand in a situation where he or she feels otherwise powerless.
Poor communication. Communication is essential for partners to build the trust needed for a successful sexual relationship. By talking frankly about your feelings, you can foster acceptance and understanding in your relationship. This makes it easier for you and your partner to collaborate on finding solutions to issues, and it can prevent resentments from piling up. When conversation breaks down, anger and resentment are likely to build.
Dialogue is especially vital as physical changes take place. Vaginal dryness or erection difficulties can be wrongly perceived as waning interest in sex, which can trigger feelings of rejection and resentment. By articulating feelings, couples can sort out the physiological factors from the emotional and relationship issues, and address each appropriately.
Boredom. Once the honeymoon is over, almost every couple has to contend with boredom sooner or later. The person who was once so electrifyingly mysterious to you may become as comfortable — and as alluring — as an old shoe. While the deep trust and intimacy created from years of shared experiences are the building blocks of a truly loving relationship, such familiarity can take the edge off desire. Sex may not even seem worth the trouble when you’re facing the same old lovemaking routines.
When sexual activity wanes, other types of physical affection often fade, too. This lack of physical connection can extend the emotional distance between you and your partner. As a result, it’s all the more difficult to resume sexual intimacy later on. But it’s possible to do so.
Affairs. While researchers can’t seem to agree on how many people seek sex outside their marriage — the estimates range from 20% to 60% — one thing is clear: An affair is often an indication of an unmet need in the relationship.
One frequent motivator for a person to have an affair is a quest for newness. This yearning may arise from a need to banish midlife drudgery, a desire to find out what sex is like with someone else, or an urge to recapture the heart-pounding sexual highs of youth. Other times, an individual searches out a new partner to meet unfulfilled emotional or intellectual needs. An affair sometimes occurs because of sexual dysfunction in the marriage. For example, men who have erection difficulties or women who can’t reach orgasm may seek out new lovers to prove that the sexual problem is their spouse’s doing, not their own. Likewise, the partners of those with sexual difficulties may try to seek reassurance that they’re still sexually appealing in the arms of someone else.
The reverberations of an affair can extend throughout a couple’s relationship like ripples on a pond. Sometimes the straying partner isn’t able to respond sexually to his or her spouse because of guilt over the affair, fatigue from juggling two sexual relationships, or a negative comparison of the spouse with the new lover. If the spouse discovers the affair, he or she may withdraw emotionally.
An affair can be a serious, sometimes fatal, blow to a relationship. However, it’s possible for a marriage not only to survive infidelity, but also to grow from this painful expe rience. To do this, though, both partners must face the personal and relationship issues that led to the affair in the first place. Couples therapy is a good place to turn for help in doing this. Sex therapy can also be useful if the affair has caused or resulted from sexual problems.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )