Our Lessons From history

16 Jan 2008

My daughter and I spent the New Year in Venice, Italy. Those of you who have visited my website might remember
that Venice is where my marriage finally fell apart. 

The then husband threw yet another temper tantrum and I
finally recognized I had a choice. Either I would stay in the marriage, lose
what little strength I had and be resoundingly miserable anytime, any place,
or I could leave and be free to have as much pleasure in my life
as anyone else had; starting with Venice. 

‘Old history’, you might say. Yes, and…

I never go back to Venice without giving thanks
for the life I now have, the joy I feel, and the miracle that is Venice.

It is often said that history repeats itself until you learn
the lessons from it. 

Shortly after New Year my daughter and I were sitting in a
restaurant waiting for our meal. People
were talking quietly. Suddenly a
Frenchwoman’s voice rose above the general chatter. “I want you to apologise for the way you treated me. Is that too much to ask?”

The woman was white faced, angry, so caught up in forcing
her partner to acknowledge her grievance that she wasn’t aware how loudly she
was speaking. She carried on speaking
in loud urgent tones. Her husband had
offered her no support during her pregnancy. His driving had put her and their unborn child at risk. She wanted him to acknowledge her
feelings. Above all, she wanted him to care.

Silently the husband got up and walked round the table to
where his wife sat. He was, I hoped,
going to put his arm round her, kiss her and say the words she clearly longed
to hear. 

Instead he reached up, took his coat from the hook above her
head and simply walked out. 

The wife was reduced to calling out his name to his receding
back: “Alex”. 

What she said next I didn’t hear. As well as his behaviour, he shared his name with my ex-husband.

How I felt for that woman. By now the whole restaurant was watching. I thought seriously about going over to talk to her in my
somewhat rusty French. I empathized
with the isolation and humiliation she must have been feeling. Not to mention the misery. I imagined her feeling that nobody
could possibly understand or know what she was going through. 

She got up and left with as much dignity as she could

I wondered whether that was truly the end for them, or
whether that night or in the next day or two they would patch up the
relationship and limp on until the next explosion.

The following day we saw Alex sitting on his own,
scowling. We could only hope that his
wife was back in France consulting a lawyer and clearing his things from the

So what were the lessons to be learned from this

  • That
         abusers show no respect for people or place? Certainly. 
  • That
         abusers all use the same script and the same behaviours regardless of
         their language, place of origin, socio-economic group and upbringing? Undoubtedly. 
  • That
         in a relationship with an abuser you are never, ever, safe from attack?
  • That
         your distress cuts no ice with an abuser? Of course.
  • That
         you can expect to be privately and publicly humiliated? Naturally.

The list goes on and on. And yet, you and I both know the likely outcome if Alex had only bothered
to do a bit of swift back-peddling, if he had apologized to his wife, told her
how much he loved her and he didn’t know what had come over him… 

She would have been further tortured by wondering whether
she could leave a man with so much ‘potential’, when she could never, ever,
hope to find anyone else as wonderful, and as loving…

We’ve all been there. But when it’s not your head that is being messed with, doesn’t it make
you want to vomit? It does me.

So here’s the thing. I believe we have to learn from the lessons of our own history, and also
that of our peers. 

Not that there is only one lesson to be learned. There are many lessons, all of them useful.

Only learn.

Any one lesson that you draw from events will help set you
free. What happens when you are with an abusive man, aka a Crazy Maker, is that
you become so focused on your own hurts you can’t look beyond them. You can’t even think to make sense of
your history with him. 

Right now I’m reading “Change or Die” by Alan Deutschman. The book explains that, generally, even
in circumstances that they know to be life threatening
only 1 in 10 people
will actually make the necessary changes. This happens because they try to use fear, fact or force to
create change. They end up overwhelmed
and in denial.

However that changes from a 90% failure rate to a 90%
success rate
, when they are given the appropriate tools for change. These are:

  • Having
         someone believe in you
  • Having
         someone show you repeatedly how to do things, and think, differently
  • Discovering
         how to view your past and present in a different light.

The work I do with abused women is entirely focused on
raising their success rate to 90% and beyond. My ebook “The Woman You Want To Be” guides women along that success for
journey for a whole year.

Had we really known that someone believed we could build a
great life without an abusive partner, how long would we have settled for


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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