One Of The Many Origins of Domestic Violence Victims

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One Of The Many Origins of Domestic Violence Victims
How we grew up shapes how susceptible we become to abuse as adults.

It was still dark when she awoke and realized she'd been so exhausted she spent the night with him. She sprang for her clothes as he stirred. As she was leaving, she couldn't resist asking him, "When are you going to take me home to daddy?" Before he could answer, she jumped on the bed and massaged and sucked his penis until he came. When she got up to leave, he followed her but she escaped before he could touch her. Perfect, she thought as she glided through Washington Square Park on the way back to her dorm, one bird with two shots.

The next time she saw him she was walking on West Fourth Street by the park. He pulled up beside her on a motorcycle. She didn't recognize him until he took off his helmet.

"It's an 800 cc Harley, but if you go for a ride with me your tits will get wind burned," he said.

"800 cc's is the smallest size Harleys come in," she shot back and he laughed. The way he looked, his hair all askew from the helmet, the longing in his eyes, made her laugh with him.

"I've got another helmet," he said.

Carrie had never seen the Jamaica Wildlife Preserve, four miles of hiking trails that wound around salt marshes populated by geese, owls, and other assorted species. When they arrived, he took her by the hand and without a word led her to one of the hiking trails where they walked about a mile before he spoke.

"The thing I like about this place is people, complete strangers, always give you a friendly greeting. It's like they're not from New York," he said.

"It helps that they're strangers," she answered.

Later they stopped and rested on one of the railroad ties that serve as benches overlooking the duck ponds.

"Sometimes I imagine I'm a goose among geese, living a pacific life of anarchy," he said, "from T. H. White, The Once and Future King; when Merlin transforms young King Arthur into a goose among geese so he can understand the true meaning of anarchy."

Carrie shook her head, then burst out laughing. "An anarchist, learning to write computer code at Cooper Union. In three years you'll be lobbying for tax breaks for Apple."

"It's more complicated," he protested. But before he could finish she got up and speed walked away. His head's so far up his ass, it's crushing his diaphragm, she thought. Yet a part of her was touched by his bewilderment.

The next weekend she let him take her to Storm King. "The Alexander Calder sculptures perched on the hills are awesome," he said earnestly. She smiled at him sweetly. "Like great birds of prey or is that geese?" He looked at her crestfallen. It surprised her that she was tempted to comfort him. As they wondered the grounds, he told her his heart wasn’t in engineering and computer systems, that he really wanted to be an architect. He had this child-like dream of designing a series of pedestrian plazas along 5th, 6th and 7th Avenues in Manhattan with trees where people could stop and rest and take time to breathe. Half of her believed he was feeding her romantic bullshit. The other half felt he was incredibly naive. "Green spaces versus lucrative construction contracts for high density growth in Manhattan? Easier to get a liquor license," she said.

Carl kept calling and she saw more of him. It must be the sex, she told herself. He started doing things that surprised and pleased her. Instead of yanking off her clothes and throwing her down on the bed, he helped her undress slowly. Once when she tried to pull him down on top of her, he held her by her armpits, gently nuzzled her breasts and kissed her tenderly. When he finally took her she felt he really wanted more of her besides her body.

She spent more of her nights with Carl. They found a tiny sub-let in the East Village. She welcomed the routine they created: breakfast at daybreak; running to her first class at Stern as he hurried off to Cooper Union; engrossed on their laptops in the Bobst Library or in good weather in Washington Square Park. On weekends they took long walks on the High Line, eat pizza washed down with too much Stella Artois and strolled down to Battery Park. A warm, peaceful feeling grew inside her. Everything around her appeared more vivid, even the brownstones in the East Village took on a luster she'd never noticed before. She felt in harmony with the neighborhood. One day on her way to class she wondered if this is what it felt like to be in love. She quickly dismissed the thought.

"I can't remember exactly when it changed," Carrie told me. "For a long time our love making was sweet and tender. Then he started resenting me and the sex got rougher. It was like he was trying to pry me open. He used his fingers and sometimes a dildo while he was inside me. Once he used a butt plug which really hurt me. He came almost instantly. He told me that if I tried harder and we did it more I'd start to enjoy it. I felt like he was trying to poison me. It was then that I knew he really hated me. Right after that, I got pregnant."

If you were Carrie's therapist, what would you say to her? Should Carl be a part of her therapy? Could her father play a role in her therapy? And what about her long lost mother?

Andre Moore, Director of Marriage Couples Counseling and Life Coaching in New York City

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