Don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone

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I bet you take a lot of things for granted. I bet that you wear what you want and read what you want and watch and listen to what you want. I bet that you just assume that you can wear your hair however you want or change your lipstick color or buy a different style of slacks without someone trying to stop you.

There are thousands of women who cannot do any of those things without being subjected to abuse by a partner or spouse. You bought a sundress because you thought it was cute. You must be trying to look “available.” You bought a different lipstick color because you went to buy a tube of your regular color and it was buy one, get one half off. You must be looking for attention from other men. You started wearing shorts instead of jeans all the time. You WANT other men to look at your ass. You finally went through with it and cut your hair short. NO ONE OVER FORTY WEARS THEIR HAIR THAT WAY, YOU LOOK STUPID or YOU LOOK LIKE A DYKE.

You went to the library and came home with a book about an artist who had affairs with men and women. YOU’RE A PERVERT. You started watching a show with a gay actor. YOU MUST HAVE “GONE GAY.” You friended a man from your senior class. YOU’RE HAVING AN AFFAIR.

You may never cut your hair THAT short or buy that bright lipstick. You may decide that guy from high school is probably still a jerk. But you have the right to cut your hair or wear shorts or talk to someone of the opposite sex.

Your neighbor who never speaks to you may be silently hating herself, knowing that you think her rude, but knowing that the consequences of speaking to you will be worse than you thinking she’s a bitch, because she’s married to that guy who only allows her to wear jeans, insists she keep her hair long, and monitors her TV viewing like a parent whose five year old grabbed the remote and landed on HBO in the middle of Game of Thrones.

You may be the woman who stopped wearing shorts because your boyfriend said that every man in the store was checking out your ass.

If you have free will, be grateful. If you don’t, tell all YOUR friends and family because it’s likely that his family and friends won’t believe you. Go to the public library and look up domestic abuse hotlines:

http://www.thehotline.org/
Call if you can’t get to an unmonitored computer: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224.

Call 911 or go to the police department or walk into the E.R. if you feel you’re in immediate danger. They can help you get into a shelter if you don’t have a support system outside the relationship.

NEWSFLASH TO ALL THE ABUSERS: You do not own your partner’s personal belongings just because you bring home the only paycheck. You likely bring home the only paycheck because you won’t allow your partner to work. You can be sued for a lot of money, in addition to alimony and child support, if you attempt to steal (keep) your wife or partner’s belongings.

When you leave an abusive marriage, don’t sign any separation or divorce paperwork until your head clears. Don’t let him take away your things because he’s brainwashed you into thinking that he’s unbeatable. Remember that even if you try to disappear, it’s 99.9% likely that he has your Social Security number. You know, he did the taxes online every year?

NEWSFLASH TO ALL THE ABUSERS: It’s illegal to track your former partner by her Social Security number and she can find out because she can get a credit check and it will tell her who has recently checked her credit and when. Oh, are you tempted to hack her Facebook page? It’s a federal crime and you’re not that smart and you WILL get found out.

If you are a stepparent, you may have visitation rights with your stepchild. Go to a family lawyer.

The point of all of this is, a) if you see yourself as the partner who is controlled as described in the beginning of the post, you need to get out of the relationship and b) when you do get out of the relationship, get a good lawyer. Don’t settle. Call legal aid. Call domestic violence hotlines, as I said before.

You have rights. Exercise them. If you feel them slipping away, stop it before it goes any further.

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