Dialogue with George Rolph #2
September 20, 2004
Archive of dvblog entries.
[The original text (my earlier entries) upon which George Rolph is commenting appears "in normal font and in quotation marks", his commentary in italics, and my responses in bold. The dialogue with George Rolph will occur over several dvblog entries.]
My original text: I described an exchange the morning after the abusive partner had damaged my right eye and caused the hemorrhage which, in turn, has left me legally blind in that eye. "He listened attentively and then responded that I'd failed the test. If I'd really loved him, I wouldn't have brought up 'last night'."
George Rolph: "Note the utter coldness in his remarks. He considers blinding you as 'a test.' He blames you for a lack of love. He accuses you of bringing up old news. All classic responses of an abuser. No sign of conscience. No sign of remorse. Itís all your fault in his mind. All projection from within himself about things he feels about himself. His 'me-me' world will not allow him to admit wrong. The fault, according to his sickness, is all yours. This is the place to start your recovery. If you have not done so already, lay the blame where it truly belongs.
"Do you remember the utter shock you felt as he uttered those words. The disbelief. The confused whirling in your mind as you tried to make sense of them. The way your mind found it hard to cope with what he was doing, with his actions, because they did not fit the model of the character of the man you had fallen in love with?"
My response: Thinking about this incident is strange because, on some level, I am aware of being very upset -- with almost a shakiness happening inside -- but I canít really feel it. I get a mild headache from thinking about the incident but the emotions seem numb. Perhaps I am simply remembering or re-experiencing how I felt at the time. I donít know. I do get angry when I think of another remark he made at the time. His father had given him a Rolex watch years before and he was wearing it that night. His fist slipped off my face and the watch smashed into the wall behind my head, shattering the crystal and breaking it. He said we were "even" because I had broken his Rolex. At the time, neither of us knew that the damage to my eye would not heal so the remark may not be as callous as it sounds. But I think he would have said it anyway. I donít know why remembering that remark makes me angry when so many others just come up against that wall of numbness. He never attempted to repair the watch; he left it behind in the apartment when we split up (I kept the old place) so I find it difficult to believe the watch meant much of anything at all to him. My vision meant a lot to me.
Frankly, as I write this, I wish the matter would just go away because I donít want to deal with these memories. I know the recent incident of harassment -- an incident that spanned several days a few weeks back -- was just one more little venting spree for him with the goal and attendant joy of causing me damage. But it was far more important to me. It was a lesson I cannot ignore. After 20+ years of separation, after 12+ of no voluntary contact, after moving across a national border and being happily married for over 16 yearsÖthe man still wonít leave me alone. A large part of the problem is that we are in the same profession, dealing with some of the same "customers" and he must believe that pre-emptively poisoning the well against me means it will remain sweet for him.
For the first time in many years, I ventured into his "territory" Ė that is, into the corner of the professional marketplace in which he circulates. I did so because I was both invited and paid to be there by a "client" and I am tired of avoiding opportunities because it may mean confrontation. Why should I hide when I didnít do anything wrong? I figured that we could ignore each other. I was wrong.
It is time to back away from the personal for a bit and focus instead on the political aspects of domestic violence. Specifically, I want to touch on some of the myths that have been promoted and established as "delivered truth" by gender feminism. The issue of domestic violence is like that of rape in at least one manner: in the Ď60s and early Ď70s, feminism did a great service to women by bringing both of those subjects into the light, stripping them of shame and shadow. The Ď60s and early Ď70s was a period of liberal feminism, however. When gender feminism began to dominate the ideology of feminism Ė that is, in the late 70s through to this very moment Ė the tone and content of how domestic violence was addressed changed dramatically. The issue became wrapped in dogmatic pronouncements, larger political agendas, and rage instead of healing. Today, I believe gender feminism damages women who have been victimized by DV; it makes them part of the "victim culture" which is the flip side of "the rape culture."