Monday, June 8, 2009

The Not Yet Ex's, The Ex's And The Kids, part III

This series hopes to explore what our husbands and children go through when we decide to come out of the closet. Part III will attempt to address some of the worst case scenarios in our coming out process and how we can prepare to protect ourselves.

These issues are especially hard to think and talk about, it is hard on so many levels. But like bridgeout from Building or Burning Bridges in the Community commented, we need to know to keep ourselves safe and strong. Knowing is power, if you know, you can prepare. Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world. - Emerson

If you are wanting to come out, and reading this, it is important to keep in mind what lies at the end of this journey: joy, light, authenticity and, most of all, the freedom to be known and loved for who you really are.

Click here for Part I and Part II

ALL human beings are capable of anything given the right or wrong set of circumstances.

What are the worst things that can, have and do happen when we come out to our spouses:
Marital rape
Physical violence
Verbal and mental abuse
Saying things about you to the children to turn them against you including attempts to take the children away by false accusations of child abuse and/or molestation

And murder.

You have an idea what type of man you are married to already. If he is already fair minded, he probably will, after a time, still be fair minded towards you, there is still a chance for abuse however, hope for the best but prepare yourself in advance for the worst.

Studies have shown spousal rape occurs in about 14% of all marriages in the United States. Women are at particularly high risk of experiencing physical and sexual violence when they attempt to leave their partners, as this represents a challenge to their abusers' control and sense of entitlement. Similarly, women who are separated or divorced from their partners also appear to be at high risk for sexual abuse for the sense of entitlement does not necessarily end when a couple ceases living together (DeKeseredy et al., 2005; Dobash & Dobash, 1992; Kurz, 1997).

If he is an authoritarian type, perhaps deeply religious with firm beliefs on how men and women should act, including that the wife must submit to her husband, there is a greater chance for him to cross the line to verbal, sexual and physical abuse even if he was not so before. Or if he has friends who make jokes about abusing women, he has a higher chance of becoming abusive himself when you attempt to leave him.

If he is like my ex, not a physical abuser but abusive in other ways, he will remain mentally or verbally abusive, but understand there is a greater chance of his type crossing the line to physical abuse than a non-abuser. Prepare in advance your resources and contacts

If he is already physically abusive: DO NOT COME OUT TO HIM. First of all, get yourself professional and police help and then get you and the kids the hell out of there. There are crisis centers, churches and women's support centers to aid you in nearly every town in America. Don't let shame keep you in a dangerous situation. [National Domestic Violence Hotline]

You will find your own self esteem growing as you become more honest with yourself, see the abuse for what it is, not your fault but entirely his.

You will NOT be able to reason with him, you WILL NOT be able to stay with him and you WILL more than likely be the recipient of violence like you have never seen before. An abuser WILL resort to spousal rape, if he hasn't already, when confronted with your lesbianism and will beat you severely and he may VERY LIKELY TRY TO KILL YOU. He may succeed.

His abusive personality is not something that is your fault, it is his own lack of self worth that causes it. You don't deserve it no matter what you do. And you are not going to be able to change him by staying with him. Not all insecure people are abusers, but all abusers are insecure people.

If you are not out yet, but are coming to the point where you must come out start taking care of yourself right now. For most of your married life you have developed a social system completely built in a straight community, and change can appear overwhelming and even impossible. Making the change from wife and mother in a straight community to lesbian life is not an easy task. It is a path fraught with loss, guilt, separation and fear. Because of this, depression is quite common among married lesbians.

Depression can lead to suicidal thoughts or action. If hurting yourself has ever even crossed your mind, seek immediate psychiatric attention. National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE 1-800-784-2433

Resources for victims of spousal abuse:
Don't forget you have local resources too! Find an affirming church in your area, they will know of even more resources. Your employer may offer an Employee Assistance Program, these services are of no cost to you and are confidential. Also, go to a library to use their computers so he can't see what you are looking up, call from pay phones, or talk to people in person to reduce the risk he will find out what you are doing.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1800-799-7233 (SAFE)

Hotline Services Include:

  • Crisis intervention, safety planning, information about domestic violence and referrals to local service providers
  • A direct connection to domestic violence resources available in the caller’s area provided by a Hotline advocate
  • Assistance in both English and Spanish with Hotline advocates having access to more than 170 different languages through interpreter services
  • Assistance through e-mail on the contact page
  • Informational materials on such topics as domestic violence, sexual assault, battering intervention and prevention programs, working through the criminal justice system and related issues
Stop Abuse For Everyone, includes GLBT specific resources and has contact information nationwide
Stop Abuse For Everyone
16869 SW 65th Ave #212
Lake Oswego, OR 97035-7865
(503) 853-8686

National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women

Gift From Within and GFW main page

Women are Dreamers Too Support and education for getting it all together after you are free

Support for overcoming depression:

Discovering Pride

I Am A Lesbian Married To A Man

Don't forget your local resources here either, there are coming out groups, therapists and affirming clergy and your workplace may offer confidential services that will assist you!

You should also be ready to contact a lawyer, just to speak with them, they all offer a free 30 minute session, don't be afraid to use this valuable resource. Ask them about divorce laws in your state, ask about child custody, how to protect yourself against false charges, etc., get a list going and if half an hour isn't enough time, then call another one to ask the rest of questions of.

Good luck, God bless and always remember what lies at the end of this journey: joy, light, authenticity and, most of all, the freedom to be known and loved for who you really are.

Continuing, our children......
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