Domestic abuse and violence is frequently described as a form of Frog Boiling. It’s that age old parable of if you put a frog in cold water and slowly heat it up, they’ll stay in the water, but if you try to drop a frog in boiling water, they’ll jump right out. It’s the same thing with relationships; they start all lovey dovey, and then the pathologies start to appear. It’s the little things that grow so the perpetrator can groom the target into accepting the behavior as normal, even questioning their own sanity and perceptions of reality.
This type of evolving relationship is why it is so hard for people to leave the abusive relationship. They become accustomed to the poor treatment, it is the new normal for them. Their thinking becomes infected with false belief patterns and perceptions. The constant drops of criticism destroy the self of self-esteem and shatters their ability to judge the true from the false.
When I was interviewing experts for my documentary, What About The Men? A common refrain from people like Carol Crabson at Valley Oasis was that “Generally it takes someone about seven attempts to finally leave an abusive relationship.” Which makes total sense when you consider that for the previous months and/or years the victim has been told the problems are caused by “their actions”, and if only “they would change” then it would all be perfect.
The repetition of the message has to be overcome with new messaging, and new thought patterns and loads of evidence to prove to the victim what is really happening. The courts also require loads of evidence to do something and that is why I am happy to promote a new service that helps victims find their voice, record their history of abuse in real time and make it all available to prosecutors or attorneys.
VictimsVoice is a new app that was created by Sheri Kurdakul to provide a platform agnostic resource for victims to record evidence in a safe environment. The cloud based program is $39.95 annually and allows victims to answer questions that are open ended, gather the information and emotions when an incident happens. Once an account is set up, the victim can upload pictures and the entries are archived so that they are part of a chain of custody which is crucial for admittance to evidence in court. It’s not available on the APP store, you have to go to the www.victimsvoice.app website.
One of the many great features is the ability to name a records recipient so that lawyers and advocates can gain access to a downloadable secure PDF of the entries. Additionally, a journal designee can be named to receive the file in the event of death or incapacity, so that the abuser can be identified.
I like the idea of this app, because so often the victims that I represent do not have any evidence or what they have is weak, this way they can accumulate a library of events and incidents that I can then use to protect them and their children in the court hearing. One of the other major benefits of this is that the victim starts to see the library as well, which helps them overcome their faulty thinking that they are the problem.
The thinking and self-talk is a major problem for people who have been traumatized and or abused. Luckily there is a new book out by my friend James Sweigert to help people reconfigure their thinking, called “If You Say So.” This book is a delightful and informative read, with some seriously tearjerking moments, that uses the conceit of a train to illuminate the various aspects of one’s life.
Each category of a person’s life is told by way of a metaphorical train car, there’s the Coal Car, the Observation Car, all the way to the Caboose. Sweigert was born and raised in Northern California into a family situation that was chaotic, and abusive at times. His experiences are recounted in his book as he imparts an old-timey railroad and cowboy feel to his lyrical writing. As he divulges his personal trials and pains I found myself identifying closely with his descriptions of drug and alcohol abuse, abandonment issues, isolating behaviors and eventual recovery from both emotional and sexual abuse.
“If You Say So,” is not a thick book, it took me about three and a half hours to read, including reading through my tears, and it isn’t a workbook, but it does provide some excellent exercises for those who want to uncover, discover and discard their childhood hurts and adult dysfunctional behavior.
Sweigert is that rare thing in Hollywood, a true mentor to those both in and out of, the movie industry. I’ve seen him work with individuals and help them navigate their way to a happier, more productive life, all while continuing to climb the ladder of industry success. He’s a successful filmmaker with a heart. Yes, those really do exist.
I recommend “If You Say So,” as a tremendous resource for anyone who is struggling with addiction, abuse and trauma. I would suggest that if you know a man who is battling any of these issues, get him this book. Sweigert’s prodigious writing skills pour out through this book in both the imagery he uses, and his emotionally on point language that will penetrate the male brain and its defenses. I’ve worked for 20 years with men, and I know how to get them to open up in person, I’d say that this book will provide the men who need it, with the path to their own recovery.
“If You Say So,” is available on Amazon in hardbound, paperback and Kindle.