Am I wrong to feel this way?

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on

WARNING: This post may offend. This is a very sensitive topic. 

Cognitive dissonance or CDT, from my point of view, occurs when someone is experiencing a conflict with their personal beliefs, morals, or actions. Cognitive dissonance can cause a person stress and anxiety because of that constant need to resolve the CDT.

I am a survivor of domestic violence. Before I proceed, let me provide you with a background story. I meet my abuser in the Spring of 2000 at the corner store when I was walking from the bus stop after school. I went off to college Fall 2001, came back for winter break, and got pregnant on my nineteenth birthday. Happy Birthday to me, right. I dropped out of college Winter quarter. I had my son October 11, 2002 and moved into an income-based apartment on November 4, 2002. 

At this point I was experiencing a very high amount of cognitive dissonance. The plan was for me to go to college, graduate, go back home, get a job, save my money, get my own place, get married, and then have kids. My entire plan was topsy-turvy. I felt ashamed because I was pregnant and not married. I was so embarrassed about my pregnancy, so I dropped out of school to hide it from my peers. I had a crappy job working at Domino’s. I was just a poor single mother on welfare. A total disgrace. But I was able to drastically decrease the amount of cognitive dissonance I was feeling because I readjusted my plan. I decided I would go back to school, work hard at Domino’s in the meantime, and be the best mom I could be. 

This is when the abuse started. My abuser forcibly moved in shortly after I got my place and fought me every chance he got. I suffered from black eyes, bite marks that broke skin, busted lips, mild concussions, full concussions, rape, stalking, and much more. After two years of hell, I escaped and got a restraining order in August 2004. That restraining order was renewed for many years after and just expired in August 2019. My abuser died December 4, 2019.

That day was the happiest day of my life of my entire life. I have graduated college with my master’s degree. I have gotten married. I have had another little bundle of joy with my husband. Yet nothing in this world has brought me more joy than knowing that my abuser is DEAD. I could win fifty trillion dollars tomorrow and that still would not compare to the amount of joy I feel from him being dead. I know this is terrible to say and that is why I am experiencing an extremely large amount of cognitive dissonance.

I look my oldest son in the face and the CDT kills me. I know that I am not supposed to feel the way I do. My son is heartbroken. His dad, after 15 years, finally decided to be active in his life instead of his usually pattern of “here today gone tomorrow”. He loved his dad and despite my total disdain for the man, I never pushed my emotions off on my son. That is why every time my son cries, I experience cognitive dissonance. I experience CDT because I am pretending that I feel sad too when I really don’t. I pretend that I understand his emotions and share the same sentiments when I don’t. All of this just tears me up inside and unfortunately, I know that I can never resolve this CDT because I will never be sad about this man dying.

When my son’s grandmother told me her son was dead, I cried. I mean, I wailed, I choked up on the drainage from crying, and appeared to have totally lost it. His mother was telling me sorry when I should have been saying that to her. Then once again, cognitive dissonance reared its ugly head. The thing is I wasn’t crying because I was sad. I was crying because I was in total disbelief and overwhelmed with relief. I still have nightmare until this day about the abuse I endured. Fifteen years in a mental imprisonment. Fifteen years spent avoiding certain parts of town because I knew he might go there. I finally felt FREE. I went to the Dayton Mall and drove around in my old neighbor for the first time this month since 2004 due to my newly found freedom.  

The amount of stress and anxiety I have experienced and still experiencing from this conflict of emotions aka cognitive dissonance has become almost unbearable. I am crying right now as I write this because I feel bad for feeling this way, yet happy even still because he is gone. I have been in a constant battle with myself to resolve this cognitive dissonance since he died. I truly don’t believe it can be resolved. Due to this fact, I know that the amount of cognitive dissonance I have will never dissipate. But you know what, I’m okay with that.

Theorizing About Domestic Violence

Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi on

As a survivor of domestic violence, I sometimes find myself trying to understand that whole ordeal. I wonder sometimes, why!?! In this blog, I will using some theories from my studies to try to make it make sense to me and you. This is the story of my first night Thanks for reading and please leave a comment.

The theories I will be using today are the Standpoint Theory and the Face Negotiation Theory. It is believed that most important concept to understand about the Standpoint Theory is that an individual’s own perspectives are shaped by their experiences. The Face Negotiation Theory, in my opinion, is all about a person ensuring the face (image) that is presented is what the person wants people to believe they are. The face can change depending on the group or person that the individual is interacting with. Most people don’t want their face (image) tarnished and will fight to protect it.

To learn more about the Standpoint Theory click here. To learn more about the Face Negotiation Theory click here.

I feel like the Standpoint Theory and the Face Negotiation Theory are interconnected when it come to domestic violence. As you have being previously been informed, I was once in an extremely abusive relationship. In this relationship, he had his view (standpoint) about why he abused and I had my view about why he abused. Also, we were both constantly in a battle to save face. Let me explain.

The Standpoint Theory Wikipedia article states, “Standpoint theory’s most important concept is that an individual’s own perspectives are shaped by his or her social and political experiences.” I know this statement to be 110% true. You see my abuser told me grew up in a household where he seen his mother get abused by her spouse. He witnessed it so much that he began to normalize it and he saw nothing wrong with it when he began to mimic the same behavior. From his standpoint, he was not doing anything wrong. He actually took on the task of mansplaining to me his reason for abusing. The way he explained it to me made it appear as if it was my fault that he abused. I was the one triggering him and if I did not trigger him, the instances of violence would not occur. At the time, I believed this foolishness. Call me stupid, but I actually begin take a standpoint toward the violence as a normal part of a relationship. I had loved this man so much I took the bowl of bullshit he served me and ate it all up. It wasn’t until we were out with his friends that I realized that my standpoint towards the abuse was all wrong.

We were at a barbeque and I thought I had accidently triggered him. I told him I was sorry and please don’t hit me because I would not do it again as some preventative facework to avoid being abused. His friend looked at him and said, “Man you be hitting her. You a bitch.” I was taken aback by this statement because again I had took the standpoint that the abuse was normal and had unknowingly created a face-threatening episode. He immediately attempted facework. He started stumbling over his words as he gave an explanation in his restorative facework attempt. I was standing there in utter shock. He was trying so hard to preserve his positive face that I knew the mansplaining he had previously done was crap. I felt a mixture of emotion at this point. I was mad because I genuinely believed and validated his reasons for abuse. I was in shock because I had come to the realization that abuse was not normal in a relationship. I was sad and ashamed of myself for dealing with the abuse, but most of all I was SCARED. I was scared because I had created a situation in which his face (image) was being challenged and the preventative facework I had done to not make the situation bad, actually escalated to beyond worst. 

It was in this moment that I knew I had to make a face movement, an action to maintain/save the image being present. I had a very high level of concern in preserving my image (self-face) and his image (other face), so the only option was mutual-face protection. I appointed myself as the third party help in the conflict. I knew that he always wanted to maintain a certain status around his friends. So, I butted in the conversation and told his friend that I was just playing and that was an inside joke me and him had. I could tell that his friend was slightly apprehensive about the excuse, yet the help I provided assisted in maintaining his face content status domain (the image that people know) among his friends. I, on the other hand, had a destroyed view of every face content domain he ever presented to me and there was no form of communication that could change it. 

Once we left the barbeque, he used distributive conflict tactics on me as usual and I use passive-indirect conflict tactics to avoid the abuse as usual. The weird thing about this conflict was this time it didn’t result in abuse. He just became passive aggressive towards me and I was happy about that. I stayed with him years after that incident because I had the standpoint that if I enforced mutual-face protection (protecting both of our images) in public I could avoid abuse. I also knew that if I wanted to destroy his face I could expose him to his friends and that would hurt him greatly. This worked for a while to curb the abusive incidents. Then one day it did not. 

One night he had gotten so angry because I was on the phone and would not get off to talk to him that he blacked my eye, busted my lip, and stole my car. The friend that I was on the phone with came over minutes after the fight and seen him leaving the parking lot of the apartment complex. He was able to come right in to check on me because my abuser had left the door wide open. He found me on the floor crying, blood dripping down my chin, balled up with my hand over my swollen shut eye. This was the final straw and mutual-face protection was out the door. My standpoint had changed. I realized it was time for me to have a high level of concern for my self-face and put up the middle finger to the other face. I told my friend everything. I called my mom, his mom, my best friend, and anyone else I could think of and told them everything that was going on too. They were all in shock. His self-face was destroyed and my quest for mutual-face obliteration was completed. I ended the relationship. The incidents got worst after the break up, but I survived. 

I know now that my standpoint affected the face that I showed, the face movement I took, and the conflict style I adapted. My current standpoint on domestic violence is that it is wrong, all forms of it. No one should ever be mentally, physical, spiritual, financially, or sexually abused. It’s just wrong. I also know, that leaving is way easier said than done. If you need help, please use the information on the contact page. Everything is confidential and there is no reason to be ashamed.