During my interviews of women who have been abused by their spouses or partners, a phenomenon arose: The abusing men are often well respected and even loved in their community. I call them chameleons. They may be politicians, CEOs, teachers, pastors or famous in the sports world. We’ve all heard of violence among the Hollywood talent, too.
The women in my upcoming suspense novel, The Outreach Committee, are victims of such men. They must fight the respect and power these men have to obtain justice.
If your abuser is a chameleon, don’t let it discourage you. Keep records of his abuse, plan your escape. Don’t be afraid of the community’s respect for these men. Those in the business of protecting abused women are aware of this phenomenon.
I don’t pretend to have the knowledge that explains this quirk in the abuser personality. If he abuses his family at home and acts the Santa Claus in public, he lives a lie. Is he just pretending to welcome support from others when he would rather control his own world by himself? Not addressing his anger must cause it to escalate.
We all like to “let down” when we get home: remove our public attire and put on a bathrobe. Or at least take off uncomfortable shoes and scuff around the house in bunny slippers. Is this what the publicly admired abuser is doing on a bigger and immoral scale when he abuses his wife or partner? I believe there has to be something in his public life that keeps him on edge. Could it be his own belief that he is truly positioned above his abilities? Could he be lying about a criminal conviction, another marriage or the extent of his professional training? Is he gay trying to live in an heterosexual world? I wonder, too, if he hates himself so much that he has to prove how bad a person he is when he “lets down” at home. Whatever it is, it is no excuse to batter a woman.
No matter how popular an abusing spouse can be, the legal community is set up to help abused women. In my county and I’m sure in most counties in the United States, a woman can go to a local courthouse and obtain an injunction against her abusing spouse or partner, free of charge.
If your spouse or partner is a chameleon, don’t despair. He’s not unique. Make your plan and, at the proper moment, escape. You are strong, capable and determined. Don’t let his popularity with others deter you.
What do you think about this? Have you escaped a chameleon? How did you do it? How did your community respond to the knowledge he was an abuser? We need to hear from you. Reply or comment to this posting or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.