“When it comes to abusive people, men are like battleships and women are like submarines” – Stephen from Dr. Laura’s Show
I felt betrayed…disrobed…violated. I wept.
We had planned to host a workshop together. And as the deadline approached, she began to spread sick rumors about me. “She told people that I was making unilateral decisions and didn’t consult with her on anything. She said she’d put $5,000 of her own money into the project and I couldn’t account for any of it. She said the materials to be used for the occasion had arrived but I refused to share with her. And displaying a stain on her outfit, she declared that I had put juju on her proposed andco for the occasion. Of a truth, she swore, I had taken her clothes to a Babalawo!
Unfortunately, she talked about me all over town…and people believed her lies.
Some eyed me up and down, hissed, and walked away. Others avoided making eye contact. Some even ‘unfriended’ me on Facebook! I had no clue what was happening until someone stopped me in a store to question me – “ngbo, you colluded with some people to ruin your sister’s project? And you are from the same church?” My eyes opened wide, “what are you talking about? I asked. Then I heard the most inventive compilation of malicious *BS* I’d ever heard in my life. I was floored.
None of my accuser’s allegations were true. We had sat down and planned the entire project together from start to finish. We had even signed an MOU. We had each invested an equal amount of money and delegated tasks accordingly. And for crying out loud, why would I bewitch her? How would her death or disease from juju benefit me?!
Even as I hurt, my analytical mind wondered, how I could have been so wrong about her. We have been friends for over eight years and how could I have missed this fatal flaw in her character? And worse, how many other people had she maligned in such a manner and that I, taking her side, had treated awfully in return. And I remembered her ex-husband…
He had brought her to America, a young girl in love both with the man and with the promise of a better future. He worked and she went to school to get her GED. She had three children in quick succession and started working. According to her, this is when their problems started. He demanded that she work all hours to make money, spent her money on girlfriends, and then beat her up when she complained. She said, he became jealous of her success and eventually sent her and her children out of their home. He refused to file for her green card, and never paid child support or alimony so she had to work two or more jobs to make ends meet.
After my ordeal, I analyzed this story again. How was she able to put three children in private school if her ex-husband never paid child support? Even working three dead-end jobs, how was she able to maintain her residence if he never paid alimony? How did she get her green card if he had not filed for her? There were so many holes in her story. Yet I had believed her.
A caller on Dr. Laura Schlesinger’s show, Stephen said it best. I quote, “when it comes to abusive people, men are like battleships and women are like submarines. When there’s abuse in relationships, men behave like a battleship: on the surface, loud, and visible for all to see. Everyone notices – the family, the police, the community. When a woman abuses her spouse, nobody knows including the man himself. Her attacks are below the surface and subliminal and many observers are fooled into thinking that the woman is herself the victim.”
Indeed, who would believe that none of the things I am accused of above actually happened and that they are simply a figment of a deranged woman’s overactive imagination perhaps borne out of her own insecurities? (By the way, if you are reading this, and know I have been accused of strange things…please note that most of them are not true – I can be militaristic, dictatorial, single-focused, etc but I play by good rules…AND I WOULD NEVER TAKE ANYONE’S CLOTHES TO A BABALAWO!)
For whatever its worth, when you find yourself in the clutches of an abusive woman, here are some tips:
1. 1. Cover your back/behind – have a paper trail that supports your story. I have a Memorandum of Understanding, expense sheet, and email correspondence which I can present if need be.
2. 2. Watch your back – abusive women may not be physically harmful but may be connected to those who can be. In Atlanta, a woman’s husband was killed by her lover because the latter believed she was being abused.
3. 3. Network – know people who’ve got your back. Build support both within and outside your marriage so your interests can be protected.
4. 4. If she would go, help her get counseling to deal with her insecurities. Most abusive women see themselves as victims and when panicked, they lash out, ostensibly to protect their interests. My friend (term used loosely) panicked because of a looming deadline and her lack of delivery on our workshop so she went on the attack. Now that the workshop is past, she’s back to her sweet, friendly self and I don’t know how to tell her she needs counseling.
(The accounts retold in this article have been fictionalized to cover the true nature of issues).