My Story part 1

I met my wife who was a single mum of 3 boys in 1997 and we married later that year in December. Over the years I was to become a father of 2 more boys.

On the 17th of October 2007 at   2:45pm I collapsed at the farm I worked on paralysed on the right side with a high temperature of 40.9 c (105 F) I was found about an hour and a half afterwards and taken to hospital where I was to stay for the next 52 days. I was eventually diagnosed with viral encephalitis and I was to relearn to walk and do many things that we take for granted…such as walking, getting out of a chair and showering.

The virus affected my strength, noticeably my right side. I had problems with my right leg that would often freeze up and stay dead for a period of time between 10 seconds to a few hours. I developed uncontrollable shakes if I was to over exercise and had chronic fatigue where I would need to sleep after  10 – 15 minutes in the gym. Another symptom that was even more disturbing was the partial amnesia that caused me to forget many significant things from my past. For example I was to walk into my sister in laws home and remark on their new kitchen…only to be informed that it was 3 years old and I had been in it many times before. Another time I asked a friend how his sisters kids were…only to be informed that one of the kids had drowned at least 10 years previously… I had known this, but it was new information to me…

Another side effect is that it affected me in that I cannot remember lists…if you tell me 3 things to do I will only be able to remember 1 or 2 of them.

Upon release from hospital I was given a walking stick and was  supposed to acquire a shower stool to make sure I was able to shower safely. The cost was $65 to buy one and my wife said that I would have to cope without one as we couldnt afford it.A rehabilitation nurse came to visit the home and sat both of us down and explained the processes needed to be put into place to make sure I managed fatigue and mobility issues… the major one with Christmas coming up that I would have to go shopping in a wheel chair.

The morning we went to go Christmas shopping I asked my wife if I could have some money to buy the kids some presents. She replied to me, “No… a real man would not be begging his wife for money….a real man would be out earning his own”

This remark cut deep to my heart. It struck deep into the very core of my identity as a man. I was struggling with the major life changes that had happened to me and it was as if she had belted me with a lump of 4*2 in the inner man.  I remember saying a prayer that went like this, Lord I know you heard every thing that just happened…all I want is some money  to buy some presents for the family…We went shopping and I met a man from church who said to me, Craig, I”m glad I met you today, I have carried this around for you and he gave me $100. When I told my wife what happened she wanted me to hand it over to her saying, You dont deserve to have any money, you have to give it to me.

I replied that I was going to use it to bless the boys over the Christmas Holidays and use it to see a movie or something else.

Over the next 12 months I was to hear this comment about not being a real man many times in many varied forms. I slowly gained some strength and resumed my interest in woodwork and slowly made some kids furniture. Tables, chairs and toys. I was only able to manage about 40 minutes a day in the garage and so progress was slow..but over a couple of months I made a few things and decided to try and sell some at a local market. Nothing sold, but I was asked to make a book shelf for some people who were ok about the extended time it would take me to build it.

I started to make the book shelf using the materials I had in the garage and needed to get some more from the hardware to finish it… I asked my wife for some money to go and get the materials I needed and was told…You have a garage full of stuff…use what you have…I’m not giving you a cent… a real man would have made some money selling what he made by now…

I replied saying I didn’t have what I needed mainly being some sandpaper, putty, the right screws and stain and that I wouldn’t be able to finish it without those materials… a week later she told me…I have the utmost contempt for you… you promised these people a bookshelf and you won’t finish it… a real man would finish what he began… I replied about how I could finish it within the week if she gave me some money to do so and she said..No go and earn your own money…be a real man and go and get a real job

I was told many times that I was cursed by God, that he didn’t hear my prayers. On two occasions she organised some people to come around to exorcise the devil from me, telling me a few minutes before they come what she had done….

I was slowly manipulated and ostracised from family and friends. Often told that even my family didn’t want anything to do with me, nor did my friends. For me to shower safely I would sit on the shower floor…one day she came to the shower door telling me that I was only acting, that the doctors didn’t know what they were on about, that there was nothing wrong with me. She knew better and she was going to force me to go and work and be a real man whether I liked it or not.( In 12 years of marriage my wife had never worked until I fell sick)

Her words were like bullets entering into me…the barage of words striking me deep and I curled into a fetal position crying out to God to make her stop, that I couldn’t handle her words and actions any more.

I also suffered some level of post traumatic stress and depression. I would often wake up of a night with dreams that I was paralysed and unable to move or call out for help, having flash backs of the time I collapsed. My doctor gave me some antidepressants which I tried, but couldn’t handle the taste.. and went off them within the week. I actually felt better about talking about the issues of being sick with another guy at church…though I was not able to talk about the way my wife was treating me.

I was thinking about writing a book and started to plan and plot a kids book with the boys. Again my wife said..who are you to write a book, you’re not good enough to write a book. She would often tear up my writings, come and stand over me and throw things at me, often threatening that one day she would stab me with a knife.

Eventually she did hit me, punching me in the head. I became so frightened of her that I could only bear to talk to her for a few minutes before fearing she would go into one of her rages. Eventually I sat down with our church pastor and told him what was going on and he laughed at me saying he didn’t believe things were as bad as they were, but they would pay for us to have counselling.

At counselling I would share what was going on and my wife would sit there saying I was lying and mentally ill…then on the way home would verbally abuse me for mentioning what was going on saying it was none of the counsellors business….that it was me who needed fixing up not her. The counsellor gave us some homework to do in the form of journelling a letter and in it tell each other exactly what it was we wanted to say to each other… with strict instructions that we were not to read each others letters….

My wife found mine and ripped it out of the journal and gave it to the ladies and elders at church to read saying look at the letter I had written to her… it was from this point that I was ostracised by the church….I was thinking of resuming some study at a bible college and thought perhaps I could get a room at the college. My pastor got wind of what I was thinking and rang me saying…Craig..I’m good friends with the college president and I will make sure if you leave your family that you will never be able to minister within our organisation ever again…and you will not be allowed to continue any study what so ever..

This tore me apart inside. I had no money. Even though I was on government benefits my wife took all of it. I had nowhere to go… and I was dying inside. I was like a ball of lead. I had no joy. There were times that I thought of taking my life, though I made the decision no matter what I would not do that….as I had only the year before set up a shire wide suicide prevention and awareness network and had counselled a few people over the years from doing so…

Finally a crunch came where I was bitten on the wrist…deep to the bone. In trying to restrain my wife from harming me further I shoved her and she fell hitting her head on the couch. She rang the police about my abusing her and on their arrival ranted about my mental illness and she had my anti depressant tablets to prove it… when the police heard my story and asked if that was right she said yes…and then they asked me if I wanted her charged with assualt and again I said no! … on their suggestion to move out of the house I threw some things into my Kia Pregio van and moved out of the house and lived in the back of my van for the next 5 or so weeks.

I tried the department of housing..they put me on a waiting list and I am still waiting a year later for a house to be made available. There was no where for me to turn…and so I became numb, barely able to live. Suffering from mobility, fatigue and memory problems combined with the issues involved from being abused for so long and I became a recluse.

As a man who suffered domestic violence I found there was no where for me to turn. Few people believed me. The public brochures that the nsw government department have dealing  with domestic abuse make out that it is the man who is the abuser…the other brochure talking about abuse in society says…”Women, children and others…” are liable to suffer abuse…. the question I ask is…who are the others?

My name is Craig Bennet and I am a survivor of domestic abuse and this has been some of my story.

29 responses

1 06 2010
David E. Brown, MS, LMHC

Craig,

I am profoundly saddened and appalled at your story, and can appreciate what a devastating experience it has been for you. No one deserves to be treated like that, let alone experience the suffering you report.

Thank you for telling your story and helping the many men who may read this who have similar stories to tell, so that they can begin to escape their horror, rebuild their lives and begin the process of healing which can bring you and them to a place where you will find yourself better off than you could have ever been without these experiences (what some people refer to as a “thriver,” the stage following “survivor,” which in turn follows the “victim” stage).

For the sake of yourself and others who are still out there in the lonely state of continued victimization, I want to assure that there are some people out there who can help you and others.

I’m not sure of conditions in Australia, or anywhere besides here in the US and in Canada, but I can predict with some assurance that while male victims may meet with initial skepticism, most programs which provide services primarily for women, have encountered cases similar to yours and can provide support and assistance. If you have more than one in your area you may need to shop around until you find the best one. If none of them are receptive, this may be an opportunity for you to help educate and sensitize them.

Also, aggression towards another individual is a crime in most jurisdictions. Sometimes it is necessary to gather significant amounts of evidence to support charges against someone who commits their crimes in private, but it can be done.

As you have found, churches are an iffy proposition so it is important to seek out one which is focused more on supporting those in need than in judging them or requiring them to conform to some preconceived model of behavior. And never assume that a pastor is qualified ex-officio to be a counselor in anything.

I would guess that you have a government sponsored family services program in your area. Many programs like that, while they focus primarily on children’s issues, also have an adult services section which is accustomed to helping protect adults from abusive behaviors.

Most disability advocacy organizations also are accustomed to dealing with issues of abuse and can provide important support, no matter the level of the disability.

Finally, there are the counselors. As a member of that profession I am acutely aware that the quality of services available is too often appalling. Most counselors believe that if they mean well that’s all they need to help people. Thus when they encounter issues such as intimate violence, which they never studied in school, except perhaps in passing and very superficial detail, they are not only ill-equipped to help, but often cause more damage than they help heal.

I have been working with intimate violence issues for over 14 years, have countless hours of very specialized training, and am still learning new and often vital information nearly every day.

In choosing a counselor, as with doctors, one way is to ask a few counselors who they believe are the best practitioners in the area with respect to these issues.

In any case, while it is customary for counselors to see both partners together in the initial session, anyone who continues to see them as a couple after that first session doesn’t know what they’re doing. It simply isn’t safe for the clients.

They need to receive very issue specific individual counseling for a considerable period (often a year or more), and group (not couples) counseling for their respective issues, if available, before, if ever, they can be brought together safely (and that rarely happens).

My best wishes to you as you continue your struggle.

Dave

PS: You are likely to attract a number of people who are aggressors, but want to be seen as victims. One way I approach that issue is that I focus on the impact this problem they have in their lives is having on their feelings and their behavior, without automatically validating the details of their story.

No matter the truth of their situation they are wasting time if they focus on someone else’s need to change, regardless of how appropriate or beneficial such change would be. That’s for agencies like the legal system to deal with.

1 06 2010
Craig Benno

Hi Dave, thanks again for your comments.

I agree there is need to concentrate on the way it is affecting us. I really had to do some soul searching myself in asking questions if it was my fault I was abused. ‘

I was told it was my fault so often that I believed it. I wrote about the way I responded to what happened here

http://mencanbeabusedtoo.wordpress.com/2010/06/01/fortified-defences-how-i-responded/

10 06 2010
10 06 2010
13 09 2010
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[...] Where is the justice in miscarriage? Posted on September 13, 2010 by Craig Benno The last 5 weeks has been a ride on an emotional roller coaster. Though truth be told its one that I have been on for a several years for various reasons. You can read more of my story here [...]

2 11 2010
“How prevalent and how severe is abuse of men?” « The Last Straw

[...] —— The following site was sent to me, a man’s story of being abused http://mencanbeabusedtoo.wordpress.com/my-story-part-1/ [...]

10 11 2010
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[...] This was a bit of a understatement, you can read my story here [...]

27 11 2010
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[...] the society in which we live. I am a man. I am am a heterosexual man. I was abused by my wife. If I did to my wife what she did to me…I would have been locked up in [...]

24 12 2010
Paul Marcel-Rene

Craig, I understand completely, having been through the same thing. Every time my ex-wife abused me and called the police, they would arrest me. Only by the grace of God, did I never have charges on my permanent record.

I did spend many one day stays and one two week stay in jail FOR BEING ABUSED simply because I was the male.

Here in the US, many courts have a victims assistance worker to help the victim get away from the abuser. The last trip to court because she attacked me, it was the victim’s assistance worker who insisted I go to jail. She wouldn’t accept the word of my now ex-wife that she had attacked me, nor would the court. My family bailed me out after 2 weeks and now, 9 years later, I still have no contact with two of my brothers about it AND the charges are STILL pending. If I return to the state that I lived in at the time, I’m going to jail for anywhere from 90 days to 2 years! And my ex-wife has no remarried and informed me she can not tell the truth in court any more meaning automatic conviction and jail. This keeps me from visiting my youngest son who I’ve not seen since 2002.

Here in the US, we love to quote what we were taught in Elementary School about the legal system, “Innocent until proven guilty”. Especially when it comes to men being abused it simply is not true at all. It truly is “Guilty until proven guilty”.

Why did I not leave prior to my two week incarceration? Because she would use the system to put me in jail and because I’d never see my children again. I lot everything when she followed through with the threat. Justice isn’t blind for abused men, it is non-existent.

I’ve provided some resource info on my blog for the US. I’ll list it here in hopes it will help anyone else who is in this situation.

http://paulmarcelrene.wordpress.com/2010/12/12/women-abusing-men

To any still trapped in abuse, please, reach out for help before it is too late.

Survivor of wife abuse,

Paul Marcel-Rene’

25 12 2010
Craig Benno

Paul.
Thank you for sharing your story. You certainly have gone through some heavy burdens.

Thankfully the tide is starting to turn; though there is still a long way to go. I pray that God will bless you and your children’s relationship in the future and bring reconciliation to pass.

25 12 2010
Paul Marcel-Rene

Thanks Craig and Merry Christmas.

5 01 2011
Suzanne Perry

Please see my article. I dont speak out for women because they can be just as bad, if not worse. I speak out for people, because abuse is about control, and power, and knows no gender.

It is a sensitive subject. It is a real subject, and it hurts. It’s domestic violence, family and spousal abuse. I have a constant stream on communication with people and it’s bone-chilling how prevalent it is. What may shock you is that men are abused almost as much as women are. Here are my findings of fact by personal interviews. I do not seek agreement or argument.
Here is the link to it, and please feel free to reach out at any time.

http://www.blog4change.org/articles/1717/1/Hurt-at-home-Why-A-must-read-for-men/Page1.html

20 01 2011
fast track immigration

Great post. I will certainly be returning to read more.

31 01 2011
Brian LePort

@Craig: I am sorry to hear that you had to go through this. I am thankful to see that you have been able to maintain faith and your outlook on life by God’s grace. Thank you for sharing your story.

31 01 2011
Craig Benno

Thanks for stopping by and reading it Brian. It’s been an interesting journey and one that has shown me there is a large hidden percentage of society who also are suffering the same journey.

28 02 2011
MS Cusic

Thank you for posting your story. Someone close to me is a battered man. He seems to choose abusive women as he is in his second abusive relationship. After having won custody of his daughter after the mother was finally convicted of domestic abuse, he went out and found another woman who beats and berates him. Unfortunately, even after calling the police on her several times, they only arrested her once and let her go without pressing charges after a serious assault. Four months later the two have another encounter and now he’s arrested and sitting in jail facing serious charges. He is in complete denial. How do I help him?

28 02 2011
Craig Benno

Thanks for your comments and question.

There can be a tendency for people who have experienced abusive relationships to go back into that type of relationship. I think the reason is that deep down they believe that is what they deserve or that its better to what you know instead of moving ahead into a loving relationship which is totally at odds from ones personal experience.

There isn’t much you can do to rescue him…until he comes to the place of recognising just what is happening in his life and his choices. This is an excellent source of information where you might find some information to be able to give him. http://www.shrink4men.com/

28 02 2011
MS Cusic

Thank you again… it’s nearly affected me to the point where I need counseling.
Why can’t he see the pattern of abuse? Why does he tell me ‘she’s the only one who really loves me and cares’? Why does he beg for her love and settle for her hostility? Why does he protect her, lie for her- even take responsibility for her bad acts? Why does he seem so determined to destroy his life for her? Why can’t he see this?

It’s just so sad. I just hope it’s not too late.

1 03 2011
Craig Benno

I don’t think it is ever too late; unless the violence escalates into murder… which I prayerfully hope doesn’t happen in your friends case. Watching your friend go through this must be somewhat traumatic for you also; have you thought of having some counselling to be able to process your own experience in watching this develop?

20 08 2012
ssofdv

Hello Craig,

Your story is truly powerful! A few of your experiences stirred flashbacks of my own. There is a certain characteristic of abusers, and not necessarily categorized as male or female. My ex who was male (now deceased), spewed some of the same hostilities. Therefore, abuse is a two headed monster regardless of gender.

It is my prayer that life is much better for you now. I believe you, and know from personal experience of my loved ones and friends that men can be abused as well.

Thank you for visiting and commenting on my blog. May God continue to strengthen and keep you.

Terry

2 12 2012
Anonymous

Hello Craig,
I’m doing a school work on domestic violence and I came across your story.
It made me cry, made me think how for so many years I tought women should be procteted because they were the only victims.
Thanks for sharing. I will spread the message.
God bless you and us with a fair world where peace and love can grow on.

Nessy

2 12 2012
Craig Benno

Thanks Nessy.

4 02 2013
http://tinyurl.com/primherd01062

“My Story part 1 Through Hell and Back” truly got myself simply hooked with your page!
Iwill certainly be returning even more often.
Thanks a lot ,Twila

3 05 2013
A tough journey of social justice. | Trinitarian Dance

[...] know I suffered a debilitating illness 6 long years ago. But, what you may not know is that I am a survivor of marital abuse, which resulted in my experiencing many things that a person created in the image of God was never [...]

28 05 2013
Tiribulus

Wow Craig. I am so sorry for the hurt you’ve gone through. Most people think women can’t be cruel and angry and violent like men can. During my first marriage I walked around with black eyes, fat lips, face scratched up and huge lumps on my head where my hair had been pulled so hard my scalp had been torn from my skull. She probably would’ve killed me had I not blocked an unexpected ambush swing with a large cast iron frying pan. My arm turned purple and swelled up so bad. The one time I merely restrained her by holding her wrists, I went to jail for being dangerous to HER. That’s how it works ya know. Well, yes you do.

Funny thing is she didn’t really dig at me emotionally like your wife did you. I imagine that’s worse.

28 05 2013
Craig Benno

Mate. I too am sorry for your journey also. I won’t say that the emotional is worse than the physical, because we can’t really say one experience is worse than the other.

What has taken me a while to work through, and I praise God for his enabling me to forgive and his healing processes of the memories is all the flash backs and triggers that can suddenly occur.

I sympathise with you because the community orgs I tried to contact wanted me to do an anger management course.. when I explained it was she who hit, bit, spat, threatened to stab me etc…

Thanks for stopping by and reading some of my story and sharing your own.

29 09 2014
I’m going on an overload fast. | Trinitarian Dance

[…] However I digress. Social media in all its forms became an important part of my life. While I was housebound it allowed me to engage and have contact with the outside world. Not only was I able to be encouraged; I was also able to encourage others. Over the years I have made some very close friends from those I first met online. And I was later to meet the woman who was to become my wife through Face Book. […]

29 09 2014
Shirley Lynds Broadbere Mortara

Craig I am sorry for what you had to endure. You know if some one is being verbally abused there is no where to go because there is no proof of abuse

29 09 2014
Craig Benno

Shirley. Yes, you have nailed it. It has been a journey.

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