Domestic Violence

* Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.
* Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
* Everyday in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
* Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
* Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives or girlfriends than sons of nonviolent parents.

What is the typical batterer profile? “The batterer profile, according to one source, is a controlling individual with poor impulse control who probably witnessed abuse or was abused as a child; suffers from low self-esteem, but can be extremely charming and seductive early in a relationship, and then for no apparent reason turns angrily and explosively on a member of the household or romantic partner in a dating relationship. Batterers are more likely than the general population to abuse drugs or alcohol; suffer from poor communication skills, frequently in denial, refuses to accept responsibility for own actions, and blames others. Emotionally dependent on partners and easily threatened by the possibility of their departure. Excessively jealous and possessive. Usually male, suffering from feelings of failure to live up to male paradigm.

Travis’ profile:

* Witnessed abuse and was abused as a child.
* Continuous overt self-promotion belies low self-esteem (an understandable outcome of his childhood).
* Very charming and charismatic (as per all who knew him, including Jodi).
* Poor communication skills when it came to conflict: name calling, insults, threats, blaming others, five-hour tirades.
* Refused to look at his own issues (as per his good friend, Sky Hughes). Even laughed about possibly being a sociopath (unconcerned with others’ feelings and needs).
* In spite of his carefully built image of success, Travis was borrowing money from Jodi (a waitress) and Deanna Reid (read Deanna’s attempts to get her money back here), had refinanced his big house to the hilt in order to maintain that inflated image of high success, and his house (beginning of the 2008 housing collapse) was also starting to slide in value (soon to go upside down). Feelings of failure to live up to the male paradigm of success? It was all starting to come crashing down around him.
* Jodi was moving on with her life, heading on to possibly find a relationship with Ryan Burns. (Leaving a relationship is the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship.)

So why did Jodi keep going back?

An abridged excerpt from the book “Red Flags of Love Fraud” by Donna Andersen:

“There are three stages to love: attraction, pleasure, and bonding….During the pleasure phase you feel excited, your pulse races, you have butterflies in your stomach.…Now suppose the person also wants you.…He or she showers you with attention….The pleasure stage involves brain chemicals such as endorphins and dopamine….Dopamine is released by rewarding experiences such as food and sex. Cocaine increases dopamine, which is why the drug produces feelings of well-being and euphoria. Therefore, dopamine is closely associated with reward-seeking behavior, including addiction.…In the bonding stage, another hormone becomes important. It’s called oxytocin (not to be confused with OxyContin, the pain relieving drug). This neurotransmitter has been called the “cuddle chemical” and the “love hormone”. When oxytocin is released in the brain, it increases feelings of trust, contentment and calmness, and reduces fear and anxiety.…This hormone serves a normal and important function in the human bonding process — it makes us feel calm and trusting with our mates. Nature probably gave us oxytocin so that we want to stay with our partners to raise children, thus helping the survival of the species.…Sex is not required for oxytocin to be released.…Social interactions involving trust also cause oxytocin to enter the brain.…The long and the short of it is that oxytocin produces a rewiring of the brain! Trust, love, intimacy and sex change your brain….These chemicals increase your pursuit of the reward — Mr. or Ms. Right….

“Now, here’s the scary part: This information does not apply to sociopaths. Research suggests that the oxytocin system in sociopaths may be dysfunctional. Sociopaths do not trust and do not bond. But they are very good at pretending that they do….If you are attracted to Mr. or Ms. Right, and you feel the pleasure of having your interest reciprocated so that you form a love bond, you experience all the psychological and biological effects of attachment — even if the object of your affection is a sociopath who is toying with you.…Sociopaths entice others to form attachments to them through deception and trickery. The problem is that our unconscious minds do not distinguish between attachments made through deception and those made legitimately….The experience is very real to you, you form a love bond, and your brain is rewired.…Sociopaths pour on the charm.…Then, as you become more and more attached, they disappear. Or they ignore you. Or they pick a fight. What are they doing? They are intensifying your love bond….Just as sociopaths instinctively know to hook you with pleasure in the beginning of the relationship, they also know that they can make you even more attached by threatening the relationship. This seems counterintuitive. If someone is giving you a hard time, why would you want to continue your involvement? The answer comes from addiction research. Scientists have discovered that although pleasure is required to establish a behavior pattern, it is not required to maintain it. This is Nature’s way of keeping people together.”

Anyone who has ever experienced these destructive mind games will certainly identify. Travis was playing a game with Jodi one might call “Go Away a Little Closer”. Others might call it a “Scottish shower” – hot then cold. Jodi could never figure out where she really stood with him. She had fallen in love with one man (the charmer) but that man had slowly disappeared, only to reappear just often enough to keep her hopes up. She still hoped if she was good enough and sweet enough for long enough, the man she fell in love with would come back to her. She also felt bad for him and wanted to help him with his issues. When she finally realized all that wasn’t going to happen, she moved back to Yreka to move on with her life (and escape the emotional torment). And she was moving on with her life, seeking out another relationship, when all this came down.

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