Emotional Abuse is Domestic Violence too

I like to use movies, literature, TV Dramas and other forms of art to discuss issues we face because then people will hopefully turn to them and re-examine what I am proposing. When it comes to Domestic Violence, most people think that it is simply physical abuse and nothing else.  In fact a woman is considered to be in a domestic violence situation when she is emotionally abused (even when nothing else is present). If you are trapped in a relationship because of emotional abuse and manipulation then you do not have the freedom to live your life or make choices and often lose a sense of self. Women are always surprised when I tell them this because they have tried so hard to cover up for their partners for so many years. Sexual abuse has long been undercover because of the assumption presented in society that if he is your husband you are supposed to have sex with him. Often sexual abuse takes play in emotionally abusive situations because he is not afraid to manipulate you in any situation he can.

When I turn to both literature and a musical, I think of characters who never got their woman – and in some situations we feel sad for this; i.e., Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights because it is written for us to believe Heathcliff and Catherine would have had this great love between them. I recall growing up, hearing my friends talk about this terribly romantic story of unrequited love, no different than Romeo and Juliet. In other situations such as Judd in Oklahoma, it is written for us to think of him as a lowlife, even though he is no different than Heathcliff and so in this musical we are grateful that he and Laurey don’t get together. Yet both characters are the same. They are possessive men who don’t get the girl but then continue to show how abusive they are to others. These types of men make me uncomfortable as a woman because I know that had they been able to be in a relationship with the girl, their possession would become much stronger, more dominant and she would have become strangled by their love. It would have led to sexual abuse, possibly even physical abuse. When a person is that narcissistic about their beliefs there is no self-awareness, no self-examination and the result is a catastrophe.

Currently, I am watching the Turkish Muslim TV drama on Netflix entitled “The Girl I Loved.” The story of Heathcliff and Judd are turned around because Timur (pronounced Tee-mur) is now a wealthy businessman and he has control over Mine’s family as he is the boss of the patriarch and later the son too. Mine (pronounced Mee-ney), is in love with Sinan (pronounced See-naan), also from a wealthy family though he is the son of a capitalist and comes across more like a socialist instead. He rejects his money and status for love. The difference here is that Timur is an adult male about 20 years older than Mine and Sinan is a man of about 18 or 19 when he first appears in the drama. Mine is 17 years old. Sinan’s father rejects his love for Mine and when she turns up pregnant (which happens when you have sex carelessly without a thought for being responsible and taking birth control), Sinan’s father whisks him out of the country to America without telling him that his love is pregnant. At the same time, Sinan’s father tells her father – who comes to plead to the family to take responsibility for their son’s and his daughter’s actions – that his son wants nothing to do with his family and they even question the paternity of the child.

Now the story begins. Timur, who had now fallen in love with Mine, a young vulnerable girl who he feels he can relate to, hears of her plight and wants to save her. We have already learned that he has saved the life of his housekeeper, another woman, but we don’t find out her story until much later. She had fallen in love with him but the minute he becomes consumed by Mine, Timur begins to reject his housekeeper and even his daughter. His housekeeper is sent to live elsewhere and return each day to tend to his household needs, whatever and whenever he demands. He marries Mine, after embarrassing the father and the family by asking for her hand – Mine’s father has a lot of pride and does not want his boss to have all this control over his family, the class issue and plus he realizes he is 20 years older. But the mother of Mine, delights in her daughter having this money which means stability so she is more practical and talks her husband into it. This of course causes him to eventually fall in love elsewhere; a different level of the control by men in this story. Mine rejects Timur’s love but is basically forced into the marriage because it will get her father to love her again. He had now considered her dead to him and refused to speak to her. Timur marries Mine, knowing that Sinan didn’t know anything about the pregnancy and is very much in love with her. Eventually the father begins to talk to daughter again and everything is written to look like a happy marriage.  The one thing that we can respect Mine for is that she is smart enough to realize that Timur wants her badly and so she makes demands which he actually respects. He will not sleep with her and for a couple of years she even locks her door to ensure this. This caused me to wonder if Timur has sexual problems. I doubt this will be brought into the picture (I am on episode 42 out of 79). I am pretty surprised to see a man who will give up sex in a marriage (and not have a lover on the side). This is how we see how his devotion and love for Mine is more of a religion. He has idolized her to be this saint and will do whatever it takes to have her by his side, even if it is a faux marriage as it is never consummated.

The conflict begins for Mine when Sinan returns from America and eventually he learns that she is pregnant with his son and they both find out that they were tricked. However, by this time, she is so emotionally manipulated by Timur, she cannot see his possession. She is now dressing nicely, like a rich wealthy woman (at first she rejected his money). She doesn’t have to work (at first she did anyway) and has now returned to college though there is no emphasis on this in the story so it is more like an idle past-time that Timur allows her. Mine and Sinan get together many times because she is still so in love with him and they have crying fests over her conflict and his undying love. We also see that Mine has grown up and is putting her child’s needs first (the martyr) and that Sinan is trapped in a fantasy of young love he is still chasing. He is unable to accept that she has grown as a woman and his jealousy has made him into a whiney little boy rather than growing and taking steps to turn this situation around. I keep wondering why he doesn’t hire an attorney to fight for paternity, visitation as well as put on a suit and become a responsible man that Mine will fall in love with all over again. If he fought for her and his son this way, she would be able to respect him. His character seems doomed though and when I accidentally read someone’s English comments I found out this is exactly what does happen in the final episode.

This emotional manipulation of Timur goes to great lengths that many women cannot see in their relationships (straight and even lesbian/gay). Timur stalks her first with a cell phone that she must answer whenever he calls. He locks her in the room himself and doesn’t let her leave (the fact that there is a sliding glass door on one side of her room is now hidden from camera and we the audience are supposed to forget it is there). He steals her phone so she cannot call anyone and even when her parents show up unannounced he talks them into believing this is just a lover’s quarrel. The first time she leaves him to go and clear her head at her aunt’s house – he follows her there and brings her back home. The second time she is already there and in front of all the women in her family tells him she needs time to think. This time he is too embarrassed to do something in front of these women and leaves. However, he is there every day and calls every day to check up on the son and her. Each time he arrives he  pesters her again about why she is doing this and how much he loves her and so on and so on.  How is she expected to actually think – I wonder? But he has no respect for his wife. He idolizes her and she can do no wrong but he doesn’t want her to think, he wants her to remain stupid and naïve so he can continue to possess her. We are still led to believe he is undaunted by the fact that they have not had sex and he has not had sex either for the past two-three years now.

What is saddest of all is Timur’s daughter, Merve (pronounced Mare-vey) who is so caught up in her love for her father that it would seem incestuous driven though this is normal for a child psychologically, i.e., the Oedipus complex. She has lost her mother (story is vague) and dad has been there for her until Mine, to the point of it seeming a little too close, on his part. Because she is bright enough to see her father’s obsession for Mine, she tries all types of tricks to get her father to notice her including attempting to kill herself (accidentally as this wasn’t her intent) and controlling Mine while she was pregnant (though Mine didn’t care because she didn’t want to be there anyway at the onset). When her father continues to reject her, even after a temporary “I am sorry, I still love you” moment between father and daughter, Merve goes in another direction. She is the one to tell Sinan about his son and was the one who brought Mine and Sinan together initially when he returns from America. She finally gives up and decides the only way to get her dad’s love is to love his “son” and be nice to Mine. You can see though how she is falling apart emotionally and I can only imagine, as a psychotherapist and if they write the story correctly, that she will eventually fall into the hands of a male that she will either control or be controlled by dependent on how vulnerable the character is shown over the years. It will depend on whether she is a survivor with one more trick up her sleeve or completely collapses altogether because some cocky guy makes her feel loved once again. Either way, it won’t end good for this young child because her father continues to ignore her over and over again as if she is nothing more than the housekeeper.

Now, if you were to be Turkish and could read all the comments on Turkish websites about this show, you might see a lot of favoritism toward Timur. This show is trying desperately to go in his direction and give you the idea that he is the one for Mine. At the same time, they are not allowing the Sinan/Mine relationship to end – it keeps the show rolling but they continue to show it as pitiful and hopeless and leave us to believe that Mine will end up consummating her relationship with Timur. Perhaps there are sides – women choosing Sinan and those opting for Timur. I hope she ends up leaving Timur and coming to her senses that she is a grown woman and doesn’t need a man. Both men are equally possessive but Timur is so emotionally abusive and if he ends up owning her 100%, which he is close to now, this won’t be a happy marriage. He lives for conflict because he is a passionate man and will soon need another woman to protect and shelter. How did he get to this place that he felt he was this God of poor lost women? This is what I question as a psychotherapist. What is his backstory? I hope we will find out in the end as I want some closure on this.

In real life though, a middle class woman marrying a rich man is something “dreams” are made of for many young girls. It is a fairytale that we see in cartoons and musicals and classics. So many women have entered into this story and at times it has a happy ending. Other times though it ends with emotional abuse but the woman fights not giving up all her money and prestige. It is a tough call. When you have become enslaved by money, power, prestige, and realize that if you leave this person you will have nothing, may end up being shunned, will fight him in court, and so on, it can cause a woman to remain and this will cause the man to feel he has even more power over her. This of course means more domination and control. Emotional abuse is domestic violence. This needs to be recognized and understood more. It is difficult when the art world romanticizes this and ignores the fact that it exists.

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