When I first discovered Buddhism one aspect that really piqued my interest was Samatha -- single-pointed meditation intended to nurture Calm Abiding.
After years of living in a heightened sense of Fight or Flight to even think I would be able to reach even a pinch of a remote level of Calm Abiding seemed nearly impossible. While focusing my attention my Monkey Mind kept leaping from one branch of thought to the next trying to figure out Buddhism's stance on DV.
To spare myself the trauma of leaving myself open to the uninformed opinions and suggestions from those unfamiliar with DV I went in search of answers on my own.
New to the Buddhist path, I was thrilled to uncover several papers, studies and lectures on the subject. And the content of what I found certainly opened my eyes.
Here's a brief breakdown:
Psychological abuse (including, but not limited to): intimidation, humiliation, putdowns, threats, etc... are all considered misconduct in the Buddhist tradition. Essentially, they're "mental violence" and go against the Fourth Precept of falsehood -- wrong/harmful speech.
Physical abuse (including, but not limited to): biting, slapping, choking/throttling, slapping, etc... These again are considered wrong and a violation of the First Precept of nonharming (ahimsa).
I was, unfortunately, familiar with a few of these. But what really made my jaw drop were the examples of sexual misconduct/abuse.
Sexual abuse (including, but not limited to): sexual humiliation, refusing to use contraceptives, coerced sexual acts, etc... These acts violate the Third Precept that speaks against sexual misconduct, harassment, violence.
Contrary to what he wanted me to believe such acts were NOT normal in a healthy relationship. These acts were a means of Control. Control that he seized methodically piece by piece over a long period of time.
Now, for those who have followed the Buddhist path for a longer period of time, these points are no surprise. But, like I said, I was still relatively new on my journey and needed explanations, Help. To try and make sense of the hell I'd endured.
His excuse was always that if I would just do my "job" or "behave" the bad shit wouldn't happen. Looking back I see those "justifications" as lame-ass excuses for cowardice acts. NOTHING gives someone the right to treat another as less than human.
With time, meditation has helped lead me to that space of Calm Abiding. I have noticed a sudden shift -- things which would have previously rocked me to my core now hit me as light rain drops.
Feeling more grounded has helped me to look back at my experience, sit with the feelings of hurt and anger. Get to know them. See them for what they are. And let them go. That doesn't mean that they don't return every now and again, but I no longer invite them in for tea and a long chat of painful rehashing.
Being more mindful has also helped me to manage my triggers and anxiety. PTSD is a bitch. It takes time, But you CAN learn to cope. It doesn't make them go away. When the loud noises, nightmares/terrors, flashbacks, avoidance, sights and sounds thrust you into Fight or Flight you learn to Stay and breathe. It is painful. Sometimes it is downright paralyzing. But you finally get to a place where you recognize the triggers for what they are --- triggers.
There isn't a day that goes by that I don't offer prayers and positive vibes to my former abuser. Praying that he one day has the strength to confront his demons, to make amends to those whom he has harmed, and to have the fortitude to not intentionally harm anyone else again. To love himself. And others. To see this Gift of life for what it is and not squander it. And to realize Cause and Effect are real. That which we give out DOES come back. Maybe not immediately, but we all have Karmic debt we must pay.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama was once asked what he would do if he was ever attacked. His answer: Run away. And it is true. Running away is not being weak, it is a matter of self preservation. Violence achieves NOTHING. It may give you relief in the short-term, but you must think of the long-term. And have enough respect for yourself to not jeopardize who you are and what you're meant to do while on this Journey.
You DO NOT have to stay in a toxic situation. But, believe me, when in the belly of the Beast you don't believe you have that option. But you DO.
It is OK to flee the toxic situation. Then when you are safely on the opposite shore out of harm's way (and only then) is it OK to stop, turn around and offer compassion.
I am the first to admit I STILL have days where I get VERY angry about how he harmed me. The emotional, psychological and physical pain and the effects of which that I deal with to this day. How he stole the faith and trust I had in others for so long. But I sit with that hurt and pain. I work through it. I may cry while doing so, but I still watch it, feel it, and hear it out and then smile. Yes, smile.
As much as all that hurt sucks, it is no longer a danger to me. I carry the scars that no one can see. But it has made me who I am today. It has helped me to find my faith... again. But stronger. It has made me reevaluate myself, find myself and come back braver, more confident, courageous and loving than before. And for all that I thank him.
You may think I am crazy for what I've written here. And that's OK. I don't expect you to understand. But for those who read this and connect with what I am saying, I say, "Namaste."
In Peace and Love,