Forgive and forget? NBC-2 News report
Linda Oberhaus and survivor Christy Carpenter where recently interviewed as part of an NBC-2 news report on domestic violence and returning to abusive relationships.
COLLIER COUNTY – Reporter Levi Ismail
Valentine’s Day is a time to express your love, but it’s also a time for abusers to use candy and flowers to win back those they’ve hurt.
Christy Carpenter never thought she’d be the woman on the receiving end of abuse. It was a relationship on the rocks, but it didn’t start off that way. She flew to Florida to find help for his addiction.
“Thought it was the alcoholism, thought once he stopped drinking, it would be a totally different relationship. He would be back to the person I met,” said Carpenter.
She thought controlling the alcohol would help, but it didn’t. Carpenter never saw him take another drink, but the behavior didn’t change.
Still, she couldn’t make a clean break. Staying, leaving, it became a vicious cycle.
“At that point I had already left four times prior to that,” said Carpenter.
Each time, Carpenter would find a new excuse for going back to a man who claimed to love her while hurting her.
Carpenter shared how easy it was to be lulled into a sense of security this time of year. She said many are manipulated by the sights and sound of love on Valentine’s Day.
“Things like Valentine’s Day and birthdays and holidays, that’s when they become their best. The most romantic, the most beautiful cards you’ve ever gotten,” said Carpenter.
The cards, candy, and flowers temporarily numbed her pain. When that wasn’t enough, she turned to the one place she could find help.
Linda Oberhaus is the executive director of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples. It’s a place where victims can stay or just find comfort in the company of others who understand.
“Often times when they come to the shelter, they may be realizing for the first time that they’ve actually been in an abusive relationship,” said Carpenter.
That was the case for Carpenter. Before she realized that one in four women across the country share her struggle.
“There are a lot of really legitimate reasons why woman end up going back into those relationships. First and foremost they love that person,” said Oberhaus.
Like Carpenter, most people won’t see the early signs of abuse. It’s not always physical. The abuser will want control and begins isolating you from friends and family.
“Isolation is a pretty big part of the whole power and control that happens,” said Oberhaus.
Carpenter has found her strength again. Newly engaged and ready to move on, she no longer shies away from her past but embraces it in hopes of showing others, you can find peace.
“There’s freedom. Freedom is attainable, it’s doable, and they can do it.”