Making Excuses in Abusive Relationships?

Posted: October 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

By Hanna Munin

On October 10th on Anderson Cooper’s day-time show Anderson, he did a special on Connie Culp, a survivor of domestic abuse. Connie Culp was shot in the face by her husband in 2004. He was sent to prison in 2005 and was recently released. In 2009, Connie received the first ever face transplant. Anderson revealed a letter Connie’s ex-husband Thomas sent to the show to be read aloud and clear up any misunderstandings about the shooting in 2004. Thomas did what many batterers do and made excuses for the situation, that what he did was not his fault. In response to the letter, Anderson commented to Connie and her sister how Thomas sounds like the victim here, Connie’s sister agreed with Anderson. The real person with the punishment here was Connie. Connie went through so much and is still unable to live a normal life even with the face transplant, her sister felt. Connie was defending Thomas throughout this conversation and Anderson asked about it, wondering why she would defend him like that.
What Connie did is not uncommon. Many people who have gone through an abusive relationship deny that what they went through was abuse, and defend their partner. One reason why she does this is because in a relationship, you care for your partner and spend good times with them. Connie focuses simply on the good times and not on the bad times, all the fights are not as severe as they actually were in her mind. Connie admits that she has always defended his behavior because she knows everything that Thomas went through. To the viewers, this doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone love and defend a person that could be so cruel to them? Connie’s sister tells Anderson that because Thomas treated Connie this way for so long, Connie’s definition of love became abuse.
           So what can we learn from Connie and her relationship with Thomas? For one, we learn that the scars of abuse are seen in everyone. Even a woman who had microwaves thrown at her and shot in the face still sees love in her relationship. We also learn that by building a supportive community for ourselves, we can learn to love again. Connie spent a lot of time with her sister and her children. They gave Connie a wake-up call that Connie can turn her life around now that Thomas was away and out of the picture. Connie is now in a healthy relationship with a man who loves her and supports her the way she deserves to be. With that, we also learn that no single relationship can define you. Just because Connie was in one abusive relationship does not mean that she will always be in abusive relationships. You can read about and watch the entire interview with Connie and Anderson here.


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