Original Air Date:
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Oprah Talks to Abusers:
Every day 3 women die at the hands of men who say they love them - nearly 1100 women a year. Saying that the number itself might not mean anything, Oprah opened the show by expressing that the death of a woman from the hand of her abuser would mean more if it were your mother, sister, or daughter.
Sir and His Wife Christy:
Oprah sat down with Sir, a man who admits to beating his wife - the first time being just weeks after they were married. Sir explained the first time he abused his wife because of jealousy at a party.
Seeing his wife dancing with another man set off a rage that Sir was not able to let go of. Smacking his wife with all his power and choking her against a car was full of all the anger Sir had every had inside him. He was so upset by the man he had become, he put a gun to his chin, but didn't take his life. Telling his wife it would never happed again, Christy stayed with Sir - but the abuse didn't stop for the next 2 years. Sir even admits to abusing his wife while she was pregnant - sitting on her stomach and choking her with her mouth and nose covered so she couldn't breathe.
Sir stated that he intended to kill his wife in the moment he was abusing her - being in control of whether she lived or died made him feel powerful and in charge of something in his life. Christy survived the abuse as Sir explained that the rage would decrease and he would come out of his tunnel vision, back to reality.
Christy left Sir and told him that she would return if they welcomed Christ into their marriage - Sir began a life with Jesus and says his marriage is so much better for it. Christy shared that she would leave if Sir his her again, but it has been 2 years of working every day towards being calm.
Sir shared with viewers that he thinks his cycle of abuse comes from growing up in an abusive household. Not learning an alternative to abuse in a relationship, Sir turned to the only method of communicating with his wife that he understood - if he was angry, instead of talking, he would abuse to be heard. Sir stated that when a man hits once, he will most likely hit again, but that the cycle can be broken with a lot of work.
Tony's Story of Abuse:
Oprah also sat down with Tony, another man who admits to beating women he has been in relationships with. Beating one girlfriend so bad she started bleeding, Tony expressed that his anger was brought on by jealousy and insecurity. In the moment Tony stated that he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he was unable to stop himself at the time. Tony now speaks out against domestic violence and show other men that they can make it through and change.
Tony was confused in his relationship where he abused his girlfriend because she would have sex with him afterwards, making him question if she wanted the abuse.
Tony explained that in the moment of abusing his girlfriend, he was completely overtaken by his rage and felt disconnected in the process. Comparing an abusive relationship to drug addiction, Tony stated that a woman is like the drug you need to connect because the love is not there - the only way to truly overcome is to separate from it and not return to it.
The Emotional Scars of Physical Abuse:
Both Sir and Tony shared that the emotional abuse is what hurt the women the most in their abusive relationships - the physical injuries healed, but the pain from the demeaning in the relationship takes much longer to recover. Tony stated, "On the inside, you strip away their pride - force them to compromise their self-worth, their self-respect." Tony also explained the grooming process that takes place in an abusive relationship - gaining trust through lies and deception. Making a woman think that a man loves her makes her believe that she has done something to deserve the abuse.
Oprah asked the men if a woman left the first time she was hit, would they get the message? Sir answered that in his case, he may have gone the opposite way and tried to tame his wife's defenses from the start instead of telling himself to stop his wrong actions.
Kevin Powell on Domestic Violence:
Kevin Powell, an author and activist, has worked with men around the country to help stop the abuse of women. Understanding the mind of an abusive man helps Kevin know how to relate to abusers - he used to be one. On the first season of MTV's Real World, Kevin's abusive nature was caught on camera, and was also happening off screen.
Stating that abuse has an addictive quality, Kevin expressed that the first step in overcoming being an abuser is the ability to admit your mistakes. Kevin shared that all men need to acknowledge their participation in abuse - observing abuse of another without action applies as well.
Counseling and Support for Abusers:
Kevin expressed via satellite to Oprah that support and counseling are key parts to an abuser being able to heal what made them strike a woman in the first place. Just visiting a therapist or place of worship isn't enough to heal and stop the violence, but real work needs to take place to understand the emotional place the abusive nature is coming from and working to heal those past issues.
Support groups and organizations are other great places for men to learn how to stop their violence and stand up for women and girls who are being abused.
Robin Givens Shares Her Story of Abuse:
Once married to boxer Mike Tyson, actress Robin Givens sat down with Barbara Walters 20 years ago and described the abuse she received at the hands of her husband. Now a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Robin encourages men to get on board and fight against the abuse of women. Robin shared that both men and women need to look closely at themselves, regardless of their color, religion or status, and address the hurt in the past before trying to have relationships with others.