Avery Tingle is a survivor of both child abuse and domestic abuse. Men rarely speak out publicly about their lives as victims, and I’m honored that Avery chose to do so with me here today.
You were a victim of both child abuse and domestic violence. Was the abuse physical, verbal and/or psychological? Please share as much detail as you’re comfortable with.
All three. My first memory of a relative involved them committing violence against another member of my family. I also remember getting slapped in the face in preschool while this same relative held me, angry that I couldn’t get the color of a toy right. As I grew up I was called probably every negative thing a child could be called, and anything I ever expressed interest in was torn apart. It made school slightly easier to weather because I’d heard all of the horrible stuff at home first. Beatings, either bare-handed or anything that relative could get their hands on, were a way of life.
How, if at all, do you feel your abuse as a child predisposed you to becoming a victim of domestic violence in your adult years?
This didn’t hit me till recently, but violence is a cycle. Once you get the idea in your head that you’re a victim, you tend to seek out situations in which you’ll stay in that role. I found myself attracted to women who came off as virtually flawless, only to discover some deep-rooted anger issues that led to a lot of destructive (verbal) behavior. In a very strange way, I was comfortable with it because I had grown up with it. I figured that the violence was what life was about.
Let’s talk about your situation as a child first. Was there anyone in your life you felt safe confiding in, such as a school counselor or the parent of a friend?
Emphatically speaking, NO. I remember feeling tremendously let down by my comics that advertised that it was safe to talk to an adult if bad things were happening to you. I tell you what; the sooner you learn that adults don’t have all the answers, the better off you are. At first I told anyone who would listen. It was always the same reply; I was blowing it out of proportion, it couldn’t be that bad, BLAH BLAH BLAH. I learned to keep it all to myself. I still haven’t revealed all of the details, and I probably never will.
Did Social Services ever get involved? If so, do you feel the system helped? If not, what do you think would have made it easier for you to get help as a child?
Social Services did get involved, briefly, and I was removed from the home for a brief period. To be fair, this was both because of what was happening and my behavior. I think as I got older, people were beginning to put two and two together.
Social Services, and other so-called resources, broadcast that they are easy to talk to, and they’re willing to help, and while there are genuinely good people who want to help everyone, the truth is, the current system does more harm than good. The victim is put through a grueling battery of questions and exams in the name of gathering evidence that is almost as invasive as the abuse itself. Then, if any action is initiated against the perpetrator, forget confidentiality, which only serves to anger the perpetrator even further. I don’t know what the exact stat is, but I’m almost certain that less than half of all cases result in either prosecution or the victim’s removal from the home. Guess what happens when perpetrator and victim are reunited?
How did the child abuse change you? Did you become more introverted? Or did you act out?
Both; I went wild as a way of keeping anyone from trying to get too close to me, finding out the truth. I let the anger take over. I broke the law repeatedly and even got incarcerated a few times. I don’t get into (legal) trouble anymore but I will probably be dealing with anger management my entire life. I like to think I’ve made great strides with it, but I can still be quick-tempered especially when it comes to violence against women and children.
Now let’s talk about the period of time you lived with domestic violence. At what point did you realize you were in trouble with the relationship?
When the yelling matches became a nightly habit and I found myself ducking plates being hurled at my head, that was my cue that it was time to get out.
At any point, did you go to the police, or request intervention from a lawyer or any organization? If so, what were the results?
As a child, for a little while, I was screaming for help. When I realized none was coming, I went wild. As an adult, I learned to deal with it on my own. There were no lawyers and no organizations I was aware of.
What are your thoughts for the laws as they stand, for both children and adults in abusive situations?
The law is grossly inept at handling situations like this because it requires proof to proceed, and even if this proof is obtained, the system is run by overworked people. Also, the penalty upon a successful prosecution isn’t nearly enough. It’s often probation with counseling, and only in the most egregious of circumstances does the perpetrator receive a jail sentence. The process as it stands only serves to make the situation worse for the victim, which is why so few people are willing to come forward.
I understand that proof has to be established for the system to work, but one must consider what the victim has already endured. Stepping forward requires more courage than most can fathom, because speaking about it makes it real. Worse, the perpetrator is made aware that they are “losing control” of their victim, which only serves to infuriate them further, and this most definitely will be taken out on the victim when the system fails. Please note I said “when”, and not “if”, because in most cases, it does.
Upon establishment of abuse, jail time should be mandatory, and then it should be a minimum of five years behind bars. Victims will spend their entire lives recovering from what their tormentors have done to them. They should at least be able to focus on their recovery without having to look over their shoulder. People who perpetuate this cycle are cowards and bullies, and need to be addressed as such.
What are some of the changes you’d like to see within our justice system, both for victims and abusers?
Confidentiality is key. Victims should be able to come forward without worrying about their tormentor finding out. Someone with bruises all over their body, who cringes at being touched, didn’t fall down the stairs. They need to be able to come forward, know they’re going to be taken seriously. They also need to know that their situation will end, and that the person doing this to them WILL be punished with something tangible. No one’s afraid of probation or counseling, and truthfully, not a lot of people are even afraid to go to jail, because they know eventually they’ll get out. But five years is enough time for the victim to turn their lives around while their perpetrator gets to experience abuse from the other side of the equation.
Do you have advice for children and/or adults living with abuse? Are there resources you can suggest?
You’re not alone. It’s not your fault. You don’t do anything to deserve it. It’s not about you, it’s about them, and a need to dominate and control. IT’S NOT LOVE. THAT PERSON DOES NOT LOVE YOU. IF YOU REMAIN IN THAT SITUATION, THINGS WILL GET WORSE.
Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any resources beyond a few hotlines. The best thing I can tell you is to RUN. Get out of that situation as soon as you can, go to someone you trust and once you’re there, get all of this on the record AND MAKE THE SYSTEM WORK FOR YOU.
I’d like to mention something; I tried to do something good with my anger. I went after people who did this to women and children, and almost lost myself in the process. I chose to turn things around, even going so far as to forgive the person who did this to me. I didn’t do it for them; I did it because I got tired of carrying all that anger around. Eventually, it will wear on you and it must be resolved. I got my life together and actually managed to salvage a relationship with the person who did this to me as a child.
Your situation is not going to change unless you make it change. Don’t believe promises, or statements that things will get better, because those words are only meant to lower your guards and get you to stay. If this is happening to you, I implore you, get out, get your kids out, get to someplace safe or you just may end up a statistic.
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Before the war began, three Angels–and one desperate human being–were forced into impossible situations which eventually led them to Zeus, and the formation of the ATHEREAN DEFENDERS.
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Tags: Abuse Intervention, Avery K. Tingle, Child Abuse, Child Abuse Survivors, Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Discussions, Criminal Justice Stories, domestic abuse, Domestic Abuse Survivors, free ebooks, Male Buse Victimes, Thoughts on Criminal Justice, Universal Warrior: Before Red Morning