Relationship Violence -
The Columbine Wake-Up Call
and the Look of Glee

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

I’ll always remember this day. The Columbine school shootings stopped me in my tracks, shook me awake and led to my having insights that changed my life.

As I was reading the personality/character descriptions that the media used in describing the shooters, chills went up and down my spine. They noted the “smile” on the adolescents’ faces as they terrorized and shot the school children in cold blood.

The SMILE...that sense of delight in knowing that you are doing something that is compromising another. The apparent glee that to “normal” people is perverted, or shall I say, demented.

I had seen that look on my former ex’s face when he battered our children and me. It was a look he often had when he assaulted our oldest son. It was a look I came to recognize that our oldest son had when he battered his younger brothers. It was the look he had when he battered me. It was a glee that sickened me to see.

Our Family Violence

I initially sought refuge from abuse via law enforcement and ultimately via divorce court. Three years into our proceedings, it was obvious to myself and all those looking in, that our family violence was spinning out of control into severe legal domestic abuse.

And the more our children were used to perpetuate the proceedings, the more compromising for my oldest son. He was living with his father and spinning out...becoming more violent, more self-destructive, and more demanding that the proceedings be brought to a halt. I’ll never forget the day he threatened to kill me if I brought him to another doctor, i.e. custody evaluator who sought to inquire about abuse.

It was obvious that my boy was approaching an internal fracture. It was becoming clear to me that he needed to be left alone, no longer to tell his story or feed his internal cognitive dissidence with respect to family violence.

As I reflected on his state and the transgressions of the court agents, I knew I had to stop the warfare before it was too late. In the prior year, my boy had been doing much better while in counseling with a therapist I engaged with the consent of the court.

Yet, his father’s counsel and the “guardian ad-litem” insisted that he STOP his therapy and secured a restraining order prohibiting his out-patient weekly sessions. And then months later, these same people rushed in on a petition to have my son admitted to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation and intensive observation/intervention. You need no commentary regarding the absurdity of this maneuver and the destructive impact to my boy.

Relationship Violence and the Look of Glee

I saw that the proceedings had the potential to make that smile on my son’s face each time he battered bigger and bigger and bigger. I said to myself, “That’s it, no more!” I will not participate in a process that I know is destroying this child from the inside out. Especially, when all of this started as a result of my reaching out to law enforcement over an out of control belt beating to his body when he was 10 years old.

On that day in 1994, I said, “I will not sit back allowing this to happen as I would never forgive myself if my boy became lamed by his father’s violence. On April 21, 1999, I said, I will not participate in a proceeding that is contributing to the development of a boy that looks like those characteristics described in that Columbine story. Particularly, given that this proceeding of protracted legal stalking appeared to be fueled by my ex seeking to save face over my earlier disclosures of the family violence.

The inner decision was made and then many other pieces came into being that solidified my next step. If you ever see that look of “delight” when one person is hurting another, take a hard and honest look at the circumstances. You are looking at relationship violence.

If you are face to face with relationship violence, you will want to know the dynamics of domestic abuse. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse at home and in court.

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© Copyright 2009 Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.