Over the past few weeks, information has been swirling around and hitting at strange angles. Seems stereotypes are all the buzz. More like buzzkill, to be honest.
The Kay Marie Sisto Memorial Walk began with a bell-ringing for all of those who were survivors or those who wanted to ring in memory of loved ones harmed or killed by domestic violence. Many mothers rang the bell for their daughters.
I rang the bell. For once in my life, I was not the exception to the rule. I rang it because I am a survivor. The ring was not for my solidarity with all the other survivors. Instead, it was a clearing of all the debris which naturally accumulates from domestic violence.
As I walked away from the bell, I thought about all those who were harmed by my victimhood. My grandparents. My parents. My siblings. My daughter. My unborn child. My friends. My employer. I could have rung the bell for more than 100 people before I got out of my immediate sphere.
Domestic violence is not between two people. Ever. Regardless of the minutiae, domestic violence touches all our lives. No one who will read this does not know at least one person affected by domestic violence. You either are or were a victim; you have a relation who is or was a victim; you work with someone who is or was a victim; you know the child of a victim; or you know or are or were an abuser.
Have you noticed the lack of gender? There is a reason. Battered women get the bulk of the news coverage. Battered men are dismissed as cowards or weaklings unable or unwilling to stand up for themselves. It is not true.
Everyone can see the bruises, the casts on appendages, the bloodied faces, the disheveled hair, the torn clothing, the swelling, the tears. What you cannot see behind the haunting eyes is the destruction of self which led to the physical marks you can see.
Abusers are power brokers. Their currency is ego. No, not the grandiose inflation of their own sense of self; that comes as a perk. The ego they break into stackable coins is the sense of self which they should be building, coddling and supporting in their victims. Yes, victims. Each abuser gets a measure of power from all of the victims in the periphery.
When a woman accuses a man of cheating because he is late coming home, he will cut short outings with the children to avoid her ire. The children are punished as a result of her accusations and what she deems necessary to prove the negative.
When a wife tells a husband he will never be more than the paycheck he can bring home, he will forfeit his ambition and dreams of a better corporate future. He believes if he would gamble and lose, she would be right. Want to wager on where the world would be if he tried?
When a husband tells a wife she will never be valuable to anyone but him, she will stop growing emotionally and focus on mastering the things she does for her husband. She believes if she can do what he needs, he will never leave her unloved. Want to tell her different?
These happen between same-sex couples in precisely the same manner.
Abusers use their victims’ love and desire for acceptance to destroy ego. In the end, victims truly believe were it not for their abusers, no one would ever love them.
After the exhaustion of the emotional abuse, the physical abuse begins. The victim does everything the abuser wants emotionally, sacrificing anything which resembles ego. All which remains is physical domination.
Abusers choose the peacekeepers as victims. Peacekeepers view their own discomfort (emotional and physical) as a fare to pay in lieu of their partners’ abuse of those they love.
There is no personality stereotype to the peacekeepers. They are meek, brash, soft-spoken, loud mouths, silent voters, activists. They come in all body styles, ages, races and both genders.
What do they have in common?
They are protective.
They are self-sacrificing, especially for the greater good.
They are the kind of people we want our children to grow up to be.
As we strive for a more sensitive generation, are we creating prey for abusers? If not, how not? If so, how do we stop it?
If you are in an abusive relationship or need to get help for someone who is or if you have been sexually assaulted, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit their site.
US: (800) 799-SAFE (7233) TYY (800) 787-3224
UK: 0808 2000 247 Website
Australia: 1800 RESPECT (727 732) Website
Canada: (800) 363-9010 Website
International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies (100 languages)
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© Red Dwyer 2013
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