Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Maybe you know this already, but the statistics for domestic violence and sexual assault are grim. Girls and boys are exposed to inappropriate sexual content on a regular basis. I'm worried for our children, especially our daughters. 1 out of every four is likely to be a victim. It pains me to think about the households that are filled with tension, anger, violence and struggles for survival. Every empathetic fiber of my being cries out for the justice and freedom of the oppressed.

To balance that is a firm belief that couples united in faith (i.e. pledging their vows before God) should be committed to do everything in their power to make their marriages work. Having entered into a holy partnership, subject to a divine covenant, how do you know when to hit the "escape" button? "Should I stay or should I go?" must tear at the hearts of the victims.

There's a web site that provides an outlet for victims. A safe haven, as it were. A place to speak out against the abuse they've survived. But something happened there that has left me disturbed.

How does the moderator, a modern saint, protect the site against false accusations? I'm not talking about blatant, malicious attacks against the innocent - that's the foundation of most of the unsilenced voices. No, I'm talking about someone speaking out against their spouse, telling their side of a very two-sided story. Calling out their partner for "abuse" without confessing to their own role in the sad state of affairs.

Most abuse is one-sided. There's an abuser and a victim. Sometimes, however, couples develop unhealthy relationships based on power struggles, battles for control, efforts to wound and retaliate against wrongs, both real and imaginary. The roles of abuser and victim are blurred, shared, ill-defined. She dresses provocatively, wearing low cut blouses, showing cleavage, flirting, starved for attention. He's jealous and angry, resenting the attention she gets from others, even though he doesn't show her enough attention himself. Anger, distrust and hurt brew in the subtext of every conversation. Words that can never be reclaimed are hurled during the heat of anger. Names are called. Ugly, hateful names. Because in the depth of their pain they each want their beloved to hurt as much as they do.

Worse, they began to seek allies outside of their partnership. Others who will support "their side". "Friends" who tell them "You should leave your partner! They're a scoundrel! You deserve better!" Worst yet - when seeking support from someone of the opposite sex. This bolsters the individual ego "Hey! I'm not so bad. This guy/gal likes me. Why can't my spouse see what they see." And the partner? This new ally is the enemy and the very relationship is a betrayal, fostering even more hurt and distrust. Don't kid yourself folks, it's not innocent. If you must find someone to talk to, seek a counselor. If you have friends that support you, stick with same-sex friends. Don't feign innocence defending your opposite sex ally. Your partner has every reason to object, even if nothing is happening.

My heart is hurting for a couple that is in the throes of a public separation. I've been reading both of their sides and I see from within. I've been there. I've lived through this. I can testify that this hard time can be survived, but in order to do so the idea of "right/wrong" must be abandoned. There is not going to be one victor and one loser, just as there is not one abuser and one victim. This relationship can be mended when these two people recognize that their love for each other is their best ally. Changes will be slow and there will be back-slides, but the man I was ready to leave (let go) 10 years ago is the same man I can't imagine life without today, tomorrow, until death do us part. I speak from experience.

I pray for this couple, I pray for my husband and myself, I pray for all couples everywhere. Relationships are hard.

The world is filled with people who are willing to throw their commitments into the fire and move on to the next one - and they'll encourage you to do the same. Don't listen. Pray. Seek help from sources who support your effort to work through the changes you both must make. Pray some more. Focus on what YOU must change and hold on to your love. Don't imagine the grass is greener elsewhere. Things have gotten bleak but you can get past this. These hard times can make you stronger. I'm praying for you.


HisFireFly said...

My husband and I were just discussing how quickly marriages disolve, and that people don't seem to understand that love isn't magic, it isn't automatic, love is a choice that you make day by day, sometimes moment by moment.

Don't delete your post, they are important words you wrote - well said!

you gotta wonder said...

Thank you, @HisFireFly. I'm still struggling with my desire to delete this post. Part of me wants to hug these 2, part of me wants to shake them. They hurt and they're hurting each other, but they love each other!

I'm not judging them. I feel their pain and wish I could apply a balm. I give them what I can - my own love, empathy, and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Once again I want to thank you for posting this here. Ive read too many of the "the guys a bastard" blogs that rarely give credence to a man who is trying to change his ways. But there are two sides, there are two thoughts, there are two minds that come into play.

I am thankful that you have done alot of reading and that you are looking at it from both sides.... Too many times when one party cries victim the other party becomes the scoundrel. Thank you Fran for reading and being there with your comments .. Its a world of difference and it just shows me that I am human after all...

you gotta wonder said...

@bishop819 I'm wishing you the best. Keep believing. Keep praying.

Anonymous said...

Still reading. I'm amazed that you feel that peoples relationships are your business. You're a lot like your sister. She likes to be in other peoples business also.

I personally would focus that energy on issues that involve you such as the three daughters.

That's me. I don't know that's right either it just sounds logical.

dallasdiva said...

Dear Anonymous,

Bite me.

The diva