Let me preface this blog by stressing that the largest societal hurdle to overcome when discussing abuse or sexual assault is to desist from blaming the victim. Here is some information to explain “battered women syndrome.”
I was sitting with an eclectic and very intelligent group of people last night, all women with the exception of one when we somehow got onto the subject of domestic violence. Now generally I don’t have a problem discussing this issue, and as my readers know, it is the subject of my books. In light of some news I received recently from my mother about my own past, I have been a bit skittish about the subject. So, while engaged in this conversation the subject of why women stay came up. I can honestly say that despite the strength I exhibit in my life now, it is difficult to describe why and most people that know me can’t fathom the idea that someone had that kind of control over me. Everyone sees me as this very strong, independent woman that stands her ground and takes no crap. True, that is who I have become. That is not who I was then.
The best way to describe why women stay is because one of the strongest controlling human emotions is fear. Every other emotion has some manageability to control, however, fear can be mind numbing. It’s easy for someone to say they would do this or that if faced with a battery situation, but honestly, if one has not truly experienced it, they can never imagine how the quick solutions they come up with would have no bearing on their real actions.
Being a survivor of both domestic violence and sexual assault, I have come to a point where I would sooner die than let it happen again. It took me 47 years to get to this point, as my abuse began at age 7. When I look back on who I was from that age forward, I often wonder how any of it could have happened. I was a very headstrong and independent child, teen, and young woman, but I was also the product of intense fear. My main objective through all of it was to stay alive, and later in my life to keep my children safe. The irony in all of this is that we associate with our abusers in a way that excuses their behavior because of our perceived inadequacies and that is what they prey on. What I did notice last night was this one male in a group of four females immediately referred to committing murder to rectify this situation. Generally a male driven thought. Honestly most women can’t fathom murdering their abuser unless it comes to a kill or be killed situation. Many women that have taken that route are sitting in prison for manslaughter or murder, because the laws do not acknowledge that resolution.
In the end, I believe people need to understand that we are still a dominant and patriarchal society that at one time placed a woman’s worth beneath that of livestock. I know this happens to men as well, but I’m not a man so I can’t speak from that perspective. Bottom line is, until someone has lived the nightmare, they can’t possibly imagine what the darkness is like.
That is all.