I’m going to go to work in a few minutes. The Groovy Chicks From Work have been very sympathetic to my headache from hell and the puking that has accompanied it. Puking is such a gross word. I may need to rethink writing it in the future.
What a sexy beast I am.
Anyway, I was thinking of activism. I used to aggressively pursue legislation in helping battered women and sexually and physically abused children. I’ve wrote the grant to bring Domestic Violence services to my little part of the world here. I’m very proud of this although after time my emotional well-being needed to be nurtured and I left after working in such a world filled with pain. I was burned out so I passed the torch. It’s now run by people who are fresher than I am. We lobbied to get laws changed where women and kids would have a fighting chance to get out of their homes safely. When I started in DV work, sometimes batterers would just be given a summons to appear in court. Then, he’d go back in and give his wife/girlfriend/partner another ass-whupping. Now there is a cooling off period.
We did work that I thought was of value. It helped people. I did this for years. Along with some other beautiful and wickedly smart men and women, we did get some things done in the legislature and I’m proud of what we did.
I say that to say this. I’ve noticed that the blogosphere is a wonderful place to present grassroots efforts. An example that comes to mind is the attention given to the Claudia Nunez case back last fall. On the other hand, anyone who puts their views out into the blogosphere is, in some cases on more controversial issues, immediately labeled. And that bothers me. One is automatically a wingnut or a moonbat if the issues even have a sniff of what “the other side (for lack of a better term)” believes is partisan.
In working to create a better world for battered women, it was always an uphill battle. We had to deal with labeling and prejudice. I was constantly told these statements from more people than I could even count. Statements like “They ALWAYS go back” (which is not necessarily true and although some women do return, I can write you a fifty page dissertation on why the emotions create lines of fear that make women return to their abusers. Another statement I’d get a lot of is “What did she do to make him so mad?”
Huh. Adults do not have the right to discipline another adult. That is crap, my friends. I still reel years later from that comment and sadly, I still hear it today.
Some fine men and women fought these stereotypes and worked for fair and equitable change that laws would be adhered to in giving these women and children a chance. The question we started to present for legislators to understand what we meant was one that we hoped they’d ponder. We talked about love. No woman I’ve worked with ever put in their dairy when they were 12 years old with romantic hopes of finding Mister Right that they hoped he would beat the shit out of her. Serial batterers are usually very charming during the opening of relationships. Many times, the abuse came later. And remember, batterers don’t always abuse. This is called a cycle of violence. And abuse isn’t just physical. Emotional abuse can be just as dangerous. When a woman is told everyday more than once that “They are stupid” or “Lousy in bed, “I’ll take the children” or “No one will ever have you” sort of comments, it creates deep wounds.
Why am I writing this this morning when I should be headed to work? Because I was one of those women who married a great guy who tormented me. He had a good job,always wore a suit and wined and dined me to the point my head swirled. I never saw any indication that he was abusive. He was Prince Charming.
Three weeks after we got married, I had a black eye. He swore he’d never do it again and it was a one-time thing. I thought I was in love. I believed him. About two months later, he started throwing dishes at me because, ironically, I didn’t load the dishwasher the way he thought it should be loaded, and one cut the back side of my calf open into the meat of my leg. I still have the scar. I left. I was shocked. I had no idea, saw no indication that this was coming. He told me all those horrible statements I wrote about above.
I thought it was me. Being that I had good friends and a wonderful family who cried foul when I FINALLY disclosed to them what was going on (I was so embarrassed and freaked out), I left the third and final time and this time I was issued a beating of astronomical proportions. There was some internal damage.
I left. He refused to sign the divorce papers. He said he owned me.
Over time (two years later when he finally signed them and Big Daddy threatened to kill him with me screaming that this jackass wasn’t worth it), I started to heal.
So, today, I’m asking you to put the labels aside. And, hopefully this explains why I do believe in the mantra of “Let’s talk about it.” People do things because of whom they are.
Not everything can be fit into a nice box. We all have our war wounds. And sometimes we fight because we don’t have a choice. We have to.
It keeps us sane.
For more information in Tennessee, go here:
Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
P.O. Box 120972
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 386-9406 Fax: (615) 383-2967
(800) 289-9018 In State
Here’s chart that we used while I was training concerned citizens on how to start their own support group. I hope it will give some insight.
Thanks for listening.