Something to read on White Ribbon Day
Posted: November 25, 2014
I am a firm believer that violence, abuse and assault (sexual or non-sexual) are never made better or worse on account of the gender, sexuality, ethnicity or any other factor of the perpetrator or victim, and for this reason refuse to lend support to White Ribbon Day, only to gender-neutral campaigns against domestic or other violence. I am very concerned to think there are parents who think it is somehow less serious if someone gives black eyes to, knocks out teeth from or breaks a rib of a son than of a daughter – or for that matter indulges in violence which does not do serious physical harm, but is intended to control and demean them, with no easy way out. I do not believe there is a difference, nor with other forms of psychological or emotional abuse.
It is not surprising when sectarian women’s organisations try to dismiss the importance of domestic violence against men, massage figures to minimise it, and so on , and in general what they say on such matters should be ignored. When it comes to men who are indifferent to or contemptuous about violence against other men (whether committed by men or women), I wonder whether one is witnessing just another rendition of macho competitiveness, happy to beat up or see beat up others in the belief this will impress the ladies; naturally I am sceptical about the motives of many such men.
But today I wanted to copy, anonymously but with permission, something posted last week by a friend on a Facebook thread, which I found moving and also very humane (quite exceptionally so) in the refusal simply to indulge in hate against his abuser. Remember that it is people like this whose experiences are being sneered at with contempt and dismissed by so many.
I was a victim of violence when you taught me. My (then) wife was half my size and I am a certified martial arts instructor, so her violent attacks were of very minor physical threat, but I believe that I have experienced for many years the psychological devastation of being severely abused by someone. The intent and attempt to do something to someone is enough to cause severe depression, lower your ability to function and lead you very close to suicide. Near the end of the relationship, I would cry for no reason for 45 minutes. I realise that I did not feel the health impact that a woman would feel physically when she’s up against a man, but I think that psychologically the only difference was that it took more time for me to reach that low point that women would reach much faster because of the physical effects they suffer. I had to protect my child in many ways from her and of course stayed on for as long as I could for the sake of my child.
[…] [Gaps represent other people’s contributions in the thread]
Thanks for the support. I haven’t been faced with this [people saying ‘it’s not the same’ or ‘surely they can defend themselves’] however, as whenever I have spoken about this matter, I have always explained that the difference between a male victim and a female victim is time. The results are the same psychologically. Also, lets face it, I am not someone you can injure even if you try. However, attacking a man who is not fit, could result in injury even if the assailant is female and furthermore, a man’s psychology is even more fragile then, because of the matters of masculinity shame that can occur as well as the matter of the law being on the side of the woman if the man fights back. It is complicated, very, but I believe that there is much awareness around the subject. And I can confirm that it is soul destroying in other ways than the inverted experience. Lets make it clear… violence, oppression and abuse have no gender… What changes with gender is the time and the means by which it occurs.
I’ve always felt females at more adept at psychological abuse than men. Many would even admit that the bullying among their own gender can be more nasty than male equivalent. Maybe knowledge of their own physical limitations is part of it, but also I feel by nature they’re simply more astute socially, better communication skills that can serve bad and twisted motivations if they have them. In circumstances of bullying a male, this amounts to knowing very well where his balls are (metaphorically speaking). I can only speak for the circles I’ve moved in, but it seems there’s a good percentage who loathe to be remotely like that, fortunately.
Dear Ian, feel free to use anything I write publicly. For me the struggle was to realise that I was being abused. Men, as you point out in your “boys suppress it” post, put up with it and they “take it like a man”. After I realised what was going on, speaking about it was the only thing I could do to get some relief. I did try to plead with her to consider the consequences of her actions, but there was no changing her. I don’t feel any shame about it, I have moved on. I wish to only state one thing that I think is important: When a man abuses a woman its nearly always physical rather than mental. This is detrimental to body and mind, for the mind suffers as a result of the physical pain and violation as well as the feeling of worthlessness caused by the actions of the assailant. When a woman abuses a man its nearly always mental rather than physical. Persistence is key in this behaviour, a sense of extortion on issues of control, psychological extortion, making the other person feel totally useless and unworthy. The effects are detrimental to the mind and the body, because the mind starts to develop reflexes that destroy proper function in society and can lead to eating disorder, bad habits and simply a state of physical withering created by the lack of motivation. If it leads someone to severe depression, the edge of murder or suicide (you never know which will come first if not both), it is an extreme case. I think it happens more often than we think, but we “take it like a man”.
I feel that all this abuse that occurs from both genders is a result of many things lost in society today… our true sense of identity and the true source of our self worth. The assailant in reality is the one who is weaker and wishes to gain strength from the victim by imposing their shortcomings to those who do not share the trait. I feel strongly that it is the assailant who needs the truest of help, not so much the victim. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the victim needs psychological relief and healing from the attack, but the victim can in most cases return to some sort of normality. The person bringing the real problems, in need of the real psychological turn around is the assailant who doesn’t feel enough self esteem to try and earn what they want via an acceptable route and therefore they look for someone to weaken to their level and “feed” off. But, society does not tolerate them. This puts them in a vicious circle of being the ones that need the real help, but not the ones to receive it. And that’s where the victim gets trapped in the vicious circle. The victim, surely after sharing some kind of positive experience with the assailant and therefore feeling love and compassion, sees that the assailant is in pain and in fact is crying out for help and therefore tries to help them “get through it”. I believe that this is why women who are severely hurt by male assailants return. Its because we all know that there is zero tolerance or assistance for a rapist wife beater. And I know that this is a reason I stayed on with my ex wife as long as I did. Because, I believed that she just needed help. But, there was no one but me willing to help her and I was not someone who knew how to help her. And turning her in was no help. It wasn’t an issue of witnesses, I had several witnesses who had seen how she behaved. It was an issue of her being treated like a leper once the stigma would fall on her. In the long run, it is more difficult being the the abuser than being the abused. The abused, at least in our society, has options. the abuser does not.
You give me too much credit. I don’t have as much sympathy for my ex abuser as comes through perhaps in my last comment. For she took her revenge when I stopped it all, I assure you. I am simply stating something which I think is an oversight by everyone. Having been the victim, I know the answer to the questions: Why did you stay on so long? Why did you go back twice after you left? The answer is simple: The “victim” is usually the healthier individual and it is healthy to wish to stand by someone you love or have common interests with (such as a child). Its always the bully who is in pain and wishes others to share it with, not the victim. If the bully is relieved, there is no victim. I believe that bullying, abuse, rape, etc is something that can be foreseen in an individual. I, for one, have a keen eye these days for such traits in people. So, I pose a question: What if rather than demonising the abuser, certain mechanisms could be put into place to relieve the abuser from what is haunting them and leading them to the abuse? I’m not talking about precrime like in “Minority Report”, I’m talking about a movement that will give abusers a way out. Scaring the shit out of them with propaganda that demonises them only makes them more abusive: “I’m scared out of my mind so I’ll scare you out of yours to bring you to my level, so you can keep me company.” In effect, that is what abusers are thinking. And on sexual predators: “You hurt me by not wanting me, so I’ll hurt you by forcing you.” In child abuse: “I was scared as a child, so you should be too… its the way of things.” I believe that any form of abuse is the result of years of development and decay and it could be stopped at any moment, if people stop demonising “the dark side”. We quite often become what others expect us to. Someone can easily become the abuser. My ex wife was a victim of much domestic abuse while she lived with her parents. She expected me to become like that, but I grew up in an environment where violence was unthinkable, so I couldn’t. How easy though, would I become the abuser if I had grown up in an even mildly violent environment, because she expected me to be. And when I didn’t, she took on the role of violent abuser. How many times in her life could that haunting have been alleviated? But, were there options? Truly? All you hear is: “Abusers, beware. We will find you.”
There just isn’t enough understanding of how all this works…not because the data doesn’t exist, but because the victim’s rights take priority over the abuser’s. And that makes it worse for the victim as well, for the abuser is demonised for a small percentage of who they are, which makes the victim feel guilt… its such a mess…