Category Archives: domestic abuse

Heroes

The film The Magnificent Seven is a classic Western about a group of gunslingers who selflessly defend a town against enormous odds.

In the 1960 version (starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen), the men fight off bandits in a Mexican village.  In the 2016 version (starring Denzel Washington), they combat a ruthless robber baron in a frontier town.

Demons 

In both versions of the film, the gunfighters are unquestionably heroes – strong, courageous, and expert at their craft.  In each version, however, one man in the group wrestles with demons from his past.

In the 1960 version, the character “Lee” (played by Robert Vaughn of “Man from UNCLE” fame) fears he has lost his nerve.  Haunted by the enemies he has killed, Lee suffers from nightmares.  He drinks.  His hands tremble.  He breaks out in a cold sweat at the thought of battle.

In the 2016 version, the character “Goodnight Robicheaux” (played by Ethan Hawke) is a former Confederate marksman who now has difficulty taking aim.  Goodnight sees hallucinations that he fears foretell his death.

Both men worry that they will not be able to perform when called upon to do so, that they will let others down.  Both consider themselves weak and cowardly.

A Different Perspective

But the audience does not view them that way.  The audience feels enormous compassion for these characters.

Both men stumble.  Yet they somehow find the courage to face their fears, in defense of others.  That they are flawed is one reason The Magnificent Seven has such a powerful impact.  Their internal struggles make the film more compelling. Continue reading

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Tracking

hajb.jpg

Photo courtesy of Independent Minds.

Saudi Arabian “guardianship” laws assign women a legal status comparable to that of children, in many respects.  Each woman is appointed a male guardian (generally her father, husband, or son) who must give permission for her to marry, have certain medical procedures, or obtain a passport.

A mobile application now allows men to track and restrict the movement of women [1].  Launched by the Saudi government in 2015, Absher (“Yes, Sir”) is available for download from the Apple and Google Play stores.  The app enables men to issue or revoke the travel rights of women over whom those men hold guardianship, tracking the women through airports. Continue reading

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Lost on the Wind

Native American Woman, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA, Accession No. 2003.003.040  (PD)

There is a haunting exhibit outside the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC [1].  Red dresses flutter in the wind.  They represent the thousands of indigenous women killed or missing in this country.

The topic of abuse among Native Americans does not generate much publicity.  The House of Representatives, Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, recently held a hearing on the subject.  Grandly titled “Unmasking the Hidden Crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women:  Exploring Solutions to End the Cycle of Violence”, the hearing received little press.

What we know is that the murder rate for American Indian and Native Alaskan women on tribal lands is 10 times the national average.  Over 5700 were reported murdered or missing in 2016 alone.

Of that number a mere fraction – 116 to be precise – made it to a Dept. of Justice database.  In point of fact, there is no national database that reliably tracks these women.

Poverty is deeply rooted on the reservation.  Existence there is spare in the best of times.  That may be a factor contributing to the violence.

Other problems include jurisdictional confusion as among federal, state, and tribal agencies; the all too frequent dismissal by law enforcement of reports of missing women struggling with addiction or other issues; and a focus by sex traffickers on Native American women as “exotic”.

These were all real women.  Each and every one of them had a name; had a mother.  Each had hopes and dreams.  But their voices are lost on the wind now.

[1]  Washington Post, “Red dresses flutter, empty, on the National Mall and this is why they should haunt us” by  Theresa Vargas, 3/16/19,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/red-dresses-flutter-empty-on-the-national-mall-and-this-is-why-they-should-haunt-us/2019/03/15/715d6f14-4753-11e9-aaf8-4512a6fe3439_story.html?utm_term=.bccceb52d7bd.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 3

“Healing of the Blind Man” by AN Mironov (2009), Author Andrey Mironov (CC BY-SA 4.0 International)

“…He [Christ] spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.  And He said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’…So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (John 9: 6-7).

The miracle of the blind man is recorded in the Bible to teach us that infirmity is not necessarily the consequence of sin.

Certainly, as the victims of child abuse, we did not, ourselves, sin.  Trauma, however, lefts its mark on us.  Among its scars is the tendency we have to seek out and return to dysfunctional relationships.

What Christ’s love does for abuse victims is heal (or reduce) those scars, and cause the scales to fall from our eyes.  We can see the world more clearly, undistorted by the lies we were told by predators about the nature of love and our own supposed lack of value.

Christ’ love for victims is tender.  “A bruised reed He will not break…” (Isaiah 42: 3).  Rather than inflict pain on us, He grieves over the pain we have endured.  That tenderness restores our self-worth, eliminating the need we feel to return to toxic relationships, and making us again whole.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 2

Poster for the film Basic Instinct (c) copyright TriStar Pictures and/or the graphic artist, Source http://www.impawards.com

In the 1990s thriller Basic Instinct, Michael Douglas plays a troubled homicide detective who becomes involved with a female serial killer.  Despite this woman’s overt sexuality, others can see that she is dangerous.  The detective is blind to that.  He believes he has found true love and redemption.

What motivates the detective is not, however, love.  It is a deep sense of guilt over a shooting incident that occurred while he was high on cocaine.  He has, in effect, a death wish.

This is not to say that abuse victims have a death wish, when we return to toxic relationships.  Love can though be a minefield for us.

We are all too easily blinded by our childhood experience – experience that was tainted by abuse.  We frequently mistake dysfunctional relationships for love, and fail to recognize real love when we actually encounter it.

Having been trained to tolerate abuse, we do not see the danger.  We settle for what we had in the past.  That feels “right”.  That resonates with us, striking a profound chord, so “must” be love.  Other relationships pale by comparison.

It does not occur to us we deserve better.  Until we come to that realization, toxic relationships will continue to hold power for us.

This series will conclude next week.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Returning to Toxic Relationships, Part 1

Old love letters, Source Flickr, Author Rachel Ashe of Vancouver, Canada (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

Almost all of us have, at some time or other, run into an old flame and felt the desire to reconnect.  What draws us is a mix of nostalgia and the desire to correct past mistakes, to “get it right” this time.

The problem is that many of the former relationships to which we find ourselves drawn as abuse survivors were, to put it mildly, toxic.

Why do we save the love letters of a man who repeatedly cheated on us?  Why are we tempted to call the boyfriend who stole our charge cards and emptied our bank account?  Why do we find ourselves checking Facebook for the ex who put us in the emergency room?

The answer is not that time heals all wounds.  It is not that we are seeking closure, that we enjoy pain…or that we are simply too dim to know better.

One reason is familiarity.  There is something powerfully familiar about these toxic relationships.  They evoke buried memories from our past, memories we once associated with love. Continue reading

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BOOK REVIEW – Climbing Over Grit

Image result for wikimedia commons "climbing over grit"

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Climbing Over Grit by Marzeeh Laleh Chini and her daughter Abnoos Mosleh-Shirazi is a ringing indictment of child marriage, in the years leading up to and during the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

A moving story of courage, strength, and love in the face of abuse, Climbing Over Grit is a first-hand account of the early life of Laleh’s mother, Najma.

Neglected by her wealthy but self-absorbed parents, Najma is married at the age of 11 to a man thirteen years her senior who regularly beats and rapes her.  Despite horrific abuse, Najma’s spirit is never broken.  She forms a close relationship with her mother-in-law and manages to raise four children (becoming a grandmother at the early age of 30).

In the process – and despite her husband’s vehement opposition – Najma resumes her education, attaining a small degree of independence.  However, history repeats itself when Najma and her husband arrange a marriage for their daughter, Jaleh, at the age of 15.  Continue reading

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What Is A Man?

The righteous man walks in his integrity;
His children are blessed after him” (Prov. 20: 7).

Abuse must not blind us to the good in men.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Moving Beyond Intimate Partner Violence

https://art-sheep.com/12-of-the-most-powerful-and-brutal-domestic-violence-awareness-campaigns/

“Violence that occurs between intimate partners does not end with the relationship’s conclusion, yet few resources exist to help survivors move beyond the betrayal of abusive relationships in order to begin new, healthy relationships.”

-“Intimate partner violence doesn’t end with the relationship”,  Science Daily, 7/11/18

Some estimates are that one in three women in the United States has experienced violence by a partner, and that one in ten has been raped by a partner.

Abusive behavior by an intimate partner is not, however, limited to physical violence.  It can include verbal, emotional, and financial abuse.

All this is experienced as betrayal by the very individual we most trust, the very individual we rely on to support and protect us, the very individual to whom we have committed our lives.

Shame

The shame associated with intimate partner violence is likely to carry over into new relationships.  This may influence our choice of a new partner.

Once a new relationship has been established, self-esteem issues stemming from the violent relationship can color the routine problems that arise in all relationships.  We may wonder whether we deserve love at all. Continue reading

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Red Flags

It can be difficult, at the outset of a relationship, to predict whether a prospective partner will become abusive.  However, there are certain danger signals which, in combination, should not be ignored.  These involve embarrassment/criticism, control/manipulation, isolation, blame, threats, and violence.

Here is a list of “red flags” [1][2]:

Embarrassment/Criticism

  • A partner who regularly disparages your friends, family, ideas, and goals.
  • A partner who deliberately embarrasses and insults you.  Such a partner may humiliate you in public, or criticize you viciously in private.  He or she may attack your looks or your parenting skills, as a means of undermining your confidence.

Control/Manipulation

  • A partner who prevents you from making decisions. This interference may, at first, be as simple as telling you what you can and cannot wear to work.
  • A partner who is extremely jealous and possessive.  Such a partner continually tracks where you go, whom you meet, and what you do.  He or she may expect to you check in, throughout the day, and spend every moment of your free time with him/her.
  • A partner with a hair-trigger temper. You walk on eggshells to keep the peace.
  • A partner who takes your money or refuses to provide you necessary income for expenses.
  • A partner who plays “mind games” to make you feel guilty.  Such a partner may, for instance, threaten to commit suicide if you leave him or her.
  • A partner who pressures you to have sex, or to engage in a type of sexual activity with which you are not comfortable.
  • A partner who prevents you from using birth control.
  • A partner who pressures you to use drugs or alcohol.

Continue reading

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