Tag Archives: relationships

Not Just Victims

Birdwatching in Panama, Author Alex Poimos (CC BY-2.0)

Birdwatching in Panama, Author Alex Proimos (CC BY-2.0)

“And if they stare
Just let them burn their eyes
On you moving.
And if they shout
Don’t let it change a thing
That you’re doing.

Hold your head up,
Hold your head up,
Hold your head up,
Hold your head high.”

–        “Hold Your Head Up”, C. White, R. Argent © Marquise Songs

A rock song from the ’70s by Argent has special relevance for abuse survivors.  Called “Hold Your Head Up” it is a reminder that we are more than just victims.

But abuse victims, by whatever name, are not known for valuing themselves highly.  To the contrary, we can barely raise our heads, let alone form a realistic view of ourselves.

The abuse to which we were subjected created a web of lies – that we were worthless, that we were undeserving of love or care.  Trapped in that web, we were denied hope, as the scars (our response to the pain) hardened around us.

Not everything we do, however, will stem from or relate to abuse.  If we focus on that aspect of our experience to the exclusion of all others, we will only enlarge the tragedy, allowing it to engulf our lives [1].

We have relationships, vocations, and beliefs:

  • We are sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. We are friends, lovers, and spouses. We are students, teachers, and mentors.
  • We are social workers, lab technicians, and police officers.  We are doctors, lawyers, dentists, and accountants.
  • We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

We have habits, preferences, interests, skills, and abilities.  Some of us are neat-freaks; others do not pick up their socks.  Some are dog lovers; others are “cat people”.  Some of us are musical; others cannot carry a tune. A few probably play the banjo. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Good Woman Transforms Outlaw, Part 1 – Intuition and Interpretation

I can help him become a better man. Deep down, he wants to be different. I know it. I can just tell when I look into his eyes.

The things he says and does that hurt me he only does out of fear of losing me. He doesn’t really mean them. He’s a little boy inside. Just wait till he feels secure in our relationship.

You’ll see. He’ll change. I can change him [1].

Why are women so susceptible to this misguided view of relationships? It seems almost a cinematic cliche out of the 40’s and 50’s. Think The Virginian (1943) with Joel McCrea, Angel and the Badman (1947) with John Wayne, Westward the Women (1951) with Robert Taylor, or Shane (1953) with Alan Ladd [2].

Good woman transforms outlaw into law abiding citizen. Women civilize men. The West is won.

What is it about this scenario that appeals so strongly to us? Is it something about the way women are socialized? Can an excess of compassion blind us to reality?

I suspect that there is something else at work, something not nearly so selfless. The appeal rests, I believe, on three bases: intuition, interpretation, and influence.

Intuition

To begin with, there is an attraction by women to the idea of an intuitive capacity on their part, some “special” ability to perceive what others (especially men) cannot.

Traditionally, women have been seen as emotional or intuitive; men, as logical or factual. These days we attribute this to right-brained and left-brained thinking, respectively. It is the principle that “men are from Mars, women are from Venus” [3].

While there is some anatomic basis for this distinction (women, for instance, have a wider corpus callosum uniting the two hemispheres of the brain), there is no reason we can’t be both intuitive and rational.

Women, in other words, are entirely capable of logic. But we’re flattered by the idea that a distinction exists. We want there to be a distinction. Yin and yang. Opposites attract. Intuition is, in some sense, “proof” of our femininity. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Violence Against Women