So very often I am taken aback by the ignorance of people about abuse. Or at least their definitions of it. What qualifies as abuse? Just because someone is not beat up, does not mean that they are not hurting. If they are manipulated to consent to acts of humiliation, their life likely resembles a living hell, and they may very well not even realize what is going on.
Mental abuse is much more painful than physical abuse because you are consumed by your own thoughts.
I know that it took me a long time to call what happened to me abuse. It was how my family worked, it was my normal. It was not normal though. It was painful and destructive. It was in fact abuse.
50 Shades of Domestic Abuse
Since the release of the cinematic version of 50 Shades of Grey the internet seems to be flooded with reviews and discussions on whether this is in fact a story of domestic abuse (we are discussing it here). What the discussion has really brought to life for me, is that so many people have no idea what abuse is, where it starts and how often people are confronted with it.
“Everyone wants to focus on the spanking, because that’s the sensational part — that’s the part that everyone is going home and masturbating to anyways […] People aren’t masturbating to the part where they’re fighting and he’s stalking her at work.” Christian’s self-admitted inability to leave Ana alone shouldn’t be romanticized, nor should his controlling, domineering behavior be conflated with sexual dominance. (From: ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Isn’t A Movie About BDSM, And That’s A Problem‘ in The Huffington Post)
I don’t want to analyze the film here, there are plenty of far more qualified people out there for that. I just want to illustrate that mainstream media and culture seems to lack understanding of an issue that affects and destroys so many people. An issue that impacts families, workplaces, health care systems, substance abuse problems…
Domestic abuse destroys people, and that in turn destroys societies.
We Need to Change Our Perspective
I have had many responses of disbelief or judgment to content with since cutting off all contact with my parents. Anything from: ‘So you are saying they didn’t really hit you’ to ‘But they are your parents‘. My standard response to anyone has become:
Be very happy you cannot understand this, it means you have led a blessed life
But that really isn’t good enough, is it?
There is only one thing that can stop domestic abuse of ANY type. It is to shine a light on it. Domestic abuse thrives in an environment of secrecy, shame and guilt. So, let us stop judging the victims, and start listening to their stories. Let’s just accept that the people to blame are the abusers, not the victim. NO BODY has ever made themselves a willing target of abuse, no body!
Domestic abuse is a difficult topic to talk about. It will likely make you feel uncomfortable. If that is how you feel, imagine how much worse it must feel for someone who has been subjected to it.
If you are ready to change your perspective on domestic abuse, share your intent on Twitter:
Reach out in support to those who need it. Let them know they are not alone. I can tell you from experience: they will believe they are!