Anyone notice I’ve been gone for a week? I didn’t really intend to be silent this whole time, but technology failed me. The resort in Colorado didn’t have an effective wireless network, leaving us unconnected to the world wide web for the past week.
And, to be honest, we kept ourselves pretty busy. We drove in late Saturday night the 23rd. It might not have been so late but our tires did not get along with the road. They didn’t want to move on the ice. Fortunately, in spite of having forgotten many other needed items, we did remember to bring the tire chains. Between the road conditions and the lack of visibility, we were able to reach the astounding speed of 15mph driving through what is known as “Rabbit Ears Pass” into Steamboat Springs. A 90 mile trek that took us nearly 5 hours.
Getting in at 2:30am did not stop us from skiing the next day or going out dancing to Peter Harper. We got up and did it again the next day (even the dancing). We did take a day off, to rest. Then we hit it again Thursday skiing blacks all day until the lifts closed. Friday we got up and checked out other ski towns: Vail and Copper Mountain, then drove down to Denver to my daughter’s in-laws home for the night.
But on Thursday night while sitting in the hot-tub after skiing, Mike and I started talking about some of the subjects that are soap-boxes for us. If I could have blogged right then I would have.
I have an unusual take on intimate violence. It’s unusual because I don’t think in terms of “abuse”. When you use the word “abuse” you absolve the “abused” from any responsibility for what has occurred. Now, don’t get riled up; I know there are plenty of people out there suffering in ongoing violent relationships where one partner is the persistent perpetrator. I don’t deny this obvious fact. I just believe things are not always what they appear.
Men and violence
Men involved in violent relationships are almost always assumed to be the perpetrator. They are almost 100 % of the time the one arrested and put on trial. The woman is given shelter, counseling and support. The man is locked up, forced into “anger management” groups and put on trial, costing them thousands and thousands of dollars. When there is a call made to the police in a domestic violence incident, the police are often required to make an arrest and almost 100 % of the time it’s the man arrested. It makes no difference what the specifics happen to be. Simply being a male means that if there is violence in the relationship you are the abuser. Men are assumed to have more power simply by the nature of their sex. Apparently there are no other criteria for abuse.
Don’t men need shelter, too?
Men are laughed at if they seek shelter from an abusive partner. Throughout the country there are millions of dollars poured in to domestic abuse shelters; less than 1% of those shelters accept men into their protective doors.
Men’s physical strength
Don’t misunderstand. I have witnessed the colossal cost of a man beating up on a woman’s face, ribs, legs, arms and internal organs. Men have more upper body strength, as a rule, and can do far more damage with a single blow than a woman can (generally speaking). But here is the rub.
What is a man supposed to do if a woman abuses him? Leaving might be an option, but what if he is concerned about the welfare of his children? What if he is not in a position of financial stability and cannot financially make it and pay child support? Isn’t he trapped as effectively as a woman needing a man’s money to support her and her kids?
Who is the perpetrator?
As a culture we view men as perpetrators and women as the victims. But in my experience working with survivors of childhood and domestic violence, men and women are equally capable of and culpable for the violence in our homes.
I’ve hears stores of men’s private parts being pulled, their children being kidnapped from them, being barraged with hours of verbal attacks, men being scratched, kicked, hit repeatedly on their faces and their hair being pulled. When the man finally breaks and his rage overcomes him, he’s arrested as the abuser.
Keeping ourselves in the victim role
Choosing to ignore women’s culpability actually keeps women stuck in the role of “the victim”. When we are incapable of experiencing ourselves as empowered human beings, equal partners in both the functioning and dysfunction of our relationships we fail to embrace our power. Women are equally capable of perpetuating violence in a relationship, as are men. We are not merely “victims’ of the “evil male species”.
Equal partners: equal power
Until we can own our power as equal partners both in the violence and in the resolution to the violence we fail to shift into real empowerment.
This is not a case of the “battle of the sexes’. It is a battle for compassion. It is a battle for our own power. Neither men nor women can claim their power by remaining stuck in the victim role. In order to stand toe to toe as partners, and as lovers, we must own that we are equally responsible for the violence that occurs in our relationships.
This doesn’t mean we are to BLAME.
It does mean we have the ability to do something about it. Now, this really does change everything doesn’t it?:
What about you?
Are you in a violent relationship? Have you been in a violent relationship? What happened? Do you think you are a victim and that you had no power? Let me hear about it! Comment below.