Dangerous Innocence

images-102

Every time I would contemplate leaving my abusive partner the first question that would come to my mind was “what will everyone think of me?” And it wasn’t simply that they would think I didn’t try hard enough, but that they would blame me for the failure of my relationship.  It was an irrational fear, most of my close friends and family could see past his charm and knew there was more going on than I admitted. But a fear none the less, and one that kept me from leaving multiple times.

Society is chomping at the bit to throw the blame on anyone that finds themselves in a threatening situation. Women are blamed for their rape because they were dressed too provocatively, or were giving off the wrong signals, or were too drunk to say no. Women and men are blamed for their physical abuse because they were being too strong-willed, or used the wrong tone of voice, or didn’t do as they were told. Children are blamed for their abuse because they were misbehaving, or didn’t clean their room, or didn’t follow the rules. The point is the victim is usually the first to be scrutinized, and this is why so many rape and domestic violence cases go unreported every year. Victim’s fear being blamed for their torture, and fear having to relive it with every statement they make to try and gain justice.

Why are we so quick to think that the victim asked to be assaulted?  Well, she was wearing such revealing clothing, so she was asking to be raped. Remarks like this are never okay! No one wants to be beaten, raped, or dehumanized. No one deserves to be shamed and made to feel guilty for the illegal acts that someone cruelly subjected them to. Regardless of your social status, financial stature, ethnicity, gender, etc. . .  you are not at fault for the illegal and unspeakable acts done to you.

It seems as though we are quick to blame the victim because no one wants to be held accountable for their actions, but victim blaming is not just about avoiding accountability. It’s also about avoiding vulnerability. The more innocent a victim, the more threatening they are. They threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. But when good people fall victim to vicious acts, it implies that no one is safe and we are all vulnerable. The idea that misfortune can be random, striking anyone at any time, is a terrifying thought. A thought we are faced with every day. Therefore, blaming the victim makes us feel that they must have played a part in the tragedy that befell them. Giving us a little more sense of security in our own well being.

It has to stop. Everyone must realize that a victim is just that, a victim that will suffer mental trauma for the rest of their life due to the unforeseen circumstances that happened to them. No one asks for it. No one deserves it. No one. Stop blaming the victim and hold abusers accountable.

~Christa G.

 

 

A Father’s Love

image

(From Left: Dad making one of his usual goofy poses, Christa, Mom, my brother)

We are once again taking a break in our usual routine to honor someone very special to us . . . our father.

I’m extremely lucky and privileged to have such fond memories of my childhood. I have no one to thank but my parents. Parenting is a difficult and challenging undertaking, of which you are responsible for the sound upbringing and psychological development of your offspring. You are bringing a living being into this world and with that there are so many social responsibilities involved that can leave a heavy weight on your shoulders. Kids are tiny little sponges, soaking up everything, good and bad. I don’t think my dad understands how much of a good influence he has been in the lives of his children.

My sister and I fought relentlessly growing up. Nasty fights that sometimes led to us saying things we didn’t mean. We were kids, we didn’t know any better. But I’ll never forget my dad always quoting the Bible to us, “Never let the sun go down upon your wrath.” He made sure that we understood to go to bed with love and forgiveness in our hearts, rather than hate. And because of him, we always did. He demonstrated a genuine compassion and empathy for others.

The thing that I love most about my dad is the fact that he was not afraid to cry in front of us. He didn’t care about acting manly. He was usually the first to cry during a dramatic scene in a movie. He showed us that a man does not have to be disconnected from his emotions. He taught us to daydream as much as make realistic plans for our future. He supported and encouraged me to pursue all of my aspirations, even when they didn’t turn out the way I wanted.

And there were plenty of times he spoiled us more than he should have. My sister and I begged our parents for a Barbie Doll house, but we couldn’t afford one. He surprised us by building one himself and he even included a spiral staircase. My science fair projects were always a big deal and I’ll never forget all the trouble he went through to build a volcano in which you could see inside, he even made a small air pump that I simply squeezed to make the “lava” erupt. I know, I cheated, but it was always so much fun asking for his help with those sorts of assignments because he took it one step further, he just had to make it special. That’s his thing.

I would like to thank my dad for showing me that a real man doesn’t have to guard his emotions. For all those extra hours spent helping me with school work. For teaching me compassion and understanding. And most importantly, thank you for all of your incredible support during one of the hardest times in my life . . . leaving my abusive boyfriend. You helped rebuild my self-esteem, and you offered financial help until I could afford my own place. I don’t know where I would be today if it weren’t for you.

~Lindsey V.

‘You Don’t Have To Try So Hard’

There can be one-sided relationships in every aspect of our lives that can leave us feeling used, worthless, and as if we don’t matter. .. similar to how emotional abuse affects us. But we have to teach ourselves to overcome the pain of pouring our heart into someone that doesn’t return our affection. Either let them go, or continue drowning yourself to keep them afloat. …

The following is one such story,

The Hopeful Wanderer

I didn’t realise how hard it was to maintain our friendship until I stopped messaging you first. I didn’t want to seem needy, so I would wait for you to text first, but that hardly ever happened. Eventually, I would miss you too much and text you first to check up on you. The way our friendship was going, wasn’t healthy … it felt like I was making too much of an effort, and you weren’t making any.

Walking to the bank or the post office, I’d always pass your house. Sometimes, I’d take a different route from school just so that I could see you. But, whenever you were in my area, you would never stop by because you thought it was intrusive. I guess I didn’t see the signs, that maybe our friendship was convenient for you. As I’m typing this, I’m wondering why I didn’t notice…

View original post 262 more words

Healthy Discourse

image

It’s healthy to argue. And most people can have civil arguments with one another. But when do we know that the discourse has gone too far? Or how do we distinguish a healthy argument from an unhealthy one with a significant other?

It’s really quite simple. And it all boils down to ultimately the respect that is shown to the other person. You can have a disagreement with your loved one, but the moment belittling, name-calling, or threats come into play, the disagreement has turned into a nasty manipulation tactic, used as a means to coerce the other party into blind submission. All respect for the other individual’s feelings or perspective have been completely thrown out the proverbial window and it is now just a matter of forcing that other person to submit to your will. And that, ladies and gents, is a manifestation of an unhealthy argument, which is a HUGE red flag.

I remember my fights with my abusive ex so vividly. They weren’t always melodramatic or like scenes out of a Hollywood film. Sometimes they were insidiously subtle. But every time we argued, I felt like I had to explain my perspective until I was blue in the face and always to no avail. I felt like I was talking to a brick wall and, at times, the frustration of trying to explain my logic to him was so incredibly disheartening that I was left with no other alternative except to feel like I really was crazy, therefore defaulting to his way of thinking. He never conceded. He was always right.

At times, he would threaten to break up with me if I didn’t bend to his will. There were plenty finger-pointing tactics, where I was overreacting and I was the one to blame for his outbursts. These arguments usually ended with me huddled in a corner somewhere, hugging my knees, crying from pure frustration. Then, when I was feeling particularly slighted, it would simply be a yelling match, rather than a discussion. To this day, I shudder at the thought of how we sounded to the neighbors. At no point did we ever have a talk about each other’s differing viewpoints and how we could reach some sort of compromise. And eventually I would begin avoiding such arguments and just jump to the part where I conceded to his will in order to “keep the peace.”

It’s hard to know in such a heated moment that how you are being treated is unfair. So here are some signs to watch out for. It is not a healthy argument if your significant other:

1. Calls you nasty names (ex: “You’re such a bitch!”)
2. Belittles you (ex: “You’re too stupid to understand.”)
3. Ignores your perspective (ex: “You’re wrong!”)
4. Does not allow you to talk (ex: “No, YOU listen to ME!”)
5. Intimidates you (ex: corners you physically or looms over you)
6. Gives ultimatums (ex: “I’m gonna break up with you if you don’t do as I say!”)
7. Threatens you (ex: “You better shut up now or I’ll . . .”)
8. Uses physical force of any kind (ex: anything from holding to hitting)
9. Decides when the argument is over (ex: “I’m done talking about this. This discussion is over.”)
10. Gaslights you (ex: “You’re overreacting because you’re crazy and don’t know what you’re talking about!”)

I’m sure the list could go on, and please feel free to list more in the comments if you like.

So if this is how an unhealthy argument can be, how do you have a healthy one?

image

 

Respect the other person’s need to express themselves. Respect their perspective and concede to the fact that they may be right or you both may be right. Learn to compromise. If you need to cool down before discussing the issue any further, let your partner know that you need some time alone and calmly walk away, but never leave without explanation or a promise to come back and talk it out. Let your partner speak their mind and then when they are done, give your counter argument or explanation. Try not to interrupt the other and try to always include in your reasoning anything they may have said, so they know that you were listening to them. And most importantly, treat them like you would want to be treated.

It can be difficult in the middle of an argument to cool down and listen to the other’s point of view, but think of how unfair it is to not be heard. And an abusive relationship is the very definition of one person dominating another person in various ways. So it is a matter of perspective and how you approach the discourse. If you go in wanting nothing other than to prove yourself right, then what is the likelihood of you actually listening to the other person? Enter the discussion with merely a desire to express your feelings and your thoughts on the matter, while simultaneously being prepared to listen to the opposing side with an open mind. I’m sure we could all practice this sort of discourse even among our friends and family. I am still learning how to approach certain arguments, especially the sort which are politically or religiously charged in nature, with this type of sober mentality.

Just remember, our key word here is respect. If you do not feel respected during an argument then it is likely not a healthy one. I hope this was helpful and if anyone has anything they would like to add, please do so in the comments.

~Lindsey V.