This post is under Raven Newcastle, but the events talked about only happened to one half of the writing team, Von Morley, and in no way imply any such situations happened to my co-author Joi.
My Labrador has a habit when playing, He brings me his ball and wants me to throw it. Well sort of. What he does is play a game where he acts like he’s going to put it in your hand but then pulls it away. I tell him if you want me to throw it then you have to let it go. Sometimes he gets the message and does so. I say give and he drops it in my hand. Other times he pulls it away not ready to give it up.
I read a post today from one of my new favorite authors Lani Wendt Young on sexual abuse at Don’t Shame Us. Don’t Shut us Up. (How to better support and empower… It’s a must read for everyone that is affected in some way by sexual, physical and mental abuse. That is to say every human being on the planet. Statistically 1 in every 3 women will experience some form of abuse at least once in their lives. I say in reality it’s every girl and woman, some more obvious than others. Domestic violence and spousal rape are at epidemic levels everywhere even in the so called developed countries where we out to know better.
I bring up my Labrador’s game playing habit to emphasize a point many women do when faced with their own reality of abuse. We play a game with ourselves where we want to tell someone but find ourselves pulling away. Everything mentioned in Lani Wendt Young’s blogpost about how our friends and family, even the authorities react make us keep quiet or offer ill advice on how the victim should handle it is true. The reactions can make us pull away even though we want to give.
I’ve also played this game with God who knew my abuses I suffered through and wanted desperately for me to hand him the ball and let it go so he could help heal me. I spent years pulling the ball away afraid of what others might think and dealing with the self imposed prison of feeling shame on my own. I went through many years of anger and hurt mostly at myself for at first believing I had allowed it to happen then as I grew older went from realizing it wasn’t my fault to chastising myself for not having the courage to deal with the emotions sooner. I mean it was ALL those years ago and I’m no longer a spring chicken, move on already I would say to myself.
Moving on for me meant ignoring it ever happened. when the memory came up I pushed it back down into a file cabinet in my brain called cold cases. Then last year a very close and dear friend of mine called me to tell me she had her husband arrested because he, after coming home very late and very drunk, had demanded a meal and sex. when that didn’t happen he shoved her to the floor hurting her and daring her to call the police. This time she finally did. With cellphone in hand she did the most courageous thing she could have ever done and dialed 911.
She called me the next day and informed me of what happened and that the spousal abuse had gone on and off for over the 30 yrs. of their marriage. She told me in detail how even when going through her chemotherapy for breast cancer this man who swore to love her, demanded sex as her ‘wifely’ duty even though she was desperately sick from the side effects of the drugs that were supposed to make her better. She told me if she said no then he would laugh her off and pin her down making her suffer through it.
My response? I chastised her for not telling me sooner and for not knowing that spousal rape in this country is illegal married or not. My next question? Why didn’t you leave this fool earlier, why? why? why?
Why was I not a better friend?
Lani Wendt Young’s post is informative and insightful and made me desperately wish I could take back some of what I said in my feeble attempt at being supportive. I wonder now if I had confronted my own abuses earlier instead of shoving them into the cold case file would I have better reacted to my friends situation.
Abuse is abuse and it stays with you for a lifetime. It’s how society and ourselves handle it that make the differences. I have been blessed to be married for 20 yrs. to a man who is gentle and kind. My abuses had happened long before I met him in my youth and young adult years of both sexual and physical abuse. The latter was at the hands of a step mother who didn’t like me talking about the sexual abuse and made me deny it ever happened by a family friend among other real or imagined reasons to beat me consistently thru out my childhood.
I am encouraging all of my readers and some that are usually not to please read Lani’s post and take to heart the lessons involved. Male or female, if their is someone in your life that is going through any type of abuse, listen to them and validate what they are going through. Help them in everyway possible without intentionally or unintentionally being critical of their choices in how they handled it in the past. Remember they are talking to you now and love and support is a beautiful thing.
My friend? She is a courageous cancer survivor and currently going through a nasty divorce. The light is bright at the end of the tunnel though and I intend to be there to greet her.
Thank you Lani Wendt Young and thank you to all who read and spread the message and lessons she shared.
Today I planned on having my normal visit to the hairdresser. It didn’t quite work out that way.
Things took a turn for the worse when the girl who works next to my beautician got the news that she’d be having a six year old client who needed a press and curl. The little girl who’s cute as a button and her grandmother get situated. Granny mentions that her granddaughter is going to be a flower girl in a wedding on Saturday. As she walks past me, I notice that the child looks almost panicked, not the way you’d expect a happy child with no worries to look. Their beautician gets started and I’m whisked away to the shampoo bowl.
Over the sound of the water, I hear wailing on the other side of the wall. My beautician says the the girl is having a fit. We get back from the and the child is in tears. These weren’t the ‘I don’t want to get my hair washed’ but the ‘you’re trying to kill me’ variety. Since this is also a cosmetology school, an instructor is called over and she takes charge of the situation.
When they bring her back from shampooing, that’s when the real show starts. The girl starts bucking out of the seat as her hair is being blow dried and combed. Grandma or as I later find out Great Grandma explains that she just had braids taken out, which had been in the child’s head for several months. With the situation being too much for just one beautician, three hover over this child’s head with combs and a blow dryer, trying to make sense of her chaotic mane of curls. You see, the braids were in her head so long, they started to turn into dreadlocks. Clumps of matted hair are combed out of her hair all the while she’s screaming bloody murder.
Oh great granny attempts to help in her own demented way. She repeatedly reminds the child that she’s not going to be in the wedding, which causes the kid to scream even louder. She shrugs off responsibility for the tangled mess, blaming it on the child’s mother and swearing it will never happen again.
For an hour, I’m listening as a poor child is being tormented. A few hair stylists wander into the area and watch the circus before walking away and shaking their heads. Granny isn’t concerned with her great grand who’s been so obviously neglected, her primary concern is the wedding tomorrow and what they’re going to do without a flower girl. The old woman even suggests bringing the girl in the morning and having her hair relaxed, which the instructor politely tells her is not possible since it was just washed.
After all remedies are exhausted, the instructor leaves and returns with a partial refund. There’s no way they can do anything with this child’s head because she can’t keep still. Grandma calls ‘grandpa’ who starts yelling at her over the phone demanding an explanation as to why the girl’s hair can’t be done. Obviously brow beaten for years, she meekly explains the situation, and leaves to wait for him in the lobby.
I feel bad for the girl. It’s bad enough that her mother is neglectful, but she’s surrounded by elders who have their priorities in the wrong place. I have a feeling that there are probably chapters and chapters of dysfunction in this child’s life. Sure she’ll probably walk down the aisle tomorrow in her pretty dress, but what about the next day? What about the day after that? At what point will someone say enough is enough and pull her out of that dysfunction?