Women are particularly susceptible to all types of abuse and yet many of them don’t even know what it is and that it’s happening to them, nor do they realize that there is an alternative way of being treated.
Many of us of have friends and family members that are being mistreated and we have no idea. We have no idea because either ;
A) There are no outward signs
B) As Women, really don’t even know what “abuse” is…
Before I go on- let me define the word:
[v. uh-byooz; n. uh-byoos] Show IPA verb, a·bused, a·bus·ing, noun
verb (used with object)1.to use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one’s authority.2. to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse; to abuse one’s eyesight.3. to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about;revile; malign.4.to commit sexual assault upon.5.Obsolete . to deceive or mislead.noun6.wrong or improper use; misuse: the abuse of privileges.7.harshly or coarsely insulting language: The officer heaped abuse on his men.8.bad or improper treatment; maltreatment: The child was subjected to cruel abuse.9. a corrupt or improper practice or custom: the abuses of a totalitarian regime.10.rape or sexual assault.
The most mis-leading thing about abuse is that we think it’s something we should visibly see on the surface, or that it looks a certain way. But in fact many times it’s all happening covertly and consistently, behind closed doors and over time, slowly eroding her self esteem over time, and leaving her with an incredibly precarious sense of self worth.
She is our friend, our neighbor, our florist, our sister, our mother. She can come across as the most capable women you’ve ever met, and many times she is. Everything looks all pulled together, and intact. Her children are well behaved, groomed, and by all account’s “normal”. You would never think that there was anything amis. You would never know- I mean, she wears Tory Burch shoes for heavens sake.
Unfortunately the more she’s held it together over time the harder it is for anyone to comprehend or worse, believe. By the time she finally discloses aspects of her situation – it’s usually dismissed or invalidated by her confidant. After all how could someone have missed the signs? Especially if they’ve known them as a “couple”. He seems like a really nice guy right?
By this time she usually realizes that she is getting just a small taste of what is to come if she should decide to leave the relationship- if her “close” friend can’t see it, who can?
This is just one of the many incredulous scenarios of a woman who is in an abusive situation. In fact- here’s my analogie for her getting out and getting the help she needs.
Take an average woman who has not slept in 24 hours and take her to the bottom of Mount Everest- and tell her to climb to the top without any equipment or assistance.
If she is a mother- tell her to do it with her children.
Chances are when faced with the option to leave the situation- she won’t take it when she asses her odds. She’s weak, tired, and compromised in her ability to make rational healthy choices. She has been in survival mode for so long her adrenal glands are completely depleted.
She loves her children, and does not want to put them in danger. The consequences of leaving are harsh and un-predictable and she need’s to put them first. She will gladly sacrifice herself for the benefit of their safety and well- being.
This is her thinking pattern. This is just one aspect of her dilemma.
It’s better to make believe that everything is ok.
It’s better to make believe it will get better…
It’s better to make believe that it will change…
This, is the comfort of make believe.
Wouldn’t you rather make believe than have to face the reality?
Now lets take a look at our society. If I were to call out our “culture of abuse” on women – where does that leave many of us? As women we consume a steady diet of the very garbage the media feed’s us about ourselves. It’s had the same effect on *most* of us as the woman I illustrated above. We are all left feeling lost and overwhelmed and not particularly strong in body or spirit. We’ve got tremendous self esteem issues and our “value” and sense of self is practically non-existant.
The mountain I referred to above is our culture.
If we are to climb to inner strength, sense of purpose and wholeness then we’ve got some work to do but our odd’s are a whole lot better if we make the climb together.