First let me start by saying, when domestic violence (DV) occurs, both parties are ‘victims of abuse’.
We seem to be desensitized to the root of sexual and domestic violence in our society. The victims and perpetrators wear many masks colored in fashionable pretense, silence, and pain. But this is a very serious threat in our society, which leaves far too many victims dead and families to suffer.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It is also the season of another change, fall. This gives us another opportunity to acknowledge self, to review and renew changes we struggle with from our past, and to grow. Most victims of DV are products of violence. Many of them came from a home of violence, which they witnessed or experienced. Too many shelter behind a mask of silence to hide their pain and shame. They are usually too ashamed to discuss the violence that wreaked havoc in their lives, leaving them hopeless and without any help so they stay silent and violent.
One of the popular questions victims of DV ask themselves is, ‘why me’? (feeling hopeless and helpless).
There is a certain level of worthlessness and hopelessness that DV victims face. This despair is the beginning or continuation of good people doing bad things. Based on my observations and perspective while ‘good people do bad things’ by contrast ‘bad things happen to good people’. Where do the victims both draw their positions, from being the abused or the abuser? The two sides of the coin show both are suffering victims acting out their chosen position. When victims of DV are having crisis moments, it is not likely they will reach out for help – it could be because of shame or a number of other unreasonable reasons.
Because of the many masks worn in our society, people rarely help each other effectively. Unfortunately people are preoccupied with their own issues so they are insensitive to other victims, they are more interested in gossip than discussion. It seems like most don’t care to help. It is sad, but we must try to change this.
How do we change the process of known or unknown abuse – physical and emotional – for both the victim and perpetrator [the two sides of the coin]? Physical abuse attacks the human’s body and emotions and emotional abuse adds to the breakdown of an individual being leaving them physically and psychologically helpless. The two go hand in hand. Abuse is a violation that leaves victims unable to stand up for themselves, identifying with weakness when they are weakened, and feeling out of control of the situation or self. What happens to the child, then, who witnesses abuse [statistically, they often become the abuser or the abused]?
Witnessing any form of violence is traumatic and harming but much more harming if one develops anger from childhood experiences. Therefore, it should not be surprising that when one recognizes the impact of one’s own experience (i.e., how we are shaped) one responds or acts from that experience. That is very important to understand on both sides.
Most perpetrators are overbearing and controlling of their victims. Children in abusive households often suffer from these very things at the hands of their abusers (parents, extended family, etc…) and they usually take what they see into their own adult life, destroying families repeatedly for generations. Some repeat this behavior while others avoid this type of behavior altogether. Unfortunately, most fall victim to repeating the abusive behavior because of these unaddressed anger and childhood issues. With these issues unresolved, too many do not know how to break the cycle or have the support or tools for correction. Abuse is repeated in generations though many disregard this perspective or feel empowered to change it, but I disagree. It was a life shown and modeled, not given, so you have the choice to shape your own life. I share with others that we do not have to fester in these kinds of pain, or shame, we can grow and elevate from them.
Post trauma triggers and effects are real, but if we learn to be patient and trust the process we will see everything has a process in time to heal and change.
The winter months are ahead of us – especially for those living in colder climates – and can be a gray period of time for those who suffer from triggers in the dark moments in life. Be mindful of self in those times. Be aware each time violent anger comes up. Look where it is coming from and be in control of it. You will see it.
Healing starts with recognition, addressing issues for change, and seeking a better life. When we are able to see both aspects – the introspect and retrospect of self and others – the journey of healing has begun. You can now make a conscious decision to fight or flight. It may be difficult at times because of the limited resources for long term care, but seek the help. It is out there. Though the system may be more interested in criminalizing instead of rehabilitating, still seek your help.
On the quest of change we must be mindful of our actions. There is a saying about criticism: ‘The finger points ‘look there’ not ‘look here’. For me, there are always two sides to a situation and I believe there are no bad persons, instead, people choose to do bad things.
Oftentimes we see victims only and the abusers as the monster, but both are in deep anger and pain not articulated consciously enough to truly understand both their positions. Love is always present in all of us but the good is in conflict with and blindsided by anger, power struggle, and violence. All these are the key factors behind the painful masks of DV.
Hate overpowers care, but we can change that. Afterall, we are all good human beings who are violated or violate based on where we stand or our circumstances. Buju Banton, a Jamaican Reggae icon who is now incarcerated, said it well, “circumstances make me who I am, was I born a violent man…” It all comes from the deeper understanding of good people do bad things, while bad things happen to good people. It is a psychological problem that affects both men and women who are victims. Usually, though, because men are more physical in their actions, women appear to be the victims more and men the perpetrators. Lets act on caring for each other, by beginning to understand our circumstances and seeking help, start with ‘stop pointing ‘there’ and looking ‘here’. It starts with the I, you for the change.
Written by Karen Ayee