The Sexism Behind Abuse


Many different ways have been devised for keeping women subordinated to men in patriarchal societies. Footbinding was used by the Chinese to cripple women for over a thousand years. Purdah, is the Muslim practice of secluding women from contact with men outside of the immediate family. Muslim women are to this day, are prisoners in their own homes. Clitoridectomy, the excision of the clitoris, is still practiced on millions of young, pre-puberty girls today in Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq,  Guinea and Ethiopia.

 

Violence against women in the form of battering in the home and rape in and outside of the home is a major issue for societies to address and stop. Violence against women has happened so often for millennia. Yet women continue to leave in fear for their lives.

 

Women in Japan, Netherlands, France, Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, USA and Germany began to stand up for their human rights as women in the 1970’s. There has been much done to stop the battering but we have not ended violence against women.

 

As women, we demand that governments recognize the existence and extent of this problem in almost every society. We demand safety for ourselves and our children. I began work in Domestic Violence in the seventies, and here in America women continue to be killed, to face daily violence, to lose their self-respect and their hope. It is very difficult to find the courage to leave an abuser when he has twisted your actions and words to manipulate and control you.

 

Whether the abuser is male or female, the penalty for Domestic Violence must be increased. The perpetrator must be more severely punished.

 

Rape is the other type of violence against women that must be stopped. Rape has nothing to do with sex. It is constructed by a man’s need to have power and control over a woman. Men in sexist societies are surrounded by sexist views and attitudes which they use to validate their actions against women.

 

Male violence against towards women can not be eradicated without also eradicating the unequal power relationships between the sexes. Many sociologists feel that the traditional family need to be changed. Equality within domestic relationships is very important if we are to completely eradicate violence in families. This includes violence against children.

 

Spanking children is abuse. Slapping them is abuse. In addition, it teaches them that at the basic level, violence is the way to deal with problems and/or behaviors we are not comfortable with. This is why abuse is found in dysfunctional families. It is passed on from one generation to another. Children in violent homes, learn how to abuse and how to be a victim. No one should be a victim, ever.

 

I must also speak to teenage girls. There is nothing you can do that means your boyfriend has the right to abuse, hit, batter, slap or kick you. It is his issue and not yours. Talk to your guidance counselor or doctor or your parents.

“Love is never meant to hurt. It should never leave red marks, bruises, or broken bones.”  — Barbara Mattio

 

 

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The first time you are beaten is the time you should leave. Abusers do kill women.

The first time you are beaten is the time you should leave. Abusers do kill women.

 

 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Is it glamourous to be a victim?


These days there are two kinds of women who are victims. One is the woman who has been sexually molested. The other are women who have been in a battering situation. Both type of woman has been violated. The violation is physical and emotional and mental.

 

The first time a man hits a woman, she is in shock. She can’t believe this person she loves would have raised his hand and hit her. Hit her so hard her lip bled and her jaw cracked. The pain is excruciating. He is screaming at her and calling her stupid and ugly. Her mind freezes. This is a nightmare. She must be dreaming. She must. This can’t really be happening.

 

When a woman is a victim or rape or molestation, the man and society often try to tell her it is her own fault. She shouldn’t have been where she was, her skirt was too short, she is a tease. Violence goes with the unwanted sex. Rape is often happening at the same time as she is tied up, he talks trash to her. Rape often includes inanimate objects which can cause severe injuries that will require surgery or leave permanent injuries.

 

There is no perk to being victimized. None. Some women are stronger than others, they can walk away the first time they are battered. For some,  the emotional abuse wrecks their self-confidence and his words begin to play over and over in her head. With time that voice is louder than the voices of the people around her.

 

A woman who has been raped, she knows what kinds of things that may be said about her. She was asking for it. She really wanted it. In truth, rape has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with power and control. The rapist needs that power and control to perform. Often a rapist will threaten to come back and kill her if she tells anyone. He often has a gun or a knife in his hand. So, many young women hesitate to report the rape.Some can take a month or two to find the courage and conquer the shame before they can report it.

 

Both types of victims feel shame, guilt and fear. Battered women live with the abuser and fear more abuse. Often, when they leave, it is in the middle of the night and they flee for their lives and the lives of their children. Many have no job skills, or access to credit. This is why battered women’s shelters are so important. It is important that shelter locations remain secret to protect the women and children who are staying there and also to protect the staff. Taxi drivers know where they are.

 

There is nothing to be gained by being a victim. Helping a woman to listen to her own voice and not the voice of her rapist of batterer is important but it often takes quite a while. There is no status in being raped or beaten. Society needs to remember that these women are someone’s daughters, sisters, cousins, mother and friends.

 

So please don’t judge. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Take in consideration that she is vulnerable and frightened. Scorn from people in her life will only increase her fear and vulnerability.

 

 

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Rape Hotline

Rape Hotline

 

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No one wants to be raped or molested.

No one wants to be raped or molested.

 

Survivors get a second chance.

Survivors get a second chance.

 

 

Domestic Violence is a crime. You can't hit another person,ever.

Domestic Violence is a crime. You can’t hit another person, ever.

 

Domestic Violence is found in every level of society.

Domestic Violence is found in every level of society.

Domestic Violence is NEVER LEGAL


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Today we are following the video released by TMZ of Ray Rice cold-cocking his then-fiance. Documentation of the event has been all over the news. Ray Rice received a slap on the wrist when the story first broke, with a video showing Rice “only” dragging her out of the elevator, allowing her face to slam onto the floor. Today TMZ leaked the video from inside the elevator. Ray cold-cocked his fiance, knocking her out with a single punch, and this has made a difference.  The facts of the case — that he had knocked his fiance unconscious and dragged her out of the elevator like a piece of meat — are unchanged, but now that we’ve seen the actual punch, apparently outrage is suddenly justified.

 

Ray Rice has been terminated by the Ravens and the NFL has suspended him indefinitely. Is this enough? I think not.

 

Domestic Violence is found everywhere, at every social-economic level.  It matters not the color of the couple. There are women that you know how are victims of Domestic Violence. It could be your minister’s wife, the grad student’s girlfriend, the cop’s wife, the Senator’s wife. It can be your next door neighbor, you know the one, whose husband is so nice; he is charming and helpful. And he is an abuser. Your mailman may be beating his girlfriend. Your child’s favorite teacher could be a regular victim of vicious beatings. Beatings are often administered where clothes will cover the bruises.

 

Every nine seconds, a woman is abused. Abuse can be physical, emotional or mental; any or all of these are abuse. If you are living with slapping, punching, broken bones, head injuries, pushing, name calling, and threats to kill you, you are living with abuse. No woman “asks” to be beaten. Abusing men like to tell their victim that it is her own fault…but it isn’t.  Ever, no matter what the woman has “done” or been accused of doing, it is never her fault. Every abuser chooses to beat a woman and is responsible for his actions. I will say here that if a woman beats a man it is also a crime she is guilty of committing. 5% of men are abused but every nine seconds a woman is beaten.

 

Yes, women suffer. When I worked in Domestic Violence, one of my jobs was as a counselor. Stories told to me  included: the woman was beaten because the kids made too much noise; she was beaten because she couldn’t get the stain out of his shirt, or because dinner was late getting put on the table. Also, he doesn’t like dinner and many women have had his plate full of food smeared into her face. Yes, this is abuse.

 

When children watch this kind of behavior, they learn to be abusers and victims. Often sons carry a lot of guilt and anger for their mother because she doesn’t stop the violence. They very often go ahead and begin punching, pinching,  calling women names in high school. It frequently continues their entire lives.

 

I know of a mayor in a large city who has beaten three wives. He was an okay mayor but he was a demon to his wives. How do I know? I know because his wives came to one of the shelters I have worked with. We keep files on abusers. He was in it three times. Did he ever accept responsibility for his actions?  No, not at all. The wives were convinced not to press charges, so he was never forced to accept any consequences.

 

I did hear today, a prosecutor  stated that the law is now looking at abuse not just a women’s issue but as a crime against the community. I think this is a good thing. Why does abuse continue to be such a terrible and insidious part of life for women? Because the usual sentence is $1000 fine and 18 months in jail.

 

I am a spiritual person, but if you have been beaten, that is not God’s Will. It is a crime. There are places you can go for help. All communities have a Domestic Violence (DV) hotline. Shelters exist in most cities. Every taxi driver knows a DV shelter. Go, get help, start over. You do not deserve to live in violence. He always promises it will never happen again. It will. We had a program for counseling for the abusers. We found that a support group for the men worked best because they called each other on their lies and rationalizations.

 

If you are told that you need to forgive your abuser, to pray for him; if you are told you can’t leave because God requires you to stay in the sacred bond of marriage, you need to realize this is a lie, perpetuated by the men in power who want to keep women subservient. As a wife, you are not the property of your abuser.  He does not own you and the Divine does not want you to suffer. Leave, get into a shelter, believe in yourself, you can take care of yourself and your children.  If you think leaving will hurt your children, you will find that they will respect you much more if you protect yourself and them, and they may not end up as the abuser or the victim.

 

Anyone who says to stay in a relationship is possibly a batterer himself, or doesn’t really understand the issue or really doesn’t care about your well-being.

 

If your abuser threatens you with a weapon, even if he doesn’t use it, you need to realize that the chances are extraordinarily high that he will at some point and he will tell you it is your own fault that you are going to die.

 

I had a woman who was held at gunpoint for a solid 12 hours before the abuser fell asleep and she ran like the wolves of hell were after her. If he had awakened, he would have killed her. She made it to the shelter I worked at and we talked, cried, and held each other as she finally was able to tell her truth. I took pictures of her injuries for court and tucked her and her two children into a warm safe bed. Her face was streaked with tears, but she fell asleep immediately. I cried and prayed for her until the sun began to rise. Then I began to form her plan to go to court, to take care of her children and to take care of herself. We put her into temporary housing and helped her to find herself once again.  She got out.  You can, too

 

If you want more information go to NCADV.org. It is the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.  October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and as I have done in the past, I will be writing about the issue all month.

 

Don’t ever let someone hit you. It is a crime. I will take comments and listen if anyone is in a abusive relationship. I will give you the best answer I can based on my education and experience. It would all be confidential. Praying is not enough. Praying is good, but you need human intervention and action, in addition.

 

Let  me help. Let others help.  Remember that you deserve help.

 

You deserve to live without violence.  Everyone deserves to live without violence.

 

 

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blackeye.jpg                                          There is never a reason to beat a woman, walk out, leave 

                                           don’t hit her.

 

 

 

 

End Violence in the Home

End Violence in the Home

 

You Can't Beat a Woman.

You Can’t Beat a Woman.

 

 

 

Domestic Violence Stats

Domestic Violence Stats – Cuts in Domestic Violence Support mean that more women and children will die at the hands of their abusers.

Every 3 Minutes – Every 5 Minutes


With No Immediate Cause

by Ntozake Shange

 

every 3 minutes a woman is beaten

every five minutes a

woman is raped/every ten minutes

a lil girl is molested

yet i rode the subway today

i sat next to an old man who

may have beaten his old wife

3 minutes ago or 3 days ago/30 years ago

he might have sodomized his

daughter  but i sat there

cuz the young man on the train

might beat some young women

later in the day or tomorrow

i might not shut my door fast

enuf/push hard enuf

every 3 minutes it happens

some woman’s innocence

rushes to her checks/pours from her mouth

like the betsy wetsy dolls have been torn

apart/their mouths

menses red & split/every

three minutes a shoulder

is jammed through plaster and the oven door/

chairs push through the rib cage/hot water or

boiling sperm decorate her body

i rode the subway today

& bought a paper from a

man who might

have held his old lady onto

a hot pressing iron/i dont know

maybe he catches lil girls in the

park & rips open their behinds

with steel rods/i can’t decide

what he might have done i only

know every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes every 10 minutes/so

i bought the paper

looking for the announcement

the discovery/of that dismembered

woman’s body/the

victims have not all been

identified/today they are

naked and dead/refuse to

testify/one girl out of 10’s not

coherent/i took the coffee

& spit it up/i found an

announcement/not the woman’s

bloated body in the river/floating

not the child bleeding in the

59th street corridor/not the baby

broken on the floor/

“there is some concern

that alleged battered women

might start to murder their

husbands and lovers with no

immediate cause”

I spit up i vomit i am screaming

we all have immediate cause

every 3 minutes

every 5 minutes

every 10 minutes

every day

women’s bodies are found

in alleys & bedrooms/at the top of the stairs

before i ride the subway/buy a paper/drink

coffee/i must know/

have you hurt a woman today

did you beat a woman today

throw a child across a room

are the lil girl’s panties

in yr pocket

did you hurt a woman today

 

i have to ask these obscene questions

the authorities require me to

establish

immediate cause

 

every three minutes

every five minutes

every ten minutes

every day.

 

 

Born Paulette Williams in Trenton, New Jersey, Ntozake Shange took her pseudonym as an expression of her anger at the dilemma of being a black woman. In Zulu the name means “she who comes with her own things.” / “she who walks like a lion.” She was educated at Barnard College and the University of Southern California.

 

 

 

Black and White photo of Pacific coast.

Pacific Ocean

Freedom Writers


Freedom writers teacher, Ms. G.  Freedom Writers Teacher and role model (still from the Movie)

A little while ago, I wrote about a teacher in Long Beach, California who was teaching English to kids who had problems of some sort. I had watched the movie and discovered the book. It is available in bookstores and on Kindle and Nook. Ms. G. taught freshman and sophomore English. Well I am now reading the book which is an anthology of the student’s work.  The students were told to write in their journals, and the anthology includes various entries from each of their journals.

To encourage participation without the possibility of humiliation, the journals were all anonymous, but the entries were numbered.

The students wrote about what was happening with their families and their lives, and why their English class in Room 203 with Ms. G became Home; for some of them a second Home, but for many, it was the only Home they had.

Some of them wrote about going home from school and opening the mail and finding an eviction notice.  Others wrote about the fact that there was no food in their house, and no money to buy food.  They wrote about being molested or physical beaten by their mother’s significant other.  They wrote about watching their mothers being beaten, and trying to pull the abuser off their mothers while blood is running off their mother’s head.

Some of them wrote that they lived in very bad sections in Long Beach.  , some children would stay late at school to finish their work, but because they lived in such dangerous areas it wasn’t safe to be out after dark, particularly for the girls.  Ms. G would wait until the children left and even though she did not herself live in Long Beach, she would personally drive each child home to keep them safe.

More than one student wrote about how hard it was to keep their minds positive, to keep hope in their hearts, that they would get good grades, and be able to do everything that they wanted to.  They were surrounded by negativity, and that was what made it so hard.  Everywhere they looked, there was negativity.  This negativity was where the violence and the gang life style, and the intolerance and bigotry that surrounded them came from.

The students learned through Ms. G’s class to respect themselves and to believe in themselves.  They wrote of seeing the whole world differently after reading books, biographies like Zlata’s Diary, that showed them that other people have gone through really difficult times and survived, and got stronger, and turned themselves into better people.

The students wrote about how reading opened up the world to them, and they learned about what was possible, not matter where you lived or what kind of background you had, you could be a person who gave backed to the world.  You could make your life be how you wanted to be, instead of what the world said it had to be.

One student even wrote how her mother ever gave her curfews or rules to follows, so she got the idea that she should give herself curfews, because she didn’t want people to know that her mother was neglecting her.  She felt like she had raised herself, and that it wasn’t easy.

After they had compiled their journals, choosing the pages to submit, Ms. G had the compilation turned into a book.  Ms. G then contacted the Secretary of Education, and told him about her students and their projects, past and present, and about the book created from their project.  He invited them to come in person to bring him the book.  Ms. G and the students earned the money for the trip to Washington, DC, and got to meet the Secretary, who was very impressed with their book.  SOme of the students were blown away just walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  When they reached the Washington Memorial, they encircled the monument, held hands, sang and said prayers.

Some of the students wrote about that trip, and how they felt so light and full of hope joined together around the Washington Monument.

When they returned to Long Beach, they found out that another student in their school, not a Freedom Writer, had taken a trip to Vegas with friends, and while their brutally raped and murdered a 7 year old girl, while another student watched and did nothing to stop it.  The students wrote about the difficulty of balancing the positive energy from the trip with the horrific news that someone they knew had raped and murdered a little girl.  It was a difficult time but they made it through together, and when the media came to the school looking for headlines about the murder, they went out against school regulations, and sang and talked to the media not about the horror perpetrated by one student, but about what the 150 or so of them had accomplished instead.

The negativity that surrounded these students is what is causing the distrust, distress and violence in the world today, but this wonderful teacher and her courageous students stand as a shining example of what positive energy, hope and understanding can do to make the world a better place.

 

 

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Who

 

 

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Freedomwriters

 

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The Perfect Storm


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the sixties, there was a perfect storm of hatred and violence and passionate pacifism. Folk singers like Peter, Paul and Mary, Pete Seger and Joan Baez sang the songs that started the fire that crossed America to get the Vietnam War ended. Hearts were set afire with music, poetry, sit-ins and marches. We watched the boys we knew going off to the war. There was a draft and I can remember sitting at the dinner table and listening for the numbers to be selected. You knew the numbers of your family and friends. The silence that would envelope a family when a son’s number was called was so opaque you could cut it with a knife. In addition to this being held like a human sacrifice by a Pagan world, some of these men fled and went to Canada. Very few returned, even when all was forgiven.

 

Thanks to President John Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. whites and blacks moved together to bring his dream of equality to reality. Since the Civil War, the South had promoted and enforced strict segregation. This included separate restrooms, sitting in different parts of busses and not allowing interracial marriage. The very brave black youth who shared Rev. King’s dream began to protest and white Northern kids went South to help them. People lost their lives. The KKK lynched many young black men. The cowards who hid under white sheets were big shots when no one knew who they were. Many deaths were accomplished by the hand of the KKK.

 

In the seventies, my adoptive family lived in a small back water town in Indiana. They were the only Jewish family and there was one Black family. One night both families awoke to crosses burning on their front yards. The Klan had left its business card.

 

Women also participated in all of the changes going on in America. Rosa Parks got on a bus and instead of taking a seat in the back where black people were supposed to ride, she sat in the front of the bus. She was dragged off the bus and arrested but she is a heroine of the Civil Rights Movement. Feminists were out front and speaking up against the war and loudly demanding our civil rights. Women, make $.77 for every $1.00 a man made. We didn’t want to lose jobs if we had a child. Maternity leave was a subject that many businesses used as a reason not to hire women.

 

Women were being beaten by husbands and boyfriends, according to the FBI at a rate of one woman every eleven seconds. I worked hard with other women in my home town to begin a Domestic Violence shelter for women. We wanted to give them a safe place to go. We were a group of Jewish, Protestant and Catholic women who bought an old rotted dingy house with the help of the Sisters of Mercy. A penny was buried in the tree lawn and the Sisters prayed for the money to come to help the women in our community. Today, this shelter still exists and has over a yearly budget of over a half million dollars. But I remember the early days when we literally risked our lives for these woman and I would do it again.

 

Voting rights, economic rights and education are still not equal or just fifty years after the Civil Rights Act was passed. I thought that America had begun to change and we would just continue to move in the direction of fairness and justice. I was wrong. Very wrong. I didn’t realize until our President Obama was elected that the closet held more than homosexual people. It held people who still feel that human beings are not equal because of the color of their skin. This is such a travesty and must be corrected. We are one people who live with hearts beating as one despite color, education, who they love. We need to care as much for the babies who are born and need to be taken care of as we do for a woman’s right to decide what happens with her body. I saw a bumper sticker today on a car that said, “Save the whales, kill the children.”

 

The rich feel that their money gives them more rights than anyone else and it is getting worse every year. Is this a new situation? Not at all. It goes back very far in our history. During the Civil War, President Lincoln instituted a draft to have enough men to save the Union and free the slaves. The rich families were allowed to pay for their beloved sons not to have to go to war. So most soldiers were poor or middle class. They weren’t worth as much because their families had less money. Please don’t think that the rich looking down at the other 98% of our country. People need to select sides not parties. This mid-term election coming up is going to make it necessary for us to stand up and speak out. I encourage everyone do so and fight for justice in your particular country. As is often repeated,         ” If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

The Need for equality


Every woman is equal to everyone else no matter what country she lives in.

Every woman is equal to everyone else no matter what country she lives in.

feminist

Love is not Concerned

love is not concerned
with whom you pray
or where you slept
the night you ran away from home
love is concerned that the beating of your heart
should kill no one.” —-Alice Walker, novelist, poet and feminist

Women survive so much in life. There are so many sources for what damages women. Child abuse, hunger as a child, looking different, rape, domestic violence, child birth, child loss. Illness, toxic work environments, sexual harassment, being left for a younger woman, parents to take care of, knowing you can’t make as much as a man does. verbal abuse and emotional abuse. I will stop with keeping thin, showing no gray in your hair, being enthusiastic all the time and support. There has never been a generation of women that weren’t damaged and continued to function to the best of their abilities. For every feminist man out there in the world who has helped a woman, been kind when she really needed it, or who loved her despite her imperfections, you stand out in this world. Be you American or French, or Chinese or Brazilian; on behalf of all women, I say thank you. You are very special.

“Too many things are occurring for even a big heart to hold.”
—-From an essay by W. B. Yeats

The Big Heart

Big heart,
wide as a watermelon,
but wise as birth,
there is so much abundance in the people I have
Max, Lois, Joe, Louise,
Joan, Marie, Dawn,
Arlene, Father Dunne, and all in their short lives
give to me repeatedly, in the way the sea
places its many fingers on the shore,
again and again
and they know me,
they help me unravel,
they listen with ears made of conch shells,
they speak back with the wine of the best region.
They are my staff
They comfort me.

They hear how
the artery of my soul has been severed
and soul is spurting out upon them,
bleeding on them,
messing up their clothes,
dirtying their shoes
And God is filling me,
though there are times of doubt
as hollow as the Grand Canyon,
still God is filling me.
He is giving me the thoughts of dogs, the spider in its intricate web,
the sun
in all its amazement,
and a slain ram
that is the glory,
the mystery of great cost,
and my heart,
which is very big,
I promise it is very large,
a monster of sorts,
takes it all in——
all in comes the fury of love.” ——-Anne Sexton, poet and feminist

Young women marching to :take back the night:

Young women marching to :take back the night:

Feminist and First Lady of The United States of America

Feminist and First Lady of The United States of America

Quote by poetess Maya Angeloe

Quote by poetess Maya Angeloe

Feminist and author The reason I became a feminist.

Feminist and author
Of the book The Feminine Mystique