Hong Kong Maids treated like slaves


Hong Kong’s maids are often treated like slaves

LONDON, May 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A Filipina maid in Hong Kong has published stark photographs of burned and beaten domestic workers to highlight the “modern slavery” she says has long been the city’s shameful secret.

“Hong Kong is a very modern, successful city but people treat their helpers like slaves,” said Xyza Cruz Bacani, whose black and white portraits won her a scholarship from the Magnum Foundation to start studying at New York University this month.

“The abuse happens behind doors. It’s common but no one talks about it, so I want to tell their stories, I want to tell people it’s not OK to treat your domestic workers that way.”

Bacani is one of the 330,000 domestic workers in the former British colony, most of them from the Philippines and Indonesia.

She told how maids are frequently forced to sleep on toilets, kitchen floors, cabinet tops or even baby-changing tables because they are not given beds.

Many work up to 19-hour days. Some are underpaid or not paid at all. Others are denied food or beaten, she said.

“It was a big shock to me when I listened to their stories and they told me they slept on toilets, that their boss slapped them or their boss didn’t even feed them,” Bacani, a self-taught photographer, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.

“It shocked me how people could treat other people like that. It’s very barbaric. When I talk about it I feel angry.”

SHELTER FOR ABUSED WORKERS

Bacani, who comes from a village in Nueva Vizcaya, moved to Hong Kong when she was 19, giving up her nursing studies so she could help pay for her younger brother and sister’s schooling.

For the last decade she has worked alongside her mother for an Australian-Chinese businesswoman in the affluent Mid-Levels neighbourhood on Hong Kong island.

She rises at 5:30 most mornings, serves breakfast, cleans the apartment and looks after her boss’s six grandchildren, who visit almost daily.

But whether she is shopping in the market or taking the children to the park, she always has her camera in her bag.

Last year Bacani volunteered at Bethune House, a shelter for abused domestic helpers, and was horrified by what she saw.

“Many work until 1 a.m. and start again at 5. They work every day without stopping. I have friends who are underpaid and others have been physically hurt,” she said.

“It’s modern slavery. It’s 2015 and people should be more educated, but still it happens.”

THIRD DEGREE BURNS

Bacani’s most shocking photos are of a Filipina woman called Shirley who suffered extensive third degree burns when a pot of boiling soup fell on her after someone left it on a rack.

Her boss said it was an accident, but Bacani says he refused Shirley medical leave and fired her after she fainted.

The maid started legal proceedings but appeared to be getting nowhere. Bacani says things changed when the CNN website reproduced her photos of Shirley’s burns.

“After we published some of the images her boss paid her compensation for her injuries, her dismissal and three years of salary because she cannot work,” Bacani said.

Shirley’s story is not uncommon. The abuse suffered by the city’s domestic workers made headlines this year when a Hong Kong woman was jailed for six years for attacking and abusing her Indonesian maids and threatening to kill their relatives.

The case sparked calls for Hong Kong’s government to revise its policies on migrant workers.

Campaigners say domestic workers are often reluctant to report abuse for fear of being deported, trapping them in a cycle of exploitation.

The government stipulates employers should provide reasonable accommodation, free food and a minimum monthly wage of HK$4,110 ($530).

But Bacani says many maids are paid less, especially Indonesians who are often treated worse than Filipinas, partly because of the language barrier.

She describes herself as “one of the few lucky ones”. She says her boss is a “great lady” who encouraged her to apply for the Magnum programme, which aims to help photographers tell stories that can advance human rights in their home countries.

Bacani plans to return to Hong Kong later this year to mount an exhibition of her images of domestic workers.

“Awareness brings change,” she says. “I hope my work can change people’s perspective on domestic workers and help end this modern slavery.” (Reporting by Emma Batha, Editing by Katie Nguyen)

 

Just What is Domestic Violence?


I have begun again to volunteer at a Domestic Violence shelter here in North Carolina. It feels good to be back once again to the cause the helped to form me as a feminist.

 

Domestic Violence is not only physical, emotional, sexual and psychological violence. Psychological violence is intense and repetitive degradation, creating isolation and controlling the actions or behaviors of the victim through intimidation or manipulation to the detriment of the individual.

 

A battering incident is rarely an isolated event. Battering tends to increase and gradually become more severe as time goes on.

 

The newest stats show us that 85% of women experience at least one incident of battering in her lifetime. One in three women are abused emotionally and physically.

 

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used to establish power and control over another intimate partner that often leads to the threat or use of violence. Many victims suffer multiple forms of abuse. Approximately 40% of women report that the first assault by their partner occured during pregnancy.

 

Physical abuse includes but is not limited to hitting, spitting, biting, pinching, slapping, twisting an arm, punching, or tripping. After the first assault, the abuse may be frequent or infrequent, prolonged or brief, severe or mild. The purpose is to gain power and control over the intimate partner.

 

Victims of emotional abuse often say that it takes longer to recover from emotional abuse than most physical abuse. It can take a lifetime to heal from emotional assaults. Anyone can be abused, male or female, straight or homosexual. And there is no excuse or reason that is ever acceptable for the Domestic Violence. There is no legitimate or viable reason to hit an intimate partner.

 

There are laws to protect victims in every state in the continental United States. There are also laws in Hawaii, Alaska and all 0f the US possessions. There is relief for every victim of battering.

 

There are many reasons for Domestic Violence and each are true to a certain degree. Each carries a certain amount of truth. Primarily, the theories distract police and the court system from the real truth. It works! Battering allows the perpetrator to get what they want. It is really that simple.

 

More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) of women and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) of men in the United States experience Domestic Violence during their lifetimes. They have experienced rape, physical violence, and /or stalking by an intimate partner. This is from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 report.

 

It is a crime to commit Domestic Violence and marital rape is a crime in all states and all American possessions. We have to stop the violence.

 

Peace on Earth begins at home. No More Violence! 

 

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     Domestic Violence

 

This is what an abused child looks like.

This is what an abused child looks like.

 

The majority of victims are strangled at least once. often before a homicide.

The majority of victims are strangled at least once. often before a homicide.

Child Sexual Abuse and Rape in the Military


Military child rape and sexualabuse—what the Pentagon does not want you to know

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This is a tough one to write. In a recent report, a incredibly disturbing statistic has been revealed involving the military and child rape and sexual abuse.

There were at least 1,584 substantiated cases of military dependents being sexually abused between fiscal years 2010 and 2014, according to the data. Enlisted service members sexually abused children in 840 cases. Family members of the victims accounted for the second largest category with 332 cases.

Most of the enlisted offenders were males whose ranks ranged between E-4 and E-6. In the Marine Corps and Army, for example, those troops are corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants. Officers were involved in 49 of the cases. The victims were overwhelmingly female.

In one instance, Marine Capt. Aaron C. Masa sexually abused a fellow Marine buddy’s three-year-old stepdaughter. He also took sexually explicit photos of the toddler and her infant sister. The three-year-old began having nightmares and sleeping by the door. She said she “hurt down there.” When her mother took her to the hospital the child was happy and the hospital staff diagnosed her with a urinary track infection and treated her with antibiotics. It wasn’t until the child told a neighbor she didn’t like Masa and he touched her—and “made it hurt.” Military authorities stepped in and Masa, 24, admitted to five instances of sexually assaulting the toddler. He is currently serving 30 years in prison.

Clair Burnish with AntiMedia writes that the data accounts “only for cases involving military dependents” which are the only child victims.

In other words, children outside military families who are sexually assaulted by troops simply aren’t accounted for. This fact, in itself, creates enormous lingering doubts about the reasons for lack of tracking — and for the actuality of the victim count.

On international levels, ColumbiaReports.com cites historian Renan Vega of the Pedagogic University in Bogotá whose research reveals a 2004 case in Melgar where 53 underage girls were allegedly sexually abused by military contractors “who moreover filmed [the abuse] and sold the films as pornographic material.” Vega explained:

There exists abundant information about the sexual violence absolute impunity thanks to the bilateral agreements and diplomatic immunity of United States officials.

Burnish with AntiMedia adds that according to the Colombian report, “no disciplinary or legal action was ever undertaken, so tracking the perpetrators is next to impossible.”

But of those cases that do reach trial, the numbers are no less than shocking. According to a previous study by the AP from November 2015, this apparent rampant child sexual assault issue among the troops is clearly evidenced; of the 61% confined in the military’s prison network for sex crimes, over half the cases involved children as victims.

The question: What is the U.S. military doing to help end this military plague?

There are reportedly three Democratic senators who are urging Defense Secretary Ash Carter to lift what they called the military justice system’s “cloak of secrecy” and make records from sex-crimes investigations and trials more accessible. You can privately message or post on Defense Secretary Carter’s Facebook Page.  As for addressing the thousands of alleged military sexual assault crimes in Columbian, by U.S. military, U.S. President Barack Obama sent Special Envoy Bernie Aronson to Colombia to assist in the process. Sadly, Columbia is only one country—out of how many?

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​As well as addressing these atrocious crimes, causes and solutions must be explored so they don’t continue to occur. After helping and protecting victims/potential victims, extensive mental health evaluations and treatment for U.S. troops would do well to also top the list.

There is nothing worse than hurting a child in any way. These children have been traumatized and will carry the scars for ever. I spent a bit of time of counseling adults who had been molested as children. That it would happen in our military, makes me cry. We trust them to save people from war. Not to torture children with sexual abuse. I realize not all military personnel are guilty, but it is like the Catholic Church. How do you know who is a danger to children and who is not.

 

Namaste,

Barbara

He Seemed so Nice


If you know anyone who is in this type of situation; or if a family member is, give them the 800 number for the Domestic Abuse Hotline:

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He seemed super nice at first

It’s true. I’ve known more than one abusive man in my day. Some I knew intimately and some were only acquaintances. You know, just friends of friends. Some men still think it’s ok to maintain friendships with abusive men dontchaknow. At a certain point someone might accidentally let it slip that so-and-so, you know, that guy we party with, you know, maybe tormented or threatened or tried to strangle his girlfriend, and funny thing! I wouldn’t want to hang out with those dudes anymore. How awkward for everyone. “Meghan, Meghan – we don’t acknowledge those things.” “Hey! Buddy never abused me so who knows, right? His girlfriend is probably lying about that abuse.” If you don’t see it with your own eyes you should just assume it isn’t happening and go on with your life, yes? OH those ladies and their nutty stories.

But I digress. My friend Easily Riled wrote a post about the Bedford decision and some of the rhetoric coming from those who advocate for the decriminalization of pimps and johns. She pointed out that:

“The appeal judges decided that the Communicating law did not violate the Charter rights of prostituted people sex workers, and represented a reasonable limit on rights to expression.  Because as we know, it is difficult to tell–no matter how much time you have to “screen” some guy– when he’s going to go off on you. Women in prostitution have told us many stories about going with men they knew, regular ‘clients’, men the met and talked with for an hour or so in the bar, men referred to them by trusted friends– who, when alone with them, became violent. And, you know, women often MARRY men who turn out to be abusive– five minutes on a street corner isn’t going to make a difference–he always decides how to behave, she will never have  that control. In theory, then, the communicating law can be used against the men who buy sex.”

One of the more common arguments for the decriminalization of johns is that if buying sex in the street is completely legalized, prostituted women will have more time to asses a client before getting into a car or going to a room with him.

This argument has been refuted by many, including Janine Benedet, who acted as co-counsel for the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution during the Bedford trial, who noted in a recent talk that the 27 year old man who murdered Nicole Parisien was seemingly, just a “regular” guy. Andrew Evans was a rugby player and former peer counselor. Benedet noted that he found Parisien through an ad on Craigslist and met her at an apartment of her choosing – an apartment that was being used as a brothel in Kitsilano.

Are these the “safe” indoor brothels people are advocating for? I imagine that Parisien thought this man was “safe”. Turns out he wasn’t. Turns out that being indoors, being able to suss out clientele first didn’t stop Evans from becoming violent when he couldn’t maintain an erection. Benedet added:

“This is a good example of the male sexual entitlement that is quite evident in prostitution. When she didn’t give him what he wanted he turned to violence and she was dead very, very quickly. There was no time for anybody to intervene. A good reminder that just putting things in a brothel or in a woman’s own apartment doesn’t stop this kind of violence.”

So Evans may be spending his life in jail but Parisien no longer has a life.

Devastatingly, these stories are not uncommon – there is something about men who buy sex who seem to think that the women they buy are disposable. Male entitlement is tied to prostitution. Men who buy sex think they are entitled. They believe that their pleasure is more important than women’s lives, women’s health, women’s well-being. Do you think that the man I saw the other day while waiting for the bus at Main and Cordova, who stopped his black SUV at the corner and dropped off a woman limping in platform shoes, steadying herself with a cane, cares about her life? Do you think he wants her life to get better? I doubt it. I doubt any man who buys sex wants the lives of prostituted women to get better. If their lives were better there would be no one left to give him blow jobs on his lunch break.

These are the men we are talking about decriminalizing. Not some imaginary “nice john.” What “nice man” wants women to remain so poor that they have no choice but to service him? What “nice man” kills a woman because he can’t maintain an erection? And what “nice man” thinks he deserves this – that he is owed, nay, is entitled to a blow job? Because he is a man. It is his right. Women are his right. Access to women, 24/7, is his right. That’s what we are talking about when we talk about decriminalizing pimps and johns.

I’ve known a number of abusive men in my lifetime. And you’d never know by looking at them. You probably wouldn’t even know it by talking to them for five or ten minutes (although you do begin to recognize certain traits in certain kinds of abusers – but the smart ones know how to hide it). Sometimes women don’t find out that their partners are abusive until they become pregnant. I can pretty much guarantee that if I had A) gone through with my pregnancy, and B) stayed with the man who impregnated me, the abuse would have escalated. Sometimes women only find out their partners are abusive once their partners get drunk. And hey, sometimes we even get clues early on but sometimes we don’t know they’re clues. Or maybe we’ll ignore the clue. Or maybe the abuser will manipulate us into thinking we are crazy or mess with our heads so that we no longer trust our own instincts. Or maybe we’ll leave. But the idea that women can somehow predict which men are abusive (whether it is verbal, emotional, or physical – and often all these forms of abuse work in congruence) and then avoid said abuse is bunko.

The abusive man is often quite a popular dude. He is often a pillar in his community. He is often charming and intelligent. I know tons of these guys. They are still invited to parties, to meetings, to community gatherings. The women they tormented are not, of course. Those women are not to be trusted. Those women must hide out or feel ashamed or are ostracized. Or they simply remain silent, never saying a thing. Women who name their abusers don’t always get support and, in fact, they often get the opposite of support. Often they are blamed or they are not believed.

So I’m not convinced that talking to a man through a car window, or over email, or even over the phone will tell a woman whether or not this man might become violent or whether he might call her names or whether he will degrade her. We do know that, whoever these men are, even if they aren’t physically violent, they believe that women exist on this earth in order to provide men with sexual pleasure. It is also clear that men who buy sex from prostituted women are often violent, are often abusive, and are often murderers. Sometimes they are “non-violent” misogynists. But not always. We also know that regardless of whether or not a woman has had the opportunity to chat with a man for five or ten minutes, she will at some point be alone in a car or in a hotel room or in an alley with him, and he may or may not have displayed his violent tendencies within the first five minutes of meeting.

What I’m addressing here is of course the idea that decriminalizing johns will make prostitution safer. Or rather, that it will make johns safer. Because that’s what were really talking about, right? Violent, sexist men? We aren’t really saying that women can somehow predict or avoid violence. We’re saying we need to stop violent men. We’re saying we need to stop normalizing sexist behaviour. We need to stop reinforcing the idea that men have the right to access female bodies 24/7.

In a past relationship I told a man that what he was doing constituted verbal and emotional abuse and that he had no right to treat me in that way – I told him I didn’t deserve to be treated in that way. And you know what he said to me? “It was your choice to stay”. And do you know what that means? Do you know what he meant when he said that? He was telling me it was my fault. He was telling me that there was nothing he could do to change and that since I had “chosen” to stay, I must either be ok or somehow deserve that abusive treatment. That since I chose to live in the same house as him and knew that his behaviour was abusive, it was ok for him to continue to treat me in that way because, in the end, it was my responsibility to stop that abuse from happening. Not his. Of course I did leave eventually but I’ll never forget the feeling of being blamed for my own abuse. Of making it about “my choice”.

This isn’t the only time this has happened. Another time I told some people about a man who was their friend who had been abusive to me throughout our relationship. I had already left him at this point. Do you know what they said to me? “Well, you chose to stay, didn’t you?”

OH choice. Magical, magical choice. If you “choose” to put yourself in a position to be abused, according to our f**ked up culture, it’s your fault. So if women do a bad job of  sussing out johns before getting into cars with them, and those johns turn out to be violent, who is to blame?

The answer is obvious, but based on some of the rhetoric coming from those who advocate only for a harm reduction model and from those who want johns to be decriminalized, you wouldn’t know it. There is NO reason to protect these men. There are many reasons to protect prostituted women. These women, most certainly, need to be decriminalized so that they can safely go to the cops if they need to. These women, most certainly, need other options. They need to not have to service misogynists or get into cars with them or go to brothels or hotel rooms with them in order to survive. But decriminalizing johns isn’t going to make those men any safer. It certainly isn’t going to convince them not to abuse women and it certainly isn’t going to convince them that they don’t have the god given right to a blow job at any given moment, so long as they can pay.

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Domestic Violence vs PTSD


First of all, to all the men and women who have sacrificed for our country, I thank you. I am a pacifist but you have given much to America. Second of all, thank you to all of the spouses, parents, and friends of a soldier who went away to fight in a war. I hope they came home whole and well. If your military person did not, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have lost. It isn’t enough, but I hurt for all the men, women and families and friends who have an empty spot in their hearts. Be proud of them. I am just sorry that the human species feels a continuing and constant need to be violent. War doesn’t solve anything. May all of America’s sons and daughters who have passed, rest in peace.

Recently, Sir Patrick Stewart was in Texas doing a press conference, and a woman asked him a question.  His answer is a revealing look at both Domestic Violence and PTSD in soldiers returning from the war front.

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The ultimate truth is that violence and war solve nothing. They actually intensify what is wrong in the world.

 

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   REST IN PEACE

Arlington Cemetery, Washington DC, America

Survival of Abuse and other Traumas


So you made it. You left him or her. You won’t ever have to go through the fear and terror ever again. You stayed at the shelter for a couple of weeks and then they got you into a transitional living apartment where you are safe. He/she doesn’t have any idea where you are. All your abuser knows is that you are laying low. You and your children, if you have any, are safe and secure.

 

You are starting not to jump at every noise. You may even go on a date at some time again. But you still can close your eyes and see him hovering over you as he rapes and strangles you. He strangles you a little, not enough to kill you. The memories close in on you often when there is a certain smell, sound, when you think someone is following you. Your heart begins to race and you have to talk yourself down.

 

No matter what the abuse or other traumas in your life, they do effect you a lot. You will never again be the same person you were before. Neurologists say that the mind rewires itself after a trauma and we are never exactly the same person we were before. But you survived and this is a good thing.

 

Life doesn’t stop with surviving. You have to heal yourself. Some do it themselves, some block the trauma but it is still effecting them. Do you ever notice that someone will say something and you are immediately angry or you feel insecure? Or someone walks up to you and they are a little too close and you feel like you should run? This is all normal for someone who has been traumatized. Other people may not think so but I assure you that it is.

 

So, the first huge step is surviving your trauma. What about all of the memories of the trauma or abuse? What about the nightmares? A doctor can help you by deciding if you have PTSD or not. PTSD is pretty tough. I have PTSD. It developed after I found my husband dead. It was natural causes, a massive heart attack. I walked into a dark house and found him sitting at his desk in the study and he was gone. I will save you the remainder of the story. I had had other traumas earlier in life and this was the event which broke the camel’s back. I am not telling my story to gain sympathy. I just know how many victims have survived many traumas and it is hard work getting through them. Sometimes people help, sometimes they just stab you in the heart without knowing there is anything wrong.

 

So first survive, then begin to heal. There are many ways to do so and some will work for you and some will not. I read a quote many years ago, “Once you survive life, then you have to find a reason to live.” I have always lived with that in my heart. There are many reasons. Someone in your life needs you. Your job gives you much passion and joy. Your best friend can always sense your moods and doesn’t leave you alone to flounder. Children’s lives would be damaged if you committed suicide. Your job is to find your reason and declare it to the heavens.

 

Sometimes a spiritual path can help. Or a combination of several paths can be entwined together and you create  your own path which you have woven for yourself. The key to healing really is to find your meaning for life. A reason to live and keep living and heal and then you can thrive. Thriving would be the ultimate goal.

 

It also helps to remember that you are not the only one to suffer some type of trauma. Millions of people do whether they are abused, a tornado takes their house, a volcano erupts and covers their village with lava. Some are sold into slavery, some are convicted of a crime and go to prison knowing that they are really innocent. Some are cheated on by their spouse and some are not really loved by their family. Again, healing and therapy will help you to not shut down when the old tapes or the memories hit you. We are supposed to thrive in this life, so climb out of that hole and begin the job. Your experience will help many others cope with what is happening in their lives.

 

Forget anger, rage, and vengeance and look for your smile so you can share it with someone else. Read positive books. Allow yourself to feel joy and happiness because you do deserve it. No matter what anyone has told you or beat into you, you deserve all the good that life has to offer. You never walk alone and you need to remember that. Build and use your support system. They love you for the beautiful, shining star you are today. Never believe anyone who tells you negative things. Don’t tell yourself negative things. You are everything that is strong, wise, compassionate and kind. You can touch the lives of many people who need a kind word or a smile or an understanding pat on the shoulder.

 

 

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Smokey Mountains. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Smokey Mountains. Photograph and copyright by Barbara Mattio 2015

Don’t Live with Violence


If you are living with violence, you must protect yourself and your children and get out. We all go into a relationship feeling love and having dreams. Your wedding day was just what you had wanted it to be. You had a beautiful honeymoon and you were so happy and so in love. It was a perfect wedding night.

Now, you are dressing for dinner. The two of you had had such a lovely afternoon and a delicious dinner. People toasted you in the dining room and when the band began to place you danced in your husband’s arms. A nice man asked to dance with you, but your husband said no. He was pretty quiet for the rest of the evening.

He decided you were going to go up to your room. You didn’t really want to leave but tomorrow was sightseeing. He says nothing on the way to your room. You are thinking about the nightgown you are going to wear to bed. He walks into the room behind you; then shuts and locks the door. You turn around with a smile on your face and he opens up his hand and hits you so hard that when you look in the mirror, you see the red hand print.

You are stunned. What happened? He is yelling and calling you names and telling you are a slut because that man asked to dance with you. You face aches. He grabs your arm and twists it while telling you that you will never dance with anyone else. He is shaking you so hard that your teeth chatter. You are trying to get away and are terribly afraid. What is going on?

He walks out, slamming the hotel door. You stand there with tears running down your face. Why did he get so upset? What should I do? You clean up and carefully get ready for bed. Carefully, because your face is very sore and your arm hurts. You cry yourself to sleep.

In the morning, you wake and his side of the bed is empty. You are shocked and very confused. Then the door to the hotel room opens and he walks in. He looks awful. You can tell he has been crying. He has brought you a huge bouquet of red roses. He is sorry. He never meant to handle you in a violent way. He loves you and it will never happen again, he swears. He kisses you and cuddles you and you make up. Your world becomes whole again. He is so wonderful to you, considerant and thoughtful.

Life goes on. Everything is fine. And one day, a girlfriend calls and asks you if you want to go shopping. You said, “Sure.”

You quickly get ready to meet her at the Mall. You leave a note on the kitchen table in case you will be late coming home.

You and your friend shop, have lunch and a couple of glasses of wine. It had been such a fun day. You are now a little bit later than you expected, but you left a note. No problem. You walk into the house and call out, “I’m home.” Your husband walks into the living room where you are hanging up your coat and begin to show him your purchases. His voice drips with sarcasm. “Where have you been?” You mentioned the note you had left. He says you hadn’t had his permission to go shopping. What? What is he talking about?”

He grabs you and punches you in the face. You hear a crack and then another punch. You go down to the floor and he begins to kick you. He kicks you where bruises will be covered with clothing. You are screaming at him to stop and he is screaming at you. He accuses you of meeting a man and cheating on him. He picks up your purchases and throws them everywhere. You can’t stop crying. He holds up the nightgown you bought to wear for him and he rips it apart. He screams you had worn it for your lover.

He took you to the hospital and refused to leave you side. You had taken such an awful tumble down the stairs. The staff allows him to stay. There isn’t much they can do for you. They bind your torso, give you pain meds, suggest you carpet the staircase which your husband agrees is very important. You go home with your discharge papers and he gently helps you out of the car when you reach home.

He is again sorry. Terribly sorry. It will not happen again. Please don’t leave him. He can’t live life without you. He will kill himself if you leave. You are in agony, the pain pills are making you fuzzy and soon you just fall asleep.

You used to discuss this type of incident with your Mom and your sister. You met a woman who is being battered but what she suffers is so different from what happens to you. As the months and years go by, your lady friend went to a Domestic Violence shelter. You never see her anymore. The shelter moved her to a new state so she could start again with a new identity. Your mom develops Cancer and he gets edgy when you go to see her. The day your Mom dies, you feel totally lost and there really isn’t anyone to talk to. You don’t realize that he has gradually isolated you from all of your friends and your sister. He calls them trouble makers. He is the one who really loves you. The only one who loves you.

Now, you just do what he says. Nothing matters anymore. Then one day you think about the battered woman you had been friends with. You wonder if the Domestic Violence Shelter is still in town somewhere. You get ready and call a taxi. You tell the driver what you need and he delivers you at the Shelter.

You talk with a counselor, have a bite of lunch. They explain what they can do for you, including legal representation. You decide to go home and pack a suitcase. You have to get away from him. So you go home. The shelter gave you a list of things to bring. You are moving as quickly as possible and try not to forget anything like your medicine. You hear a small noise behind you and you turn. Your husband is standing there screaming that you cannot and will not leave him. He pulls a revolver out of his jacket and shoots you dead. The neighbors hear the screaming and the gun shot and call 911. You are dead on arrival at the ER.

More women are killed trying to get out of a battering relationship than at any other time. Abusers have a motto. I call it a motto because it every one that I ever worked with would tell the woman, ” If I can’t have you, no one will.” I can tell you from my experience that they mean it.

Does this mean you should stay? No. Never. But the leaving must be planned in advance and in secret. No one can know where you are going. There is an underground railway to move women who are in the greatest danger. Some abusers are just much worse than others. Though none of them are good. Usually a well executed plan can take a month or more to put into place. Don’t go back. He will kill you in time or you will kill him trying to protect yourself. There are so many women and men working to help abused women. You are never alone. Domestic Violence is a crime. The court system will punish him for what he did to you.

If you are a man being abused I must give you the same advice. Abusers don’t stop abusing. Male or female. They will simply move on to another partner and begin the battering again. People care about you. So try to get out. Try to get to a safe place, a shelter or even a hotel. Talk to counselors and the police. No matter what, it is never all right to hit another person. You deserve better. You deserve to not live in fear and violence.

Zentangle Copyright Barbara Mattio 2014

 

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