Dia de los muertos – Day of the dead is coming up next month according to my calendar. For many, their day of the dead is already here, or recently passed or imminent. Our collective grief at knowing much of the death might have been postponed with accessible resources until some other future old-aged kind of thing reached us, is shaking about palpable everywhere.
Oh – do you think I am referring to COVID? I suppose my sentiment applies to COVID as well. However, it’s domestic violence that’s on my mind this dia.
As you may have guessed, I have some thoughts…
The story of Gabby P is horrific. It is awful. As soon as she went “missing,” we knew she was dead. Every victim of domestic violence knew she was dead. All of us. We need to talk about domestic violence. Our willingness to push shame, passively or outright, on the victims, is killing us. We are sending mixed messages while ignoring the heart of the matter. Perhaps the police should have been better trained – but my goodness, they do not have the superpowers of reading the future and peeling back layers of narcissistic deceit. Perhaps Gabby should have phoned a hotline for help – but holy cow people, I doubt she was able to fully perceive her situation or predict these consequences (much less communicate her needs to a second or third party). Perhaps her online community should have seen through the cracks and offer support – but sweet beegeezus people, we were not able to save the person in our real life community from being a victim of domestic violence, much less recognize what is happening over the plastic programmed filters of perfection on the socials.
But, Herisme, I want to do something. So I will post a meme.
Memes are great at pounding home an image or message. I must admit, it is difficult for me to see your memes about how we should reach out, tell someone, know how many women are raped at what frequency in this country or around the world. It is hard.
It is hard because while you might be able to feel that something is not right with your relationship, you might not know you’re being abused. It sounds silly because to you it is obvious. He coerces and forces himself inside you – you are being abused. He controls all aspects of the finances and hides things from you – you are being abused. He belittles you, gaslights you, threatens you, threatens your child etc – you are being abused. What you see is that you: haven’t tried hard enough to do the right things, forgot to be compassionate towards his challenges, made your choices and must pull up your bootstraps and make the best of it, help him by role modeling love, etc. You are groomed to pull everything back into a space where it makes sense to gain some semblance of control. If it is somehow your fault, then you have a chance of correcting whatever it is in order to make things better. This takes away any recognition of what you know of as abuse because you are smart, intelligent, a problem solver, a doer, a thinker, a feeler, and in control of the solutions.
I know this does not only happen to cis women – but that is what I am and what I can speak to.
Maybe we can change the meme or conversations into speaking the truth about what it is to have been in a domestic violence situation. It is not all Hollywood sunglasses and smokey make-up to cover up a bruise. Sometimes it is forced penetration, sometimes it is you in the hospital after he’s slammed your head into the corner of the countertop, sometimes it is finding out he has cut off your access to the bank accounts, sometimes it is email/phone/socials tracking and using the information against you, sometimes it is accusing you of being crazy and threatening to have you lose your children and be locked up.
Instead of the, “why didn’t you reach out sooner so I could help?” or, “why didn’t you leave?” Maybe we could flip that to, “who is doing these things and how can we prevent them from doing them?” I think we need places to go and support resources for sure. I also think that those things are far too often not accessible, either due to our own feeling of disconnect from the idea that we are being abused, or fear of the fallout if you do reach out (loss of home/income/family/children etc).
I think we need honest, often and early conversation about how to recognize healthy and unhealthy relationships.
I think we need to use our voices of hindsight to lift up the next generations.
Will this eliminate abuse?
I’m not that naive.
But, will it ground and save some people (in addition to support resources)? Yes, I believe it will.
Professional support to stop generational cultural normative abusive patterns, is critical. Dialogue and hearing about what people have learned and experienced, is critical. The situations I mention are either my own or someone I have an irl connection with. That is just me, one teeny tiny little glittering piece of sand on an endless beach, and I know so many more. I am sure that you do as well. If you say you do not, you have not opened a safe dialogue with enough of the people that you love and care about. Open it. I implore you to OPEN that box and talk about what we are doing to each other in our communities and how we can best support each other, and our sweet children for a healthier tomorrow.
To be silent does not work – it only enables more abuse.
To meme it up gets the word out there (important) but it is not enough.
To talk about it openly, honestly, and sit with the reality that we all know someone who has been abused, and hold space for that grief, recognition with a focus on health and safety, is vital.
My truth is that I know for sure both maternal and paternal grandmothers were abused, my maternal grandfather was abused, MotherHerisme and FatherHerisme were abused, SisterHerisme and BrotherHerisme were abused… as was I. I hope that the buck stops with me. Sadly SonHerisme has early abuse, one NieceHerisme was molested as a young tween, and other NieceHerisme had suspected physical abuse. My G-d. I never processed that truth until this moment. It is so ingrained into our culture … wth
*sigh* Carry on Cycle Breakers Carry on Peace Warriors
Love, Ms. Herisme xoxo
this was h e a v y so I will use the goings out into the natures as a balm this afternoon my teeth are numb