Victim Blaming And The Cycle Of Domestic Abuse
I understand that domestic abuse is something that is hard for people to understand, especially those who have never been a victim of it. Even for the people who might have grown up witnessing an abusive cycle with their parents can grow up slightly jaded, or even worse, continue the destructive patterns that played out in front of them into adulthood.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. So this part of the article will be dedicated to the 75% who can’t empathize with the 25%.
I’m not going to pretend that I know for sure that Shantel Jackson was telling the truth. I’m not going to pretend that I know why Janay Palmer went ahead and married Ray Rice after that horrifying encounter in the elevator. But I do know that each of these situations illustrate the cycle of abuse that many women go through.
The thing that bothers me is that people are almost putting blame on these women, saying things like: “Well, it wasn’t that bad when she was getting those shoes and purses,” and “She married him for the money,” comments. The problem with that is, if that’s their reasoning, then what’s the reasoning behind 1.8 million other women, whose spouses and husbands aren’t millionaires? What are the excuses for the women who make more than their significant other, but stay with an abusive mate? What’s their excuse?
What most people don’t understand is that domestic abuse happens in cycles. For some, it’s not the Hollywood portrayed situation of being beat every single day. Most of the times it starts off with isolation.
The abuser will systematically separate you from people you love, and those who love you back. Once you feel like you have no one else but that person, you tend to placate them, and try to do what you can to make sure that you’re not putting yourself in a position for them to leave you, because essentially, you have no one else. That’s how the abuser makes you feel.
Then, there’s that explosive event that happens. Whether it’s physical, emotional, verbal, or all three, it happens and the victim is left trying to care for their physical, mental and/or emotional bruises.
But after that, here comes the abuser, with a seemingly sincere apology and sometimes a gift. Along with the apology comes an excuse, and possibly blame on the victim: “Well, if you hadn’t have done/said [insert bullshit excuse here] then I wouldn’t have hurt you.”.
Finally, there’s a calm. Things go back as if they are normal. You feel like what you saw in the heat of the moment wasn’t the person that you were in love with, just a horrible vision that will never emerge again. However, because you’re already isolated from other people, and fear that once you finally do talk to someone, you’re going to get blamed anyway. So you try to stick it out because he seemed really genuine this time. Thus continuing the cycle.
The point of this is, no matter how fake some people felt that Shantel Jackson’s complaints were, or why Janay went back to Ray, both of these women’s relationships are completely indicative of the millions of women who face this situation every single day. They were coddled into believing that things would be different, and it was only a mistake. They believed that the men that they fell in love with were still there, under the icy glares of the monsters who were abusing them. They held out hope that change would come, and sadly, many women die at the hands of their abusers, because the change never did.
Now, for the 25% of women who do empathize, but still have something horrible to say, how dare you? Women like Erica Mena who we’ve seen cry on reality television relaying her stories of abuse and then when Shantel Jackson does the same, she wants to label it “The thirst.” Word?
What about Josie Harris, who expresses that first hand she knows how it feels to be abused by Mayweather, but she’s antagonizing Jackson? Really?
Women, we’ve got to do better. Abuse punishes the victim while exalting the abuser. So it’s hard for me to ever understand how another woman who has been hurt by the hands of a man can dare put another woman down when she’s in the place that she used to be in.
But maybe I’m foolish for thinking that these victims shouldn’t be vilainized. Maybe I’m in the wrong for seeing the horrible pattern that these women are going through, and see why it’s so hard for them to leave? Maybe I’m too idealistic to expect the public to have a sense of decency to not shame women when they finally tell their stories, which eventually pushes them back into the arms of the abuser who was telling them: “See, I told you no one was going to believe you/ understand you/ care about you.”
I might be dumb for caring too much, but I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t.