Thursday, October 9, 2008

Conspiracy of Silence

This is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Doesn't it seem like every month is something?) Domestic violence and violence against women period is something that people don't like to talk about. It crosses economic, ethnic, racial, and religious, and boundaries. It's that "dirty little secret" that we all agree to keep silent about. You know, if we don't talk about it, it will go away.

Some of us grow up in a culture like I did... where although it's frowned upon, it's mutually agreed that this is a matter between "that man and his woman" and therefore, nobody should interfere. People will tell you that the victim will often return to the abuser (which I suppose makes the violence "right " or "justifiable" in their eyes) so, they reason what is the need to get involved? Well, that's crazy.

I rode in a car with a friend and his girlfriend once... his girlfriend complimented me on my shirt, shoes, and cologne. I guess that was a little too much complimenting for him. He punched her so hard that her head bounced off of the passenger window. I sat in the back seat shocked. She got out of the car and he said to me, "You look like you didn't like that." I responded, "As a matter of fact, I didn't." He then told me that I could get out too and he put me out in the street as well. I had to take a bus, the subway, and another bus to get home. The girl he punched was back with him within a month. I couldn't believe it! I wasn't as forgiving and, to this day, I never got into another car that he was driving and I don't allow him in my car either.

We saw each other at the funeral of a mutual friend last year. He was with his new girlfriend and they wanted a ride back from the cemetary. I didn't have anybody in my car but, I drove right past them and didn't make an offer. They had to ride in a car with six other people. He was asked what was up with that and I'm told he dryly said, "Nothing... just something between us. It ain't no thing." He knows exactly what it is and he knows not to press me on it... it could be detrimental to his health and well being. (I ain't forgot!) But, I digress...

This same guy had knocked his pregnant girlfriend down a flight of stairs upon hearing that she was pregnant (she lost the baby). I heard that he punched another girl in the stomach in front of his mother and still, no one ever said anything to him or did anything to help his victims. He has had a nervous breakdown since then and is afraid to come out of the house by himself. A sad but, justifiable end for a very violent guy. He's now 47 years old and has to be led around by a young lady when he does venture out. I am told that he's afraid to sleep at night and has to take medication. It couldn't have happened to a "sweeter"guy.

My guilt at being silent and not lifting a finger to help that girl is all over this... I now realize that being bitter towards him didn't help her at all. I should've done something, anything but, I was like so many others who see domestic violence or violence against women and don't say or do anything. So, just like my former friend's guilt has made him go mad, my guilt and conspiracy of silence make me feel very sad sometimes. I have to live and deal with my guilt... I hope that during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (and any other time, for that matter), none of the rest of you do.

National Domestic Violence Hotline


SLC said...

We both know you weren't the first person riding with him when he popped some woman, but I'm sure you were the only one bold enough to voice your displeasure. A lot of men would have said, "Hey thats your woman, do what you wanna do." I even think she sensed that you were more of a man than he was, but of course she couldn't say that so she settled on what she considered safe compliments.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

SLC (Son of a wife abuser)

Mizrepresent said...

Great post Keith! I had an abusive boyfriend in college and it's really fun how the pattern of abuse often rears it's ugly head once they've gotten you under their wings, next comes the verbal abuse (they have to break the spirit), and finally the physical part. I didn't last long for the physical part, but i remember my friends and sorors having an intervention with me, trying to get me to leave this guy and yet i wasn't strong enough took some months later, and once i was no longer under his wing i began to see how absolutely stupid i had been, i begin to know my worth again...that's when i said NEVER again!

Opinionated Diva said...

Wow @ your ex friend. I don't know what I would have done either...but I would have gladly stepped out of his car.

These days I'm cautious about getting involved though.

I've been the bat wielding friend...I've been the one to help change locks (she gave him the new key)...I've provided a refuge when she needed to get away and an ear on the phone when ever any of them just needed to talk. In the all cases...they went back to those men.

It has been hard...but eventually I had to let go. It's sad, but some women have to learn on their own to let these men go.

Raven said...

**heavy sigh** This is a really sensitive subject with me. I appreciate you blogging about it. As a child I saw horrible things in my home and it really does stay with a person...thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I try not to live by the code "it's between that man and his woman". If I see a man hitting a woman, I'm calling the police. I have in the past. Women staying with abusive men is something I will never understand.

LadyLee said...

What a powerful post, Keith. I think we all have our stories, of where we witnessed something terrible. Some of my girlfriends go from one abusive man to the next, caught up in some weird pattern. I will never understand. I just understand now that it is vitally important to pay attention to who we connect ourselves to spiritually and emotionally.

But your story reminds me that there is NO such thing as folks getting away with ANYTHING. This friend of yours has abused women for years, and now he is reaping: he's had nervous breakdowns, and other isshas. He hasn't gotten away with it. No one does.

Thanks for posting this. Made me think.

Ms. Smooth Operator said...

Great Post Keith, I'm a former victim of a batterer myself. I took myself out of that situation.
I was like mizrepresent, I told myself NEVER again.

SunFlower said...

Very Timely post Keith.

Don said...

Great read and scary thought. I could probably write a book about Domestic Violence, I was raised by an aunt who probably could have used some awareness back in the early 80s.

She was the abuser though.

I once had a incident with the mother of my kids, one which left me standing inside a courtroom where I was found not guilty. A very unpleasant experience, regardless of the outcome. Complete embarrassment.

Never again (either way, it's a trick bag, imho), I know there are many many women who are beaten up by their mates but I also have to add there are many women who use the system in their favor. It's sad, all the way around.

My younger cousin beat his girlfriend up in my car last year. I put them both out. The next day, he told me they ened up getting a hotel room down the highway. Coincidentally, they just had their second child last week.

Go figure.

Pocahontaz said...

Its a cold reality. I've seen it, I've lived it. Its a cold reality is all I can say!

Keith said...

I would like to thank all of the people who commented..I never knew how many people have been victims of this kind of abuse.. I didn't grow up in a house like that and no one in my family that I know of
had that kind of relationship, so when I saw it out on the street..I was shocked. I pray for all of you.
I pray that you find peace and absolution.

Somebodies Friend said...

I was abused as a child, so I always seemed to find women who were abusive. Mostly the crazy psycho-bitch type.

This kept going on for one relationship after another until I said "never again"


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