The one thing that bothers me with our new, connected age, is how easily it allows people to hide behind their tiny screens and spew hate, violence and lack of empathy. We are in an age where we are more connected globally, but less so in ways that matter. Less love, less care, less understanding.
Recently, I was reading the comments under an article about a woman who opted to let her partner walk free of domestic violences charges. This man had beaten her so badly, that she was confined to a wheelchair, and she did not want him to feel the weight of the law. Her decision caused much controversy, and understandably so. However, I’m not going to be talking about that decision today, because the reality is that this was her decision to make. I don’t know this woman, her life, and why she would make such a call.
As someone who used to be married to an abuser and made the decision to forgo charges that would see him get up to seven years in jail for the injuries he inflicted on me, I made that decision based on my understanding of the individual. You see, I recognized that change is a personal choice one has to make. A jail cell can’t do this for a person. The need to change must be inspired by a recognition that something is broken, wrong or needs to be addressed. This was lost on my ex. To him, his actions were justifiable. It was always my fault, his mother’s fault (serious mommy issues), his employers’ fault, the person who cut him off in traffic, the this, the that. There was no real sense of personal responsibility, owning one’s mess. Some thing, situation or some person was always the reason behind his abusive behavior. And with that understanding, I concluded that the peace I needed would not come from him being incarcerated, and that being locked up would not transform him in anyway. Why put additional drain and strain on an already broken prison system that offered no real sense of rehabilitation?
And that was my reason. It’s not open for discussion and debate and neither is hers. Her reasons are her own. But the vitriolic comments? Wow! It hurt like hell to read the things people said about this woman. A few sentences that broke her down, solely based on an article that caught highlights and a snapshot of her story. This woman was not only blamed for the abuse, she was also put at fault for the fact that she was temporarily confined to a wheelchair as a result of the injuries she sustained. She was called stupid, waste of sperm and egg, weak, backward and her character as a person was also attacked. If I read fifty comments, only six addressed the fact that the victim was in no way, shape or form responsible for the actions of the abuser. That little statistic right there is very telling of how we view the dynamic between the abused and their abuser.
When will we learn that victim shaming and blaming is not the answer? When will we learn that there is NEVER a situation when violence against women or anyone for that matter is acceptable? When will we learn that no woman ‘deserves that and more’ (physical abuse and maiming) as one commenter suggested? When will we blame the aggressor for the violence and not vilify the victim? When will we learn that a culture of deep-seated patriarchy makes it almost excusable for a man to do with his woman as he chooses? When will be realize that we re-victimize victims when we place the abusers burden of guilt on them? When will we realize that women are precious members of society, the fabric of our communities, and they should be respected and honored and not beaten and maimed? And when, just when, will be put able to implement measures to ensure that all women are protected and have legal recourse, no matter their lot and standing in society?
Carlana Charles is the visionary and editor-in-chief of FemmePowered. She is a womanist, writer, speaker, story midwife and facilitator of meaningful and engaging conversations. When she is not working in or on FemmePowered, she can be found resting, baking, reading or scribbling furiously in her journal whilst sipping wine or coffee, sometimes both at the same time. She is currently working on her first book and hopes to release it in September 2018.