Say NO to abuse. Don’t leave yourself unfinished. Inspired by business executive and author, Seth Godin. Read the post here.
If you don’t have time to clean up, you don’t have time to cook.
Professionals understand that the project is the whole project, not simply the fun or urgent or interesting part of the work.There are countless productive shortcuts along the way. But not finishing the project isn’t one of them.
I have been reading Seth’s posts for a whole year and I am amazed that his posts take the simplest things and make them mind blowing business advice.The above post made me realize this:If your lover/husband/anyone feels they have the right to hit you then you better feel you have the right to leave.
You see, when we stay inside of abuse we leave ourselves unfinished.We were sent into the world to work on ourselves and complete the work we need to do and accepting abuse is not part of a success scenario.
Getting hot or getting cold or getting burned is a never ending game with abusers.
I love a hot shower and I realize that it is a privilege to have both water and to have it hot.
This post is not about water privilege but I will use the mechanism of the water heater to illustrate some abusive behaviors. If I take a shower about 30-40 mins after a family member I can usually get a little bit of tepid water that is still in the pipes and if I forget that this is simply left over from the last person and jump in without thinking, sooner rather than later, I will be shocked with gallons of cold water coming out of the shower head. I have to have the presence of mind to allow the water to heat up again so that all the water I need or want is at the temperature that is comfortable for me.
If I am living with an abuser and he comes home in a good mood, it’s probably left over warmth from a work friend or his girlfriend and if I pretend that his “ warmth” has anything g to do with me, then I am in for a big shock. I might find myself saying things like “but you were in such a great mood” what happened?
The answer will be that the warmth left over from his friend has run thru his veins and his emotional distance has reappeared. If I push and push for the “warmth” to return, he may jump from ice cold to scalding hot in seconds. Scalding hot could look like punching, screaming, cursing or worse.
When we normalize abusive behaviors and pretend that we are strong enough to fix the chronic dysfunction, it’s like pretending that we don’t know that after the cold water runs out, the hot water will appear and we will get burned. I do not mean to suggest that dealing with these mood swings is easy, but pretending that the mood swings are not happening and continually bending over backwards and tying ourselves up in knots trying to figure out what we did wrong, it’s ignoring reality.
We need help and advice and we must be steady enough and grounded enough to look for it.
Self-respect is defined by Nathaniel Branden as “the conviction of our own value. It is not a delusion that we are perfect or superior to everyone else. It is not comparative or competitive at all it is the conviction that our life and well being are worth acting to support, protect and nurture, that we are good and worthwhile and deserving of the respect of others; and that our happiness and personal fulfillment are important enough to work for.”
When a woman is forced into a marriage that she does not want, when she is forced to birth more children than she desires or is forced into aborting fetuses that are the “wrong” gender, that is not respecting a woman.
Some of these issues are couched in cultural language that makes it seem iron clad for women to “behave certain ways and accept traditional roles.”
I would like to float the idea that NOTHING is iron clad and traditions had to start somewhere, so we can be brave enough to make new ones.
This kind of bravery can only sprout from deep and abiding self-respect, nothing short of consistent self awareness.
We cannot fall asleep to how we live our daily lives, make daily choices and then wonder why our self-respect is in shambles.
“To appreciate why our need for self-respect is so urgent, consider the following : To live successfully, we need to pursue and achieve values. To act appropriately, we need to value the beneficiary of our actions. Absent this conviction, we will not know how to take care of ourselves, protect our legitimate interests, satisfy our needs, or enjoy our own achievements.” Nathaniel Branden
I urge you to read, no, to devour, Six Pillars of Self Esteem. It is by far one of the best books that anyone who has received abuse or is presently receiving abuse can read. It will give you the language to demand the respect you need for yourself, the respect you will expect from others and the strength to say NO, I will not accept disrespect anymore.
Self Responsibility… The “Philosophical Principle (that) entails ones acceptance of a profoundly moral idea. In taking responsibility for our own existence we implicitly recognize that other human beings are not our servants and do not exist for the satisfaction of our needs.”
The above quote is from the book Six Pillars of Self – Esteem by Nathaniel Branden.
Can you take some time to read the above sentence out loud, maybe more than once.
When I first came across this sentence in the book, I was stopped in my tracks.
If the above is true, and it is, then all of us who have been abused in one form or another would KNOW without the shadow of a doubt that we were wronged.
We would not have to ask others for their opinion of whether we were enough wronged as to take swift action and demand justice.
The married woman who is forced to be a servant to her husband and in-laws would know that she is not there for their implicit or explicit exploitation. She would know that she had the right to say an empowered NO.
If she could accept that she will not be made into an unpaid servant, how might she approach marriage differently? Might she ask the intended in-laws how they expect to treat her? Might she tell her future husband that she will not be forced into a life of servitude and sexual slavery?
I really have no answers to these broad issues but I do know that we must empower women BEFORE marriage to ask harder questions than “do you have a job and where will we live?”
The college woman who is gang raped would know that she needs to report the crime as often as she needs to until something is done. She would have to find the courage to stand against the friend circle who will most likely accuse her of being disloyal and being short sighted about her reputation.
Where did I get these examples of what the friend circle might say? It comes directly from the report of the gang rape at a frat house on the UVA campus.
The 18 year old woman was made to question her loyalties. She was made to stay silent about the horror that was done to her body and her mind by silently suffering.
If we could get women, especially High School and college women, to respect themselves as much as they respect what their friends say, we might be able to bring more rapists to face the music.
Please do not think that I am putting the burden of this whole thing on the shoulders of the survivor of the rape, I am not. I am, however, sure that taking responsibility for extracting justice for a crime that was done is one of the most powerful ways to begin the long and arduous process of healing.
We cannot expect society to change without each individual taking a stand for what is no longer acceptable.
This is how we got rid of slavery.
This is how women got the vote.
This is how dictators fall.
It is only speaking up, as often as we can, and as loudly as we can, that will bring change. It will still be slow, but we can never. ever give up.
Let me explain to the best of my ability what the phrase “par for the course” means.
A golf course is comprised of 18 different “holes” and each hole has a number.
Golfers will always know which hole they hate the most. That would mean it’s the most difficult.
Levels of difficulty can vary from length from where the golfer begins each hole, called the TEE, to where the golfer needs to sink the putt, the green.
Often a golfer cannot even see the green from the tee. The configuration of the hole can include a huge hill, over which the golfer cannot see the green. The layout can even include an angle and will completely obscure a certain portion of that green.
Each hole must be played according to the integrity of the hole and each golfer approaches their game in his or her own unique way.
The biggest thing I learned while watching the Masters was that the length of a hole was represented by the number that came after the word PAR.
So a Par 3 hole would be shorter in length, but still have as many challenges as a Par 5.
The number ideally means that a golfer can get from start to finish in the prescribed number of holes.
I say ideally because even on a Par 3 a golfer can have a heck of a time sinking his ball in 3 strokes.
The biggest eye opener for me was that a stroke of, let’s say 350 yards, was AS important and significant as the short stroke, called a putt, of 2 or 3 feet.
Anything can happen, and as I saw at the Masters a “sure thing” was often not so sure.
How does this game of golf and the distance of the strokes apply to women who are trying to escape from abuse or women who are simple trying to set a boundary?
The significance is this….
It DOES NOT matter if you take a small, seemingly insignificant action with an abuser like staying out of his way when he is gearing up to strike, or whether you take a huge step of calling the police and getting you and your family out of danger permanently. The most important thing to do is to take ONE step towards the life you want for yourself.
The golfer must have faith in their ability to take the breath and swing his arm with the club attached and then begin to walk to wherever the ball landed and do the same action all over again. Over and over and over. And always with a calm and peaceful demeanor.
What is par for the course of a life without violence?
This is a question that is unanswerable.
We do not know HOW MANY challenges life will throw our way. We do not know how many times we will have the take the same action, the same step with the same person until we can get it thru to them. That we will NOT under ANY circumstances accept any more acts of violence.
We are not in control of whether we contract a serious illness or if a loved one will meet with an accident. As I’m writing this, a dear friends nephew was just shot.
We ARE, however, in control of whether we will accept abuse.
If we all had a ZERO tolerance for accepting abuse, the first time a person did an abusive act would be the last, because we would say “Oh no, not with me, not ever.”
Take a breath.
Take your best stroke/step.
Repeat until you have the culture of peace you require for yourself.
I am sitting with a bunch of guys in a dressing room at the local hockey arena. Everyone is taking a break from a game of men’s floor hockey, drinking a few beers, and telling tall tales.
Then it begins…comments about the wives and women in our lives:
“I came home the other day and the house wasn’t even clean. What the hell is she doing all day while I am at work? Sitting around growing her ass or what”
“I told her I was coming here and it was blah blah blah, you never spend time with me. Of course I don’t, all you do is nag”
“Did you see that girl in the bar Thursday night….she had huge guns, they were amazing”
“I totally took her home, banged her, and showed her the door…”
And so it goes. Degenerating into inappropriate jokes and comments that no one in that room would say in public or outside of a room of a bunch of men drinking beer and kidding around.
Now, with my new realizations around Gender Based Violence, and the treatment of women, I need to stand up and say:
“Ummm….hey guys…this isn’t cool, you know. Aaaahhh…talking about your wives this way isn’t helping how your son sees women. That, ah.. that girl in the bar is someone’s daughter. Do you want someone talking about your daughter that way?”
Dumbfounded silence mixed with shock, and looks of “who the hell invited this guy?”
Jackson Katz, in the Ted Talk below, clearly explains why focusing on women when talking about gender based violence is wrong, and why this focus needs to shift to men, and what men are doing (and not doing about it). He also clearly explains that men need to become leaders around this topic, and that the true battle will be won, not in public, when we are openly defending women, but within the small groups of men where so much of this harmful talk continues in a “safe zone”.
I hear what Jackson is saying, and it terrifies me. I want to be this leader. I want to make sure my son’s view of women is healthy. I want to protect all the daughters out there. I want to help eliminate violence against women.
Writing for Indrani’s Light Foundation – check.
Helping train others to help women in shelters – check.
Speaking out about gender based violence in social media – check.
Share the message with local schools and other people – check.
Stand up, in the moment, in a group of guys, and call them on their bullshit statements.
That one I NEED to work on, and it isn’t going to be easy.
But I am going to try.
If you are a man, or have men in your life who could use help developing this leadership, and taking this plunge, share Jackson Katz’s video and let’s get started.
Recently, I had the great fortune to be in Trinidad with my only brother, his lovely wife and our childhood friend, Ray.
We were all headed to the store to purchase a 60th birthday gift for another friend.
My brother was riding in the passenger seat up front while Ray drove and in the midst of recanting an old and funny story, he said very casually,
“Hey brother, what’s that red light on your dash?”
Ray, quite nonchalantly said, “Doh worry ’bout dat man, I put a piece of black tape over it, I don’t want to know what it is.”
And in typical Ray style, he started to laugh.
My sister in law, sitting next to me in the back then says, “So why is there tape over the locks in the back?”
Ray says, “Oh the locks are broken and I just don’t want people messing with them.”
We all start howling with laughter and start teasing Ray about his ability to block out the everyday annoyances of life.
I immediately say, “You know that I am going to have to write a blog about this, right?”
The thing about using black tape to cover up warning lights and broken bits of a machine made me think of the hoops we jump through to hide our shameful abuse from others.
Women will use any amount of makeup to try to hide the black eye.
Teenagers will lie to their friends and wear long sleeves to try and hide the cutting they started as a result of the incest they are suffering in their homes.
Young children know that they dare not tell about the knock down drag outs that their parents engage in and they instead begin to create a fairy tale family that they trot out to mask their pain.
Recently, during a Train the Trainer, one of the participants told the group that he never knew his parents because the state had taken him away due to abuse. He then explained that he made up a fairy tale of benevolent parents and used to tell fairy tale stories about the imagined family.
We use black tape in our everyday lives so effectively that we often forget the tape is there.
We begin to see the tape as the reality and we fight for the right to deny the reality of our pain.
What parts of your life have you taped over?
What is the tape hiding?
What would happen if you pulled the tape off and allowed yourself to face the truth?
I pull the tape off my own bruises every time I tell an audience that my abuse began in my childhood. When I am honest with my listeners and when they are able to receive the truth of what I am saying, they witness the absence of black tape.
I let them see my scars.
I let them in on my pain.
As a result of my being vulnerable, they give themselves permission to do the same.
Will you remove some black tape from your life today?
Self assertion is not aggression. It is not banging people over their heads and claiming that you are better than them.
It is also NOT accepting others views of you.
“Self -assertiveness means the willingness to stand up for myself to be who I am openly, to treat myself with respect in all human encounters.” Nathaniel Branden.
Let me tell you a story.
A few years ago a very dear friend of mine asked me to speak to his religious women’s group.
I knew that his faith did not allow women to see their priests for reasons I cannot fathom.
He knew what a strong and upfront woman I am and that I speak my truth.
I told him that I would gladly speak on any variety of topics BUT if it came up about their treatment of women with seeing priests that I would absolutely be truthful about how I felt.
He seemed to accept what I said and we agreed that he should get a different speaker.
However, his friend who had accompanied him to my home, did not agree with me at all. In MY home he dared to challenge my point of view and was forcefully trying to make me agree with their views on women. I remained quite calm for about 15 minutes and then something happened.
I stood up and told him that this was my house and I was allowed my views in my house and he could not get me to change my mind.
I said we would have to agree to disagree.
He was shocked.
He was shocked because I DARED to stand and face him with conviction and clarity.
I am willing to bet money that NO woman had ever confronted him in his whole life and certainly no one had ever questioned his views on women in his faith.
He had never met a women who knew and understood her right to be assertive.
Nathaniel Branden tells us, “To practice self-assertiveness is to live authentically, to speak and act from my innermost convictions and feelings as a way of life – as a rule.”
Yes, this is what I did quite instinctively and with clarity of head and heart.
I am asking you, dear reader, to identify the areas of your life where conviction and clarity are lacking and to begin to take small steps to embolden your walk in your own life.
First you must talk the talk. Then you must walk the walk. Then you must encourage others to do the same.
If this is a typical response by the young boys of today, then what changes between 7 years old and adulthood that results in women experiencing the violence that we know they do on a daily basis?
More importantly: What can we do to help young boys like this grow up into men that truly believe “girls shouldn’t be hit, not even with a flower”?
We all need to start sharing answers about this question.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below: what do we need to do differently to help young boys grow up into men who don’t hit women?
Love & light,
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