When people use the word victim, it connotes that a traumatic situation has happened to someone which was outside of her control. Women throughout history have been the victims of a number of crimes but the two most noted, which statistics indicate are majority female related, are domestic violence and rape. Over the years of having been exposed to domestic violence and rape situations, it is my belief that SOME of the victims hold some responsiblity for being victimized. This post is not about the perpetrators nor is it absolving them of their crimes. Be forewarned that the views expressed below are not popular.
The world we live in is an equal opportunity world. This means that each person has the ability to find herself in a number of unfortunate circumstances regardless of any socially identifiable category. We do not live in a world of shoulds and coulds. We live in a world in which shit happens everyday and we do not always have control. A woman should be able to walk naked in public without someone wanting to hurt her. Anyone should be able to walk down the street in a poor neighbourhood without fear of being robbed or killed. Children should be able to feel safe at home, school, playground and any other place without someone trying to abduct them. Spouses should love their partners without the threat of violence. The shoulds. Knowing that this world is based on a large amount of evil, it gives us a forewarned knowledge that each person need to take precautions to protect one’s self because there are bad people in the world. However, instead, a number of women walk into bad situations with eyes wide open and allow themselves to become victims.
Domestic Violence The training material for DV states that it is wrong to blame the abused in a domestic violence situation and therefore, lay all the responsibilities at the feet of the abuser. However, it takes two to have a relationship-good or bad. DV relationships all start out innocently like every other but over time, behaviors begin to surface. The demands, the push, the slap, the name calling, the deprecation etc are infrequent at first until it culminate into a daily occurence and the woman begins to feel emotionally, psychologically and sometimes physically trapped. Those first behaviors are the abusers way of testing his boundaries to see how much the individual is willing to take. Over time the behaviors increases because the woman inadvertently sends the message ‘I will stick around and take anything that you do to me. I am NOT leaving.’ This message gives the tyrant more confidence, rights, and a sense of power; therefore, if she is okay with his behaviors, why does he have to stop?
Women have time and time again choose to stay with men (and vice versa: see the videos of teen mom Amber and her boyfriend Gary) who hurt them repeatedly and even more distressing hurt their children. Women have stood by and watched men physically abuse, sexually abuse, and demean their children. The worst case (and there are many) that I have worked with involved a child who saw her youngest sister murdered by mother’s boyfriend. One can only pray that her memory of that incident will fade over time. Why is it that women always put these less than desirable men above their families and specifically above their own health and wellbeing? Is being single so overwhelming and therefore the wrong choices in a partner look like gold? Do some women hate themselves that much in order to CHOOSE being hurt and feeling frightened daily? Yes.
The pity deserves to be reserved for the children who did not CHOOSE to be born and raised in such a physically, sometimes sexually and psychologically toxic environment. Women CHOOSE. They choose to set their standards low, they choose to accept degrading treatment, they choose to stay, they choose to give up their rights and freedom to the abuser, they choose to bring children into this world and expose them to their hell. They choose to perpetuate the cycle and be enablers with their adult children. They choose all of it. DV shelters are filled with women who chose to stay in these long-term relationships until the environment became deathly unbearable. Other women pay the ultimate choice of death. As ridiculous as this may sound, one thing that is a part of DV shelter orientation is that the staff inform their residences that if they choose to go back to their abusers, it is important for her to not divulge the housing location. This is a standard request because a number of women inevitably CHOOSE to leave and take their children back into that hell again. Even though the shelters are not the ideal places to live temporarily, the woman has the choice: being in a less than ideal place or going back to hell. Even if only one woman chooses hell, it is still one too many. Many professionals can debate the reasons why women return but the one thing that is clear is if they can wake up one day and choose to leave, then they can also choose to not return.
Christian women who are in good standing with the church are in an especially precarious position. It is called social image. Good christian women should be happy with their lives no matter what is happening in their house. They are encouraged by many clergy to go back or stay and try to work things out. To be fair, a number of religious organizations are starting to see the error in their thinking but unfortunately it is not enough. Many women will not even disclose their troubled lives because of the image and being too focused on other people’s opinions. DV is all about choice not victimization. Every professional knows, which is a sad realization, that a woman has to decide to leave and be ready to make a change or the effort is pointless. The longer a woman stays the more lost in the situation she becomes. She adds lying, hiding, defending, and pretending to her repertoire. A MAN/ WOMAN CANNOT BECOME AN ABUSER WITHOUT SOMEONE TO ABUSE. Sadly, there are plenty of women and some men who are willing to step into the abused and ‘I am just the poor helpless victim’ role.
Everyone wo/man who finally pray for and uses the courage to CHOOSE to leave needs to be congratulated and supported. It is a major stress and frightening process to change almost everything about their lives overnight. Many leave at a great risk to themselves and children and some are perpetually in hiding. There was a story of woman who was moved out of her home state because there was a hit on her life from the abuser who was a member of a well-known motorcycle gang. Even though significant damage has been done to herself and her children, her leaving signals a strength and a hope that healing can begin. She is finally ready to choose something different and better for herself and her children. The sad part is these women did not have to be in that situation in the first place. Long term DV can be 100% avoidable for women if they choose.
Rape & Alcohol Rape is and always will be a terrible thing to happen to any woman or man. Alarmingly, the use of alcohol is a huge factor in a number of rape cases. The use of alcohol is a convenient drug that a rapist has at his disposal with the intention of getting what he wants. This was the case in an incident a few years ago of a woman who was raped and did not remember what happened. The initial thought was a spiked drink; however, it turn out to be her consuming too much alcohol that was constantly supplied to her by her attacker. Women are all too quick to become plastered when they are in a social setting and mistakenly believe that they are safe. Women are the first ones to become half-naked and overly sexualized around men and expect that every man will be respectful. For example, there was the movie based on real events called The Accused with Jodie Foster in which she was brutally raped in a public place with the patrons cheering. It was a very difficult scene to watch and one could not but feel pity for the real victim.
The old news is that NOT every man is a gentleman. A rapist does not care if a woman is someone’s mother, daughter, sister or friend. He cares about one thing only and that is having the power to be able to get what he wants. Feminist and women’s groups can scream from the top of their lungs that it does not matter if a woman has been drinking, how she is dressed or behaving provocatively that she is not begging to be raped. In a perfect ‘should’ world that is true; but ‘shoulds’ have yet to stop certain men from sexually assaulting women who are drunk or incapacitated by her choice. In a comedy special by a known comedian, he made a statement that is indicative of today’s times and how some men view women. I am going to paraphrase: He said that women do not like to be labeled as whores; however, when a woman goes out and is behaving and dresses a certain way, then her behavior is indicative of a whore and she will be treated that way. It would be as if he dressed himself in a police uniform and someone comes to him on the street for help because he looks like one and he says to the person ‘what do I look like- a cop?
Women will purposely put or allow themselves to be in very vulnerable situations without any care for their own safety. Alcohol decreases the inhibition for both sexes and this allows for the average person to engage in behaviors that are not usually typical when sober. A true predatory rapist, like a lion goes after a prey, goes for the most vulnerable. Being drunk in public without any support is being vulnerable. In a number of cases of women being assaulted, there really was a way to prevent it.
A woman who has been raped under such circumstances should NEVER have her misjudgment rubbed in her face. That would be cruel and psychologically damaging. Victims usually blame themselves and they go through a very difficult period of feeling afraid, not trusting, regaining confidence, having to rediscovering their bodies and their sexuality to mention a few. A woman is never fully recovered from a sexual attack and this is her burden to bare which will get easier over a long period of time. EVERY rape victim needs unconditional love and support.
This is a wake-up call for women-Christian or otherwise to recognize that not everyone has their best interest at heart. Women are attacked on a daily basis through no fault of their own: coming home from work, in their own homes, attacked by a trusted friend or family, serving their country in the male dominated military etc. so why do we need to increase the odds by purposely impairing our judgment with alcohol AND putting ourselves in danger? A few tips that many women should know is that an alcohol fueled situation can be a potentially dangerous situation. If a woman is planning on drinking, then make sure she has a trusted, smart, and sober wingman (there is no point if you and your wingman are both compromised). Don’t ever assume that a complete stranger is trustworthy because he is cute. A true predator is very charismatic. A single woman isolated with a group of men (especially if they have been drinking or under any influence) always has the potential to become dangerous. It is the mob mentality. This is the idea that when people are in a group they are more likely to deviate from their normal behaviors (eg. when ordinary people become destructive and violent in riots, when people are easily talked into things when friends are around). Gang rapes follow this pattern and there is always a leader who is the true predator.
No woman should be hurt; but they are. There are many things in life in which everyone has no control; however, there are a few things in life that God gave us the brain to use and make choices. No one is perfect and people screw up but sometimes some screw ups can be a little too costly to pay. Women need to learn to think critically, love themselves, and learn from other’s mistakes and learn to protect themselves when possible because we do not live in a world of ‘shoulds.’
RESOURCES: Every city has a free domestic violence or rape crisis hotline. The programs that are set up for these purposes are non judgemental and provide a wealth of resources including advocates as a support and counseling providers who are trained to address these specific traumas. A large number of women do not report these crimes because of fear and shame. The dv or rape centers do not force anyone to make a report but provide information. Some cities (maybe all) has sexual assault nurses (SANE) who are trained specifically in collecting forensic evidence versus someone going to the ER and be seen by the on duty provider (in the past, many victims complained about being treated insensitively by the ER staff and this is the reason the SANE program was put in place). Unfortunately for the male victims, there are limited male specific resources; however, anyone who works in the field is aware of this small group of victims and is able to provide support. If you have the ‘stomach’ for it, the centers usually accept dedicated volunteers.