He seemed sweet at first. In fact, he had many sweet moments. But then there was the other stuff …
Abusive behavior isn’t as simple as we, as a society, want it to be. We often think that the kinds of signs that tell you a man could be abusive are very obvious. We imagine monsters, overtly misogynist thugs. We think of extreme physical violence as being the key – or the only – signifier. But often the violence doesn’t start until a relationship is already established – sometimes not until after a woman has moved in with her boyfriend, marries him, or becomes pregnant. In fact, the leading cause of death in pregnant women is domestic homicide, which is to say they are killed by their intimate partners. If we limit our understanding of abusive behavior to physical violence, we risk ignoring other red flags we should be heeding. Keep reading »
The image of Nigella Lawson with her then-husband’s hands around her throat is seared into my memory. If you remember, back in 2013, Lawson and businessman/art gallery owner Charles Saatchi were seated in a London restaurant, arguing, when he placed his hands around her neck as if to choke her. A photographer happened to catch the incident, which went on for close to 30 minutes, as Lawson cried. The fact that it was caught on camera was a rare and disturbing reminder of the ubiquity of domestic violence, even among the wealthy and powerful.
So what are we to think then, exactly, when several artists have created artwork depicting Nigella Lawson being strangled and posted it on Saatchi’s web site? Keep reading »
Women are given mixed messages on a regular basis. We’re told that we’re shattering glass ceilings and are independent ladies, while at the same time we’re told we’re a mess barely keeping ourselves together. Just today I got a Facebook advert demanding my attention so I can discover the newest fad diet that doesn’t really work. I’m told I should love my body and loathe it on a regular basis. I’ve come to expect that kind of thing.
Recently The Washington Post cited a study by the Bureau of Justice purportedly telling women that we should stop taking so many lovers and instead marry our “baby daddy.” That choice of words speaks rather clearly about the fundamental racism and classism indicated within the article and the logic being displayed. We are not talking about wealthy white women here, are we? Keep reading »
Amelia recently sent me a link to a Tumblr that will absolutely gut you. It’s called When Women Refuse and it collects news article about women who became victims of violence after they tried to leave a male partner or rejected sexual advances. We know that violence is fundamentally about control and therefore the most dangerous time during an abusive relationship is when a person tries to leave. All too often, children and other bystanders are injured or killed, too. The statistics about abusive relationships show that they are frighteningly common. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in four women and one in seven men over age 18 will be the victims of severe physical violence during their lifetime. Statistics also show that half of both men and women will experience “psychological aggression” by a partner during their lifetime. Stereotypes about what an “abused woman” is supposed to look like don’t do us any good because victims are all around us. They are our neighbors, our cousins, our sisters, our coworkers, our friends. Abusive relationships thrive in part because over time, the pattern of the abuse becomes normal. The abuse starts with smaller areas of control and then escalates until it becomes reality, which the person on the inside may not even see. But even if we have not been in a textbook abusive relationship per se, I’m sure many of us have had moments with partner or a friend where he or she did something that felt wrong.
In the spirit of #YesAllWomen — which is drawing attention to the physical and sexual violence all women experience — I want to share some warning signs that a partner or other person does not respect you, your boundaries, or your personal space. These are all anonymous, real world examples from me, my friends and co-workers. Keep reading »