A friend of mine was beaten up recently by her brother. And of course her mother and sisters are trying to say it was her fault and it wasn’t so bad. Never mind that he tried to choke her. Never mind that he gave her a black eye and broken ribs. Her family is angry that she caused trouble for her brother.
And it makes me angry. I’m not there. I can’t do anything to help except support her from a distance.
She’s standing her ground. She’s taking the steps she needs to take—both to try to protect her mother and to keep herself safe. Fortunately she has a husband and children who love her and friends who do as well. We know she’s an intelligent, courageous, wonderful woman even if her birth family will never say so.
It reminded me yet again of several things:
1) Dysfunctional abusive families blame the one who speaks the truth and try to silence that person.
2) Abusers try to denigrate whatever strengths the person has. If the person is intelligent they try to make the person believe he or she is stupid. If the person has a gift for music they try to claim the person doesn’t or that the talent is a bad thing.
3) Abusers will lie through their teeth and have no shame about doing so.
4) Victims of abuse can be so caught up in the cycle they will side with the abuser rather than the person who is trying to protect them.
My friend is going to be okay. She’s got a lot of people who are reassuring her that she is a brave and wonderful person, that she did nothing wrong, and that we are here for her if she needs us.
But I worry about the abuse victims who don’t have that support network, who believe the lies they are told. This is why each of us must speak the truth—so that we drown out the lies of abusers. This is why we must support each other—so that we all have the strength to heal and to stand up to bullies when we can.
The good thing about all of this is the reminder that many of us are breaking the cycle with our children. We ARE protecting them. We are standing up to bullies on their behalf. We are teaching them to believe in themselves and know they are loved.
Some of the strongest, kindest, gentlest, wisest people I know are survivors of abuse. My friend is one of them. And so are many of you.
Sending blessings and safe and gentle ((((((hugs)))))),