Sanctuary for the Abused

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Depression: The Darkness of Melancholy

Depression is a condition which afflicts far more people than actually receive treatment. It is a prolonged, sometimes debilitating period of sadness, characterized by a variety of symptoms. These include hypersomnolence or insomnia, weight loss or gain, lack of motivation, feelings of hopelessness or despair, and a general sense of malaise. In severe cases, suicidal feelings or ideation can occur. It is never certain whether someone will or will not act on such feelings; but it is certain that because depressive people are at a higher risk for suicide, ANY THREAT OF SUICIDE SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY.

Nearly everyone becomes depressed at some point in their lives. Certain stresses or losses (such as a move to another home, or the death of a loved one) can send a healthy person into an emotional tailspin. Depression as a part of natural grief is a normal, healthy release of sorrow and sadness at the reality of a loss. It is, however, a sadness which is expected to pass eventually as the individual experiencing it incorporates the loss into their life.

This page is not about transitory depression. It is about chronic depression, which is a much different beast. Before I continue, (a NOTE: I am not a mental health professional. I am not qualified to be anyone's psychologist, counselor, or social worker, and I have not created this page with a mind towards being so. If you are reading this and believe you are suffering from depression, CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR to receive help. This is not a diagnostic tool, it is simply a repository of information on a subject which directly concerns me.)

With that in mind, on to the meaty stuff.

As mentioned, chronic depression is different from transitory or acute depression. It is true that the symptoms are the same; but the duration of symptoms is quite another matter. With chronic depression, you feel like that all the time, for weeks, months, or even years on end.

To illustrate what I mean, imagine the worst you've ever felt. By worst, I mean the saddest, most desperate, depressing time you've ever experienced. If you've never experienced anything like that, try to imagine (and consider yourself blessed!). Imagine that you feel like crying all the time. You eat too much, or maybe you have no appetite. You spend all day in bed, simply because you lack the motivation to get up. Your work performance fails because you are distracted by feelings of gut-wrenching sorrow, or even thoughts of suicide. You feel as if you have no friends, no family, no one loves you, and you are alone in a universe where no one cares. You don't want to do the laundry, drive the kids to ballet, make dinner, fix your car, do household chores, nothing. You don't even have the energy to turn on the TV. All you can do is get up to go to the bathroom once in awhile, and maybe (on a good day) take a bath and walk the dog. Then imagine feeling like that for years on end. One year, two years, five years, ten years, on and on.

Added to the fact that you have no energy, no motivation, and no happiness whatsoever, you may well wonder what the hell is wrong with you. Often, depression can be hard to identify, especially in people who are mildly depressed. They walk around, functioning, performing their daily routine, but with no sense of enjoyment, just a dull, lifeless sense of duty, perhaps punctured every now and then by a brief flash of laughter or contentment.

Chronic depression has many causes. It could be that someone who is normally emotionally healthy gets "stuck" in grieving over a loss, and doesn't manage to move on on their own. Depression seems to run in families, and is often associated with anxiety disorders and panic attacks; hence, there may well be a genetic factor in some people. Victims and survivors of abuse are also more prone to depression, suggesting an environmental factor. Women are also much more likely to become depressed, but the reasons why are not entirely clear. It may be that women are more likely to talk about their feelings than men are, or it may be that women's lives are generally less than ideal, leading to frustration and depression, or it may be all or none of the above, or something else entirely. I would be willing to wager that gender differences in reporting depression stem not so much from biological factors as from social ones. For instance, women are generally discouraged from expressing their anger, but are encouraged to talk about most of their other feelings; whereas men are generally discouraged from expressing any feeling other than anger. Yes, yes, I know I'm speaking in vague generalities here; but it makes sense to me that, given the above social mandates, men would be more likely to become angry while women would be more likely to become depressed, and also talk about it. Hence, a difference in reported statistics on depression by gender.

Interestingly enough, I once heard a psychologist describe depression as "anger turned inward." The dynamics of anger and depression can certainly work this way in victims of various kinds of abuse, especially if the victim is blamed for the abuser's behavior. This can also happen in a situation in which the victim's anger is not allowed in some way. Abusive families are prime breeding grounds for major depression.

The experience of untreated serious depression is one of an endless, static, emotional darkness. It is a barren desert where nothing but despair springs eternal. It goes on and on and on, with no end in sight, no hope, and no promise for a happy future. Depression is a gray fog which settles evenly into a person's self, obscuring the good in life. The depressed person moves slowly through life, never feeling quite happy with anything, and never understanding why. Often, they lack energy and motivation, and can't figure out what's wrong with themselves. They fail school, lose jobs, fail in their relationships, and are unable to put their finger on the reasons why, often blaming other problems, or blaming themselves. "I must just be lazy," they might think. And if they look back, their entire life often looks just like their present: dim, lethargic, dark, and depressing. Maybe they've even considered suicide, just to stop the insanity of a pain and sorrow that they can't even identify.

However, it is possible to treat depression. Psychotherapy is one option. Medication, to restore chemical imbalances in the brain, is another option. Sometimes, medication is the only option for someone who is so suicidal that they need care NOW. Depending on the reasons for the depressive episode (and, I suppose, the duration), treatment may be relatively rapid, or may take years. Some people do better with therapy, others with medication; and there are differing medical and psychological schools of thought on both subjects. Often, the most effective treatment is a combination of medication and counseling. A competent, sympathetic counselor who understands the dynamics of depression can literally be a lifesaver for someone who badly needs to crawl out of the pit, but cannot do so on their own.

As mentioned, some people actually have a chemical imbalance in their brain which causes their depression. For such people, medication can be astounding in how much it helps. A few days or weeks on the right medication can deliver a noticeable amount of motivation and energy, and can allow a depressed person to feel happiness, contentment, even joy and enthusiasm again. (NOTE: ONLY YOU AND YOUR DOCTOR (OR PSYCHIATRIST) can determine whether or not a drug is right for you. Not every drug works with every person, and some people don't do well on medication at all.)

Are depressed people sick or diseased somehow?

There seems to be an attitude held by [way too many] people that depressed people are sick, unstable, and can't be trusted to behave rationally. I have heard of people losing their jobs or getting demoted because they admitted that they battled depression; and while I really hope this is simply an urban legend, I also realize that humans are inherently suspicious and tend towards reactionism. Hence, the aforementioned attitude -- and the need to correct it.

Depression is a problem. That is certainly true. But I don't consider it a sickness or disease. I prefer to think of it as a condition which a person must deal with, like arthritis or diabetes. And, just as some diabetics must take insulin, so must some depressed folks take medication.

Depression is an equal opportunity illness (but then, what illness isn't?). It hits rich and poor, black and white, male and female, teachers, doctors, artists, homeless, politicians, skilled laborers, computer nerds, teen-agers, police officers, farmers, truck drivers, anyone. And it's true enough that some people can't deal with it, or don't recognize it and go about their lives never getting any treatment. Some people end up as a suicide statistic. But nobody's depression ever "infected" anyone else.

It's like any other condition. It needs to be treated, so that people suffering from it can live well, do what they do well, and truly reach their potential. I think that if a person is making all the effort they can to get their depression treated, then they deserve support instead of rejection, because they're aware of the problem and are doing something about it. Even if they're not getting treatment, no depressed person deserves ostracism.

A Word About Suicide

I have heard suicide referred to as an act of utter selfishness. However, I doubt that the person who said such a thing has much capacity for compassion and empathy. If suicide is a selfish act, I doubt that it is driven by the self-exalting idea of arrogance, nor the idea that the suicidal person considers herself alone in terms of superiority, and fills her head with thoughts of how wonderful she is. Rather, I suspect any self-centeredness revolves around the terrible solitude of complete and utter self-loathing.

Regardless of why people take their own lives, it is generally considered an unnatural act to want to do so. As mentioned, TAKE THREATS OF SUICIDE SERIOUSLY. Get on the horn and get the person help IMMEDIATELY. If they really do want to off themselves, nothing will stop them -- but trying to help is better than ignoring the person. There is enough death and destruction in the world already; we don't need more. If people ignore the problem of suicide, it isn't the problem which will go away, it's the people. So DON'T ignore it.


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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Loving to Survive: Sexual Terror, Men's Violence,and Women's Lives

Dee L. R. Graham

Graham contends that women collectively suffer from the Stockholm syndrome - the psychological bonding of a kidnap victim with his/ her kidnapper, as a result of woman's constant fear of being economically, verbally, sexually, or physically assaulted. According to Graham, women's apparent subservience, gentleness, and self-sacrificing manner are an adaptive mechanism for dealing in a world full of violence against women.

1) "
Feminism has refused the conservative and Fundamentalist efforts to reduce women to their reproductive functions and has contested the liberal idea of women as pornographic sexual objects." Page xi

2) "We propose that women's bonding to men, as well as women's femininity and heterosexuality, are paradoxical responses to men's violence against women. Like captors who need to kill or at least wound a few hostages in order to get what they want,
men terrorize women in order to get what they want" women's continued sexual, emotional, domestic, and reproductive services. Like hostages who work to placate their captors lest those captors kill them, women work to please men, and from this response springs women's femininity." page xiv

3) "While the theory proposed here is emotionally challenging, it can make the world more understandable by exposing the relationship between seemingly disparate phenomena. For example, Societal Stockholm Syndrome theory explains why many women oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, why most women reject the very theory - feminism - which espouses women's point of view and seeks to increase women's rights,
why women work so hard to connect to men when it would be so much easier to get our needs for connection met by other women, why many women have a 'love addiction," and why women love men in the face of men's violence against us." pages xiv-xv

4) "Graham's theory emerged from analysis of nine different "hostage" groups (hostages, concentration camp prisoners, cult members, prisoners of war, civilians in Communist China who were subjected to thought reform, battered women, abused children, victims of father-daughter incest. and prostitutes procured by pimps) in which bonding to an abuser/captor occurred." page xvi

"Chapter 3 takes up the idea that Societal Stockholm Syndrome is present in all oppressor-oppressed relations." page xvi

"All hostages revealed symptoms of
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, characterized by insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, strong startle responses, distrust of others, irritability, anhedonia, jitteriness, etc. Many experienced the event as unreal when it was happening." page 15

"This difference suggests that, in order for Stockholm Syndrome to develop, a hostage must have survival as his or her foremost goal." page 19

"Noting that the syndrome always develops within a context of confinement and helplessness, Soskis and Ochberg (1982) emphasize that the purpose of the syndrome's development is the generation of hope within an otherwise hopeless situation. Because the captor is the source of that hope,
the hostage feels gratitude toward the captor.

One idea shared by all four groups of experts is that the terror created in the hostage by the captor creates feelings of absolute dependence and helplessness in the victims." page 27

"The apparently pervasive nature of this phenomenon suggests that bonding to an abuser (Stockholm Syndrome) both
is instinctive and plays a survival function for hostages who are victims of chronic interpersonal abuse." page 31

5) "Because Graham (1987) found that bonding to an abuser or captor occurred under a certain set of conditions in each of the nine "hostage" groups, she proposed that Stockholm Syndrome describes a unitary phenomenon observed whenever four conditions co-exist. These four precursors are the following:

1. perceived threat to survival and the belief that one's captor is willing to carry out that threat

2. the captive's perception of some small kindness from the captor within a context of terror

3. isolation from perspectives other than those of the captor

4. perceived inability to escape.

Although these four conditions are thought necessary to the development of the syndrome, they are probably not sufficient. As discussed in chapter 1, other necessary conditions may be those encouraging humanization, those promoting interaction and reducing the psychological distance between captor and captive, and the captive's wanting foremost to survive.

Each of these precursors, with the possible exception of kindness, exists on a continuum, that is, a victim shows more or less of each precursor. The precursors are not either present or absent, but rather present or absent in degrees." page 33

6) "A person whose survival is threatened perceives kindness differently from a person whose survival is not threatened.
For example, a small kindness- one that ordinarily would not be noticed under conditions of safety- appears huge under conditions of threat and/or debilitation." page 34

"With the perception of kindness and hope,
the victims denies any feelings of danger, terror, and rage that the abuser creates in her or him. . . . Such denial allows the victim to commence bonding to the positive side of the abuser." page 38

7) "
The victims unconsciously try to view the world as the abuser does, for only by doing so can they anticipate what they need to do to keep the abuser happy and feeling kindly toward them." page 38

8) "
The harder the victims have to work to win over the abuser, the stronger the victim's bond to the abuser (cf. Walster and Berscheid 1971)." page 39

9) "These cognitive distortions provide an interpretation of the victims' behavior to the victims themselves. The content of the distortions provide meaning to the victims about their own behavior, help
the victims believe they are in control." page 40

10) "A number of mechanisms make it difficult to separate psychologically from the abuser following prolonged captivity. . . In any case,
living without the abuser, and thus without a sense of oneself, is experienced by the victim as a threat to psychic survival. Loss of their only "friend" and of self as experienced through the abuser's eyes requires victims to take a leap into a terrifying unknown, which is difficult even for people in healthy environments. It is considerably more difficult for someone whose survival depends on the fragile feelings of predictability and control produced by cognitive distortions and the whims of a terrorist.

The victims' feelings that the abuser may return to "get" them another time, and that this time the abuser might not be so nice (i.e., might not let them live), serves to keep the victims loyal to the abuser long after the ordeal is over. . . .

The need to master the terror created by the hostage-taking experience may keep the victim in the terrorizing situation for a longer time than would otherwise be necessary." page 40

11) "The syndrome is described by a continuum, that is, it is present in degrees rather than an all or nothing phenomenon. The major indicators are also described by a continuum.

1. Captive shows symptoms of ongoing trauma or Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

2. Captive is bonded to her/his captor (actually the bond is bidirectional, but here our focus is on the psychology of the captive.)

3. Captive is intensely grateful for small kindnesses shown to her/him.

4. Captive denies captor's violence against her/him when violence and/or threats of violence are actually occurring, or captive rationalizes that violence. The captive denies her/his own anger at captor, to others, and to herself or himself.

5. Captive is hypervigilant to captor's needs and seeks to keep the captor happy (to increase the chances of the captor letting her/him live); this hypervigilance is unidirectional, or not bilateral. To do this, captive tries to "get inside the captor's head."

6. Captive sees the world from the captor's perspective; he or she may not have his/her own perspective. Captive experiences own sense of self through the captor's eyes.

7. In accordance with no. 6, captive sees outside authorities (e.g., the police trying to win her/his release as "bad guys" and sees captor as "good guy." Captive sees captor as protecting him/her.

8. Captive finds it psychologically difficult to leave captor even after her/his physical release has been won.

9. Captive fears captor will come back to get her/him even after captor is dead or in prison. She or her fears thinking disloyal thoughts about captor for fear of retaliation." pages 42-43

12) "Because it requires a lot of psychic energy to maintain a cognitive distortion, the large number of distortions that are used to help reduce terror should not be taken lightly: it suggests that terror reduction is important to survival and to effective coping during ongoing abuse. . . A number of distortions help victims believe they have some control over the abuse." page 43

13) "If victims were to reinterpret their arousal and hypervigilance as due to something other than lover or caring, the bond would vanish, though the behavior and arousal might remain the same.

Victims often rationalize abuse by blaming themselves for its occurrence, believing that they control whether and when they are abused (see "Rationalize abuser's abuse" in table 2.2). . . . But why would victims blame themselves for their own abuse? There are at least two reasons:

(1) To help ensure survival, victims take the perspective of the abuser, and the abuser believes he or she is justified in abusing the victim;

(2) if victims see themselves as to blame for the abuse, then they believe they are able to stop the abuse. . . .

Self-blame as a cognitive distortion, then, represents an attempt to feel in control in a situation over which the victim has little or no control. . . . Another consequence is that the victim spends enormous energy attempting to change or improve herself or himself so that the abuse will end. . . .

Cognitive distortions serve three primary functions. They help prevent victims from being overwhelmed by terror, which would render then unable to do what is needed to increase their chances of surviving.
The misattribution that the victim's arousal and hypervigilance are due to love, not terror, creates both a bond between victims and their abusers and hope in the victim.

When the victim defines the relationship of one as care, it is easy for the abuser to do likewise.

Clearly, these cognitive distortions are in the service of survival: they reduce terror, provide hope of escape by winning over the abuser, and facilitate the bonding of the abuser with the victims and thereby increase the victims' chances of survival." page 45-46

14) "People who develop the syndrome do not do so because they have a personality defect such as a weak personality, because they were previously abused, or because they were socialized in this way. The syndrome appears to be a universal response to inescapable threat to survival." page 48

"Similarly, we would argue that battered women and abused children are not battered because of a personality defect or their socialization;
it is their abusers who have the personality defect and/or abusive background." page 49

15) "Anyone, therefore, can be taken hostage and abused. Chance factors to a large extent determine who becomes a victim. . . . Believing that a victim is different from oneself, that the victim was a victim because he or she behaved in a way that lead to the victimization helps us feel safer, but it does not help us understand why people develop the syndrome." page 49

16) "Victims with the syndrome do not stay with their abusers because they have bonded with the abusers; rather, they bond with their abusers because they see no way to escape." page 50

17) "Generalized Stockholm Syndrome results from having one's physical and/or psychological survival threatened by one or more individuals and then being shown kindness by other individuals who are perceived as similar to the threatening individuals in some ways.

. . .
The bond is particularly likely to develop if the person who provides emotional relief is the abuser, because kindness by the abuser creates hope that the abuser will stop." pages 50-51

"On the basis of the law of stimulus generalization, we identify three situations in which Graham's Generalized Stockholm syndrome is likely to develop:
(1) Threat of violence is shown toward a victim by one person, then kindness is shown to the victim by another person who is similar to the violent person in some ways. The victim will now develop Generalized Stockholm syndrome in relation to the kind person. (2) Threat of violence is shown by members of one group toward members of another group, then one or more individuals from the violent group show kindness toward a member of the victimized group. As a result, the member of the victimized group will develop Generalized Stockholm Syndrome in relation to the one or more kind individuals from the violent group. (3) Threat of violence is shown by members of one group toward members of another group, and most or all members of the violent group also show women kindness toward most or all members of the victimized group. As a result, members of the victimized group would be expected to display Generalized Stockholm Syndrome in relation to all members of the violent group." pages 52-53

"Whereas Situation 1 can occur to anyone (anyone could be kidnapped off the street, for example), Situations 2 and 3 can occur only with members of an oppressed group. Stockholm Syndrome should be strongest when Situations 1, 2, and 3 are simultaneously present." page 58

18) "A review of the literature of nine different hostage groups revealed the following overlooked facts about the phenomenon of bonding to an abuser (Stockholm syndrome):
(1) It is seen in a wide range of hostage groups. (2) Despite its persuasiveness among diverse hostage groups, mental health professionals have failed to question whether it might be a unitary phenomenon observed under conditions of captivity and abuse. (3) When it is recognized for particular hostage groups, it is viewed quite differently, for example, battered women who bond with their abusers are seen as masochistic (Young and Gerson 1991), while "political" hostages who bond to their abusers (captors) are seen as smart but unpatriotic (Rabinoqitz 1977). (4) Virtually no empirical research on the phenomenon of bonding to an abuser had been conducted for any hostage group. In response to this situation, Graham proposed four conditions (perceived threat to survival, kindness, and inability to escape, and isolation) to be precursors of Stockholm Syndrome, a set of Stockholm syndrome psychodynamics for captives, and sixty-six potential aspects of Stockholm Syndrome, nine of which are seen as "major indicators." " pages 58-59

19) "Three of the four precursors of Stockholm Syndrome (perceived threat to survival, inability to escape, and kindness) concern the perceptions of victims and not the objective conditions surrounding the victims." page 63

20) "All unequal power relationships must, in the end, rely on the threat or reality of violence to maintain themselves. (Clark and Lewis 1977, p. 177) " page 68

21) After reviewing the witch trials, Graham writes: "This history and others like it in other parts of the world should leave no doubt in today's women's minds that men are capable of killing women, of using violence for the social control of women, and that men will settle for the flimsiest reasons as rationalizations for the killings." page 70

22) She defines femicide as the killing of a woman by an intimate on page 71.

23) "Walter Gove (1973) found that "for women the shift from being single to being married increases the likelihood of being murdered, while for men the shift decreases their chances" (p. 51). Gove obtained similar findings for single as compared to married women as regards "accidental deaths." It is, of course, likely that many accidental deaths were in fact murders.
Such statistics served as the impetus for Blinder's (1985) remark, "In America, the bedroom is second only to the highway as the scene of slaughter" (p. ix).

Looking beyond the murder of women by intimates, we find virtually all mass murderers are men, and most of their victims have been women (Levin and Fox 1985)." page 71

24) "As of January 1985, in approximately twenty-seven states marriage to a man meant he could legally force the woman to have sex with him anytime he desired Finkelhor and Yllo 1985). These statistics were worsening in 1985, however. Twelve states had just exempted cohabiting boyfriends from conviction for marital rape. Also, five states exempted from conviction men whom women had consented to have sex with in the past, thus legally sanctioning date rape (Findelhor and Yllo 1985).

Lenore Walker (1979) found that almost all the women in her battered-woman sample reported being sexually abused by their batterers. Most of them characterized the sexual abuse as rape. All of them reported being forced to engage in "unusual," "bizarre," "kinky" sex (p. 118). Irene Frieze (1983) observed that "marital rape is typically associated with battering and may be one of the most serious forms of battering" (p. 552). Finkelhor and Yllo (1985) reported that "we asked many of the women who had also been battered to compare the effects of the marital rape with the effects of other abuse. All but three of the women reported that the sexual assaults were more devastating" (p. 134)." pages 73-74

25) "The term "sexual harassment" is used to refer to male behaviors that occur in seemingly disparate locations but seem to have similar functions. Sexual harassment in the workplace is defined by Farley (1978) as "unsolicited nonreciprocal male behavior that asserts a woman's sex role over her function as a worker" (pp. 14-15). The harassing behaviors include "staring at, commenting upon, or touching a woman's body; requests for acquiescence in sexual behavior; repeated nonreciprocated propositions for dates; demands for sexual intercourse; and rape" (p. 15) (note that the sexual harasser acts on the presumption that a woman's body belongs to him, not her.) What makes this form of harassment particularly vicious is that it is backed up by either an abuse of power or a threat of such, should the woman refuse. Farley identifies a variety of "penalties" used by men to help secure female compliance: "verbal denigration of a woman sexually; noncooperation from male co-workers; negative job evaluations or poor personnel recommendations; refusal of overtime; demotions; injurious transfers and reassignment of shifts, hours, or locations of work, loss of job training; impossible performance standards and outright termination of employment: (p. 15). Thus, the message to women is, because I an a man or because I an higher in the hierarchy, your body belongs to me.

Pulling from a variety of sources, Russell (1984) identified the functions of sexual harassment, which include

1. Maintaining the traditional male prerogative of male sexual initiative (Goodman 1978);

2. Expressing male hostility against women (Grayson, n.d.);

3. "Compenstat[ing] men for powerlessness in their own lives" by granting individual men control over individual women (Bularzik 1978, p. 26);

4. Asserting "a woman's sex role over her [other] function[s]" (Farley 1978, pp. 14-15, thereby

5. Keeping women in a subordinate position (Farley 1978);

6. Limiting women's access, for example, to particular jobs (Bularzik 1978), especially jobs that are "nontraditional" for women.

An additional function is that the harassment sexualizes the interaction, communicating to women that we are, first and foremost, objects that exist for men's sexual pleasure.

The above functions also apply to harassment on the street. The street harasser communicates to women that the street belongs to him, not her; that she is not free to go where she likes, when she likes; that if she behaves as though she is free, he will prove to her that the street is his by sexually violating her. . . . Even when not accompanied by physical assaults, "street hassling" has been likened to "small-scale assaults" (Bernard and Schlaffer 1983) and "little rapes" (Medea and Thompson 1974)." pages 78-79

26) "The concept of a continuum of violence reveals that violence is a very real past of every woman's life. The forms of violence that occur most frequently are not conceptualized as violent or even abusive or even unusual by most women, however. In fact, they are viewed as normal male behavior. Kelly's continuum puts these everyday forms of violence in context." pages 84-85

27) "All male-female relationships were more or less abusive." page 85 (this may be due to societal male-female role acceptance)

28) "Findings regarding a continuum of violence support MacKinnon's (1983) analysis of the reason rapists are rarely convicted in court. MacKinnon pointed out that, because rape is legally defined as the use of more force than is found in normal male sexual behavior, and because that amount of force is considerable and does not take into account the point at which women begin to feel violated, rape is practically defined out of existence." pages 86

29) "Letters received by Ellen Goodman (1993), in response to President Clinton's efforts to end discrimination against gays in the military, suggest men are frightened by the kinds of violence to which they themselves subject women on a daily basis. . . This garden variety homophobia - fear of homosexuals -was fear of becoming the object of unwanted sexual attention." page 87

"Apparently, most of the men who wrote Goodman found it frightening to even imagine being treated as men routinely treat women." page 88

30) "It may be that women have lived with male violence for so long that it is no longer visible to us." page 89

31) Discussing torture of women in Latin America: "Along with other forms of sexual torture, cigarettes were extinguished on her breasts and nipples. she is subjected to massive gang rape by males. Rape by trained dogs may also be used. Mice, which scratch and bite in their disorientation, are put in her vagina. Bunster notes that such sexual violence is seen by the government as "the key" in controlling women, that is, in teaching them to "retreat into the home and fulfill the traditional role of wife and mother" (pl. 98), and not be political activists.

Why is much of men's aggression against women sexual in nature? . . . The purpose of such directed violence is to help ensure that female sexual organs are seen as subordinate and male sexual organs are seen as dominant." page 91

32) "If women as a group were able to escape male violence, we would not be men's victims." page 95

33) "Only one percent of rapists are arrested, and only one percent of those arrested are convicted (Russell 1984). Those who are convicted serve little time before being put back on the street." page 95

34) "Many battered women who try to leave their batterers are pursued by them. And this is when a battered woman is most likely to receive her severest beating or to be killed (Browne 1987; Ewing 1987; Serum 1979a, 1979b, cited by Okun 1986)." page 95

35) "Women who feel they are in egalitarian marriages may believe they have escaped male domination. However, even men who "let" their woman have more freedom (e.g., to work outside the home) or who "help" their women with domestic chores retain control. They decide how much freedom a woman can have and how much they give.

Using their power to set norms and create social institutions (Polk 1766), men make women's escape still more difficult, The following are examples of ways in which this occurs:

- God is portrayed as male, omnipotent, and superior, giving divine sanction to hierarchical relationships (Lipman-Blumen 1984). . .

- Our history is male, for women's lives have been erased from official accounts or rewritten from men's perspective (Spender 1982). . .

- The lower incomes of women relative to men pressure women to marry, and to stay married, for purposes of economic survival. . . .

- Women are encouraged to love and care for husbands, fathers, and grandfathers and to want and care for male children and grandchildren. . . .

- Attractiveness in women is defined as being small and thin (Garner, Garfinkel, et al. 1980' Silverstein et al. 1986), that is, weak (cf. L. Brown 1985), and as dressing in non-self protective ways (for example, wearing high heels).

- Men much more than women are encouraged to strengthen their bodies through sport. . . .

- Lesbianism is viewed as perverse. Lesbians are denied civil rights.

- A child without a father is marked as illegitimate, a bastard. Public opinion is that an unmarried woman should not have children, that children need a father.

- Men's ideas and feelings are listened to and shown respect. Women's ideas are trivialized or ignored. . .

- Men invade women's physical space, touching our bodies, when they have not received invitation or permission (Henley, cited by Parlee 1983). . . . These examples show the extent of every woman's inability to escape men." pages 98-100

36) "Men are kind to women in a number of ways, creating hopes that they really do care about women and will stop their violence against us." page 100

37) ". . . men who supported openly subordinating women were also the men who supported chivalry.

Though it is apparently ironic, the men who insists on opening doors for a woman often is the same man who argues that a woman should not be considered for a high-level job, and that women should make less money than men. Similarly, it is entirely likely that the man who marries his wife to protect her from harm is the same man who beats her (for a case example, see McNulty 1980)." page 106

38) "Notice that in exchange for physical safety, a woman is required to submit sexually to her (male) protector and to birth and parent his children. The point being made here is that women pay, and pay dearly, for the "kindnesses" we receive from men, including the kindness of protection from the violence of other men. . . . Thus men do act as protectors of women - but only for a price, and even then male protection is not guaranteed. . . . Atkinson (1974) argues that men's protectiveness toward women is actually a protection of what they perceive as their own property (women)." page 107

39) "Perhaps the kindness most valued by women is a man's love (affection). Frye (1983, pp. 134-135) offers an interesting perspective on men's love:

To say that straight men are heterosexual is only to say that they engage in sex (fucking) exclusively with (or upon or to) the other sex, i.e. women. All or almost all of that which pertains to love, most straight men reserve exclusively for other men. The people whom they admire, respect, adore, revere, honor, whom they imitate, idolize, and form profound attachments to, whom they are willing to teach and from whom they are willing to learn, and whose respect, admiration, recognition, honor, reverence and love they desire. . . those are, overwhelmingly, other men. In their relations with women, what passes for respect is kindness, generosity, or paternalism; what passes for honor is removal to the pedestal. From women they want devotion, service and sex.

Heterosexual male culture is homoerotic; it is man-loving." Pages 109-110

40) "The erotic stimulation from which women derive the greatest pleasure and are likely to achieve orgasm is trivialized as "foreplay." Only 30 percent of women achieve orgasm though sex involving penile penetration alone, but this is what is defined as "having sex." " page 111 [I'm surprised that that number is that high.]

41) "Men blame women for male sexual arousal, saying men cannot control their sexual urges. Men see women as objects for their sexual gratification." page 111

42) "This phenomenon Frye describes is neither new or specific to American culture. Writing about ancient Greek culture, Michel Foucault (1076-1978, p. 215) made a similar observation:

Sexual relations . . . were seen as being of the same type as the relationship between a superior and a subordinate, an individual who dominates and one who is dominated, one who commands and one who complies, one who vanquished and one who is vanquished. " page 111

43) ". . . when men get together to talk about "fucking" women, "scoring," or their sexual conquests, they are communicating to one another that, although they have sex with women, their emotional bonds are with one another." pages 112

44) "In today's culture it takes degrading, humiliating, controlling, and/or inflicting pain on women for many men to "come," that is, to reach orgasm, or even just to have a sexual, erotic experience." page 112

45) "Frye (1983) argues that it is because sex in our culture is an act of hostility, not love, that gay men are so hated by straight men. Gay men are hated because they fuck men - not women. . . . In fact, if being fucked said something positive to and about the fuckee, men would want it only for themselves and would outlaw it for women." page 113

46) "In fact, the less support we are given, the more dependent we become and the more grateful we are for any crumbs of kindness.

We present all these observations so that readers may determine for themselves whether men as a group show kindness to women, or more to the point, whether women perceive that men show them kindness. . . . Kind slaveholders may have made slavery more bearable for their slaves but that did not make the institution of slavery any less heinous." page 114

47) "A woman who is exposed to the ideas, opinions, attitudes, feelings, and needs of men (and children), to the exclusion of exposure to the same in other women of like situation, is a women who is ideologically isolated." page 115

48) "A group consisting only of women can get together (at teas, coffees, and the like), but its members still remain ideologically isolated if they speak to one another giving men's perspectives, not their own." page 116

49) "Dworkin (1985) offers a poignant observation: "Feminism is hated because women are hated. Antifeminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of woman hating. This is because feminism is the liberation movement of women" (p. 195." page 116

50) "A woman who has little or no contact with other women is physically isolated." page 117

51) Referring to the name "lesbian": "Why does the label possess such power? Lesbians aren't perceived as putting men first. Women who don't put men first aren't given the privileges (rewards) received by women who align themselves with men, including some safety from male violence by all men. Women know, consciously or unconsciously, that men will use their power to teach women, with brute force if necessary, to put men first." page 119

52) "Because some or many men have committed crimes against women, all men benefit from the consequences." Leidig 1981, page 204, Graham page 122

53) "It is interesting therefore that symptoms of what may be construed as a traumatic stress reaction have repeatedly been noted in women as a group: otherwise unexplained physical and psychosomatic problems. clinging behavior, feelings of helplessness and powerlessness, depression, occasional seemingly illogical outbursts of anger and rage, ambivalence in relations with men, and low self-esteem." page 126

54) "In a study of male and female partners who lived together, Graham, Ott, and Raqlings (1990) found it was not men's actual physical violence that was most associated with women's fearing for their lives, but rather the threat of men's violence." page 127

55) "Jackson Katz, founder of an antiviolence group called Real Men in Boston, has found an effective technique of demonstrating that violence against women is a serious problem. He draws a line down the blackboard. On one side of the blackboard, he invites men to list things men do to avoid being sexually assaulted. Their typical response in "Nothing." On the other side of the blackboard, he invites women to list the things women do to avoid sexual assault. This side is quickly filled (Rogers 1993)." page 128

56) "Statistical regression involving multiple regression revealed that a woman's love-dependence regarding her partner was greater the less able she was to escape him, the more general kindness he showed her, the more emotional violence he directed at her, and the more hope (that the relationship would get better) that his kindness created in her.

Women's bonding with men may be an attempt to heal the wound created by male oppression (as well as an attempt to halt that oppression through love)." page 143

57) "Even severely battered women do not overemphasize the extent of abuse they have
endured and minimize it instead (Kelly 1987; Okun 1986)." page 147

58) "Women in general cling to the dream that men care about us and will protect us from violence. Denial is so strong that women believe that men are protecting us - we forget from whom - even as they oppress women." page 148

59) "Male culture ensures that women's anger is not taken seriously (and thus that women's anger will not lead to social change) by defining anger in women as pathological." page 154

60) "When men get angry, we assume it is because we have done something wrong, just as abused children feel they were abused because they were bad." page 165

61) "To the extent that females resist being feminine while still embracing our femaleness, we challenge cultural norms of female subordination." page 167

62) "Because men threaten women with physical violence because we are women, that is, because we have female bodies, women devalue our bodies, and some women even hate them." page 167

63) ". . . femininity is a blueprint for how to get along with one's enemy by trying to win over the enemy." page 187

64) "At the core of Stockholm Syndrome are terror and the cognitive distortions that serve to aid victims in dealing with terror. . . . These cognitive distortions help women manage our terror and help us hang on to the hope that, if we can just love men enough, men will bond with us, stop terrorizing us, and treat us with live, not violence and threats of violence." page 187

65) "Sara Hoagland (1989, pp. 69-70), feminist philosopher, has taken a similar position, noting that

66) When people begin to talk about the importance of altruism and self-sacrifice, it indicates they perceive an inherent conflict of interests among those involved. . . . Further, to resolve the conflict of interests, those with lesser institutional power will be expected to be altruistic. In this respect, altruism and self-sacrifice are considered "feminine virtues." 'Femininity' is a concept which makes female submission to male domination seem natural and normal. A [sic] such, the "feminine virtues" function to preserve the relationship of dominance and subordination, facilitating the access of those with greater institutional power to the resources of those with lesser institutional power." page 194

67) "In general, then, the psychological sequelae (behavior, emotions, attitudes, perceptions) associated with Stockholm Syndrome, femininity, and oppression are quite similar." page 196

68) "Simply because femininity is a response to abuse does not mean that some of the traits labeled as feminine are not sources of strength or desirable qualities." page 198

69) "If women's need for connection is indeed rooted in male violence, it seems questionable, then, whether a desperate, obsessive need for connection, of the type currently seen in women's relations with men (see Belenky et al. 1986 and Gilligan 1982), would be present in women in an egalitarian, nonviolent culture. . . . Women would not be desperate for connection at any price. I am proposing, then, that women's currently strong need for connection, particularly with men, is a product of men's violence against women in present society.

Unfortunately, the self-in-relation model and Gilligan's (1982) and others' writings on women's special capacity for empathy and connection have had the effect of glorifying these traditionally feminine values, whether or not this was the intention of the authors." page 206

70) "Although women love men in an attempt to survive, paradoxically, through our love of men women provide them with services (domestic, emotional, reproductive, sexual) that enable them to keep up the oppression." page 209

71) "The concept of Societal Stockholm Syndrome enables us to go beyond previous conceptualizations of women's love for men by explaining why most women sacrifice so much of ourselves in relationships with men." page 209

72) "We are not arguing that if given a real choice - a choice made in a context where men did not threaten women with violence or isolate us from other women - women could not choose to love men. However, we feel that under conditions of freedom women's love of men would be similar to women's love of women (and therefore more healthy)." page 211

73) "If women stopped loving men, would men make us continue to do all the things for them that we now do, but without the belief that we do these things out of love and with only the awareness that we are indeed their servants?" page 212

74) Discussion on the Oedipus complex and girl's eroticized interest in her father which is later transferred to other men (pages 213-214):gist of the argument is - girls find out that boys are preferred to girls - she turns to her father in the hope that he will use his power as a male to make her into an "honorary boy." Later these feelings are transferred to other males in her life, such as her husband.

75) "MacKinnon contends that, under conditions of male domination, female consent is not a meaningful concept." page 214

76) "We propose that there is no time when bonding to one's abuser is more likely to arise than at the quintessential moment when her subordination and his domination is revealed most clearly - in the heterosexual act." page 215

77) "If providing sexual and reproductive services to men pleases men, women will provide the services in the (unconscious) hope of welding a bond between us and men - a bond that might be used to prevent or thwart (further) sexual violence." page 216

78) "Choosing to give up sex with men or to withdraw from men because men are physically violent toward women is not considered a legitimate option for women." page 219

79) *** "Men will not "save" women from men's tyranny." page 223

80) Referring to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland and Tiptree's "The Women Men Don't See": "In both Gilman's and Tiptree's stories, women neither gratuitously devalue men nor excuse inexcusable behavior. Responsible themselves, they hold others responsible for those others' actions." page 228-9

81) "Women must hold men accountable for their behavior." page 230

82) "Women need to ask ourselves what men are most afraid of and then use men's fears to disrupt the dominance-relation between men and women." page 230

83) "Perhaps because women create and nurture life and because violence has been used against us, women, as a group, abhor violence and tend to use it only in self-defense or in defense of helpless others, such as children or the elderly. (Patriarchy tells women that we are not supposed to resort to violence even in self-defense when threatened with rape or battering, but violence on behalf of defenseless others is allowed.)" page 232

84) "The male fantasy of a man-hating Amazon nation reveals men's (unconscious) awareness of the depth of women's (repressed) anger, and it reveals men's fear that women some day may act on that anger and seek retribution for patriarchal atrocities against women." page 233

85) "To question any one of the components of the patriarchal system - that women's qualities are weaknesses, that the relation between women and men should not be one of mutuality, and that women should not attend to our own development - is to question the entire system." page 235

86) "The patriarchal backlash against women is predictable and should be a signal that women are being effective." page 242

87) "As women, connecting with each other, receive from each other the nurturance, affirmation, and consideration each human being needs, we will grow less dependent on men's small kindnesses as our primary way of experiencing self-worth." page 244

88) Burstow (1992, p. 18) points out that "women's vision may be seen as an act of resistance in its own right." page 253

89) "The feminist movement had provided women with a context that legitimates speaking of the previously hidden violence in our lives - the incest, rape, battering, and harassment that shape our days. And revealing the pervasivness of this violence exposes the falsity of the patriarchal myths that such incidents are isolated; are committed only by a few deranged, aberrant men; are only fantasies of delusional, hysterical, or "crazy" women; or are fantasies originating in women's desires." page 253

90) "The more voices are raised in testimony to male abuse of women, the less isolated and deviant the victims will feel, the harder it will be for patriarchy to minimize the problem, and the greater the societal pressure will become to end male violence." page 255

91) "If a woman took the time to document all the verbal violence directed toward her over her lifetime - in the form of demeaning advertising, disparaging jokes and innuendoes, exposure to pornography, street hassles, sexual remarks by male acquaintances and co-workers, and obscene phone calls - she would be astonished at the amount of "normal" male violence she has absorbed without even being physically touched." page 256

92) "A third method women can use to oppose patriarchy is looking out for our own. This is a matter of looking at what women have to give - money, votes, endorsements - and considering women first when we give it." page 258

93) "Getting savvy itself has to do with paying close attention to proponents of patriarchy, keeping two things in mind: (1) since patriarchy is founded on a lie (the lie of women's natural inferiority), patriarchal logic usually is the reverse of the truth, and we therefore can get at the truth by reversing patriarchal messages (Johnson 1987, pp. 322, 339; 1989); and (2) when proponents of patriarchy get mad, we should get interested, not afraid, (for their anger indicates we've touched a hot button in some way gotten too close to the truth for their comfort).

A common patriarchal tactic is to try to silence a woman who speaks up by calling her a man hater, a lesbian, or a feminist. To the patriarchal mind, these three names are interchangeable - all refer to women who are not dedicating their lives to the support of men." page 260

94) "We end this chapter with the belief that women someday will cease loving men simply in order to survive and, instead, will thrive with love - love of ourselves, of other women, and of men who choose to join with us in mutually empowering relationships." page 265

95) Some comments I made along the way:
page 62: Do the Biblical texts of terror when interpreted as the inerrant word of God function to imbue women with psychological attributes of physical abuse without the abuse
physically taking place? i.e. Do they function as verbal abuse?

Graham neglects (or only lightly touches upon) religious/social brainwashing which make women feel incomplete without a man. Also the notion that only male opinions, values, etc. are valid and women's feeling, opinions, etc. are not legitimate. But none the less a valuable work.

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Saturday, December 08, 2007

What is the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC)?
The WRC is the largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women. It relies on volunteer support and financial contributions from individuals and organizations.

How did the WRC get started?
In 1991, a handful of men in Canada decided we had a responsibility to urge men to speak out against violence against women. We decided that wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men's opposition to men's violence against women.

After only six weeks preparation, as many as one hundred thousand men across Canada wore a white ribbon. Many others were drawn into discussion and debate on the issue of men's violence.
Goals and Focus: What does it mean to wear a white ribbon?
Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone nor remain silent about violence against women.

Each year, we urge men and boys to wear a ribbon for one or two weeks, starting on November 25, theInternational Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. (In Canada we wear ribbons until December 6, Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.)

What are the goals of the WRC and how do your volunteers accomplish these objectives?
We are an educational organization to encourage reflection and discussion that leads to personal and collective action among men.

Throughout the year, we encourage men to do educational work in schools, workplaces and communities, to support local women's groups, to raise money for the international educational efforts of the WRC.

We distribute Education and Action kits to schools and we maintain a website. We speak out on issues of public policy.

What happens during White Ribbon Days?
We urge men and boys to wear a ribbon, including one on their coat so the ribbon will be visible while they're outdoors. (In Nova Scotia we encourage men to support the purple ribbon campaign.) We encourage men to talk in schools, workplaces, and places of worship about the problem of violence.

Basic Philosophy: Is our only concern men's violence against women?
We are concerned about all forms of violence.

Our central focus is on men's violence against women. Comparing violence committed by women and by men, Statistics Canada (2000 Report on Family Violence) notes that the result of men's violence is five times as likely to require medical attention. Women are four times as likely as men to fear for their lives, and three and a half times as likely to be murdered by a male spouse than vice versa.

We are deeply concerned about violence against children, which is committed by both women and men (although men commit most acts of sexual violence against children.) We are concerned about the many forms of men's violence against other men, whether it's in a bar, on a playground, or in a sports arena, and whether it's because of someone's skin colour, sexual orientation, culture, or simply because they looked the wrong way. And we are concerned by any acts of violence by women against men, although these are comparatively rare.

Does this mean you think that men are bad? Are you male bashers?
We don't think that men are naturally violent and we don't think that men are bad. The majority of men are not violent. Researchers have discovered many past cultures with little or no violence.

At the same time we do think that many men have learned to express their anger or insecurity through violence. Many men have come to believe that violence against a woman, child or another man is an acceptable way to control another person.

The problem does not stop with physical violence. There are forms of emotional violence--from sexist joking, to sexual harassment at work, to other domineering forms of behaviour. By remaining silent about these things, we allow other men to poison our working and learning environments.

The good news is that more and more men want to make a difference. Caring men are tired of the sexism that hurts the women around them.

We're not male bashers because we're men, working with men, who care about what happens in the lives of men.

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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Jews Who Abuse: Dating Violence on Campus
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Sometimes nice Jewish boys aren’t so nice. Just ask Shira D. Epstein.

As a college freshman, Epstein joined Hillel to connect with her Jewish peers on campus. One of those peers turned into a boyfriend who spent an entire semester abusing her both emotionally and sexually.

“You wouldn’t think that a guy who was pre-med, well-dressed and going to Hillel on Friday nights was bad in any way,” says Epstein who is now an assistant professor at Jewish Theological Seminary. Epstein designed the self-esteem building curriculum “Strong Girls, Healthy Relationships” for Jewish Women International (JWI).

The curriculum is one of several educational programs offered through JWI in response to a staggering statistic: 1 in 5 college students admits being abused by a current partner. (source, Jewish Women International)

“Dating violence is more prevalent on college campuses than many people think,” says Rella Kaplowitz, a program specialist at JWI. “And it doesn’t just refer to physical abuse. There is a significant amount of verbal, emotional and sexual abuse occuring in college relationships as well.”

JWI defines dating abuse as a pattern of controlling, threatening, aggressive or violent behavior that takes place in an intimate relationship. Dating abuse also applies to both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. In fact, the occurrence in same-sex relationships is just as common. (source, American Bar Association)

Creating awareness about the frequency and various forms of dating abuse is a major initiative of JWI. While a significant amount of attention has been devoted to the issue of sexual assault on college campuses, Epstein explains that, “Emotional abuse is just as damaging.”

Epstein describes her own short-lived freshman romance as tumultuous and says her attempts to end it only exacerbated the situation.

“He would refuse to leave [my dorm room] and yell at me that my standards were too high,” recalls Epstein.

When the relationship finally ended, the damaging effects began to sink in. Epstein’s self-esteem and grades were both failing and she spent the next several years avoiding serious relationships. Her story is not uncommon.

April, a young woman who appears in JWI’s most recent educational video, speaks candidly on camera about her experience with relationship abuse.

“I loved to sing. He didn’t like me singing in the car. So I stopped,” says April. The reason? “I didn’t want to give up the dream of marrying a Jewish doctor.”

As she recounts their initial meeting, April cannot help but smile describing her ex as “really intelligent.” He was, after all, the Jewish mother’s dream. But not long after they started dating, April says her self-esteem dropped dramatically.
“I couldn’t understand it because I had never had low self-esteem before,” she says. “The turning point for me was when he told me [he would never marry me because] he didn’t want a fat wife.
Three other young women and one young man also appear in the educational video. Each one shares experiences more unsettling than the next, including an abuser’s threats of suicide when the relationship headed downhill. Perhaps more troubling than the actual abuse is the so-called resistance by the Jewish community to name relationship abuse as a Jewish issue. Adam, whose mother was killed just days before his ninth birthday, explains how “red flags” about his parents’ relationship were widely ignored.
“Nothing he did was actually illegal,” Adam says referring to his father’s repeated emotional abuse of his mother. “And everyone thought ‘Jewish people don’t [abuse their spouses]. People with PhDs don’t do this. People from Ivy League schools don’t do this.’”
But, as many young Jewish men and women can attest, relationship violence occurs across all religions and during all stages of dating. For that reason, JWI created programming tailored for Jewish teens and young adults in 2005. “When Push Comes to Shove…It’s No Longer Love!” is already being used by local Hillels and local chapters of Sigma Delta Tau (SDT) sorority and Alpha Epsilon Phi (AEPhi) sorority on college campuses across the country.

Last month, the University of Illinois at Chicago Hillel sponsored JWI’s “When Push Comes to Shove…” program on its campus. Becky Adelberg, Chicago community outreach coordinator for JWI says there are plans to run the program at Northeastern Illinois University Hillel and Northwestern University Hillel in the spring.

The prevention program is particularly unique because it addresses dating violence from a Jewish perspective.

“We use Tanakh (biblical) text, highlighting the stories of Queen Vashti [from the Scroll of Esther] and Tamar [from the Book of Samuel], to teach correct and incorrect approaches to dating violence,” says Kaplowitz.

Some incorrect approaches, JWI teaches, include responding to a friend’s claim of date rape with, “Were you drunk?” and “What were you wearing?”

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hillel activist Allison Rose and three friends created Project Dinah in 2004. Named for the daughter of Jacob and Leah, Project Dinah provides educational material about date rape to incoming freshmen and offers free self-defense courses. Project Dinah also established a blog for students in abusive relationships to submit testimony and share advice.

This semester, at Miami University in Ohio, Hillel and AEPhi helped to fund a speaking engagement with filmmaker and activist Nancy Schwartzman which included a partial viewing of her latest project, “The Line.” In the film, Schwartman explores the issue of sexual consent and violence. Schwartzman has also written about being date raped in Israel – a place she had always considered sacred and holy. Nearly 40 people, including many Miami University students, participated in the discussion.
“Abuse is a hard word,” says Epstein. “As Jews, we want to believe that we are ‘better…’ especially when it comes to our Jewish men. To admit that abuse occurs is to admit that something is lacking.”
Epstein is currently writing a book that will teach Jewish educators how to recognize and respond to the early signs of relationship abuse such as derogatory sexual language being overheard in the classroom. She says early intervention, as young as 11 years old, is the best way to prevent dating violence. “The ‘Strong Girls’ curriculum is something that I would’ve wanted,” she explains. “I think about myself at 20 and I am an entirely different person now. I can’t imagine what I would’ve chosen for myself.”

Danielle Freni is the editor of Hillel Campus Report.


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