Sanctuary for the Abused
Thursday, August 26, 2010
The Abuser‘s Ploy
Dominion and Downfall
by Joyce Walker
As citizens become aware of the dilemma the United States faces, they may find themselves wondering what happened to the "land of the free and the home of the brave." It seems incredible that a few rogue politicians could reek such havoc on the democratic traditions of a liberty loving nation such as ours.
You would have thought that the violence against protestors by the military in Georgia at The School of the Americas and by police in Miami at the FTAA conference would have caused a public outcry, but the events were hardly mentioned in the news, except in local media which give a slanted view. Clues to this apparent apathy might be found in some unlikely places - in the homes of families held hostage by the abuser‘s systematic program of control.
Abuse, An Ongoing Process
Such a family lived near my childhood home. Even the youngsters in the neighborhood recognized the irony of one small man being able to dominate everyone in his household. We couldn‘t figure out why the boys, who towered over him, never put him in his place. After one of the boys married a young woman with a pretty smile, we noticed that in a short while she had lost the smile and taken on the same "whipped pup"appearance as the rest of them. The abuser wasn‘t very bright, so the phenomenon couldn‘t be credited to his intelligence. It wasn‘t until later, while working with battered women, that I learned about the control techniques which sometimes enable an abuser to make others his mental captives.
On a larger scale, we can look at China‘s history of totalitarian rule and bloody purges, and somewhat comprehend citizens‘ passive response to government abuse of targeted groups, like the Falun Dafa religious sect. But why the silence in this country, even among supposedly progressive news sources, concerning the glaring violations of our own civil rights? How could our "advanced" society be deceived by the crude propaganda used to cause people to look the other way while their constitutional liberties are being pilfered away?
There are clear indications that a power grabbing and graft promoting coalition has been active for decades. While Republicans seem dominant, Democrats also seem to be in the thick of things. The indoctrination of the United States public has been an ongoing process, and has involved many of the same techniques as those used by the little dictator across the street to maintain dominance in his family. For the abuser or the coalition to be successful, they must convince the parties they have targeted that they are endowed with something akin to divine authority.
Derision and Intimidation, Major Tools
The abuser uses ridicule and intimidation to erode the targeted person‘s confidence. During this period of brainwashing, a victim of abuse might make the following statement:
"He makes me feel like I can‘t do anything right."
The current political regime routinely uses the same techniques. Prior to corporate consolidation of the media, charges that the press had a liberal bias discouraged legitimate news investigation and kept conscientious journalists on the defensive. The bought out press‘s support of our government‘s perversion helped conceal the strong opposition which has existed from the start, while coalition bulldog tactics have proven effective in making a public example of those with courage to delve into government practices.
These techniques have also interfered with attempts to legislate democratic change, even when the Republican party is not in power. When President Clinton came into office with a progressive platform, prepared to correct inequities in our system, his opposition used the abuser‘s techniques to undermine his every effort, and with ineffective support from the Congress, he eventually abandoned his progressive platform and adopted the opposition‘s elitist agenda. In an apparent scheme designed to achieve his ouster, the Monica Lewinski affair was widely publicized, and Hillary Clinton‘s protests concerning the obvious conspiracy were silenced by the onslaught of criticism she encountered.
Dog Pack Behavior, A Nasty Strategy
A segment of our society makes a highly vocal and visible show of support for the president‘s repressive policies. This may often be a misguided expression of patriotism, but the dog pack behavior demonstrated by some is indicative of another phenomenon of family abuse. The person experiencing this type of predatory behavior may report:
"He‘s turned the children against me, and they‘ve become abusive too."
In a family under the domination of an abuser, or in a repressed society, members tend to align with the power figure and condone the mistreatment of the targeted party. The flimsiest excuse for the cruelty may be accepted without question. Our warring presidents have used various pretexts for initiating unwarranted aggression against others or condoning criminal abuse by governments with which we have clandestine ties. The justifications for invasions in central and South America were communist insurgency and drug trafficking. In the middle east the excuse was terrorist activities.
With China‘s expressed determination to bring Taiwan under its rule, plans by President Chen Shui-bian to introduce a constitutional referendum prompted China to contact President Bush for reassurance of his commitment to the "One China" position. Pressure from the United States caused Chen to back down, and the fact that our president‘s intervention played a major role in thwarting a move by Taiwan toward independence was not mentioned by the commercial press. What excuse would Bush have made for China had there been aggression against Taiwan ; certainly not threat from communist insurgency.
Terrorism, A Cruel Device
In order to gain irrevocable control, the abuser will stage a sudden violent attack against the victim. If he or she can find the courage report it, the description of the incident might resemble the following:
"Without warning, he threw me across the room."
The shock of the assault is debilitating and degrading. If the victim tolerates it, the abuser essentially has the person under his control. The attack on the World Trade Center had the same effect. Terror gave way to a sense of being violated. Our sense of invincibility was lost. The result was the handing over to President George Bush an unprecedented amount of authority.
What followed was a ruthless abuse of power. Countries objecting to the illegal attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq were punished economically, with aid being withdrawn and corporations being excluded from the reconstruction process. The president‘s office resorted to its customary "dirty tricks" to punish people like former U.S. Congressman Cynthia McKinney and ex-ambassador Joseph Wilson for confronting White House deceptions.
Racist propaganda has been used to quell compassion for citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq who, following the horrifying attacks on their countries, have been subjected to a reign of terror which they claim causes more suffering than that which they endured under the tyrants from whom they were supposedly liberated.
Jekyll and Hyde, The Public Show
A victim of abuse is confounded by the abuser‘s success at presenting a benevolent image to outsiders. The abuser‘s supposed popularity diminishes the victim‘s confidence about receiving the support necessary to stop the abuse. He or she might confide:
"Everyone thinks she‘s so good."
Commercial media‘s biased coverage of President Bush following the Nine Eleven attacks exaggerated his support among the populace to the extent that people were hesitant to speak a word of dissent for fear of reprisal. But with the continued exposure of criminal activity and with the election coming up, his dazzling "Crusader" image is becoming stained by the onslaught of criticism. You wouldn‘t know it, though, by the way members of Congress pander to his every demand. And judging from media coverage of gala events staged in his honor during frequent visits with allied world leaders, most people would have a hard time imagining the hate his aggression has generated among the people of the world.
China‘s autocratic leader President Hu Jintao benefits similarly from biased media press, not only in China, but around the world. As a member of WTO and APEC, and as an insider among Bush‘s circle of supporters, China is enjoying new popularity. While family members pleaded for release of loved ones being tortured in China prisons, President Lu was photographed by world press wrapping pork dumplings with villagers for the Lunar New Year as part of a promotion to present a humane image of the leader.
Fear of the Unknown, The Ball and Chain
Even after a person realizes the extent of the abuser‘s deception, she may fear the struggles of an independent life more than the dangers of living with the abuser. A person trapped in this situation may remark:
"I don‘t think I can take care of the children on my own."
One journalist theorized that the people of China, after achieving a degree of prosperity, are afraid of being poor again, so when President Hu promises peace and prosperity the populace turns its head to the atrocities and falls behind the government. Does this mean that the fear of political upheaval and possible impoverishment is the real deterrent to humanitarian reform rather than the fear created by violent acts such as the massacre of dissenters at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and ongoing brutal treatment of targeted groups like the Falun Dafa?
There are probably many reasons for the reluctance of people in this country to face up to the cruelties committed by our leaders. Perhaps one of the main ones is fear of an economical downturn of the economy if there is a government shake-up. In spite of plentiful evidence of crimes against humanity, including in-depth reports by Amnesty International, independent news articles, and victim reports, many in this country are turning a blind eye to our government‘s abuses. If the people of our nation would wake up and take a look at what‘s going on, I don‘t believe they could be restrained from reaching out to the victims of our government‘s rampage and calling to account the brutes who are responsible.
Love for Freedom, the Abuser‘s Downfall
Sometimes the abuser‘s terrorist tactics backfire and, rather than submission, they are confronted with rebellion. And some find the tyrant‘s rule so hateful that they can‘t ever be brought to submission.
Risking life and limb, our new age "freedom fighters" carry video cameras to record the crimes against democracy, protest at the sites of terror exporting facilities, and defend our heritage before a Congress mired in the corruption of the war machine. Courage has never failed the women in Afghanistan who carry cameras under their burqas to expose the unmasked face of that beast - War, or the proponents of Truth, Compassion, and Tolerance who suffer cruel affliction under the Chinese government. How can the degenerate Bush coalition, the Taliban, or the Chinese autocracy stand against the power of these patriots‘ sacrifices?
A Brute‘s Death, A Bitter Legacy
Research into the fate of the last century‘s dictators should be enough to convince a person of the dangers in assuming the tyrant‘s role. But even if an abuser escapes the angry mob‘s vengeance and the legal consequences of his crimes, and even if he lives in ease and comfort up to his death, what kind of anguish must he suffer upon review of his life at its passing? Won‘t he feel each victim‘s pain, each mourner‘s grief, each soldier‘s agony? Surely he will see the bitter legacy that he leaves the children, a world defiled by the senseless shedding of innocent blood.
And what of the young mother who chooses death by torture over a life of subjection? Surely she must feel the love and compassion of her supporters and see the light from her sacrifice shining brightly, exposing the evil behind her persecution.
Most of us hopefully will not have to face the threat of death, torture, or imprisonment in order to do our part for the preservation of liberty. For some it is enough to speak a word of protest among friends. A letter written to a Congressman concerning a proposed bill or foreign official on behalf of a prisoner of conscience can be an effective weapon for human rights. But we all can do something, and must, or face the consequences of turning the abuser‘s cruelty loose on the world.
Copyright: Joyce Walker
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Stop The Silence
by Sandra Kiume
This is a letter to the editor of my local paper that wasn’t published. Slightly modified to be more global.
“Hurry up, you fat f***ing bitch,” said the young man. His companion mewed obediently and walked faster. Another woman in a trendy outfit said nothing. We were strangers walking along a sidewalk and I didn’t confront the guy then, but if I fail to say something to a wider audience now, it would border on complicity. Stop the silence to end the violence, right?
First, she wasn’t fat. But all mean kids and abusers know that the easiest way to hurt a young woman’s self-esteem is to attack her body image, especially with that cruel three-letter “f” word. It’s verbal abuse in our thin-obsessed culture. The other two words he called her are just more obviously abusive.
Verbal abuse is just as damaging as physical or sexual violence – the American Psychological Association classifies all three as wartime torture methods. In their daily wars women come to view themselves as worthless and powerless and internalize the loathing. They may develop serious medical problems like depression, anorexia/bulimia, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, substance abuse and more, all while afraid to leave the abuser. A woman is ten times more likely to be murdered by her abuser in the six months after she leaves him. Those threats are dead serious, and they’re a means of control that answer the common and naïve question, “Why doesn’t she just leave him?”
Transition shelters like the one in my community are vital. They provide physical security and protection, help to see and break cycles of abuse, referrals to counselling and services, and best of all, they offer true caring. It takes time to heal but it starts with a first step and a shelter may be the only one to take.
Female murder victims are most often killed by their male partners whether or not they try to leave, including acts of murder-suicide in which children are killed too. Even if kids aren’t killed or abused, seeing abuse in the home is deeply traumatizing.
So, Mr. Sidewalk, maybe you had an upbringing like that if the only way you know how to prop up your ego is by abusing/controlling people with less physical and societal power. I hope you’ll seek out psychotherapy to heal. I don’t hate you but I do hate your actions and they’re unacceptable in our community.
But, Ms. Abused, it’s you I’m most worried about. Please call the [local DV Crisis Center’s hotline] to talk about moving forward into mental health and away from its corrosion. You DO deserve better. Each human has inherent worth and nobody is entitled to damage it. Just call; hotline staffers begin with where you’re at, and won’t judge or pressure you.
And, Ms. Silent Friend, I hope you will be there when she needs support. Just be a good friend and listen. Tell her why you think she’s great and why the abuse is not okay. Laugh, smile and have healthy fun together. Women need to help other women, for if not who else will?
Stop the silence, end the violence.