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Why are you so angry?

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It was recently pointed out to me that some of my articles are “angry sounding”. To be clear, I sure hope so! AND I sincerely hope that when you’re reading what I write that you’re getting angry too!

It’s really not a mystery or hard to understand why domestic violence survivors get labeled as "angry, bitter, man-hating, lesbian, feminist-Nazi *itches". Just one betrayal is enough to leave someone seething for a lifetime, so can you imagine going through all the betrayals I listed in the previous article and coming out with a smiley face? "Successfully escaping" DV truly puts forgiveness to the test.

Domestic violence survivors lose: their spouse, the life they made, their children, their safety, their reputations, their jobs, their family, their friends, their health, their savings, their dignity, half (if not all of) their possessions, and sometimes their sense of humor by the time all is said and done. And then there are those, who in all seriousness, lose their sanity or lose their lives in the process. The losses are staggering, overwhelming and heartbreaking - and all unacknowledged by sympathetic eyes which only worsens the survivor's sense of loss and isolation.

Can anyone tell me what there is to be happy about? Oh, no, wait – I actually know the answer to that one: “At least you’re still alive”. Oh yes, to live on and simply accept the betrayals with the grace of a saint… C'mon - that's a TALL order - especially when the abuser is still reaping (and being allowed to reap unobstructed) the benefits of his deceptions and crimes.

When you read about acts of victimization, oppression, corruption, and exploitation you’re supposed to get angry, REALLY angry – angry enough to start a revolution, a movement or a war (or at least sign a petition to express your outrage or concern). Look at all the history books – what happens when good people fail to stand up and speak out against victimization, oppression, corruption and exploitation? It always ends badly for everyone, so should domestic violence piss you off? Absolutely!!!

All the "angry, bitter, man-hating, lesbian, feminist-Nazi *itches" label does is trivialize, nullify, devalue, disregard and attempt to shut down the valid injustices that are consequences of “successfully escaping” a violent and/or abusive relationship. The more survivors call attention to the injustices, the more the label is reached for as a way to avoid having to address and rectify them.

So angry? Yes, but bitter? Bitter (to me) is a default consequence of injustice, not a lifestyle choice. Really hard to stay optimistic when you do your best to do the right thing only for all your efforts to count for nothing in the end.

The bitter seems to settle in when a survivor “quits”, withdraws and is unable to get beyond what’s been done to her; learning to “let it go” is an active process and if the survivor doesn’t have the support, compassion and encouragement she needs from the rest of us to keep on keepin’ on, it’ll be hard for her not to settle in to bitter. More often than not, however, the “bitter” I see and hear is actually a persistent justifiable anger and frustration at not being understood, and if a survivor mom is fighting for the safety of her children, you will see persistent anger until justice is done.

The “man-hating” part actually makes me laugh because most DV survivors I come across still love men – it’s just that they’re a little more picky and guarded (care to guess why?), opting for gentlemen and gentle men (and I can tell you, whoever came up with the “man-hating” label was no gentleman or gentle man!)

Why “lesbian” got thrown into the mix, Lord only knows because sexuality or sexual preference has NOTHING to do with the gender bias in a patriarchal society that is the soil in which DV takes root. DV exists in both heterosexual as well as homosexual relationships (which gets really screwy for statistics because if you have a male victim, it doesn’t necessarily mean he has a female abuser) so the lesbian reference is just way out of place.

When I first heard the term “feminist-Nazis” I had to laugh because was there ever such a thing as a feminist Nazi? I don’t think feminism (the radical notion that women are people too) was the issue for the Third Reich but in any case, this part of the label just seems to indicate the relentlessness of advocates and that’s a good thing so far as I’m concerned because if those at the top won’t actively help to bring an end to domestic violence, somebody’s going to need to lead the charge…

The “*itches” part of the label is just another form of disrespect that gentlemen and gentle men would never use so in totality, the only people who would use the label in its entirety ("angry, bitter, man-hating, lesbian, feminist-Nazi *itches") reveal themselves to be abusers and misogynists. Another point from "therapy school": the minute someone turns to name-calling in a debate or argument, the "loser" is identified because name-calling is a personal attack and diverts away from the topic/issued being debated or argued; now that you know this, watch how hard it'll be for you not to smile the next time someone calls you a name!

But lets get back to being angry (cause there really is A LOT to be angry about just within the last week).

Originally, I wanted to call your attention to the insensitive decision and comments made by NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, with regards to the two-game suspension imposed on a football player for domestic violence http://www.cbssports.com/general/writer/gregg-doyel/24635920/goodell-fails-brutally-with-two-game-suspension-for-scary-ray-rice, but get this: as I was searching for the commissioner’s comments, I came across something even worse relating to the same DV incident!

This is what I mean folks: bad enough Goodell made the decision and comments he did, but look what came along afterwards! http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/stephen-smith-controversial-remarks-domestic-violence-defends-twitter-article-1.1880343 (And the point I wanted to make about Goodell’s comments was that he was so calm, casual and nonchalant on camera about the gravity of the football player’s assault; let me tell you, he would NOT be so calm, casual and nonchalant if the video was of his daughter being dragged out of an elevator unconscious!) But you see, that’s the trademark of someone who has no clue about DV with the whole “It won’t happen to me/someone I know/love” attitude (until it does and then everyone will be telling him not to be so angry!)

How do you get the "unaffected" to see how serious DV is? How can we impress that it only gets worse when it's not addressed or taken seriously? The ladies at Ultra Violet are trying with this petition: http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/NFL_domestic_violence/?t=1&akid=1143.652140.2H8Yoa so please support them in trying to clue the NFL in before the next body we see is a dead one instead of unconscious.

Let’s make it more local though – did anyone catch any of these stories in just this past week?

  • July 23: Man accused of kidnapping ex-wife appears in court”
  • July 22: Puna man arrested for attempted murder
  • July 22: Waianae man arrested for terroristic threatening

Or how about any of these in the past month?

  • July 15: Ex-boyfriend of missing pregnant Maui woman indicted
  • July 6: Hawaii’s Most Wanted – Jarrett Yockman-Kaua
  • July 3: Man turns himself in after allegedly choking woman
  • July 1: Marine is charged in wife’s stabbing

How can we impress how widespread the problem of domestic violence is when no one calls it what it is? Notice how none of these stories are identified as domestic violence? I’m sure there were other stories I may have missed in doing a cursory search on the Star Advertiser, Hawaii News Now and KHON websites because domestic violence isn’t being called what it is – instead it’s “hidden” under crimes associated with it: choking, stabbing, terroristic threatening. These are reports that made the headlines – what about all the reports that didn’t? (And what about all the incidents that were never reported at all?) Doesn’t that get you mad?

It gets me mad that in all of these media stories, there’s no “warning label” at the end of them – we have warnings on cigarettes, booze and even amusement park rides yet we don’t have warnings about a problem that will directly affect one in four women and indirectly impact everyone else on the planet – how come?!

Don’t you get angry when something bad happens and then you find out that no one warned you? That the bad thing could have been prevented but no one did anything about it? That the bad thing didn't have to happen or could have been stopped before it ever started? Ask any DV survivor and she’ll tell you “If I only knew then what I know now” but more than that – she wouldn’t wish that kind of a relationship on anyone, which is why survivors (who haven’t been shamed into silence) are so passionate about prevention and education.

Here’s the thing though: people may be open to education but no one wants to really hear it. Everyone wants you to talk about things like domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, molestation and incest “calmly” – how can ANYONE remain calm about any of these issues?! I get the “whole unpleasant and disturbing” aspect of it, but there really is no way to sugarcoat any of the info - not if you’re trying to effectively educate and warn people! Domestic violence is serious, scary and potentially life-threatening/ending business so to “calm it down” or sugarcoat any of it to make it more palatable or to make it better received is truly doing a disservice.

Is domestic violence offensive? You betcha! Is it awkward and uncomfortable? Totally, but being polite and politically correct is not going to save or spare anyone so I hope I sound angry cause then I must be doing it right.

WARNING: Domestic Violence is hazardous to your health. The only way to avoid the negative, hurtful, harmful, damaging and destructive consequences of domestic violence is to not get caught up in it in the first place because once you’re in it, it’s too late. Know the signs; if you see something, say something.

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