Tag Archives: breaking the silence

October Is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month

Do we really need to make people more aware of domestic violence? We have had many public service announcements, sports celebrities speaking out against domestic violence, and the victims of abuse, some celebrity victims are speaking out. I think everyone is aware it exists, it is no longer considered to be a “private matter”. 

The legal system; police, judges, etc have made some strides in how they deal with the victims of abuse, but any progress is slow. 

Stats actually show an increase in the number of domestic violence cases, which just happens to coincide with government cutbacks to programs and services for the victims of domestic violence since the economic crash.

The Guardian
In Canada, if a woman wants to leave an abusive relationship and calls one of the shelters she is told there are no beds available. When I was looking there wasn’t space in any shelters from Chilliwack to White Rock and certainly nothing if you had a pet.

And as I have mentioned numerous times before; welfare rates are sorrowfully inadequate, extremely so if you are a single woman. There is a bit more help for women with children but let’s be serious; all mom’s want their children to be happy. The prospect of taking them to a shelter or struggling to provide for them is scarey and the last thing a mother wants to do. Then the courts rule that the dad gets visitation, he is on a slander campaign and playing the victim. More than likely the children miss their daddy and he is putting on pressure to “put the family back together”. 

On top of everything else the victim has to deal with, she probably has PTSD, and also is dealing with the prejudices and misconceptions of not only society but those closest to her; her friends and family. Old stereotypes die hard and when you are struggling to find the strength to get up every morning the last thing you should have to listen to is the judgements of others.

All the “awareness” in the world is not going to put an end to domestic abuse. Until we can breakthrough old stereotypes I am afraid we will continue to repeat history. What old stereotypes am I talking about?

Stereotypes people don’t even realize they have; which makes them so hard to break through.

I am almost 7 years out of the relationship and can still feel the sting when someone says something off the cuff that they don’t mean as an insult. I know they would be surprised if they knew how much it hurts. 

Let me clarify, I correct their erroneous belief but I don’t tell them how much it hurts; for a couple of reasons

1. I don’t want to make a huge deal out of it and make them feel bad or embarrass them. 

2. These people have known me my whole life and been with me through the past 7 years. What is it that makes it so hard for them to “get it”. 

I have to dig deep to not let it get to me and I am not freshly out of the relationship with raw emotions and shattered self esteem. 

In the past few months I have dealt with extreme anger because I had gone back numerous times. The same fact was used as justification for someone I trusted to screw me over and lie about me, telling people the reason they did what they did was because I had gone back to my ex. I said to them that I hadn’t gone back to my ex and they said, “But you had gone back many times.” 

My reply, “Yes, I had gone back but not that time. Not until you turned everyone against me and I felt totally deserted and thrown to the wolves did I go back.” 

It seems when the victim is at their lowest they end up being subjected to mistreatment by the very people who should have their back.

The other false assumption is that the victim is stupid, can’t handle finances, and is emotionally unstable. 

I was voicing some concerns for a young lady who recently started dating a guy I picked up some red flags on. I was shocked when someone who I have known 30 years said not to worry about her, she’s not the “type” to get involved with a narcissist. She is level headed, got her priorities straight and not about to fall for an asshole. 

This is so much bigger than telling women to not be ashamed and it wasn’t their fault because if we don’t change beliefs that are deeply embedded in our psyche we will keep inadvertently shaming the victim into silence. Women feel forced to try to solve or fix the relationship on her own. A strong woman will be more likely to stay and try to figure out how to fix things because up until now she has always been capable an able to solve situations. She usually has strong communication skills and keeps trying to convey her feelings thinking sooner or later she will be able to explain, to the N; why she is so hurt and he will have an epiphany and go back to the sweet man she met. 

A strong woman will stick it out longer in hopes of saving enough resources to leave without help from anyone. A strong woman will try to just “get over it” without talking about it because she has always been able to land on her feet in the past. A strong woman is much more likely to keep silent because she is embarrassed to be in the situation she finds herself in.

Silence pertetuates the problem.  

What preconceived beliefs do you or did you hold about victims of abuse? What prejudices have you encountered?

A final thought; 

Yes, I know men also suffer from abuse. I am not saying they don’t.  But! Women are 4.2 times more likely to be abused or die at the hands of their intimate partner.  

Some stats:

1 in 4 women in North America and 1 in 3 women worldwide will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

In the US there are 960,000 reported incidents of domestic abuse annually.

On an average 3 women and 1 man die daily of domestic violence.

95% of domestic violence victims are female.

I speak out primarily for female victims of domestic violence because it is what I have experienced and women are at a much higher risk. Violence against women is at an epidemic level and it is not getting any better.

If you are a man who feels men need a spokesperson I encourage you to do that. I do not hate men, I do believe in love, and I believe there is nothing better than being in a loving, healthy, respectful relationship (except maybe owning a dog)

It is like Black Lives Matter and people saying All Lives Matter. BLM activists are speaking out for black people, they are not saying other nationalities are not persecuted. But each group of victims have their own unique challenges and prejuices to over come.

As a society we can all work towards ending violence and racism by simply speaking out and not turning a blind eye when we see abuse of any kind. Do what is right, not what is easy. Have the guts to speak up when you hear people expressing prejudice and racism.

Its time everyone realized we all play a role in how society functions and take an honest inventory of our beliefs and own how our actions or inaction affects others. “I don’t want to get involved” is no longer acceptable because by not getting involved you are perpetuating the problem. 

What Happens When A Victim Has The Courage To Speak Out

I listen to CBC radio 24/7 at home. I don’t watch TV or read the newspaper so aside from the internet it is my only source of information on what is going on in the world. If a person doesn’t listen to CBC radio I don’t know if they will know who Jian Ghomeshi is, but until recently he had a talk show on CBC, “Q”,  interviewing various well-known celebrities. I think he has interviewed every celebrity worth interviewing and he is handsome, personable, well liked, and generally considered a “catch” and someone to know. Apparently he used to belong to a popular band and has had TV shows on CBC and is quite well-known, although I had never heard of him before enjoying Q.

jian ghomeshi

From what I could tell he was highly respected in the entertainment industry.

That is until this week when CBC announced they had decided they could longer be associated with Jian Ghomeshi and he had been fired.

“The CBC is saddened to announce its relationship with Jian Ghomeshi has come to an end. This decision was not made without serious deliberation and careful consideration. Jian has made an immense contribution to the CBC and we wish him well,” the network said in a statement.

Jian immediately filed a $55 million law suit against CBC and later posted a message on his Facebook page where he stated he was terminated by the broadcaster because of the risk of his “private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writer.”

The Toronto Star published a story on the topic.

In the Facebook post, Ghomeshi details a relationship with a former girlfriend that apparently included “forms of BDSM,” saying that he ended the relationship at the beginning of this year.

“After this, in the early spring there began a campaign of harassment, vengeance and demonization against me that would lead to months of anxiety.”

Ghomeshi said he has “always been interested in a wide variety of activities in the bedroom” but only those that are “mutually agreed upon” and “consensual.”

Ghomeshi said he was open with CBC about the matter because he wanted his bosses to be aware of the situation, but has “never believed it was anyone’s business” what he does in his private affairs.

“CBC has been part of the team of friends and lawyers assembled to deal with this for months,” he wrote. “On Thursday I voluntarily showed evidence that everything I have done has been consensual. I did this in good faith and because I know, as I have always known, that I have nothing to hide. This when the CBC decided to fire me.”

Ghomeshi added that CBC executives told him “that this type of sexual behaviour was unbecoming of a prominent host on the CBC.”

He also writes in the post that the CBC received no formal complaints or allegations.

I reserved my judgement of Jian because as we all know, a narcissist will do everything within their power to destroy their ex partner and I thought Jian might be the victim of such an attack on his character.

But within a day 2 more women had come forward to say they had also been physically attacked by Ghomeshi, but their allegations were questionable because none of them were willing to be named and made their allegations anonymously. Ghomeshi refused to be interviewed by CBC but kept claiming he was the victim of a slander campaign and that the truth would come out.

And THEN, a woman with nothing to gain and is famous in her own right, Trailer Park Boys star Lucy DeCoutere told CBC News that Ghomeshi physically attacked her during a date in 2003.

On Thursday, another woman made allegations against Ghomeshi. Reva Seth (a woman happily married for years but who has packed the secret for years) detailed her claims against Ghomeshi in an article on the Huffington Post.

Carleton University also issued a statement saying it was “aware of allegations about former CBC Radio host Jian Ghomeshi that may involve a Carleton journalism student or graduate.” The university said it is reviewing its records.

The Toronto police are now starting an investigation into the claims against Jian Ghomeshi.

Ghomeshi must be a little uncomfortable with the heat. His claims that he is being harassed by a jilted lover are looking less believable as more victims come forward and are willing to be named. Some of these incidents happened over 10 years ago, but prove “history predicts future behaviour”.  Perhaps the woman did come out with the info because she was jilted and angry, but her speaking out started a snowball reaction that is building and threatening to destroy Ghomeshi who has gone all these years abusing women and getting away with it. arrogantly continuing to victimize innocent women because he has always gotten away with it.

What are these women claiming?

They all tell the same story, they went on a date with Jian Ghomeshi, he was a gentleman, they enjoyed the date, perhaps had a couple of dates and had no red flags that he may be violent. There was no discussion about SMS or even sex. They went to his place for a drink and out of the blue he attacked them, one was thrown down on the floor and punched repeatedly in the head, another was choked and punched while he molested her with his fingers. All the women said they were in shock and when they started to cry he stopped and they left immediately.

Why didn’t these women come forward sooner?

They all said the same thing; they didn’t think they would be taken seriously, there were no physical marks, he was a celebrity and they felt intimidated and that they wouldn’t be believed, they were in shock and never had anything like that happen to them before and decided to just put it behind them and forget it happened. But they all said the experience left them scarred and they all questioned themselves and what they may have done to cause it to happen.

Why did the women not want their names made public?

Again they all said the same thing, because Ghomeshi is famous and has money and connections, the women were afraid of repercussions, damage to their reputations, it would be their word against his and it is common knowledge that women are regularly ripped to shreds in a courtroom, their personal lives are examined with a microscope  and they didn’t want the public humiliation.

And then a couple of women, hearing about the allegations, knowing they had kept their dirty secret for a decade decided to come forward publicly to support these other women.  Lucy DeCoutere and Reva Seth should be praised for their courage to come forward, even all these years later because they gave the other women’s allegations credibility and they have made a statement to society in general that women have been abused for generations and kept silent and they are not willing to be silent any more.

Abusers be warned, there is a revolution happening; women are sick of being abused and “just taking it”, women are sick of keeping the dirty little secrets of men who totally disregard a woman’s rights and feelings in order to satisfy their own selfish needs. For generations men have been taught that they can treat a woman anyway they want and they will more than likely get away with it. Women who have come forward and accused a man of abusing her were treated like the criminal and often times regretted their choice and wish they had kept silent. It has been a vicious cycle that promoted abuse, men knew women were afraid to speak out which meant they felt entitled to taking what they wanted, when they wanted it and if they did get caught they would blame the woman saying she was drunk and wanted it, was dressed seductively, or they do whatever they can to ruin her reputation, totally twisting the events; blaming the victim for her own abuse. I have been there, as if the abuse isn’t bad enough; to then be blamed for your own abuse is devastating and makes any kind of recovery so much more difficult.

When the perpetrator of the abuse is made accountable for their action the victim is validated, acknowledged and able to start the healing process. What holds many victims back from healing is the total denial the abuse occurred or worse, that they were to blame and the shame they pack because of the judgement and disbelief of society, friends and family.

Women unite, support each other, and refuse to be silent any longer, join the revolution.