Let me start by saying that any man who physically abuses a woman is not a man at all. This is the lowest form of cowardice right up there with child abuse, rape, child molestaion, and animal cruelty. It is more than a character flaw. It is one of the most despicable acts a man can commit against another human being. It is a flaw in the very soul of the abuser. I can think of no sane rationalization for why a man would brutalize the woman he professes to love. The problem is that I can think of no sane rationalization for why these women stay.
I had told myself that I was going to take a break from the really controversial subjects for a while. That last topic was more than enough controversy for me. But circumstances have conspired to once again force me to delve into one of the most reprehensible aspects of human nature. Domestic Violence.
Let me say at the outset that I am not a woman so I cannot understand any of the complex emotions that govern women's behaviors. I cannot understand what it is like to be the physically weaker sex. I cannot understand what it is like to know that whether or not you are really physically weaker than most men the fact that the world perceives you as helpless victims makes it a dangerous place for you. If right now, with all of my size, strength, and abilities, I knew that half the world considered me an easy target, I would never leave the house unarmed. I'd probably never leave the house at all. It is a dangerous world for women. The fact that you are able to survive and thrive in such a world truly amazes me. There is much I do not understand about women and I really want to. I want to know it all. But this question most of all I want an answer to:
"Why do they stay? What possible redeeming qualities could a woman find in a man who beats her? What could possibly be so good about a lowlife like that that you wouldn't leave his ass immediately? There are men out there who would never abuse you, men who would love you and treat you like a goddess, yet again and again you choose the worst of us. Again and again you leave these assholes only to return to the same abusive relationship after some weak promises that last only as long as the next argument. I don't understand. Why do you stay?"
I accept battered women's syndrome. I accept Stockholm Syndrome. I accept. But I do not understand. I accept that a woman might feel she has no choice, might be afraid that he would track her down and hurt her even worse. I accept that some women have such low self-worth that they feel they can do no better, that the occasional fits of violence are a price they are willing to pay to have a man, that they might even believe that they deserve this abuse. I accept it but I cannot understand it. I can't understand the women who still love their abusers and make excuses for them. The ones who still believe that the man who would bruise and batter them is still somehow a good husband or boyfriend or worse of all, those who feel he is still a good father. If you have kids and you are allowing yourself to remain in a situation like this I can neither understand nor accept. If you are pregnant with the children of an abusive man and you do not run far far away from him, I can neither understand nor accept this. It is your duty as a mother to protect your children and that means leaving that abusive asshole. It doesn't matter if he has never laid a hand on your children, letting children bare witness to the brutalization of their mother is abuse in itself. Sleeping on the street is better than living in a relationship with a man who beats the mother of his children. There is always a better place to go. Your children would sleep better on concrete than in constant fear.
One of my earliest memories is of the man that I thought was my Dad beating my mother every night while my sister and I sat in the next room screaming at the top of our lungs for him to stop hurting our mother. I was five years old the last time that happened. My mother left him when he tried to force her to take poison and she never took shit from any man again. Yet, the memory still haunts me thirty years later. I still feel the guilt of not being able to help her. I still wish I could kill this man.
I was brought up to believe that there was no more heinous act a man could commit against a woman than to physically abuse her. I would expect any woman who is assaulted by the man who is supposed to love her to walk out and never look back except perhaps to stare across a courtroom at him when he is being convicted for domestic abuse. This is what I expect. Yet, again and again I see women in these abusive relationships who do not get out. Who do not even hate the men who abuse them. I am at a loss to understand. Perhaps it is because I value women so much that I cannot understand why they value themselves so little.
My first girlfriend told me that she thought it was sexy in those old movies when a man would give a woman a little smack. But, "Only when she really deserves it," and pointed to that Humphrey Bogart movie when he smashes a grapefruit in a woman's face as an example of one of these "sexy" moments in cinematic history. I was utterly repulsed. All I could think about was the hell my mother went through and here was this silly little idiot glorifying violence against women. I told her that if I ever even looked like I was going to strike her that she should leave and never look back. I understand now that she probably grew up in a household where that took place and she was still trying to come to terms with that. She was trying to find a way to love her father even though he abused her mother. Her solution, however, glorifying the abuse, almost guarantees the continuance of that cycle of violence. In her mind she had made the act normal, acceptable, even sexy. That way she was able to still love her father and respect him as a man despite the fact that he was a cowardly wife-beater. Who would want their daughters to grow up thinking that this type of violence was normal or sexy? Her mother should have gotten out and so I would have a difficult time not blaming her as well as her father for how her daughter turned out and all the pain and heartache she is likely to have endured in her life as a result. I lost touch with her a decade and a half ago but I am willing to bet that her life has not been a bed of roses and her relationships were anything but idyllic. Abuse begets abuse.
When I was seventeen a good friend of mine was bouncing from one abusive relationship to the next. She had gotten hooked on cocaine and coke dealers. She would date these guys so that they could buy her nice clothes and jewelry and feed her habit and then when they started kicking her ass she'd call me to come rescue her, which I would. I kicked the asses of more coke dealers in that town than anyone outside of the Philadelphia PD. I didn't have a car and so I would catch buses and subways into some of the worst neighborhoods in Philly, walk into a crackhouse or often even the guy's apartment, beat him within an inch of his life, take her and walk back to the bus stop. On any one of these occasions I could have easily been shot and killed. Each time she would go back to these cowardly assholes and I would be back there in a week or two. Then she'd finally leave him for yet another drug dealer and the cycle would continue. One night I found myself in the projects in West Philadelphia after midnight beating up a drug dealer in his parent's home. I left him bleeding on his kitchen floor. We had not taken two steps out of his house before she was running back in there to be with him. I washed my hands of her that night and I have never spoken to her again. I can only assume that she is dead now. That's how stories like hers always end. Why? Why does it have to be this way?
Now, just a few days ago, my girlfriend gets a call from a girl she has known most of her life. They practically grew up together and they had been out of touch for over a year because the girl was in an extremely abusive relationship with a man who would beat her with a golf club and Christie couldn't stand to witness it. So she gets a call from the girl and learns that she now has two children, one that is a year old and one that is only seven weeks old, and that she is in a homeless shelter and still with the same abusive idiot. He kicked her out with both kids and she had nowhere else to go. She was crying because she still wanted them to be a family. The man who beats her with a golf club. So, I leave work to go pick this girl up because her boyfriend was coming down there to attack her again and I didn't want Christie anywhere near that situation. I get her without incident and we drive to the house with her telling me how she couldn't believe he would kick her out, how she thought that he loved her and loved her kids and wanted them to be a family. The guy who beats her with golf clubs. My stomach was roiling the entire time along with my blood. I was angry that the guy hadn't been there when I arrived so that I could have done to him what he'd been doing to the mother of his children. I was angry that this girl still seemed to be in love with this idiot despite all of that. I was angry that she had even had kids with him knowing what type of man he was. And I was angry that she had lived with him for over a year with him abusing her in front of her kids and hadn't left until he'd basically kicked her out. And I was angry because I know she'll probably go back to him, kids and all, and he'll keep beating the hell out of her until he eventually kills her. I was angry at her for not seeing any of this. I know that's wrong but I was. I wanted to take her kids away from her and report her to Child Protective Services. In my mind, if she wasn't woman enough to put her child's welfare above her own fucked up relationship issues than she didn't deserve them. But I did not. I opened my house to her and her children. Christie is helping her to find a job and get her own apartment and I am walking around amazed that this woman still seems so uncertain and almost remorseful about leaving the man who beat her with a golf club. The first chance she got she called this idiot and was going to go see him if Christie had not warned her that if she left our assistance would come to an end. I don't understand. Someone please enlighten me. Why do they stay?