Abuse. Domestic Violence. Ray Rice.

How do you turn an abused woman into a healthy woman? By getting HER to say NO!

As hard as we may try to stop domestic violence and punish the abuser, so long as women choose to stay with those who beat up on them (for whatever the reason), the abuse will never stop. Contrary to popular belief, abuse cannot be stopped without a woman’s help. If women continue to return to men who abuse them, then what are we to do?
I know, I’ve been there. For way too long, I tolerated physical, emotional, and mental abuse.  It took a lot for me to stop the madness. A lot for me to be willing not to take that treatment. I believe we need to stop telling women it’s okay to stay, and support them in walking away.

Oscar Pistorius.

There are countless stories every day in the news (and many that will never hit the news), about women who have been pummeled, often to death, by their abusive boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands. By now you’ve likely heard that Oscar Pistorius was not convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.  And, you’ve probably heard about Ray Rice and others, who simply have not learned how to play well with others–especially their wives and girlfriends.

Ray Rice. Mike Tyson. Chris Brown.

Sadly and surprisingly, in all too many cases, not only do women stay with their abuser, they marry them. Think of Robin Givens who was beat like ground beef and then she married Mike Tyson. And most recently Janay Palmer’s face was pounded into an elevator wall by Ray Rice, and THEN she married him. And let’s not forget Rihanna, who after being beat up several times by Chris Brown, returned to his “loving” arms. And, abuse is not just physical, it is also emotional and mental. Every time a man disrespects his wife by committing adultery, especially with someone she knows, he is emotionally abusing her. How many women have stayed with, or returned to a partner who behaved in such a way, thinking the next time, it will be different.

Why do we stay?

There are lots of reasons, love, money, low self esteem, family, fear, guilt, children.  The list is endless.  Why did I stay?  Because I “loved him,” and because he convinced me that it was always my fault why he/they beat the crap out of me.  But for me, the truth is, I stayed because I didn’t care enough about myself to expect more from a man and because I was financially dependent on them.  Dependence is a horrible thing, regardless of whether you’re dependent on a drug, food, or a man. It compels you to do things you would not do for fear of losing that thing you need to survive.
But regardless of the reason, when we stay we suffer, and so does everyone who love us.  We don’t live in a vacuum. Our behavior, as women, impacts everyone around us, especially our children. Every time a woman allows a man to beat the crap out of her and she has kids, she sends a compelling message—this is how we are to be treated. We teach our daughters to accept such treatment and we teach our sons to administer such treatment. We teach people how to treat us.
Not only do we influence our kids, but if the woman is a celebrity, then her behavior impacts millions of young girls who watch and emulate her every step. What message does that send?
I am a little disappointed at the outcry of support—especially by women—in favor of Ray Rice. Women who openly are mad because he was suspended.  What about the women these men assault? What if it was your sister? your mother? your niece? your daughter?
There are two ways to stop such abuse:

  1. Hit the guy where it hurts. Take away what really matters to him—his money, his property, his prestige. But we don’t. Instead, we celebrate the abuser and make them bigger celebrities, buy their music, see their movies, attend their games.
  2. Women need to STOP the madness and leave. Stop giving abusers permission to continue the abuse. How do you turn an abused woman into a healthy woman? By getting HER to say NO, I’m sick and tired and won’t take it anymore!

By no means is it easy to leave. Particularly if the woman has no visible way of support and has allowed herself to be totally dependent on the abuser. But just because something is not easy does not mean it cannot be done. The price you pay when you allow someone to destroy your soul is a high price indeed. We need to stop encouraging women to stay and instead, support them in walking away.
Where are our role models? Obviously not on Reality TV. I’d love to hear what Queen Latifah, Oprah, Alicia Keys, Jada Pinkett Smith, Angelina Jolie, and other women I admire have to say about this. Speak up ladies–if not YOU, then who.  I’m not a celebrity, so no one will listen to me, but YOU, they’ll listen to.
I am Attorney Francine Ward initiating a conversation that needs to be had. Join in on my website, on my Law Face Book Fan Page or my Esteemable Acts Fan Page, on my Law Twitter Page or my Esteemable Acts Twitter Page, feeds, in my LinkedIn group, or in one of my Google+ Circles.

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