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I Love You So Much I Will Hurt You: Abuse In America
The statistics are staggering.
· 3.3 million child abuse reports each year involving six million children
· More than five children die each day from child abuse
· 25% of women have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime.
· More than three women and one man are murdered each day by their intimate partners
· Child abuse costs the United States over $125 billion dollars per year
· 30% of abused and neglected children will abuse their own children
· 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way
· An estimated three million women are victims of domestic violence each year
But those are just statistics, merely numbers that are seen and then forgotten by many. Abuse of any form is real life and not numbers.
The tears no longer come. They are replaced by a numbness, the mind’s defense system pulling up the drawbridge and keeping her safe for another night. She thinks of happier days when she was a child, skipping through puddles and laughing with her friends. She married for love. How could she have foreseen the beatings, the name-calling, the demeaning treatment from the man she married? Is this all there is to life? Year after year of explaining away the bruises and making excuses for his behavior; is this all there is to life?
We must be the instrument of change
- Tennyson Center for Children - Leading the fight against child abuse and neglect
Welcome to Tennyson Center for Children and childabuse.org, Colorado's leader in the treatment and education of abused, neglected and at-risk children.
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Abuse comes in many forms. Verbal abuse uses words and body language to criticize and belittle. Slowly self-worth diminishes and is replaced by feelings of worthlessness and of being undeserving.
Psychological abuse, or mental abuse, or emotional abuse, happens when one partner is controlling and manipulates the other person’s sense of reality.
Physical abuse, the dishing out of pain, and sexual abuse, the unwanted sexual contact perpetrated on a victim, may be easier to detect but they are oh so difficult to prevent. And of course there is also neglect, the failure to provide for the basic needs of a dependent victim, whether those needs be food, shelter, love or care.
But those are just definitions and are far-removed from reality.
I love you mommy. Please don’t hit me mommy. I will do anything you want me to do, mommy, but please don’t call me a little bitch again. Please, mommy, hold me like you once did. Stroke my hair and tell me I’m beautiful. Please, mommy, I love you and I’ll be a good little girl.
The victims, at times, will blame themselves for the abuse, convincing themselves that they somehow deserve the beatings, the character assassinations and the stripping of rights. If only they had done something different he wouldn’t be like this. If only they can be perfect and do everything right then there won’t be any trouble. If only, if only, but if only never comes because the abuser feeds off of the fear, and feeds off of the power and feeds off of the anguish and cries for help. You see, it’s all about power and control and maybe, just maybe, it is about quieting the demons inside their own heads. Someone must be punished for the pain, and love means punishment, and by God what are you crying for?
She slips under her covers and waits for the sound she dreads. His footsteps, so quiet and yet resounding in her skull as he comes down the hallway and opens her door. “Hello, sweetheart, daddy loves you. Do you love daddy? Show me how much.”
They come in all sizes and shapes, all races and denominations. There are no boundaries where abuse is concerned, no delineation that separates the ungodly from the righteous. Abuse wears different masks but the face beneath the mask is always the same. He is the forty-eight year old Baptist father and she is the twenty-three year old housewife. He drives truck in Macon, Georgia and she bags groceries in Duluth, Minnesota. He is your grocery clerk in New York and she is your hairstylist in San Diego.
“Get your ass down here, woman, and fix me dinner before I teach you who is boss. What the hell have I told you, bitch? Either learn to cook food the way I like it or pay the consequences. Jesus, I work hard all day long and this is the thanks I get, a dirty house and you looking like road kill.”
Oftentimes the abuse is camouflaged under the name of love, and that is the cruelest illusion of them all. Then other times it is simply a matter of the strong preying on the weak, for there will always be predators who need a fresh kill to satisfy a hunger within them that can never be sated.
“Take your clothes off woman and service me. Don’t look at me like that or I’ll slap that look off of your face. Just be damned happy that someone is willing to have sex with a fat cow like you. Now get your ass over there and be a good wife.”
Who will help those who cannot help themselves?
Who will help the children?
And so it goes, a legacy that is handed down from one abuse to another, generations affected with no end in sight.
There is, of course, help for both the abuser and the abused, but all too often help is never asked for because of fear or feelings of helplessness. Abuse is a social cancer that has been with us seemingly forever and shows no signs of going away soon.
Those with a social conscience of course help when they can, but many times the words “don’t get involved” stop assistance before it even begins. The courts are too lenient, the police too few and the numbers keep climbing as the sick devour those who cannot or will not fight back.
I write this feeling inadequate. The problem is just too large and public response is too small. Whenever anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of H.O.W. to always be there and for that, I am responsible. I believe that preamble of Humanity One World, but I am also a realist. As a teacher I saw cases of abuse and was hand-tied to do anything about it. You write a report, turn it into the proper authorities, discussions are held and the case falls between the cracks of a system incapable of being effective.
So we are left with the question how? How do we stop it? How do we police three-hundred million people? How do we establish a system that recognizes abuse and takes the necessary steps to stomp it out?
I do not have an answer.
In the meantime the screams will not be heard. The tears will fall unabated and those who are suffering will do anything required to make the pain end.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)