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The Doctor's Script: Domestic Abuse
The Doctor's Script
Martin Luther King: The doctor's script
A mother's reflection on the enormous emotional task of setting a positive example for her children under the extreme duress of their abuser.
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By Kari Herreman - Friday 22 Jul 2011
“Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of spirit. You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him."
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I must refuse to hate the man who hurts my children. That seems an impossible task, Dr. King! My children’s tears are one of the many consequences of this man’s many transgressions, both of which have equal, endless stores. My broken heart finds no solace or reprieve from this prescription. It is a surgical procedure without anesthesia! Involved in this gruesome operation is carving out the hate and scraping out its remnants. Raw nerves, gutted core, exposed flesh, and breathtaking pain, be damned!
I must do this for my children, because the man I speak of is their father.
I must demonstrate for them what I must learn for myself. Reacting to hateful aggression with hateful retaliation produces chaos for all involved, especially the children. I have noticed reproductions of the fights my ex husband and I had prior to our split in squabbles between my young son and daughter. I have observed them respond out of tendencies to cover their own emotions by tearing at the other. I had a part in teaching them this destructive skill, and I must now give them a more effective, more edifying tool to repair it. I must refuse to hate.
Dr. King was a man who was hated, slandered, threatened, tormented, jailed, and murdered by an entire society of men and women who could not stand in the shadow of his strength, character, or intelligence. His legacy stands, and theirs is marred into a mob of hateful ignorance. Dr. King made a painstaking choice to allow the chemotherapies of patience, understanding, love, and persistent self- discipline to eradicate the twin cancers of hate and bitterness for his own course of treatment. In the end, he paid with his life. However, the permanent imprint of his sacrifice is marked upon all of humanity. I could never claim to relate to the core wounds of this man’s heart. I have not experienced what he has on the level that he did. I have been abused, discriminated against, lied and slandered about, and left in poverty at the hands of criminal behaviors, and I have had to find my way out. I cannot relate to the gaping hole of racism’s wound from Dr. King’s perspective. But I can encounter it with his passion. I can encounter all hate with his passion. And for my children, I must.
Alternative methods, like medicines, are always available. Malcolm X is another man I greatly admire. I admire his courage, his strength, his leadership capability, and his defiant stance on oppression. I admire his brave quality of incorrigibility from principle and demand for respect from fellow men. Malcolm X demanded the acknowledgment of value from his fellow man through means of violent response to abuse. He inspired many to find their own strength and self-respect. Malcolm X had his dignity intact with his command of presence. However, his lasting legacy has arguably left Chicago the murder capital of the United States for many years running.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
For my children, I choose to emulate Dr. King, a man so greatly influenced by so many great minds and leaders of servitude for mankind. I respect you, Malcolm X. I admire your tenacity. But for my children, and for my legacy, “I choose love. Hate is too great a burden.”