Kuan Yin, Mother of Mercy, rains down Her compassion upon women, especially those who are victimized in some way. This is one of the many things that drew me to Her in the first place.
Those of us who made it out of abusive situations are always looking back, trying to throw out a lifeline to those currently suffering. I love it that there is a Goddess who looks out for all of us and is there to ease our broken hearts and empower us.
At the end of the day, doesn't each and every one of us deserve the shelter of a safe harbor? No matter what our gender, age, income, I.Q., disability, don't we all need to feel that there is one place in all the world that is our sanctuary?
Why should we have to leave our own home to find such a place?
Even soldiers have a safe base to retreat to in times of war.
I have tried to find many opportunities since I escaped my ex husband to help other women who are facing domestic violence situations. I first volunteered in a women's shelter. I loved it, and yet it was heartbreaking watching some of the women return to their abusive husband, knowing nothing had changed. Back then there weren't any laws mandating counseling for the men, and women still had to be willing to testify against them for legal charges to be pursued. Now, once police have been called (and neighbors, please do your part and call them!) and they see evidence of abuse, they don't need the wife to press charges.
I was to learn over time that women often needed to leave and return a few times until finally they were convinced: He's never going to get it and he's never going to change.
Sure, there are now programs for abusers. Some small percentage make use of them and actually change, and I offer all respects to such men.
Yet most won't admit there is a problem, and until they do there is no hope that they will change anything. I have seen that denial is every bit as intractable as in alcoholism. Unlike alcoholism, however, many abusers don't hit some bottom level where they are forced to face their disease. One woman leaves; they find another who will believe in them. She leaves, they find another. Unless we can find a way as a society to stop creating abusers, and to heal them once they are created, there will always be women needing to flee their homes to get peace and safety.
Since my days of volunteer work in the shelter I have worked in a community women's center doing peer counseling, and on the suicide crisis line. Yes, battered women become suicidal at times. It's not surprising.
So many women are battered, that it is also not surprising that among them are some of my friends and even my daughter. Yes, this is not a legacy I would have wanted to pass on. I left her father early in her childhood in part hoping I would not teach her to tolerate abuse. And that much is true, she has not tolerated it. She put her husband in jail for a night and demanded that he stop if he was going to live with her. So far so good. I hope that he turns out to be one of those men who beats the odds and continues to control his violent nature--for her sake and the sake of my grandsons. I pray they never learn this behavior!
Men can do their part by being very vocal in their condemnation of the very idea of using violence to "control" their wives. Stop using the feminine as the default insult of choice against other men. Calling other men pussies, pussy-whipped, or other such terms simply reinforces the sexist notions at the heart of domestic violence. A man that would never hit his male friends feels like he has some sort of societal permission to beat his wife. Take that permission away! Social approval is a powerful tool--wield it!
Contribute to women's shelters! Yes you! Someday your sister, mother or daughter might need one! Help fund the rape crisis lines while you're at it.
Teach your sons, nephews and grandsons how to resolve conflict nonviolently. We could stop abuse in one generation if we could bring up nonviolent children.
Teach your daughters, nieces and granddaughters how to be assertive, confident and strong enough to leave and take care of themselves. Let them know they will always have shelter if they need a place to go.
Look around and offer help to any woman you meet who needs a haven from abuse. Call the police when you hear her screams or the sounds of violence next door.
Violence continues when nobody cares, nobody responds, nobody speaks.
Care! Respond! Speak!
I wrote this a few years after I left my ex husband.
I Have Won
Crashing against the wall
World spinning crazily
Your voice from a distance
Screaming in fury
Self righteous condemnation
Again the blows come
They seem to explode inside my head
I don't see your fist
in its journey towards my body.
In defeat I huddle
Arms over my head, shielding in vain
Knees drawn up to chest
I believe this is the end.
Finally you finish
Your anger and frustration relieved.
Surprised to be alive
I remain where I am, in shock.
Slowly reason returns.
I try to pull myself together
Clutching the shreds of sanity--
Determined to survive.
In bitterness I hear the pleas
To forgive you one more time.
Ignore the empty promises
"It'll never happen again."
I know better than that
I've heard it all before.
I've also heard the denial
In between the beatings.
I want you to understand:
Violence has no excuse.
There is no rationale.
No end justifies that means.
You're wrong about me.
I can make it without you.
Someone else could love me,
And I can love myself.
Now I'm on my own.
Life is peaceful and serene.
No fear intrudes on my home,
Or in the lives of my children.
I have won, after all.