With our Yoga Zoom Fundraiser for Refuge approaching, its been on my mind to think about why so many women and their families suffer abuse from their partners. Can we work to bring healing to our ancestral abuse and trauma in our lifetimes?
I personally and professionally know so many women, currently trapped in an abusive relationship, having recently escaped one, or in recovery as a survivor of abuse and living with the subsequent trauma and anxiety that can ruin lives for decades.
I’m wondering how important it is, that we allow this issue to surface fully, express itself in all its darkness and ugliness and process our generational, ancestral pasts, in order to release and heal this deep wound on the feminine and masculine energies.
Women have suffered so much abuse at the hands of husbands, partners, fathers, but also in their communities, through the church and political systems. Historically, the bruise on the Divine Feminine runs deep.
Over the past decades much has changed, but domestic abuse is on the rise, its still an enormous problem no matter how equal our pay becomes, how aware our children become, or how politically correct our media tries to become. Women are still suffering in their own homes everyday and much of it is hidden, in the shadow and dark, ensuring that we don’t have to look.
Isn’t it time we did?
Domestic abuse is an age old problem that has never gone away. Its a little less taboo nowadays, certainly only a few decades ago, domestic abuse was seen, even by the police, as a private matter between partners and not for anyone else, certainly not any authority to intervene or help with.
There is still a residue of belief, that matters between couples are not for anyone else to be involved in. Its time we changed that, women need help and support and we need to offer it. If a man mistreats a woman, its up to all of us to take his energy in hand and not turn away blindly. It does have something to do with us, every woman needs to support every woman, men also need to step up and speak up, declaring their judgement over men who are abusive.
For centuries, women have suffered in silence, afraid to speak up because of the very real fear of retribution from a partner and the very real fear of having themselves and their reputation destroyed in their community, their family and their friends. The fear that no one would believe them was real, the fear that they would be told it was their fault was real.
How much has really changed?
Once, women would have been trapped in an abusive marriage due to financial impoverishment if they left, trying to leave could have meant homelessness and destitution for their family. This is still the case for many women, but thankfully there is now a way out for women who are able to work independently, can save money secretly, or be supported by the benefits system and housing to escape.
How much is shame still an issue? How many women are prepared to stand up and speak out about what has happened to them?
I feel very few. Its very hard for an abused woman, to even begin to recognise what has happened to her, admitting it to herself is hugely traumatic.
Facing the fact that the man she loved has turned on her, is devastating. Whether its physical violence, emotional abuse, psychological torture, abandonment, or the use of ‘flying monkeys’ to destroy her after the relationship has ended, admitting the abuse has been real, rising out of gaslighting that wore her into believing it was all her fault, is exhausting and takes huge mental strength. To then try to also admit that to family, friends or the wider world might be pushing any woman in that state of torment, too far.
Women don’t speak up, they don’t stand up, we need to try to change this in order to heal and bring our wounding to light.
So much remains hidden.
If a woman does start to unravel from the full nightmare of what has happened to her and does choose to speak out, its then a lottery to whether anyone will believe her.
Isn’t it insane to think, that a woman who confides in her friends and loved ones and starts to admit and talk about her abuse, might then be dismissed or even accused of playing a victim or lying? But this happens all the time to women across the UK and around the world.
Similarly, to how so many sexual assault victims are accused of trying to ruin a man, leaving women afraid to speak out for fear of such hideous accusations.
The old, misogynistic idea that women lie to get attention, to distort and push away blame, or to ruin a man, holds us back in ever being able to drag this ugly truth out into light for healing.
The charity Refuge use a tag line on their website – “We will listen. We will believe you”
The very fact a woman needs to be assured that someone will believe her, just goes to show how vital it is that we recognise how many women are afraid that they won’t be.
What can we do?
Certainly for me, I’m just one person, living in rural Dorset without a big social media presence or voice, I am sure if you are reading this, you are too! So how can we help?
Start with your neighbour, your friend or the woman in your family that you are worried about.
Don’t enable an abuser, break the cycle of centuries of torment that women have suffered by the power and control used by some men in our society, by no longer pretending that what they do is no problem, that you will carry on, behaving towards them, as if nothing has happened.
Don’t practice misogyny or internalised misogny. If we are going to change this cycle, we have to stand up for women, for each other. If a woman is a victim of abuse, she’s a victim, treat her as such, with support for her, even at the cost of making yourself look bad in front of the man who is abusing her, perhaps losing him from your life. Make it clear to an abuser that its not ok, have boundaries around them and their behaviour.
Enabling means to ‘give someone authority or the means to do something, make it possible for…’.
Don’t enable an abuser, this kind of shift in our society could make a difference as so much domestic abuse is carried out by men who are going about life as if nothing has happened. Men can go under the radar of the law, as so much abuse is impossible to be brought to justice, impossible to prove.
Domestic abuse against women, is like all other abuses towards our gender. We have to break the enabling cycle that its our fault, that we brought it upon ourselves, that we made it happen, that we attracted it. Just as a woman in a short skirt did not attract her late night attacker, so a woman who has been abused by her partner did not attract his bullying, its not her fault and in order to break this, we have to put this practice of blaming and shaming abused women, in any way, to an end once and for all.
There is so much work to do to heal this. This is just one of many steps that need to be taken to break this ancestral cycle.
As with any healing that needs to happen, first we allow the issue to surface, drag it out of the shadow, face it, then we begin to heal. Everything here in this blog, all the ideas I suggest, are a tiny step at the beginning of this healing journey we are on.
Perhaps step one could be to be a true mother to every woman, to treat every woman as she were our daughter and protect, comfort and support her as if she were our own.