Tuesday, September 18, 2012

War On Women: Its the ABUSE stupid! Part 2

A little while ago I wrote a post supporting my friend Jessica AKA @vdaze who had suffered mental and emotional abuse by a man who is well known in internet circles.  You can read it here. I'll refer to the man in question as Fantasy Hairball™ or FH for short.

In the weeks since I wrote this post, I've noticed a disturbing trend on Twitter and other places with regards to the definition of  "victim".  Questions like does talking about abuse in public seem like whining or payback? Is defending the victim, 'piling on' the abuser(FH)? Shouldn't this all be kept private?

I've worked in social work since 1988. For the last 18 years I have been a child abuse investigator.  In that capacity I have seen first hand the abuse of children.  I've also seen hundreds of cases of Domestic Battery and other abuses of women.  I'd like to take time  to describe my observations and share some things to clear up the questions people may have.

First off, a victim of abuse is someone who suffers physical, sexual, emotional trauma at the hands of the abuser.  Physical and sexual trauma are self explanatory.  The problem many people have is emotional trauma.  How does one judge what is just arguing and what is emotional abuse?

People like Fantasy Hairball™ are so good at charming their way into women's lives that the woman doesn't know that the abuser is bad news until well into a relationship.  Using this case to illustrate FH may pick a fight with Jessica, but she chalks it up to normally butting of heads.  This may have gone on for a while.

When FH turned the corner to abuse it  was when he started blaming Jessica for his feelings of anger or hurt.

"You make me so crazy", "I'm not normally like this but I love you so much, I get crazy with : anger, jealousy, fear of losing you"

Guilt is a powerful tool, so is preying on someone's pity.  "Please feel sorry for me", "I'm in a bad place and you've made it worse."  What was sickening in the aftermath of Jessica's disclosures was that Fantasy Hairball™ used these same guilt trips on other women and his friends to get them to view him as an emotionally unstable wreck who might be suicidal and whose mom was experiencing trauma because of the drama.

This is classic abuser behavior.  "Poor me" behavior is used as a tactic to get the victim back in their lives, keep them in their lives, or convince their friends that the abuser is not a bad guy, just misunderstood.

The other questions all sort of dove tail together.  My first job as an investigator is to get the victim to start talking.  Some times this is done with words, sometimes they write down what happened. Sometimes we draw pictures. Frankly if Twitter or Facebook could be used in an interview to get a victim talking, I'd use it in a heartbeat. So no, talking about it in public with friends is not a bad thing. In fact its the right thing to do.

Calling out an abuser for what he is should be commended.  People who keep things private, who don't air their dirty laundry, who are told to "buck up" and deal with it enable the abuser to continue behaving abusively with other people.  For those who may be friends with FH, he may never have acted badly with you, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen with others.

Fantasy Hairball™ is a text book case of an abusive personality.  He charmed his way into several women's lives and when he was called out, he turned on the women and accused their friends of coordinating attacks and ruining his rep. "Poor me" anyone?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Why I fight the War on Women: Its the ABUSE Stupid!

As most of you know, I'm a child abuse investigator by profession.  I love my job. I'm also pretty fucking good it, or so I've been told.  This post isn't specifically about child abuse, but it is about a facet of my job that is important to protecting children

The facet to which I am referring is protecting women from abuse.  I've been been vocal, and profane in my defense of women and their rights.  Exhibits AB, and C.

Domestic abuse occurs in many forms.  It can be physical, sexual, or psychological.  Recently a friend of mine from the great coffee klatsch that is twitter, Jessica AKA @Vdaze wrote and talked about her abuse by a man on the internet.  He was insidious and he played it like a pro.

Men who abuse women are amazingly similar to child sexual predators. I am NOT conflating child sexual predators with the abusers of women, I'm just saying their methods are similar.  The way abusers wend their way into peoples lives is fascinating. They're charming. They seem friendly. They build seemingly strong bonds.

When the trust has been gained, they pounce.  Abusers of women scream at them, hit them, blame them.  Turn every argument around so that the woman feels like it's her fault.  Fortunately for my friend Jessica, she was not physically abused.  Had she let the relationship progress, there's no telling what may have happened.

When I was young in this job, I used to blame the women victims abuse almost as much as I blamed the abusers.  I didn't get that there is a cycle of abuse, and women often can't shake it.

Where am I going with all this?  I'm trying to make the point that the War on Women isn't just being run by the GOP.  Women all over this country are belittled, beaten down and just plain beaten on a daily basis.  The person who treated Jessica so horribly, is a progressive liberal.

Until we treat women with the respect and dignity that they deserve, we will never be a "great" nation. Until we put our collective foot down about misogyny, verbal abuse and domestic abuse of women, we cannot call ourselves a "great" nation.  Until we place the needs of women and by extension children above our own selfish pursuits, we cannot call ourselves a "great" nation.

One final thought, I know that there are occasions in which women are abusive aggressors.  The number is so small statistically, it barely merits notice.

We have a long way to go. Let's start by treating our ladyfolk with some respect.  I'm a progressive, I believe women are every bit as capable as and equal to men.  Also as I pointed out earlier on the twitter. Strong women are sexy as hell.