Over the course of the last couple of months we have seen a strong initiative from the professional sports industry and some of its players, as well as celebrities speak out about abuse, moreso abuse against women. We’ve all seen the headlines fill our social media timelines describing the latest incident that hit the major news outlets, mainly because it was an infraction caused by someone in the public eye. But, what about those abusive situations that never gets the buzz or attention they deserve. Maybe it’s something that is right under our nose. Perhaps it has become a part of our relationship with our spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend to the point that we don’t even recognize it as abuse. Of course the physical abuse is always the most obvious, but we have to admit there are some abusive scenarios that never go addressed, thus causing a perpetual cycle of internal pain. Today, I want to talk about abusive behavior between men and women.
I don’t know about other men, but when I look into the eyes of a woman who has been abused or is being abused, it does something to me. It makes me want to tell them, “You don’t have to take that.” “Your value and worth is much more than that.” “You have purpose. You’re a queen. You’re someone destined for greatness!” And there have been times I’ve shared those sentiments, but I tread those waters lightly because of the nature of the situation. My heart, in the purest form possible goes out to them. At the same time I would be so quick to call the guy that’s causing the abuse a punk. I’d say things like “You ain’t no man if you gotta abuse a woman.” I’d even reduce my thoughts to name calling — “suck’a,” or “buster,” If I’m on a roll, then I’ve likely analyzed his behavior and responded with my findings..“He’s really hurting himself, so he has to take his pain out on someone weaker than himself to feel better.”
But, one day, out of nowhere, something hit me. It happened right at the moment when I was about to pass judgment about a situation that was told to me. In my own thoughts, I heard this question, “Have you every abused a woman?” The question stopped me in my tracks. It jolted me. Immediately I said, “NO!” I have never hit a woman or just flew off the handle. I can recall times when my sister and I would get into our sibling spats, she would punch me in my shoulders or back, but I could never retaliate with a closed fist or open hand, all I could do was try to block her punch. Then in the quietness of my thoughts, I came face to face with a reality that I had never internalized before. I have abused a woman before! Maybe not in the way you’re thinking…but it’s still abuse in my opinion.
You may be reading this and saying, “Oh, I’ve never hurt a woman before”. But, when was the last time you didn’t acknowledge her in front of your family, friends, or those closest to you? Or maybe you made a joke about her that exposed a weak area in her life in front of others? When was the last time she called you to share her heart, but your attention was on your favorite sport, television show, video game or project? Those things won your affection more than the opportunity to engage or settle the rhythm of her heavy heart? You pushed her interest to the back, just so you could fulfill your own desire. When was the last time she bought a new dress just because you all made plans for a special evening but you never took time to notice it because you needed all the attention on you? When was the last time you validated her purpose, her destiny and encouraged her to follow her dreams? When was the last time you stopped her mid-sentence just to say how beautiful she is and how grateful you are to have her in your life and that she is very important to you? How many times does she have to ask you to do a simple task before you take an initiative to do it? When was the last time you walked on the left side of her to protect her from on-coming traffic or held her hand in a situation you knew she wasn’t comfortable with, but she was there because it was special to you? When was the last time you prayed for her during a difficult time in her life, encouraged her when she felt down, laughed with her when she cracked a joke, and embraced her when she cried? When was the last time you said those powerful words…I LOVE YOU!
Men, if your mind draws a blank when you read these questions because you can’t remember doing them for the woman you say you “love.” Congratulations, you have just dishonored a woman, which in my opinion qualifies as abuse. Abuse is not just raising your hand to hit a woman but it’s also: neglect, disrespect, insensitivity and much more. I have been guilty of these things before.
This is not just a man to woman issue because women abuse men also. The most common form of abuse I have seen occurs when a woman emasculates a man in public. It’s bad enough to do it behind closed doors but doing it in front of coworkers, family, friends, and even complete strangers magnifies it to the 10th degree. Maybe your man isn’t the type that will “blow up” in your face or respond with harsh words, when you do this, but believe me, when it happens his value and self-worth diminishes. Not only that, but sometimes, people gauge the value and worth of something or someone by the way they see the owner or possessor treating it. We, as men, can be prideful in this case. I’m not talking about the kind of pride where there is an overly exaggerated view oneself, but the kind that we feel when we are taking care of our responsibilities, when our family is well taken care of, when we accomplish a major task, or when we are loved and we are loving those closest to us. This is the kind of pride that wells up when our woman rest in our arms because she’s cold or unsure about the surroundings, when she applauds us for a job well done, or she tells us in a tender way she has our back even after we’ve failed. The entire world could start beating us down but we have the stamina to take the punches and keep moving because we understand what our responsibilities are. We know that our family is counting on us. But, when the dagger comes from the woman we have vowed to protect and take care of, the wound goes deeper than deep and it takes a while to heal even after we hear the words–“I’m sorry.” It’s not just our ego that received a blow but our dignity suffered a loss in the moment.
The truth is, no one signs up for abuse in a relationship. We sign up to be loved and respected. We sign up for companionship, intimacy and friendship. The lines get gray when we lose respect for one another and our vision of who they are and why they are in our lives becomes jaded. At that point we allow frustration to set in and our frustration impairs what we are able to give them. Sometimes in relationships you will feel like you didn’t get something that you deserve. When this happens it’s not the time to open your box of abuse and take your frustration out on your loved one but it’s an opportunity to reach out to them and find out what they need in that moment. Be selfless. That’s love. Abuse only breeds more abuse. One day someone will say enough is enough and put a stop to it and by that time, I pray it’s not too late.
Photo Credit: http://www.creativeadawards.com/verbal-abuse-3/