grab a pot of tea or a glass of wine, this is a long one…….
40% of women killed worldwide were murdered by an intimate partner
Domestic Violence is quite a complex subject with many aspects and various circumstances involved. This blog focuses on males being violent with females in partnership, especially in ‘conscious’, ‘spiritual’ communities. Some say it happens just as frequently with men being victims of physical violence, but statistics show this is simply not true. It is a gender specific phenomenon worldwide. Some also say that emotional violence is committed more by women, however this is also not necessarily true, nor is a valid argument in the situation of male violence against women.
1 woman is killed by her current or ex partner in Australia each week.
1 WOMAN IS KILLED BY HER CURRENT OR EX PARTNER IN AUSTRALIA EACH WEEK
consider how different awareness of this would be, if it were 1 man being killed in Australia each week.
“I am over violence against women not being a #1 international priority when 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped in her lifetime. The destruction, and undermining of women is the destruction of life itself.” – Eve Ensler
Aside from sharing some disturbing facts, this blog is aimed at communicating how to deal with domestic violence happening in your community. It’s also for the purpose of dispelling some destructive memes in new age culture.
“Women need desperately to be set free. We have been enslaved for centuries by our ignorance and our deep forgetfulness. It is time to remember we are the daughters of God.”– Marianne Williamson, A Woman’s Worth
(For specific information about how I believe it is the responsibility of women to change this cycle of abuse for ourselves, with insights from my own life, see my other blog, ‘Being Receptive + Having Boundaries’. And also an experience I had to restore the integrity of my nervous system while healing PTSD caused by an assault, go to ‘The Profound Love Of Our Animal Nature’. So many women are holding onto shame by keeping their experience of relationship violence a secret, and although I understand that place, I have become resourced enough emotionally, to not hide this shadow.)
“Women worldwide ages 15 to 44 are more likely to die or be maimed as a result of male violence than as a consequence of war, cancer, malaria and traffic accidents COMBINED. Far more Americans, mostly women, have been killed in the last dozen years at the hands of their partners than in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. American women are twice as likely to suffer domestic violence as breast cancer, and the abuse is particularly shattering because it comes from those we have loved.”
Speaking up about this is not about man-hating or blame, it’s about awareness. The environment of so-called spiritual or conscious communities with all its misperceptions and lack of education around domestic violence, make it a hostile environment where women are encouraged not to speak out. Dissociated ‘spiritual’ perspective in new age thought ends up having well-meaning people go into victim blaming, which further pushes this issue into the shadows. This is far from empowered or conscious. As a friend recently stated on her facebook wall,
“Disgusted and disappointed in my community…
Domestic violence and sexual abuse is prevalent… its happening NOW, and hidden behind imported indian carved doors and spiritual BULLSHIT!”
1. Being a victim in an incidence of violence is different to identifying oneself as a victim. Hippies are often not skilled in distinguishing discernment from judgement. Just like the concept of being loving and non judgemental stops people from being grounded and having healthy boundaries. This leads to victim blaming and silencing women from speaking out. It’s time to comprehend the essential paradox of life in this situation – it is possible to be a victim in an incident of violence, while not continuing to identify as a victim after the incident of violence.
2. “Being against something never solved anything”. Social awareness of male violence against women is now peaking worldwide & is actually creating some helpful changes. Again, it’s the paradox of life – we want to be able to say no AND focus on creating the new paradigm – not forsake one for the other. There are those who have the luxury of not having to fear for their survival as women in violent situations, who do need to widen their world view and grow out of their privileged middle class spiritual hype.
3. DO NOT ask her how she attracted that experience. The amount of women and men who carry on with this astonishingly dissociative and heartless behaviour is way too high. This kind of response is actually indicative of how un-resourced that person is from being able to resolve their own traumas. In other words, if you say this you are being an asshole. The law of attraction is only one universal law – if you’ve been fooled by this particular spiritual teaching (by the fixation on it to monetize it), inform yourself of how it fits with the other universal laws before you go spouting disembodied concepts. And it’s interesting to note that non new age people never say this to someone who has just been assaulted, because they are more practical & understand the need for her safety first. Of course life is a mirror and at some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, she will thoroughly look into this matter for herself; but don’t assume you have a right to force it down her throat while she’s in a acute state of trauma, unless you were invited to give such advice. The best thing you could ask is whether she’s getting professional help so she has the safety & resources to move towards healing.
* Yes it’s true that a dilution of self worth is the underlying issue of how women end up in these situations, however she is not responsible for the actions of a violent man. A healthy man would see a woman who lacks a boundary of high self respect as unattractive, it’s not a cause to hurt her *
4. Men are congratulated for their confessions, while women are ridiculed for having a voice. This expectation for women to carry the shame of the man by keeping it a secret, being told not to “air her dirty laundry” is a product of a heartless, misogynistic culture. Male perpetrators who speak up are frequently seen as brave, are given respect & welcomed back into community with open arms. Women who are victims of violence are often labelled man-haters and asked how they attracted that experience. This is why SO many women keep it a secret, to avoid that humiliation and further traumatisation. Clearly there is something wrong here. Don’t re-traumatise women who need to speak, support them for their courage and show what a caring conscious community actually feels like.
5. There is such a thing as healthy shame. New agers are very quick to say men should not be shamed for their violent behaviour. Again this is an issue of not distinguishing an experience from an identity. Healthy shame is absolutely necessary for someone to learn how to be harmonious with other human beings, to learn right from wrong. World renown shame researcher Brené Brown clearly communicates about this in her work. The absence of boundaries and of grounded perspective re shame in spiritual communities undermines the wellbeing of both the perpetrators and victims of violence. You’ve probably seen the facebook post that’s gone around re how shame is dealt with in an African village? Well, we are a long way off from this if people can’t recognise the usefulness of healthy shame.
6. “There is no right and wrong, because essentially there are no mistakes & we are all innocent spiritually”. For those who’ve taken too much acid or swallowed too many spiritual concepts without grounding them into reality, this split is quite common. It’s a false transcendence where tripped out people think there is an even playing field between everyone, conveniently ignoring the true development of human character and bypassing it to feel absolved of bullshit behaviour. If there isn’t anyone in your circle who you look up to for their refinement & embodiment of their character, chances are you are lying to yourself and even harming yourself. Don’t let the dissolution of boundaries in transcendental states deceive and deprive you of the need for healthy boundaries and of knowing the difference of right from wrong. Minimising, normalising and deflecting violent behaviour is part of the cycle for abusers – don’t support it. Never harm anyone, it’s really not that hard, if you respect yourself.
7. “One day you will laugh about it together, after you forgive him, because forgiveness is the key, then you can still be friends.” No, probably not you disembodied wanker. Violence is criminal behaviour, it is wrong. Relationship violence is unacceptable and not the right foundation for a healthy friendship. Feeling anger, in order to create a much needed boundary is healthy and necessary – it’s part of her animal wisdom. Forgiveness when it authentically comes in the right timing, does not necessarily mean that she ever needs to see that person again. This kind of reaction from ‘friends’ is not only very disappointing, it’s dissociative and shows signs of their own traumas.
8. “Women must be unconditionally loving at all times”. One of the most loving things a woman can do is to find her healthy boundaries and be in touch with her roar. Learning to say no with love is a sign of a woman who has developed maturity and self love. Denying her instincts and throwing them out the window in favour of being ‘loving’ or ‘spiritual’ is part of the self neglect that leads to a woman being abused. Breathe life back into your protectress, she is an essential part of the loving nature of a healthy and balanced woman.
9. “Let go of ‘the story’, you’re just in your stuff.” Going beyond the psychodrama of human experience is a beautiful thing to uplift us, when the timing is appropriate. Jumping into this too soon, is where dissociation happens. If we detach from a traumatic experience before having processed it, this is creating disconnection rather than true transcendence. Both cognitive + somatic healing is needed to really work through violent traumas. WOMEN NEED TO TELL THEIR STORIES. We need to be heard. She’s seeking to know deep in her body if it’s safe to be amongst people again. Do people know the boundaries of right and wrong, do they care about helping her be safe? Or will they normalise the abuse by focusing on telling her what she needs to be responsible for? Or are they healers or friends who opt for the higher spiritual perspective, because they don’t yet know the value of the somatic integration process? It’s not comfortable to face darkness, even if it didn’t happen to you, just listening will make you feel the discomfort of your own capacity to be present to it. When pack animals in the wild notice danger, they tell all the others with a gesture so everyone knows, they all look after each other. Humans are pack animals too. Maybe if people embodied more compassion, they could say “tell your story for as long as you need to beautiful woman, until you’ve let go of his shame and are ready to move on”.
10. “Call the police? No way, I couldn’t do that.” When sacred lore isn’t being honoured, we do need the law. Native American prayer: ‘All things are born of the feminine, sparked by the masculine. Let nothing be done to harm the children or the child within.’ When sacred lore is not being followed, both the perpetrator and the victim do need that third party to come in and act as the ‘elder’. Hippies have the most trouble with this one. Being anti-establishment and then asking the police for help?! Violence is serious criminal behaviour that must have legal consequences if we are going to stop this cycle. Friends and well meaning community members are not equipped to handle this alone, and rarely is that effective. And if you are minimising someone’s violent actions because it didn’t seem severe enough to involve the police, know that you are sending a very clear message to the psyche of the perpetrator that their behaviour is acceptable, that it’s not that bad. It is. Intimidation, hitting you once, all of that is a violation of our safety. You do not need to accept it or rationalise it away by being over-responsible in your spiritual quest for self responsibility. If you don’t know your value or your boundaries, they won’t either. And they usually don’t honour the next woman they are with either.
If you have been affecting women who try to speak up re domestic violence, educate yourself and act differently next time. Women must come out of silence to end violence. Even therapists and facilitators who don’t have specific training in domestic violence dynamics can fall short of being able to address this issue. Family and intimate relationship violence is a very specific issue that requires specialised education, for both teachers and community members. Facing this issue essentially means facing our own traumas, and this is not an easy thing to do. People often go into nervous system overwhelm with the horrific details, as well as the shock in comprehending that it’s happened with those they know and respect. It can feel like too much to take in, so to separate from it via ‘spiritual’ concepts can seem like the best or only option. By growing real compassion, getting educated and being willing to be present to our own trauma, we can change this unfortunate situation in conscious communities. Everyone has experienced some kind of trauma. This is a tribal issue in community.
“In every advanced mammalian species that survives and thrives, a common anthropological characteristic is the fierce behaviour of the adult female of the species when she senses a threat to her cubs. The lioness, the tigress and the mama bear are all examples. The fact that the adult human female is so relatively complacent before the collective threats to the young of our species bespeaks a lack of proactive intention for the human race to survive.” – Marianne Williamson, on Love In Action.
If you are experiencing relationship violence, get professional assistance immediately. Call the domestic violence hotline in your area to seek advice and know your rights. Receive therapy to support you in making the decisions you need to make. Make sure to get actual DV counselling rather than just using spiritual perspective to get through it. Receive professional guidance to become emotionally resourced for prevention of this happening to you again. And do report violence to the police, get a restraining/ intervention order & press criminal charges – yes even if you love him. It has been shown that it is only with the threat of a criminal record or jail time does a man think twice before doing it again to the next woman…..and more often than not they will & do. It’s actually the most loving thing you can do for him. And to protect your sisters.
Some helpful resources:
Australian statistics on domestic violence + info for family & friends
Domestic Violence info + Aurora app, worthwhile to download onto your phone to support you & your friends
White Ribbon Movement in Australia – focusing on it being a men’s issue
Jackson Katz TED Talk, ‘Violence Against Women, It’s A Men’s Issue’
Somatic Experiencing Australia – trauma therapy
IF YOU HAVE VALUABLE RESOURCES TO ADD, PLEASE LIST THEM IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW