Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PowerLife 101: Gender is Secondary

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October is domestic violence (DV) awareness month, and this morning as I followed my usual routine, I ran across this video: Fox News DV awareness month Interview.  As I watched, My initial reactions were the information was well covered, and I applauded the people involved with helping to bring public awareness to DV. Later, though, a deeper reaction sunk in; I felt invisible. Before developing and following the Living PowerLife approach to health and wellness, I probably would have ignored my deeper reaction. I would have gone about my day and pushed those feelings deep inside; made them invisible to my consciousness. Now, I address my feelings head on and this post is the result. The theme is power through transparency.

I am a DV survivor. I have been for over 10 years, and most people who are, or have been, acquainted with me would not know. This is something that I kept hidden from most people and away from my own scrutiny. Even as a minister and counseling people who were living with DV, I kept the fact that I lived the same way hidden. I kept it hidden from others, but most important, I kept it hidden from myself. I did this because of many reasons, most of which fall under shame or fear categories. 

SHAME AND FEAR: In the past, I was ashamed of the fact that I allowed someone whom I loved to verbally, emotionally, and economically abuse me. My shame came from the fact that I knew from my education, professional experience, and common sense that what she was doing was wrong. Still, deep down inside I believed that I deserved no better treatment. This belief came from being told for decades that I was not good enough. In addition, I was afraid of being alone. I equated being single with personal deficiency. I was afraid of recognizing my DV status. I did not know what changes that recognition would bring in my life.

POWER THROUGH TRANSPARENCY: Today I live my life with as much transparency as safety allows because I believe this is how we give power and gain power. We give power by letting people who are struggling with similar challenges know they are not alone. We give power by showing people what we have learned from our own struggles. We gain power by facing life head on, with no dodges, no denials, and no distractions. The process of facing our problems and challenges head on teaches us where we are strong and where we need to improve.

This is why, when I found myself feeling invisible after watching the interview, I decided to write about my personal experience. You see, the interview focused on male/female relationships. This means that the information discussed was based on the assumption that in DV relationships, men were usually the offenders and women were the survivors. My relationship was same gender. People like me were not visible. Because of this, I write that gender is secondary in DV. 

DV is how one person gets, maintains, and misuses control over another. The size, background, gender, orientation, religious persuasion, economical status, education, profession, race, ethnicity, ... are all secondary. DV is about one person violating another. The violation can be as obvious as rape or as subtle as gently stroking where you do not want to be touched. DV is about one person isolating another.  The isolation can be as difficult as losing contact with your family or as easy as quitting your job. 

If you are in a relationship where you feel as though you have little control in your life, where your resources are being systematically eliminated from your life, where your options are decreasing rather than increasing it is time to talk and examine the dynamics of that relationship. 

Remember, you deserve only the best. Stay safe.

From my PowerLife to Yours,

2012. All rights reserved.