September 17, 2014 § 12 Comments
September 11, 2014 § 9 Comments
So why did she marry him, move in, have kids? Why??? When the feel of his fist was still fresh on her face.
It’s always the first question but it’s worse when there’s money involved, the implication being she stays for that, for the lifestyle. Right. The lifestyle…
And the answers… they’re all over social media right now, but they’re not new. The sad truth is they’ll still be valid long after we stop listening.
She stays because she’s afraid, isolated, shamed. Because it’s her home. Because she’s given away her power, been told she’s stupid and worthless one too many times. Because she’s been told her whole life she’s stupid and worthless. Because she believes she’s stupid and worthless. Because there are kids and pets and threats… to harm them or take them away.
Because there are threats. Always threats.
Because she is deflated, broken, and because he threatens suicide if she leaves. Always threats. Because to leave is failure; because she came from a broken home and doesn’t want her kids to come from the same place. Because she will be seen as pathetic for having stayed so long so it’s better to stay even longer and not let anyone know. Because people blame the victim. Because people blame the victim… Because people blame.
She stays because she’s fought this fight ten thousand times and hasn’t got the strength it takes to fight back anymore much less start a new life, no matter how right and good and sensible she knows that would be.
She stays because she doesn’t even know she’s being abused. It started small. It was only emotional. He has a temper but he loves me, the kids, he always says he’s sorry. Because this time is the last time. Because this black eye is the last black eye, he said so. He promised. He cried, he begged. He’s really just a teddy bear underneath… he needs her, he said. And she needs to be needed. What else does she have?
She stays because he is her family. Because of For Better or Worse. Because even though she looks fine and manages to function, she is so messed up emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically, she can’t even see straight. She stays because it’s easier at this stage to hope… so she hopes he will be in a good mood today and when he isn’t… it’s too late again.
She stays because she doesn’t want to be seen as weak, or overly dramatic. No bones broken, just a little scuffle. He’s got a temper. I mentioned that, right, the temper?
She stays because the most dangerous thing she can do is leave. It’s bad enough under normal circumstances but if the guy has money, that danger is multiplied. He can have her watched, followed, hurt or worse. And he almost always does.
And where is she supposed to go? Family? Friends? He’ll find her. A hotel isn’t safe. So you tell me… where does she go?? In this weakened state. Where?
That she leaves at all is extraordinary. It takes monumental courage.
And the women that manage it should be applauded and protected. They aren’t just ‘leaving’, they’re fighting for their lives. I see them at the women’s shelter where I volunteer. They land on the doorstep not because it’s an easy fix but because, for a short time at least, they’ll be safe. The windows are bullet proof; there are cameras at the door, you have to be buzzed in. The police are on speed dial.
Sadly there are never enough beds, never enough shelters. The problem of abuse is only getting worse. Sometimes women are sent out of town, wherever a place can be found. Imagine leaving your home with nothing, your abuser’s voice still ringing in your head, screaming that if you leave he’ll kill you or someone or something you love, and it will be your fault he says. If you leave, he won’t be accountable for what he does. It will be your fault.
The shelters are a place to breathe and think and get some help with what to do next. They’re a place that reminds women they aren’t alone, that their problem isn’t unique to them.
Why does she stay?
Because until she finds the strength to do anything else, it’s all she can do.
And even if she finally musters the courage to leave, she may very well go back at some point. For all the same reasons.
She wants things to be better. She really does. That’s part of the problem.
Factor in a situation where names and faces, celebrity and corporations and big, big money are involved, and you can be sure there are those that will do their best to convince her staying is to her advantage, in order that those others save face. And money.
Her face for theirs.
Why does she stay?
Here’s a better question: why does he stay? If he hates her so much that he has to destroy her, why in god’s name does HE stay?
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
For further information and assistance, including a list of shelters in Ontario, and across Canada:
September 10, 2014 § 15 Comments
September 5, 2014 § 18 Comments
So I’m driving home from lunch with a friend. Said friend lives way over yonder and I live here, and so we meet in the middle once or twice a year.
There’s a lot of countryside between here and way over yonder and it pleases me to drive through it.
But I’m late and there’s a cement truck in front of me all the way up one (two lane) highway, and then construction on the other (two lane) highway, so I can’t stop for pictures, except the ones I take while stopped, to prove there’s actual construction and that I’m not just rudely late. Not that said friend needs proof; but taking pictures is something to do while stopped.
Lunch is a patio, an endless strings of words, hugs and laughter. This person has been through much in the past few years, one of the strongest people I know. Yet she, in the way of such people, has no clue as to her own strength. It’s my pleasure to remind her. And to celebrate having come out the other side intact, more brilliantly herself than ever.
Driving back home, I’m in no rush and so decide to turn left here, and right there, venturing down the occasional country lane.
As a woman, I’m always aware of the potential for trouble in venturing down lanes. I take in the air and the sights. But I remain alert. I’d like to pretend this isn’t the case, to throw out some bravado, but it wouldn’t be true. Not that the ‘awareness’ stops me from the venturing, it’s just that I don’t do it casually, the way, maybe, a fellow would.
I suspect that every woman has a few dicey-situation stories to tell. Keeping one’s wits about one helps ensure they have happy endings.
Not especially noteworthy, except that I can tell it’s slowing down. A beater of car, as if the driver forwards and backs into walls as a matter of course.
I tell myself it’s a kind soul who wonders if maybe I’m in distress, but even I don’t believe me. I am very obviously not in distress. I am very obviously taking pictures. And the car is very obviously now stopping right in front of me. The window is lowered. Inside, a large man in a dirty tee-shirt. His stomach abuts the steering wheel as he looks me over before speaking, says so, what ya doin’, taking pictures?
He doesn’t care about pictures. I’m pretty sure he’s not big into the creative arts. My car is clearly visible, but it would take me a good minute to walk back to it. Long enough. There’s no traffic on this road.
I look him in the eye. That’s right, I say. See ya.
He continues to stare at me a moment and I stare back, give him the best f**k-you look I can muster. (It’s not hard.) And maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s the look, or that it occurs to him that it’s only a matter of time before someone drives by (although no one ever did)… but he snarls a bit then steps on the gas and tears away in what feels distinctly like some kind of moronic snit.
I’d like to say that I was emboldened by all this, that my veins surged with a kind of f**k you, assholes who bother women, you can’t stop us from taking pictures on deserted country lanes, “superpower”. But the truth is I walked quickly back to my car.
I continued on my way, still stopping for pictures, albeit on less untraveled roads; I found a greenhouse and bought a fern. I was grateful for traffic. And I hated that this is the way it is for women. On empty country roads, on crowded city ones. There is an ever-present ‘lurking’ that goes on among a certain kind of men.
And it occurs to me how important the friendship of women, how its embrace is one of the few truly safe places. I’m equally grateful for friendships with good men, and it’s a sad thing that that particular bunch is so tarnished with the likes of so many others.
Mostly, though, I’m grateful for a good f**k you look, which I believe I inherited, quite by chance, from my mother.
September 3, 2014 § 19 Comments
August 27, 2014 § 24 Comments
August 26, 2014 § 15 Comments
And it’s not even the season… except that I was recently given a pint of freshly-picked ones by someone who informed me that there are new cultivars that grow through summer, or at least through much of it. Huh. News to me. I’ve been walking snootily past strawberry displays at the farmers’ markets for ages, assuming they’re imports from re-sellers. And even if I’d known about the all-summer variety I’m pretty sure I’d have given them a miss, assuming hybrids taste yucky.
But the gift strawberries were in no way yucky. And they went very well with ice-cream, just like the real kind. If anything, these were more flavourful than the early varities, which I’ve noticed in recent years have been losing ‘something’.
But that’s not what’s on my mind, strawberry-wise.
It’s picking them. My first serious job. Aside from babysitting and selling Sarah Coventry Jewellery, Avon and Regal Gift Cards door to door. (Actually, Sarah Coventry was sold at ‘parties’. Of which I had one, my mother being my ‘party host’ and whose responsibility it therefore was to invite a rec room full of friends. The host received a complimentary Sarah Coventry brooch or scarf holder or mood ring… Anyway, can’t remember if/what I sold. It was such a sad, sad thing for a child to experience, it effectively ended my whole Sarah Coventry career.)
My strawberry picking career lasted much longer. Almost a whole strawberry season, as I recall. (Please note the season was much shorter then; the people who invented the hybrids had not yet been born.)
The best part was being picked up in a flat-bed truck at the corner of Bunting and Scott at something like 5:30 in the morning. Not only was it great riding in the back of a truck through the city, but none of my friends were up to see how nerdish I was, grinning madly, wind in my face, the sense of berry-fueled adventure coursing through my veins…
The worst part was the rash I got from eating more strawberries than I picked.
When I got my paycheque (I can’t believe I didn’t owe them money), I thought I’d made it, that it just didn’t get any better than this. I had a paycheque for god’s sake. With my name on it.) A picture exists of me holding this cheque. I’m wearing a tie-dye tee-shirt, cut offs and a blue paisley scarf over my hair (tied almost pirate style, but not quite) the way we did in the 70’s when we weren’t embroidering flowers and peace symbols on our jeans.
There’s a good chance I spent it on a Gordon Lightfoot album, incense and a pair of huaraches.
The above memory, courtesy of a post by Gwen Tuinman about her summer job picking tobacco leaves. (I win! You can’t eat tobacco leaves.)
Any other summer jobs of yore out there? Consider the baton passed…