From some recent comments and posts about me in the women’s domestic violence pages it is clearly evident that women who have been abused by a man truly believe that they are the only ones who have ever suffered. They seem to be quite convinced that what happened to them is all that could ever have happened to anyone. It is outside their paradigm that others might have endured something different, but equally damaging.
I’m a compassionate person, but I can’t understand this.
Maybe it’s because I’ve experienced violence from both men and women that I understand both can be equally as evil. But what I don’t understand is how any person who has truly suffered could possibly believe that their experience is all that exists in the world.
I’m often asked about my story from the men I support, but in a strange paradox women never ask me. They make grand sweeping assumptions and believe I must be a misogynist, a traitor to the sisterhood or being held psychologically captive through Stockholm Syndrome. They refuse to understand how a woman could speak for men; therefore I must be evil.
I grew up in an era that sanctioned child beatings for any misbehaviour, and sexual abuse was something that seemed a right of passage to anyone with an opportunity. Almost everyone turned a blind eye to it, including parents. I won’t go into details as it’s irrelevant, but my experiences of both men and women include family violence, domestic violence, sexual abuse and physical assault with intent to kill. The latter was at the hands of 3 women because I was protecting another woman from domestic violence. And they were not the only women I experienced violence and abuse from, just like the abuse I suffered from men was not just one man.
I can’t even tell you which of those was the most traumatic or had the biggest impact, but what I can tell you is that the most damaging socially was the ignorance and denial that women who inflicted some of those could possibly have done so.
You see socially when men abuse we believe it. When women do it, we deny it’s existence. That is hugely damaging for a victim and creates a culture of shame that causes great isolation. In my most desperate moments all I needed was support and to be heard, just like any other person. And there are thousands more like me and I know this because they reach out to me because I have dared to have a voice, even in the face of attack.
But unlike what I see from far too many women online, I don’t take it out on other women. Because I speak for men does not mean I don’t believe or trust other women’s genuinely painful stories, what I feel in my heart is quite the opposite. However I know first hand that they are not the only stories.
I stand to speak for men because I know what it’s like to be unheard. I stand to speak for men because I know what it’s like to endure violence and years of abuse and not be able to speak out because the perpetrator was someone no one would believe. And I stand to speak for children who have been left forgotten, silenced and shamed about speaking out because what they suffered was outside someone else’s belief system.
In pages that I admin and contribute to that support men, we all support women’s experience too. I think that speaks volumes all on it’s own. If women’s groups could only be as compassionate and reasonable as what the vast majority of men’s groups are, this problem could be solved instead of delving into what amounts to a bitch fight. Sadly, many women show just what they are capable of through hate fuelled attacks instead.
There is a growing number of women who support us. It’s evident in the courageous posts they are making saying that the status quo is not acceptable, and it’s evident in the number who contact me and offer support. Some of these women once were feminists, but they are ashamed of what their ‘sisterhood’ has become. Many of them were victims of men, women or both. You see they understand that violence is a human issue, not a gendered one and that human emotions are just that, human.
Like all our emotions, feelings and behaviours, pain is very real to everyone. No one person or gender can claim they feel it or experience it more. No one person’s experience is any more valid than another’s, it’s just a different experience but equally painful.
I urge women to speak compassionately about men’s experiences. I urge them to not dismiss it due to their own agenda and I urge them to open their minds and their hearts to the plight of all men, women and children who have had a different experience than their own.
If you stop fighting us and denying that both genders can be violent and abusive, you will realise we are all campaigning for the same things. Your denial and hate fuelled attacks speak only of you, not us. No genuine victim would refute the needs of another, as so many of you do.
We are all worthy of love and connection and we are all worthy of protection.
Photo credit Flazingo