Many people think they would recognize abuse if they saw it happening. That they can tell abusers by what they look like. This story indicates otherwise. A family that everybody thought was happy and normal was neither.
The viral internet #metoo phenomenon of recent weeks has led to a deluge of reports of sexual misconduct by prominent, well known and powerful men. These reports have brought a wave of outrage at these reports, which have in turn led to calls for the men alleged to have perpetrated this sexual misconduct to be punished by a variety of means, including loss of employment or position. There is no question that the people expressing the outrage wish to see an end to abuse of the kind contained in these stories. However, the result of the outrage is not a reduction of abuse – it actually contributes to less account ability being held to actual abusers. This essay will discuss how that dynamic works out so unintentionally counterproductively, and then move into some ideas of more productive responses that can actually make a positive difference to the widespread social problems of abuse, and violence, including sexual abuse and sexual violence. Continue reading You’re doing that wrong: How outrage about reports of abuse not only doesn’t help solve the problem of abuse, and actually makes it worse.
Which, of course, it always is. But, here, I mean that moving toward the goal of creating Abuse-free as a nonprofit agency is happening, slowly though it feels like it is happening. I have been kinda stuck with knowing the very next step to take toward that goal, and have taken some stabs at several possible very next steps. What’s making sense to me at the moment is to start the Abuse-free Podcast as a way of reaching out to people with information they can use for addressing abuse in their lives and of reaching out to people who might share the Abuse-free vision and want to support it. After that will come forming the non-profit and start-up fundraising. And, as time goes on, will come creating one or more presentations I can make about the Abuse-free vision and the agency and about living Abuse-free. My imagined time-frame is to spend the rest of this year gathering the things I need to do the podcast (hardware, software, accounts, etc.) so that can start production after the start of 2018. I will be moving at the start of 2018, so things might get a little cramped for time, but I hope to have something new ready for public consumption by 1 Apr 2018. Continue reading The future is coming!
This article from the Child Rescue Network points out some of the problems with the “Stranger Danger” message. And has some better ideas of how to make children safer:
We must teach our kids how to recognize potentially dangerous situations and provide them with specific action plans on how to react if the need arises. We must also stress the critical importance of instilling a since of confidence in our kids and give them an understanding and respect for personal boundaries.
To which I will add: This can and should be done without scaring the hell out of them. The popular mythology of the dangers of sex offenders plays along with the Stranger Danger message to create massive concern about Registered Sex Offenders (RSOs) settling into neighborhoods. It presumes that there are no active unregistered Sex Offenders (SOs) in that same area, and that the RSO is especially dangerous. However, RSOs, having been adjudicated, have the lowest rate of recidivism (reoffense) of any category of criminal. For those wanting to see evidence as to that last sentence, I would suggest looking over this article (downloading the full article) for a very academic approach to the subject.
The truth is that the biggest threat to anyone, especially children, is not some stranger in the bushes with a ski mask. It’s someone you know, like and trust. Because those are the people you will give access to your life and your children, and you are less likely to report when they do something wrong because you like them and don’t think they are bad people, because no ski mask and no bushes. So you’re more likely to blame yourself or your children than you would if this was done by a stranger.
The most extreme example of parental exaggeration of Stranger Danger came while I was cashiering. A customer with her child got to the front of my line, and, as I usually did, I tried to engage the child in a conversation if possible (shopping is incredibly boring for children, and the conversation can help preserve the peace if successful, or the shock of having a big, tall adult paying attention to them can shut down a fit right as it’s getting ready to start). The child didn’t respond, so I tried again, and, again, no response. The parent indicated that her child doesn’t talk to strangers, indicating that that was without regard to context or circumstances, thinking that that made her child safer. Instead, I see a child scared of most of the world around her, because most people in the world are strangers, and none the more safe for all of that fear.
As part of the changes coming, which I wrote about in December, are ideas for a program and a book based on the model of the site here. I’m cooking up some slogans for that model. One I like that’s making sense for me is: No bad guys. No monsters. No angels. Thoughts?
The time has come to make some changes around here. Structural changes in what this site/blog is. The site has been around sharing a different approach to abuse recovery for more than twenty years now. And it’s going to stay around doing that job indefinitely. But under the brand of Abuse-free, and that brand is going to be applied to a whole new effort I’m going to be making to help reach people currently involved in abusive situations to help them find their way to safe and abuse-free lives. This is going to involve more than just sitting on a website waiting for people to find me.
I’m planning to form a non-profit under the brand Abuse-free, which I will engage in fund-raising activities for. The money will go toward funding healing opportunities for underserved populations that the mainstream abuse community has ignored, largely because they defy the narrative the mainstream abuse community subscribes to. My purpose isn’t in fighting or refuting that narrative — it’s in reaching beyond it to help all people experiencing abuse. Abuse-free isn’t going to be anti-feminist, if anybody’s wondering. The feminist movement created the mainstream abuse community, which has brought attention to this issue, creating what infrastructure and support has been created, and that’s been a major effort that has helped people and saved lives. Without that, this site, my recovery and Abuse-free wouldn’t exist. I view that with gratitude. But not enough gratitude that I’m going to join them in turning a blind eye to the people and situations they have ignored.
The next step in the effort is going to be to create the Abuse-free Podcast, which will begin with me reading in the information found around here, and then growing into whatever else comes along. I expect to create some new material. And to respond to questions and comments from listeners. I plan to start recording on this in the next few weeks, and then editing them together and publishing them when I’ve got enough for a handful of episodes.
Somewhere will come the creation of the non-profit, and then will come the plans for the fund-raising. I’ll talk about them here as they progress. I will need your help with this. Nothing much from any one person. But the point here is to reach many, many people, some of whom can help with the effort, and some of whom will be helped by the effort. So, the biggest piece of help we can receive is in reaching people. There is no special need for those people, although those who are used to helping with charitable efforts and fundraising can be particularly helpful with the fundraising and building up of the agency. If you have access to any of them, please reach out to them, but also just reaching average folks with no special connections. Abuse is a problem that reaches many, many people. So, anyone you know could benefit from this information, and could benefit the effort by helping to reach people and maybe make small contributions of funds. Enough small donations can add up to a large donations.
This is about ending the cycle of abuse. This is going to take all of us.
All God’s critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws or anything they got now
I’m a big fan for those who just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they got. They make the world go around. As George Bailey would say, ” they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this [world].” Let’s help them and the rest of us do so in a world where abuse of all kinds are forever unacceptable. What do you say?
This is the beginning of something I’ve wanted to try for a while now — a suggestion column. Like an advice column, but generally made in the form of suggestions. If you want to ask me questions that have some relevance to abuse, email them to me at email@example.com and I’ll post them here with my answer. This one might take care of quite a few of them, however, as it’s the form of the most common question I’ve gotten over the years:
Q: How do I get X to Y? (where X is a particular person the asker cares about, and Y is something they think X should do)
A: For all X and Y, the answer is the same: You can’t. They will or won’t Y by their own choices, and for their own reasons, so even if they do Y, it won’t be because of anything you could possibly say or do. This is hard to accept when you are quite convinced that Y is very important for X, and that everything would be better if only they would Y. This is very dangerous thinking, and can lead to abusive behavior and destroyed relationships. Respect X’s autonomy as a human being — this is very important if you want X to grow and heal out of an abusive relationship.
You’ll recognize this one quite quickly, I suspect. This is the one where the abuser is always horrible, always abusive, and probably ugly, while the victim is some angelic being incapable of ever doing anything wrong, and as innocent as the wind-driven snow. This comes from the over-extension of some true principles — abuse is ugly and horrible, and those who are abused aren’t responsible for their own abuse. But the way the myth works out is that one subscribing to it can talk about how much they hate abusers while giving free passes to many abusers because they don’t fit up to the stereotype. A couple of examples of where this can go astray is the case of noted film director Roman Polanski, whose sexual assault of a teen-aged girl was described by comedien Whoopi Goldberg as “not rape-rape,” or the recent under-sentencing of a child molester because the judge thought the case didn’t fit the profile of a molester. Real molesters, like all abusers, are human beings. They aren’t monstrous — the abuse they commit is monstrous. People we know and like commit abuse, as do some of us. Too many of us.
But what about the Immaculate Victim? Avoiding victim-blaming is a good thing, but the problem with this one is that if the one who was abused can be shown to not be perfect, then they aren’t really worthy of sympathy, and their abuse can be ignored. Sometimes, abused people make bad choices, including, sometimes, being violent in response to violence perpetrated against them: fighting back. I don’t advocate fighting back, as retaliatory violence is still voluntary violence that isn’t self-defense, which I see as a bad thing in all cases. But being in an ugly situation can prompt the best of us to make bad decisions, and those who have been abused need our support and help, not our judgment and condemnation.
The purpose of these myths is that they enable us to ignore abuse that we see. What we want to do is to not have to see it, because it is ugly, and if we see it, we might need to do something about it. Doing something about it is the better choice, because that’s the only way we change things. And the first thing we need to do about it is to be clear with ourselves about what we are seeing, and that it is abusive (when it is). After that, we can refuse to collude with the denial system that those involved may be caught up in, and support them in making good choices to break out of the abuse and into healthier abuse-free lives.
Howdy. I’m looking for some people who can help out with things to make this a better and more useful resource. This means those who actually care enough about the place to do such extraordinary acts as follow what goes on here, specifically those who are reading this post. This means you.
1. Roundtable members: I want to have a group of people who are willing to engage in conversations on abuse-related matters, so we can post the conversations around here. We might have those conversations via email or threads around here that aren’t open to everyone. I’m open to input on how to do that. The required qualifications are that you are human and can read and write. I want people from a broad spectrum of backgrounds, including service providers, advocates, survivors, abusers, and civilians (those in no way associated with the world of abuse other than an interest in it).
2. Promoters: I would like people to share this resource with others in their circles. The FB group for the blog is nowhere close to the 100 likes required to increase its visibility. That can include not only sharing the link to the blog itself, but also reading through the posts here and sharing any that you find interesting. I know there aren’t many at the moment, but getting the roundtable going should help provide more material to post that can hopefully lead to more conversation.
3. Commenters: I would really like people to respond to the posts and pages around here with comments (available at the bottom of each post or page). First-time commenters’ comments have to be hand moderated (currently by me), so they won’t appear right away, but once I’ve released your first comment, your comments will be released immediately.
4. Permas, Mods, etc.: I would like to see this grow beyond me. When the site first went up, and it had more traffic than it does today, people submitted their stories, and those stories are still available. But it’s been a long time since anybody submitted a story. And I don’t even get email about the site much anymore. As things grow here (which I hope they will), there will be need for other people who can help out as Permas (Perma-bloggers, or those who regularly produce posts here), Mods (Moderators, who can release comments from new commenters and delete inappropriate comments, including the large number of spam comments that are submitted here), and I would like to create a podcast based on conversation like what I’ve described in the Roundtable point above. Podcasts have proven quite effective in reaching large numbers of people who don’t necessarily have time to actively follow the posts on a blog.
I don’t expect anything here that would take more than a few hours a week for the foreseeable future, but some of these roles are more responsible than others. This is life in the New Media, where reaching out virally to involve more and more people is how you create useful content to help people. Letting me know what you’d like to do in a comment below with your real email address would be a great way to start being involved. Thanks.
This is an interesting PSA, but I’m wondering what it’s supposed to accomplish. Perhaps informing people that people in abusive situations might have to communicate in less-than-clear ways to reach out for help, so those they reach out to might need to be prepared to meet them half-way to understand what they’re saying and asking for. If so, I agree, and it’s why I put information on my Main Abuse Page for those who find friends in the lists of questions. There is need for people in general to know more about the realities of abuse and what can be done about it from their various roles. Education is useful, but difficult, because everybody seems to think they know everything they need to about the issue. But they don’t. If they did, the problem would be solved.
It’s nice that the NFL is sponsoring this. They’re clearly responding to the high profile abuse cases that have been in the news this past year. They want to be seen as taking the problem seriously. Which is nice. I just wish the message they were promoting gave people useful information they could use to better respond to abuse situations. I like that nomore.org is encouraging people to be ready to talk about abuse of various kinds, but I find their PSAs on NBC interesting because I am someone who loves talking about abuse of any kind at any time with anyone willing to have the conversation, because I want to destigmatize the topic and help circulate useful information so that people are better able to address the abuse they have contact with. Thus, I’m here.
The problem I see the NFL being in is that everybody wants to be seen to be on the right side of the issue, but the only consensus there is about the right side of the issue is that everyone is opposed to it, and dislikes abusers. But that last part just perpetuates the problem — sorry. I’ll write more about that before long.