(Charlotte Sting center Clarisse Machanguana has a lot on her mind. "Mach" (as she's widely known around the league ... and, by the way, it's pronounced "mosh") is here to share her take in a regular column, Mach Pit. Mach wants to talk to you about current events, hot topics -- on the court, off the court -- whatever comes to her mind. Read on to take your turn in the Mach Pit.)
Raising Awareness of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is not an everyday discussion at most social events, but you would be surprised to learn the frequency of it in many homes. It's not just the black eye that you might see from a co-worker, or the yelling you hear from a neighbor that gives it away. Domestic violence imposes profound wounds, some of emotional and psychological distress, which go beyond the more evident physical aspects of the abuse.
I was outraged two years ago when a friend of mine called me hysterically to tell me how badly her boyfriend had beaten her. I could envision her struggle and her explaining to her parents and the shame of having to go to work in sunglasses. But two weeks later when she emailed me to tell me that she had left home and moved in with her boyfriend, not only was I upset, I was totally confused. My reaction to the incident was no different than that of many who are outsiders to domestic violence. I gradually began reducing contact with her consequently leaving her more exposed and isolated to her abuser. And lastly, I arrived at a comfort zone to deal with this matter by telling myself that it was not my business to intrude into their relationship. I had freed myself from worrying.
I am certain that the essence of what constitutes domestic violence is no stranger to many of you, but how we react to those in such a dilemma is the matter of focus here.
These are three typical responses to the trauma of domestic violence:
1. Why doesn't the victim just leave the relationship?
2. Shutting this person out, by isolating her.
3. Convincing yourself that it's not your business to help in the matter.
Why doesn't she just leave the relationship? It seems pretty logical, but what an outsider may fail to understand is the depth of emotional and psychological abuse this victim has experienced. Fear for their lives and fear that the abuser will impose pain on other loved ones and others. In some great percentage of the cases, the abuser has complete control of the finances therefore the victim is limited. Most victims live in isolation for the abuser has long before cut their social life because of excessive jealousy, insecurity and other reasons.
As I studied many of these cases while in school, I was stunned to learn the depth of emotional distress the abuse of these women had reached. Some had been so verbally abused that they actually believed that they had done something wrong to deserve the abuse. Another intriguing number of victims believed that they were better off for no other man would love them, while others believed that the abuse only persisted because the man was unemployed, drunk a little, or was stressed out for others reasons. In either case, leaving the relationship was the last thing they would think about.
As you have followed the point here in domestic violence, it's all about the victim. A decision to shut this person out, to ignore their matter, or to expect it to get better does nothing other than isolate them and leave them more exposed to domestic violence.
"Domestic violence is a behavior - emotional, psychological, physical, sexual abuse - that one person in an intimate relationship uses in order to control the other. It takes many forms and includes behaviors such as threats, name callings, isolation, withholding of money, actual or threatened physical and sexual assault." (domesticviolence.com)
"After years of abuse and degradation the women's minds have been more damaged far more grievously than their bodies," suggested Frederick Wiseman, author of a very powerful documentary about women and domestic violence. According to PHD Elisabeth Carll, "Women in abusive relationships were physically or sexually abused as children, and for them an abusive relationship is familiar ground."
I wrote this article for two reasons. First, for the fact that despite its frequency rarely is domestic violence a matter of discussion in many encounters of a social nature, in some way a taboo that hurts many. Second, because this documentary by F. Wiseman about domestic violence (as Jessica Winter explained) "pulls the curtain on another dreadfully common secret of America." According to Henry Hower, a lawyer for the Wiseman Documentary, "With economic turndown there's more strain in the house and tempers are more likely to flare. Abuse goes up; people are less inhibited."
"Most domestic violence is committed against women by their male partners. It also occurs in lesbian and gay relationships, and it's common in teenage dating relationships." (Domesticviolence.com)
Domestic violence is no small matter, therefore many of us might not be able to solve it as we see a loved one suffering from it, but there are some pointers to be aware of. Don't quit on your efforts to help one who's being victimized by domestic violence. The depths of fear and wounds of this person might be outside of your understanding. Don't be fooled by the economic status the victim may appear to have -- domestic violence wears all faces, though it dominates the house of the poor, unemployed and alcoholic. Lastly, don't ignore other's pain as you might find peace in the belief that "it's not your business."
As my favorite quote best puts it, "If you do not go within, you go without." (Neale Walsh)