Keeping An Abuser’s Secrets in the Age of Trump
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Cindie Chavez – ©2018
Back when I was diving into research on certain topics (because they were the story of my life at the time) I learned something maddening that was common to many female abuse victims – victims of all ages and economic status and race, and all types of abuse – physical, sexual, emotional, verbal. The common response I was infuriated about? – Female victims tend to keep their male abuser’s secrets. I was angry at myself, because I realized I was caught in the same trap – suffering emotional abuse in my marriage and telling no one. This pitfall is common to all sorts of abusive situations.
Daddy abuses her, and she doesn’t tell. A boy at a party rapes her, and she’s too embarrassed to say anything to anyone. Her husband abuses her, and she smiles publicly while she bears it privately – many times going to great lengths to create a facade of a “happy marriage”. The boss harasses her sexually and she doesn’t report it.
It’s understandable in all of these cases that there are valid reasons why women don’t come forward, and we’ve heard a great many of these reasons with the rise of the #metoo movement and most recently during Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate hearings.
Women keep men’s secrets for many reasons including fear, economic considerations, shame, and embarrassment. They keep men’s secrets because they don’t want to be called liars, they don’t want to lose their job, they’re worried about their children and the effects of “a broken home” (newsflash – if you’re an abused spouse your home is already broken), they don’t want to bring shame upon themselves or their families – the list goes on and on.
Recognizing and acknowledging abuse and being willing to tell the truth about it is hard. Personally, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It has also been the most empowering.
Abusers use different methods to keep their victims quiet. One of the most insidious is gaslighting. Basically, this amounts to convincing the victim that she’s crazy, that what she “thinks” happened never really happened, that she is the only one that remembers it “that way”, that her experience is “in her imagination.” If someone tells you that your version is wrong enough times you begin to question your own experience. At some point, the gaslit victim just begins to defer and rely upon her abuser’s version because it now seems more trustworthy than her own.
Gaslighting, keeping men’s secrets, and misogyny go hand in hand – a wicked braid that is essential to keeping the fabric of the patriarchy intact. Powerful men staying in power because those they hold power over are marginalized, hushed, dependent and scared.
These troubling realities have been on my mind because they’re playing out in a much bigger way. Now instead of an individual abuse victim keeping the secrets of her abuser, I’m watching half the country and an entire political party make excuses for the President.
In the past two weeks Donald Trump and his base have railed against George Soros (who at one time was only painted as a villain by the farthest-right conspiracy-minded fringe groups), The Clintons (as usual), CNN and the Media at large (attacking the free press is historically one of the first signs of tyranny), Maxine Waters, and Barack Obama. These same people and organizations were the recipients of explosive devices this week.
Donald Trump then blamed the media – “A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,” the president said in a morning tweet. “It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description. Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!”
And yet, he continues to rile up his base with mean-spirited commentary (as well as factually incorrect statement – aka: lies) about “The Dems”, The Media, Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Maxine Waters, Barack Obama, etc.
There is a word for this situation – it’s called “Stochastic Terrorism” and the dictionary definition is this:
Stochastic Terrorism [stuh-kas-tik ter-uh-riz-uh m] noun: the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted: The lone-wolf attack was apparently influenced by the rhetoric of stochastic terrorism.
All of these abuses – from child abuse to spousal abuse to sexual harassment to stochastic terrorism – amount to an abuse of power; and there is a particular family and societal structure that supports and enables this, it’s known as “Strict Father Morality”.
George Lakoff speaks of the GOP’s embrace of the “Strict Father Morality” in these words:
Trump is a textbook example of Strict Father Morality. In a Strict Father family, the father is the ultimate authority. Father knows best. He gets his authority from the claim to know right from wrong, and what he says is by definition always right. His word is law and needs to be strictly enforced through strength — swift painful punishment. Even a show of disrespect deserves to be punished.
This “Strict Father Morality” structure is essential to authoritarianism and foundational to the patriarchy. It’s also the weapon used to silence and gaslight victims of abuse, causing them instead to support and make excuses for their abuser.
Daddy is abusive. It’s time to stop believing his lies, fearing his threats, making excuses for him, and keeping his secrets.
We must do everything we can to change this dynamic.
Your vote is your voice. #vote
More by Cindie:
Cindie Chavez is known as “The Love & Magic Coach”. She is the creator of MOONLIGHT™ – A Course in Manifesting Love and she has some great free stuff for you at her website: www.cindiechavez.com
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