Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Battered Woman: Who Is She?

The battered woman. Who is she?
She is anybody's daughter

Domestic violence is a catastrophic problem that power-minded politicians refuse to address when on the campaign trail speechifying and shamelessly pandering for votes. Politically speaking, the abuse of women and young girls is not a popular topic of discussion in public. The better idea is to keep it private. For some people the subject is either too boring, or too scary to tackle. Abuse of women and young girls is not sexy or glamorous. 

Far from what some individuals accept as truth, spousal abuse is not a short-winded lover’s quarrel, that ends with no permanent damage done.  It is in-house terrorism, nonstop.

Unfortunately, not enough women are grabbing hold of this issue with both hands, especially high profile women sitting in high seats of power. They are not speaking loudly into their giant megaphones, using their power and influence to help prioritize “the world’s dirty little secret.” In this book of poems when I talk about “committed relationship”, I am referring to a woman cohabitating with her boyfriend. In a number of states cohabitation or common law marriage is recognized, provided the couple meets certain requirements as specified by each state. Too many parents--foremost role models for their sons and daughters--are not talking to their teens about domestic violence. They are not teaching their sons that it is wrong to verbally and physically abuse a woman. They are not teaching their daughters that they do not have to suffer the indignity of abuse in a relationship for the sake of love and acceptance. Just as importantly, parents are not explaining to their sons and daughters that hitting and love are not synonymous. They are not telling them that hitting does not make a boy a loving man; getting hit does not make a girl a loved woman.

Beginning at an appropriate age children must be taught the simple A-B-C’s of resolving their disagreements without loaded words, animosity and violence acting as in-house-counselors. There can be no holding back. Parents should not deflate the words “Violence” and “Abuse” when they have these crucial conversations with their sons and daughters. Softening of these words diminishes the focal point of the discussion. Teens need to envision the absolute destruction that abuse and violence causes in a relationship or marriage.

Unlike some politicians and armchair quarterbacks, I personally see violence against women as a front seat issue. There is no reason for it sitting alone and abandoned at the rear of the bus. Likened to the much touted politics of same sex marriage, homosexuality and abortion--all front seat riders--domestic violence, apparently, is not that horrendous in the mind of some people. Never mind violence often leads to the death of a wife or girlfriend.

Regrettably, it takes a high profile case of abuse and murder to capture the public’s attention on a national scale. The death of a plain Jane living next door does not warrant 24/7 media coverage. Too often she becomes a cold case on file. However, if Jane is attractive, preferably blonde, has a face the media can sell to the public by soliciting remembrances from family and friends, in conjunction with happy faced photographs and joyous videos--the grieving family will attract all the attention and coverage they want. These carefully collected components are sewn together with orchestrated media language, and spoon-fed to the public. And like magic the “pretty woman” tragedy swiftly evolves into a full-fledged feeding frenzy. Family members of poor Whites, Blacks and Hispanics and others can expect no more than four or five minutes of local coverage. They can dismiss any thoughts of around-the-clock national coverage. The definition of “interesting news” does not apply to every woman or young girl killed by her abuser.

Thus, the poems in The Darker Side Of Violence Comes Faster Than The Brighter Side Of Love (publication pending) were written recalling the words other battered women, and my own memories, all of which are stored in my mind, patiently awaiting their chance to resurface and be heard. These poems are multicultural, short tempered, heartless, cruel, combative, deadly. They offer no apology for being raw, truthful and unsophisticated. They are not impressed by fancy words, ethnicity, religion, skin color, education, profession, income or age. They do not waste time wondering where the abused woman resides. They already know that she lives in public housing, modest homes with fences, trailer parks, farms, condos, boarding houses, fabulous mansions replete with household help, expensive cars, designer clothes and credit cards. She might even be homeless, where hell is what it is: butt naked and undisguised. Like an insightful psychiatrists, these poems know that a woman who is regularly abused and bullied, constantly comes face-to-face with physical and psychological abuse. 

In the section Crossing Over To The Brighter Side of Love, the poems are about love, lust, passion and sensuousness. These sensations should be prevalent in all marriages and relationships; unfortunately, they are lost in action when spousal abuse is the dominant commander on the battle field.

I dedicate these poems to liberated women and young girls, who are presently living in a world filled with happiness and freedom. They do not know about abuse. They do not  understand the plight of a truly battered female: her emotions, her isolation, her despondency, her lack of self-worth, her inactive spirit. I can fully appreciate these self-governing women and young girls who do not, and will not accept strolling shoulder-to-shoulder with homemade misery and homemade hell; physical and psychological abuse. 

Standing some distance from fists intent on harming them; foul words intent on dismantling their spirit, there is no reason to feel threatened. There is no reason for them to believe they will ever  be victims of abuse. I can understand them saying they will never allow themselves to get trapped in a violent relationship or marriage. “I deserve better than that,” they say. With conviction, I might add. Congratulations. Applause. Bravo. Cheers. Right on. These women and young girls are self-confident and smart. They value and respect themselves. That’s the way it should be. They deserve praise for knowing what they will not tolerate.


 How come you crying Mommy?

8 year-old Tammy asked.

She was a young child

with adult eyes and

wide-open ears.

She was not easily duped.

Her ears heard words

but her eyes saw truth.

Daddy hit you again, Mommy?
Yes he did,
Tammy disputed.

How come your arm
is hurting? Is it sore?

Daddy hit you
Last night, Mommy.
I saw him. 
I wasn’t sleeping.
I heard you crying.
Daddy yelled at you.
He called you bad names.

I’ll kiss your arm
and make it all better.
Don’t cry no more, okay?

I love you, Mommy.
You’re nice.
I’m not going to marry Daddy
When I get big.
He’s too mean.

The law says she 
Shouldn’t have shot him.
He hadn’t attacked her. 
She had no evidence
Indicating she was in danger.
No physical threat was made
The night she pulled the trigger, 
Releasing the bullets
That killed her husband 
Of 20 long arduous years.
Multiple years of 
Homemade Misery 
and Homemade Hell 
didn’t count.
The law says she has got to pay
For her crime of passion.
Her flare of fatal rage wasn’t 
Self defense simply because
She has mistreated eyes
And permanent battle scars. 
Killing was no excuse 
Just because
Busted lips and impaired health 
Escorted her to court. 
Call the police for protection?
She had been there; done that.
The law says
She wasn’t in serious danger
The night of the shooting. 
She doesn’t have a right
To go free, the legal system says.
The same system that
Refused to protect her 24 
Hours before she 
Shot her abuser to death.

(C) poems by dorothy charles banks

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