When I found myself pregnant with my first child I knew in my heart I was carrying a boy. I didn’t have the excitement one should feel when they learn they are about to bring a new life into the world. Instead, all I felt was fear. I was so afraid I went to my doctor and through tears pouring out of my eyes told him I couldn’t have this child.
He asked me why? My only answer was that I couldn’t bear the responsibility for bringing another boy into the world who could treat a woman the way his father had been treating me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold my head up and be proud to have raised a man who felt it was okay to beat a woman.
My doctor told me my son wouldn’t grow up to be a wife beater if I didn’t allow violence in my home. He insisted personality was learned not something we were born with. He was wrong. At the time his words were what I needed to hear.
Knowing I had a child coming who would need me to be strong for him gave me the strength to leave his father. It wasn’t easy and I would spend most of the next sixteen years hiding.
My son was born with a volatile personality, similar to his father’s. It wasn’t easy to raise him but I was determined this child would never raise his hands to another human being and feel it was okay to do so.
He and I worked hard to find ways for him to vent his anger in acceptable ways. When he was irrationally angry I would send him outside to shovel snow watching from inside as he beat the snow for the first few minutes with the shovel and then as the anger subsided I would watch the anger dissipate as he would begin to finally shovel the snow.
Summer months were a bit harder. I tried sending him out to mow the grass but after his anger breaking a few of my mowers I decided the angry child wasn’t the one who should be using a mower.
Each time he finished the task at hand he would return to apologize and explain that he didn’t know what made him so angry in the first place.
Our struggles paid off. My son has never struck a woman. I watched his first wife hit him and he would walk outside to cool off rather than retaliate. Today he’s with a supportive woman and he has found ways to work through his mood swings when they do happen that doesn’t involve destruction of property.
Why am I telling you all this? Last week a story broke that tore my heart into pieces.
Russia has decriminalized domestic violence. Women were told to wear their bruises with pride.
When my son’s father was beating me there were no protections for women in my position. Police were called to my home who told me I had to have done something to deserve the beating while I watched other officers joke with my ex and even sympathize with him for having a woman who didn’t know her place.
Males and females are different from the very moment they are conceived. Watch young children. Give a doll to a boy and girl of the same age, raised with the same values and they will play differently. Give trucks to both sexes and they will play differently.
Listen to any father talk about his little girl and a boy liking her and you will see deep emotions in that father as he struggles with the knowledge that his little girl might not be treated with respect. Yet that same father when his son talks about girlfriends doesn’t struggle with the same feelings.
Look at the reactions when a teacher is accused of having sex with a student. When it’s a young female teacher you hear some say how lucky the young boy was to have his first experience be with that young hot teacher. Or worse, his friends are envious of that boy. Yet, when it’s a male teacher who seduces a female student there is outcry and calls for harsh punishments and the girl? She’s a whore.
When a boy gets into fights he’s tough and will be a strong man one day, yet a girl is told she isn’t acting ladylike if she gets into a fight.
To decriminalize domestic violence, I don’t care if it’s perpetrated by a woman or man, is a crime against humanity. To lay your hands on another person you swear you love is not how you love them. It is disrespectful. The children in these families, studies show, end up seeing the victim as weak and emulate the abuser in many cases. Who wants to be viewed as weak in a society that values strength?
For every child who grows up in an abusive household there is a chance that child will grow up to be abusive even if he or she hated the abuse they saw.
There are laws we shouldn’t have to need, domestic violence laws are one of them. We shouldn’t have to tell people it’s not okay to use your fists on another human being. Yet, until we have evolved to the point where we treat each other with respect, until we learn how to handle our angry moods in non-violent ways, we will need these laws and the protection they give to the victims.