The truth is, I've never watched the Duggar family on TV. Still, with all the current media coverage, it's impossible not to be aware of the fact that the eldest son Josh has confessed to inappropriate sexual behaviour, as a teenager, toward four of his sisters and a babysitter. I work with victims of sexual abuse every day in my psychotherapy practice, so I feel I have some insight into the subject at hand. Instead of adding to the judgements in favour of or against the family, I thought that it would be a good idea to look for the learning opportunities here.
Though I am about as much of a dentist as I am a squirrel, the Dalhousie Dentistry scandal cannot be ignored, even by a humble B.F.A, such as myself. Of course, I was outraged by the misogynistic nature of a Facebook page that was created for the express purpose of debasing women within the dentistry program. However, the first thought that ran through my mind wasn't outrage over their sexist remarks.
Sure there are stars who saw temporary road bumps in their career for their publicized violence against women like Roman Polanski, Mel Gibson, Chris Brown, Tommy Lee, Ike Turner, Bobby Brown and Nicholas Cage. But most of them bounced back and continue to have devoted fans. What message does that send to women who have been abused? That their life is not as important as a great film or song or game or show? What does it say about each of us that we likely have admitted to appreciating the talent of at least one famous abuser?
It is time to end the reign of "nice" and to recognize that both men and women suffer from this tyranny of harassment and feelings of powerlessness. If women try to be nice to avoid problems and disruption of relationships, men may misunderstand and continue the harassment or it may embolden them to continue, not fearing any consequences for their actions.
Examining her very words unveils very destructive, manipulative, and sometimes sadistic behaviours that are, in my opinion, alarming. The controversial sexual abuse she may or may not have inflicted on her sister is what's making the headlines, not the blatant control issues she has and a lack of boundaries she exhibits with her sister. The focus should not about left or right but more about wrong or right.
I started by telling you about my own experience in the world of abuse. I did this because those experiences are what helped me understand the importance of healing in light of a frightening situation. These women -- our sisters -- need our support and understanding to heal. But we cannot forget the men. At some point we are going to have to turn around and help heal this man. Many will think he is undeserving, but he too experienced trauma in his life which he has had to cope with. I'm not talking about forgiveness, I'm talking about compassion.
With every day that passes, the Nigerian schoolgirls could be moving further into dangerous territory of all kinds. Exploitation like the kinds they may be facing can have intensely disturbing effects on a child's social, emotional cognitive and spiritual well-being -- as well as their long-term development.
Do not treat the victim as if they are a person with agency and thoughts and feelings. Tell yourself that it's rational and logical to want to know all sides of the story, though you never want to know the other side, the perpetrator's side, when your house is broken into or your wallet is stolen or your child is hit by a car. Tell yourself that we can never know for sure what happened and since a man's life can be destroyed by accusations of rape, it's best to err on the side of caution. Do not think about the girl whose life was destroyed when she was seven. Above all, never, ever, ever think about the ways that you might be complicit in this.
I grew up being catcalled. I was groomed to believe it was a compliment I should enjoy. Though it vibrated uncomfortable, I looked for it on days I felt especially unpretty. Women are told, not just by men, but by other women to lighten up. "Oh please! Someone whistles at you, roll with it; it's a compliment. Someone thinks you're hot!" Powerlessness is key here. Especially when our culture generally continues to see street harassment as a non-issue.
This week, the American made-for-TV movie about the Russell Williams murders will make it Canadian television debut. An Officer and a Murderer is a movie only someone steeped in profit-motivated amnesia could make. It's sensationalistic. A pervasive kind of entertainment. It glorifies violence against Canadian women. It stains the good honour of Canadian women and men in uniform.
This week, I had a drink with a very good friend. He's currently in a relationship with a wonderful woman whose ex-husband, the father of her children also happens to be the man who raped and brutally sodomized her for the last four years of their nine-year marriage. No one believed the story of her ordeal. No one in her family. Not one of her friends. Disbelief is a cruel after-effect of rape. It's also the trump card of the rapist. The burden is all too often placed on the victim, not the perpetrator. And when it's a spouse, he knows how to make the victim feel so worthless, guilty and low, that she'll avoid doing what is necessary.
Bodily autonomy doesn't just refer to the freedom to have an abortion, it also refers to the freedom from unwanted acts against the body -- including forced pregnancy. For once I think there could be an issue where pro-life and pro-choice supporters can ally, but for some strange reason it seems no one is talking about it.
I knew several things. That I would finally meet my sister. And finally, confirmation of what I had known for two decades: my sister was also sexually abused by our father. Knowing something to be true and finally staring truth in the face is overwhelming. I would never feel the same as I did before that Wednesday morning.
Every six days a Canadian woman is killed by her partner. As of 2010, there were 582 known cases of missing or murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Globally, one in three women will be a victim of violence -- being raped, beaten or abused in her lifetime. In some parts of the world a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read. But women have taken a backseat to the government's other priorities.We could certainly be doing more to help women who are suffering from HIV/AIDS, which in many cases in the developing world results from rape.