Today’s America is like a battered woman. The one who stays with her perpetrator despite the beatings. She’s been in the relationship so long, she knows no other way to live. She has forgotten life without violence to her person, and so she stays. She decided it is easier to live with what is familiar than to try to change. Here, the patriarchy has twisted a few things, including this woman’s sense of who she is. Her family members can’t understand why she stays. They step in and try to intervene, but she says they’ve embarrassed her with their accusations. She tells them she can take care of herself, to stay out of it and mind their own business.
Meanwhile, those who love her ask how many bruised eyes and broken bones she plans on suffering. They keep asking, keep calling the cops who take reports and even send social workers, but to avoid more beatings, she won’t cooperate. Without her willingness to rise and break this habit, their efforts have little if any effect.
The battered woman doesn’t see that her life is in danger. She’s normalized the prevalent violence in her home, in her mind, and some time back became numb to the danger. Her co-workers know what’s going on, but their hands are tied, too. This woman does not recognize the risk that comes with accepting this violence. She does not know that the majority of women who die violently in America die at the hands of their intimate partner when she is attempting to leave.*
This woman does not know what she’s looking at! Stunned into inaction, her red eyes are tired, she missed the early signs of trouble and thinks she is winging it, going it alone. She does not know that abuse begins with words, lies, then escalates to the misuse of power, designed to keep her under control. She does not see that from the day of her wedding she has been oppressed. She thinks that money and power in the hands of men make them strong and attractive, sexy, even. She does not know that when men with money and power take the world stage to get yet more of the same, that this is the next, most dangerous level of abuse. She does not understand that the world stage becomes a drug overdose for such a man, where his pain mandates that he get more drugs. He cannot care for anyone but himself. He cares nothing for the people, the vulnerable and the ordinary who depend upon and support him for the same reason she does. They think he cares for them, they think he will help them. But he is incapable of such caring. His own brokenness motivates him to promote all that he has left, the false image of his power. Such a sick man needs NEVER to be in a position of power and if he is, he will certainly abuse it.
She does not understand that her new bruises and broken bones, as she sustained and we witnessed last week, represent the hands-on form of abuse. Abuse on the world stage otherwise known as force, is the abuse synonymous with war. She does not and has not been willing or able to see that he boldly revealed his intentions to hurt her and all the people from the time he arrived. She does not and has not been able to see that the press, and every institution of government found it necessary to alter and/or compromise their way of working in order to comprehend and somehow coalesce and work with him. So, in his entire term of office, they cooperated with an abuser and lost integrity in so doing.
Now, America must lift her personal standards but before she can do that, she must heal. Because of who she is, she must find the strength at last to imagine a higher, peaceful and equitable standard of living. She must seek healthy, worthy, sober, competent partners, who are respectful of her highest expression, well-meaning partners, decent human beings committed to the service of all the people. She needs to fix her sights far above and beyond those seeking power at all costs. When America heals her addiction to pain and power, her people and her government institutions will become well, and she will be able to rest her eyes. Is it possible she can do these things through truth telling? Some of us suspect it is.