Good vs Evil

Seeing abusors as abusors needs to stop.

Now hear me out, I’m NOT saying we need to stop naming abuse. We need to name abuse when it happens, call it wrong, call it out when it happens, not give it an excuse or allow avoidance of the consequences. Abuse needs consequences that help someone see the severity of the pain they have caused.

But what I am also saying is that we need to stop with the labelling and the black and white notion that someone is good or evil.

I’m going to start this with an example – I have plenty of these I’ve now experienced and heard second hand.

Friend who is experiencing abuse at the hands of a partner, you meet the friend when they are trying to leave, you hear their abuse stories, you’re disgusted by what has been done to your new friend. You build up in your head an image of the disgusting man who did these things to your friend. Then one day they are back together again and you meet him when you visit her. He’s normal looking, you have some good chats, he offers you tea, he seems really nice. You walk away still wanting to hate all of him but struggling a little more.

Your friend tells stories of how lovely he’s been, you here some ups and downs in her life but mostly of them being good together. She calls you again one day and he’s done it again, gone too far and hurt her. You hate him again. You tell her to tell him you know. You know he’s scared of you, because you know. You try to encourage her to leave and only talk about him through the abusor mindset – he’s all evil.

She goes back again, he’s still there, he comes and visits at your house. You all have a lovely time together. At some point in there, you realise you can’t do it. You can’t just call him the ‘abusor’ he has a name, a life, a face. He does a lot of good, he cares, but he also does awful things that are not ok.

You begin to realise that you can name his BEHAVIOUR as unacceptable, as evil, as something that won’t be tolerated, as something that comes with response and consequences BUT that you don’t have to label him as evil.

You hear more of what he’s been through and realise that he’s learnt some pretty maladaptive coping mechanisms that often are abusive. You never stop repeating the message that your friend doesn’t deserve be treated that way (because no one does) and that if she is she needs to leave, because it isn’t safe. But you also begin to encourage him to seek change, to recognise his behaviour and face it, to find healthier ways that aren’t abusive to express himself.

Or another story.

The abusive parents of kids I work with, where I’ve read their file and just want to hate them with all that I have for the abuse they perpetrated on their kid. But then that kid tells me stories, shares happy memories and wants connection with their parents, despite what happened. And suddenly I can’t hate them completely, because I want what’s best for my client and that kid wants relationship with them, so then I want for that kid to have parents that have gotten better that have worked on their shit so they won’t do it again.

Also we need to remember that abuse is not always intentional, it can also be unintentional. Abuse pertains to power and control and this can be done unintentionally. So a perfectly lovely human being doing their best with the situation they’ve been given, or by doing nothing at all, can abuse someone else. Neglect is a prime example.

When I label someone as abusor, I name them as evil / bad.

By labelling people as abusors we reduce them to that. We give them no hope of rehabilitation, no room for growth, for change. It is such a powerful label with such strong negative stigma. And it is a huge problem in people going to get help, to admitting to their problems and naming the abuse. People don’t want to admit to being evil or bad or to being abusor’s – but they may admit to doing bad things, having done abuse or doing evil.

If I was perpetrating emotional abuse, constantly humiliating someone and that was impacting them – when I hear that I’m perpetrating abuse against them how am I supposed to react when that lands me with the label of abusor?

So how am I suggesting we go forward? Well I believe we need to begin separately naming behaviour from the person. There are a few easy step to this.

  1. Talking about what has happened (the behaviour).
  2. What the consequences of the behaviour has/will been (for both the person who did the behaviour but also for those around or that the behaviour was toward)
  3. Asking why it has happened (seek to understand why the behaviour happened so we can ensure that when those circumstances align again we can work on changing the reaction / behaviour)
  4. Naming it as an unacceptable behaviour that needs to change (never allow it to be called ok, you can understand why someone did something, but that doesn’t make it ok) (if we aren’t talking abuse but rather unhelpful behaviour naming it as unhelpful and why).

An example, Paul is not an emotional abusor controlling Becky’s every move. No Paul’s attempts to track Becky anywhere she goes and have control over what she does is abuse and not ok and has consequence. Paul’s behaviour is unacceptable, not Paul himself. This puts the responsibility back on Paul to change his unacceptable behaviour if he wants to interact with Becky. It also allows for Becky to be a person with free will, not a passive victim.

With the kids I work with, if I only ever looked at their behaviours as to who they were I’d be constantly telling people I work with the worst little shits & wouldn’t still be in the job. But no, I need to look behind the behaviour as to why they are being little shits, why I was physically assaulted, why I was verbally sexually harassed and why the wall is being destroyed. Sadly, most of the time these behaviours are because that is how these kids know how to interact. They learnt to cope with anger by lashing out, not talking.

So I can name their behaviour, tell them their behaviour is unacceptable, charge them for assault and I can tell them how it hurts me. But I can also go to them afterwards once they aren’t heightened and ask what was happening for them. Ask them why that behaviour came out, ask where the response came from and ask them to maybe think about a better behaviour they could respond with next time they are feeling that way.

If we have call everyone who perpetrates anything that resembles the definition of abuse ‘abusor’s’ what hope do we have of ever getting better as a society?! We’d be a society of mostly ‘abusor’s’ who hate on ourselves and think ourselves as shit and therefore why would we want to be better.

If instead we see ourselves as people made up of complex experiences that lead often to poor behaviour that can sometimes hurt others – and have that hurt we’ve caused explained and listened too – because we’ve felt listened too and not judged enough to put our backs up and therefore can actually listen – then maybe we can work on not doing it again and begin healing, as people, as family, as community as a society.

There is no good vs evil personhood. There are only behaviours that can be seen as good or evil. There are no abusors only people who perpetrate abuse. There are only behaviours that can be changed so lets begin working on changing them – for the better – for everyone’s sake!

 

 

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The silence

I say congratulations

welcome newborn child

but really I want to say I’m jealous

But I can’t, it isn’t done

 

You complain about a tantruming toddler

joke ‘who wants them’

little do you know how much I do

do you not see how lucky you are?

 

I hit like at your 2 year anniversary

and I’m happy for you

but it’s a painful reminder

Where did two years go?

I still haven’t found someone

 

Some days I can’t take it anymore

All the beautiful images of the life I want

but are so far out of my reach

I distance myself, I unfollow you

 

Trying to embrace my stage I travel

I see wild beautiful things

have adventures and share pictures

 

you say you’re jealous

‘want to trade places’

 

your joke isn’t funny

 

you don’t know what you ask

 

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to know so little

Today I realised I know so little,

So little of what matters,

What underpins,

 

I know more of the ‘don’t know’ than the ‘do’,

More of what I disagree with,

More of what makes me rant and rage,

More of the anger and pain,

 

Sometimes I want to give up completely,

 

Why I am holding on?

What am I holding to?

 

When He, Lord, God,

Preach, prayer & plans,

Faithful, blessings & Heaven,

Church, evangelise & word,

Pure, Grace & Sin,

push you further away,

rather than draw you in.

 

How to continue the wrestle?

Words and their baggage,

To reclaim language,

Or give it in?

 

To find new words,

Discover new truths,

To find new foundations,

When waves of sorrow and brokenness wash through,

 

God as a father,

When it can equate to abuse, hurt and pain,

 

God is good,

God is in control,

When bad things constantly happen,

 

He wont let us down,

Yet thousands die of hunger,

 

Experiencing deep love and acceptance,

but not from people trying to be ‘Christ-like’,

 

Messy spirituality,

I’m living it,

breathing it,

confused by it,

hating having to do this again.

 

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Womanly Strength

There is strength in my tears,

Strength in my pain,

Strength in my anger,

And strength in my rage

 

There is strength in my power,

Strength in giving it away,

Strength in how I empower,

And strength in systems I know how to play

 

There is strength in my voice,

Strength in my silence,

Strength in my hug,

And strength in my quietness

 

There is strength in my weakness,

Strength in my persistence,

Strength in my empathy,

And strength in my capacity

 

There is strength in my non-violence,

Strength in my hold,

Strength in my care for justice,

And strength in my bold

 

There is strength in my whirlwind,

Strength in my ability to juggle,

Strength in how much I carry,

And strength in my human when I crumble,

 

There is strength in my tea,

Strength in knowing how you have it,

Strength in my time,

And strength in my desire for chocolate

 

There is strength in my blood,

Strength in nourishing and growing life,

Strength in holding space,

And strength in my love

 

There is strength in my responsibility,

Strength in my support,

Strength in my continued fight,

Despite the walls that constantly come

 

Strength runs through me

 

Do not underestimate me

 

Do not feel threatened by me

 

I am a strength you want on your side

 

Value me

 

Know and learn how life will be richer

 

I am woman

 

And I am offering my strengths

 

 

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Consent

With a few experiences of my own & a whole lot of stories young women and girls have shared with me – I’ve felt the need to write a little something on consent. (Interestingly I wrote this just before the whole Brock Turner light rape sentence case in America in June last year – have just sat on it for a long while).

Personally I don’t think it is that difficult to understand – but for some reason, so many guys don’t get it, they violate it because they are just pushing to see where the boundaries lie, how far they can be pushed before they get 1 of the 3 non-consensual responses.

Lets go back to some basic psychology here for a second. There are 3 reactions to danger – Fight, Flight or Freeze. They are all reactions that happen when a person feels threatened and they are all therefore reactions of non-consent. The one that most guys just don’t seem to get / wilfully ignore (because they often get away with it) is Freeze.

Freeze is the deer in the headlights eyes, frozen body, unsure reaction – it is a reaction of: I don’t feel safe and I am frozen because I am scared. It is NOT CONSENT! And yes you can tell, they freeze, they look frightened, they are non responsive.

When discussing this simple psychology with guys the response has often been ‘but we have to make the first move’, ‘maybe she is just shy’ etc. And it took me way too long to unwrap that load of bullshit that I’ve allowed guys to use as justification, that I’ve used to excuse male behaviour, that I’ve used excuse my own fear and frozen reaction.

I dated a guy where I straight up told him that I didn’t want to get physical at all (kissing included) for a while until I got to know him and felt a little safe. I asked him to make sure that he had my permission, that he had my consent. What did he say? That that took the spontaneity out of it. I listened to his excuses and with my own insecurities froze twice when he went in for a kiss way before I felt comfortable, where it took me a few seconds to muster the courage to say no, push him away, and where that no was pushed  with a ‘come on you know you want too’ attitude (when I didn’t, I wasn’t ready and I’d been kissed when I didn’t want to be).

Some would say that this example is totally light, its kissing, it isn’t the end of the world. And in some sense you are right, I don’t feel bad about the fact that I was kissed – what I do feel violated about was my lack of consent – I felt a disregard for my sense of safety. Especially when I made it clear it was important from the word go. Reflecting on it later I questioned what would have happened if I kept dating him? Where does the pushing stop? He saw my freeze, paused and then took advantage (I saw that process happen in his face, just as he saw my deer in headlights eyes stating I wasn’t ready and ignored it). What does that look like down the track? Because to me they are signs of willingness to push the boundaries, to potentially be abusive, to violate trust, to not care about that the other person does not feel safe. They are steps that I can see as leading in the extreme to rape and rape in a relationship where it is more easily excused. (I’m not saying they would have, but that they could have. If that is the snippet of what the guy showed of himself to me in 2 dates, about how he was going to treat me and my consent- you can see how I can extend that logic further!)

What about that time when I froze when I was traveling alone and woke up to find a guy from my dorm on top of me trying to convince me to sleep with him? What would have happened if I didn’t find my voice after what seemed like an age to say no? (embarrassingly it was a super shy timid sounding no – because I was attempting to wake up, super scared and freaking out that I could be raped in a minute and felt completely powerless). What would have happened if he didn’t listen?

Where was the confident fights against injustice, fights for women’s rights Marita then? I’m really embarrassed & ashamed by this story actually. How could me, who fights so hard for what against what is wrong for others, not have fought for myself? Where was my voice? And then finding myself asking these stupid women blaming questions of: What had I done to encourage him? How had I brought it on? (And yet knowing those questions are bullshit and place all the blame on the victim for being a victim and nothing on the perpetrator for perpetrating – & knowing I did nothing to encourage or bring it on). (FYI if you don’t believe me here is how messy this also gets – I politely gave him the brush off by not at all engaging with him earlier that day when he tried to talk with me. This egotistical guy who thought he was God’s gift to women maybe thought this message was: I was ignoring him because I was playing hard to get… which NO – this is just a terrible myth that excuses any action of a guy and places blame on the female. I was ignoring him because I wasn’t interested and I was trying to not be a bitch about it! Now the I message received was, I need to be a bitch otherwise I could be raped… seriously there is nothing women can do where they won’t be critiqued for doing it wrong (rejecting a guy) but the thing men don’t seem to understand is that for women that comes with consequences or the threat of potential violence…its a dangerous loose loose. And I can give you heaps of examples where rejection by a female in all sorts of ways, ends in her sexual assault, rape or murder).

Thankfully, I understand enough about psychology to know I need to let myself off the hook for not being a ‘fighting for my rights warrior’ in that moment! I know it wasn’t my fault and that my response was understandable – because I responded with a basic stress response, because I was scared shitless! I froze (because there was no flight, I was pinned, arms held, guy on top of me, I knew I was powerless and it seemed stupid to try and fight when it felt impossible to do anything other than timidly attempt to push him back and say no). Thank goodness he eventually listened to my no and got off & left.

What about for the girl (young teen) I talked with a while ago who told me about being sexually assaulted (remember assault’s definition is: to make a physical attack on – it can being touched without permission, being kissed -> much worse). She told me about how she froze, but that when she reported it, nothing was done as no one had seen it and it was her word against his (him denying it). And I heard in her admission of freeze a sense of questioning her complicity, because she hadn’t said no. What I hope she heard from me that day was that she 100% had said no, because she had not said yes, because her body language screamed no but it was wilfully ignored. That she did not need to feel in any way complicit in that horrid memory for her.

Guys, the line is this. It’s ensuring that before you go there, whatever physical activity it is, however small, that it is welcome, that the female (or male) has said yes. How do you know? Well if a girl freezes – don’t work out the question ‘is she just scared but wants this’ in your own head – ask her. Say ‘do you mind if I kiss (or whatever is your intention) you?’ or ‘I really want to kiss you’. Personally I have never felt that that has ruined a moment but rather that it has shown complete respect for me and made me 100% more comfortable because I can say yes if I am interested and no if I’m not. It’s ensuring that the person is a willing participant in your activity, that they are also wanting and acting on it.

Freeze is – I do not consent. Fight is – I do not consent. Flight is – I do not consent. Consent isn’t hard to understand – it’s rape culture messages that have made the lines blurry and created the excuse, but it isn’t an excuse. It’s violation of someones safety, it’s sexual assault.

This video cartoon parody sums it all up pretty perfectly in my mind: https://youtu.be/oQbei5JGiT8

 

 

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tears of an empty womb

They come once a month

Red, raw and painful

Blood without purpose

Blood that just brings aching pain

The physical pain, the symbolic pain

 

Tears for the life that did not grow

The hollow reminder of a desire not in your reality

Hope of even trying an unutterable dream

 

The pain that is not shared

The loneliness

The weight of carrying the loss alone

 

The grief of knowing if it happens it will be too late

That Opa will never meet his grandchild

The gift you would have loved to give

Holding your father’s tears as well

Tears for the role he’ll never have the chance to play

Tears for one of his early ending’s regrets’

 

Feeling responsible for its emptiness

For its unfulfilled potential

Self-deprecating questions of fault

The kick in the gut questions of singleness

The blame of being alone mentality

 

Lamenting the lot you got in life

Reminding yourself that life is not fair

 

Knowing others also feeling the ache

The pain that nurofen cannot affect

The tears in trying and then red raw loss

Or the bloody reminder of not having the ability to try

 

Sick of feeling it should be silent

Not wanting to be so vulnerable

But knowing unsiliencing begins by speaking

 

Living in unfulfilled longing

Announcements, bumps, pictures, social media feeds,

Constant reminders of what you’re missing

Everyday attempting to not let it be too present

To let the tears only fall once a month

The red, raw, painful tears of an empty womb.

 

 

*Note: not all women want this and good for those that don’t, this is just written from my perspective to hopefully also hold space for other women I know who are also struggling with this silently.

Also I’m fine, I just cry tears now and then because life sucks (and it’s ok to just dwell for a some moments in the fact). Thankfully I don’t get stuck there and so that is why overall, I’m fine.

 

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Ladies, enough with the comparison!

Today I reached my limit of staying silent on this. Enough already!

QUIT COMPARING YOUR BODY TO OTHER WOMEN!

Why?! Because it does nothing but cause pain and it has zero relevancy to your health. But also because I’m personally I’m sick of feeling like I should apologise and have a negative view of my body just because I happen to be a certain build. It’s bullshit and no one should make someone else feel that way!

It’s happened most of my life, I’ve always been tall and slim with a super fast metabolism that meant that it was difficult to put on weight. And whilst I figured out the putting on weight issue (go overseas!), its taken me years to be comfortable and love my body (something I am passionate about for everyone to be able to do, especially women!).

The skinny shaming happened throughout primary, high school and my adult life. Others comparing their bodies to mine and then pointing out how bad they feel, sometimes as blatantly as that, sometimes subtly. How did that make me feel? Damn guilty all the bloody time for just living in the body I was born in. Especially anytime anyone brought up talking about their insecurities about their weight etc, if I even tried to pitch in, I was shut down. What would I know? No I should sit there and feel guilty for not having that issue. In high school I actually ate junk for nearly a year and heaps of it, just to put on weight and make the comments about my weight stop. (some of you are rolling eyes and saying if only that was a problem – well it is for a lot of people so stop dismissing it as something that isn’t worrysome!) I was made to question whether I had anorexia by randoms, doctors, friends – I ate so much, I didn’t hate my body in that way nor wanted to be skinny, and yet I was told it so often I questioned myself at times, maybe I was, maybe I did have a body image issue and was secretly (to even my knowldge, subconsciously) punishing myself or caring so greatly about being good looking that I was not eating (all with a moments thought clearly untrue to anyone who saw my daily rhythm).

And yet comfortability in my body came really when I wasn’t that skinny having issues putting on weight girl anymore, it was when I was carrying more weight than my healthy body adult body needed to. Why then, because I was hating my body, hating my eating, hating my lack of ability to diet & so to console my hatred I dieted and then would binge. Super unhealthy, unhealthy food going in, unhealthy amounts, unhealthy mental health and unhealthy body image. I realised in order to actually make the change, I needed to stop focusing on the fat, the weight, the scales, and learn to be ok with my body, bits I hated and all. And slowly I did, I decided it was ok I was not eating as well, because I got in touch with the reason (anxiety around traveling and not having a place of rest), that I was ok with the pudgy stomach, that I was ok with the no boobs, the long legs that can’t find jeans long enough (such as the ones I’m wearing now that are 2 inches too short), the ugly toes, the pimply skin, the moles, the stretch marks and cellulite, the ugly belly button. I realised it wasn’t ugly or something I should be ashamed about, it was just me and I like me & I won’t ever look perfect and no one does. All we can do is be the healthiest person we can in our body to live the fullest life.

And you know what, my body is slight, I’m tall, I have a small rib cage, small bones, straight figure and I love my body. Not all the time, but I try to love it all the time, because it is what I have. And I am trying to be the healthiest version of me with the time I have amongst my thousand of other passions and time consuming things that are in my life.

Why the beginning rant? Because today, I had a 15 year old girl feeling uncomfortable about herself, her weight, her skin because she is comparing herself to me. And it isn’t fair on her and it isn’t fair on me & most of all, it isn’t going to help her at all have a healthy body image of herself, which is something I want so so much to see!

She is never going to be a size 10 like me, because her body is so so different from mine. She’s curvier, bigger bones, bigger frame, different shape, different muscles. Her healthy body is like a 14 or something and a totally different shape and weight to my my healthy me. And I want to be able to support her and encourage her to love her body, look after it, both mentally, physically and emotionally. But if she keeps comparing herself  in size, weight (which is the most stupid thing to compare!, two people the same size can be vastly different weights – and again body types – vast vast differences!), physical attributes with the ideal of the ‘beautiful’ skinny fake photoshopped woman on the front of the mags and plastered on the tele, she isn’t ever going to love her body.

So women, please please please! Stop comparing! To your friends, to the mags to our culture! Try and come to the point where you accept your body type and start thinking what is healthy for me and work on your journey towards it. And give yourself a thousand breaks for not getting there because you are ok in your own skin as it is. From my experience, having this attitude will actually make you far more motivated and likely to achieving those goals than being hard and fast about them! (that said, realistic goals can be good to push yourself!).

So I’m not going to say I’m thankful for my body type or my fast metabolism, because that’s buying into the skinny is best sterotype I don’t believe. I am instead going to say, I’m thankful for my body, all of it, and I’m going to try and be the healthiest me (health being mental, physical, emotional, medical, with my spare time and energy living holistically) & I hope you can be thankful for your body and try and be the healthiest you too!

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