It’s been a while since I hit Patheos and took in a few articles. With my schedule and the holiday, I just didn’t have the time. But after finding this one, I almost wish that I hadn’t.
This comes from Love Joy Feminism: it seems that the “pro traditional family” lawmakers in Russia are trying to downgrade domestic abuse. Instead of it being a criminal offense, it will be a misdemeanor. Yes, you are reading that correctly. Rather than having the state involved, these lawmakers would rather the family work things out.
I am not making this up.
On the surface, it doesn’t sound so terrible. But if you’ve been in an abusive home, you know how horrible an idea this is. Why? Because what you are living with is “normal”. Being slapped for the smallest of offenses? Normal. Being threatened with your pets being taken away and dropped off at the pound, where they would be put to sleep? Normal. Having your mother’s hands around your neck and feeling her squeeze as you feel your breath leave you? Normal. Being told at the age of 23 that you are not allowed to travel out of state with your friends and that if you do, your life will be made a “living hell” afterwards? Normal.
But it isn’t normal. It’s not normal at all. It is abuse. But when this is your life, when this is what you deal with on a daily basis, it becomes normal. Only when you get away from this, when you pull yourself out of this mire do you realize that no, it was never normal.
It can take years to do this. It’s not an easy journey. I know that from experience. Just taking the first step can be shattering. I will never forget that day, when I sat in front of my computer, my head in my hands, the world spinning around me as I realized that my childhood wasn’t as storied as I had thought. That things weren’t as good as I had believed. Sure, my mother could be harsh, she always hit but she wasn’t, she couldn’t be…
The thing is, she was. But I didn’t realize it when I was living in that house. Because that house was the only thing I knew. That was my normal. And the idea of losing it was terrifying. The devil I knew was a lot less frightening than the ones I didn’t. That’s how it is in a lot of these families; the devil you know is easier to cope with, so you do your best and stay. You put on a front, bury the sadness and anguish with a smile and you go on. You hide the scars–whether they are physical, mental or emotional–and keep going. Because you’re supposed to deal with this. It was just a little disagreement with a family member; next time you’ll know better and not piss him or her off.
Or worse, you’ve been threatened with retribution if you leave. In that way, you are well and truly stuck.
But the behavior doesn’t change. It never seems to change. And you feel stuck and hopeless. But don’t try explaining that to these lawmakers. They won’t understand. They’re far too concerned about things going back to the “good ole days”, when you could slap your wife and your neighbors didn’t get involved.
I sometimes wonder what sort of definition of “family” these people have. Somehow, I don’t think the words “kindness” and “caring” are involved at all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go binge some kitten videos, as they are needed right now.