Thought For the Day:
“A house where a woman is unsafe is not a home.”
Question for the Day:
Are you unsafe in your relationship?
I was almost finished with another post when I decided to take a detour and have a brief discussion about domestic violence in light of the recent airing of R&B singer Michel’le’s Lifetime biopic film entitled Surviving Compton. If you’re from California like myself, there are few names bigger then Dr. Dre, Suge Knight, and Michel’le, when it comes to the story of West Coast hip hop, so I was super hyped to see it.
Like everyone else and their mama, I’d already seen the hit blockbuster movie Straight Outta Compton which chronicles the pioneering mega group NWA’s meteoric rise to fame. Straight Outta Compton did a good job of elevating Dr. Dre, the producing force behind NWA and the entire gangster rap movement, to hero status. He was painted as the uber-talented but tragically exploited brains behind the NWA machine who fell victim to the shady financial manipulation of NWA’s manager Jerry Heller and the notorious CEO of Deathrow Records, Suge Knight. I remember cheering him on during the movie and feeling vindicated on his behalf when he finally broke free from his oppressors and walked off into the sunset to start Aftermath Entertainment and become the ridiculously successful music mogul he is today. But what I didn’t know, was that his long-time girlfriend Michel’le was apparently the original one-woman focus group for “Beats by Dre” because she was violently abused for the majority of their relationship. Not only was she physically and verbally assaulted by Dr. Dre , but he apparently really believes that “B*#ches Ain’t S#*t” because he was also a serial cheater who even brought random women into the home and bed he shared with Michel’le.
Now, I could go in on Dr. Dre and publicly rebuke him for his misdeeds, but I imagine he won’t lose any sleep over the few dozen people that may stumble across this post. So I decided it would probably be more productive if I addressed the women who endure this type of abuse instead.
As a therapist, I talk to women all the time who choose to stay with dangerous men and by the time they get into therapy, they’ve spent years making excuses for the black eyes, bite marks, burns, cuts, bruises, and bald spots that will no longer stay hidden underneath long sleeve shirts and oversized shades. Mama and ‘nem have talked until their blue in the face about why they should leave, their kids have begged them to get out, their boss has expressed concern in a closed-door meeting at work, and their medical doctors have even begun to ask questions.
For those of us not used to this type of violence, the solution seems pretty easy and straight forward, “just leave” is the advise we typically offer. However, though that appears to be the next right thing, the more I talk to women who’ve been violated or manhandled by their mates, the more I realize that for them, there are no easy answers. Tolerating abuse is almost always the byproduct of unresolved childhood pain and trauma and/or the perpetuation of dysfunctional beliefs passed down from one generation to the next. How you respond to being mistreated has everything to do with what you believe about yourself as a woman and what you believe about how a man should treat the woman he loves.
Surviving Compton was a good example of how deep emotional scars and distorted beliefs can break you down to the very last compound no matter how beautiful, talented, intelligent, rich or successful you might be. So in my personal and professional opinion, here are the top five lies abused women believe that keep them locked in the tailspin better known as the cycle of abuse.
5. If a Man Hits You, You Must Deserve It
No one deserves abuse, point blank, PERIOD. Yet, for a woman who’s working with impaired self-esteem, she may enter relationships carrying the unspoken belief that she is ugly, stupid, or just not good enough. Being raised by no count parents is usually to blame for instilling these types of destructive messages. A childhood history of abuse or neglect teaches a child that they are not worthy of affection and protection. An abused child becomes used to their parents blaming them for the mistreatment they receive. “If you weren’t so bad, I wouldn’t have to keep beating the brakes off of you,” is the kind of victim shaming many folks are raised to endure. If this was normal for you as a kid then it would become second nature for you to fault yourself when the same type of abuse continues in your adult relationships. “It’s for your own good” may work with a child who is easily manipulated and totally dependent on their parents for everything, but it shouldn’t work on a grown woman. Adult women are fully capable off learning from their own mistakes, asserting themselves, setting boundaries, and meeting their own needs. Like Kelly Price sings, “you’re not my daddy, you’re my man” and you’d better recognize.
4. If a Man Hits You, You’re Not Trying Hard Enough to Make Him Happy
Watching Surviving Compton was further confirmation that this lie is alive and well because in the movie Michel’le’s mother told her that when a man hits you, it’s the woman’s responsibility to “fix it.” Men who beat women are weak, insecure, psychologically and emotionally troubled AND have massive anger management deficits, piss poor communication skills, low self-esteem, identity issues, and an under-developed sense of their own manhood in general. Believe me, there is no amount of cooking, cleaning, pampering, or bedroom acrobatics that can fix a man who’s that lost. Abusive men do need help, but they had better call on a counselor, psychiatrist, Iyanla, or Jesus to come and fix it. There’s absolutely nothing that a woman can do to put a broken man back together again ESPECIALLY when she’s broken herself.
3. Its Normal for a Man to Hit You if He Really Loves You
It is absolutely mind-boggling to me how many women feel special when their man hits them. After Michel’le was hit by Dr. Dre the first time, she recalled the words of her mother who apparently taught her that men only hit women they truly love. Some women thrive on the jealousy and control that lends itself to hollering, holes punched in walls, suicidal threats, and ferocious pimp slaps across the mouth. When an unknown number shows up on the caller ID, the abuser might be quick to accuse his beloved of creepin’ and choke the snot out of her only to later discover it was only the dentist’s office calling to confirm a scheduled cleaning. But, how was he to know? He’s just a fool in love, right? NO, HE’S JUST A FOOL! Irrational, delusional, and unbridled rage is easily written off as a crime of passion to women who believe that only true love feels that deeply. But the truth is, LOVE is patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, not overly proud, not rude, not irritable and keeps no record of wrong doing. That’s not a sappy Hallmark card people. That right there, is the Word of God. So if your man treats you in a manner that is in direct opposition to what God calls love, he may actually hate you much like he probably hates himself.
2. I Have to Tolerate Being Hit to Ensure My Needs are Met
At one point in Surviving Compton, Michel’le’s mother tells her she should consider getting hit by a man as successful as Dr. Dre as a “job that pays well.” If a woman has to pay for room and board with her teeth then the cost of living has become outrageous and its time to downsize. I understand that times are tough and that women who lack education and resources may feel it necessary to take care of themselves and their children by any means necessary. But don’t be confused, abuse by its very definition is exactly the opposite of “taking care” of anyone. If you would dishonor yourself, sacrifice your body, jeopardize your health, and knowingly scar your children for life then you have essentially prostituted your soul. Please know that there ain’t a house big enough, a weave fly enough, a car loaded enough, or a closet stocked with enough Jordans and red bottoms to make spiritual, emotional, and sometimes literal death worth it. REAL. TALK.
1. He’ll Eventually Change
It is my belief that either a man has the capacity to hit a woman or he doesn’t. I don’t buy the “she made me do it” excuse although I know there are women who could make self-restraint difficult for any man. But in general, I believe that most men would never condone hitting a woman much like most folks would never condone child abuse. Certain things don’t require a meeting and there’s no need to weigh the pros and cons. I don’t need to debate whether punching a child, kicking an elderly woman, or mocking a disabled person (side eye to Trump) is wrong because like most people, I’m hard-wired to understand that mistreating someone who is not fully able to defend themselves in equal measure is immoral. Most women cannot go toe-to-toe with a man in a fist fight and real men respect this and understand that it’s not a fair fight. A man who would exploit his woman’s vulnerability by using physical aggression knowing that she cannot defend herself is simply twisted. There’s nothing any of us can do to alter someone else’s moral code so if he’s capable of abusing a woman, there’s no telling what other lines he’s willing to cross. A person’s lack of basic human decency isn’t likely to change, at least not very easily. So as Maya Angelou famously said, “if someone shows you who they are, believe them.” I know we sometimes think we can make a bad man great again, but it may be best to let go and pursue a change you can honestly believe in.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, get out and get help. It’s wrong and you don’t deserve it. That is all, carry on.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7