Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Against Violence

Notice: Non-Knitting Rant Ahead.

You've been warned.

I step out of the elevator at work Monday morning and run into my crying coworker. I take her upstairs, figuring one of the union reps had screamed at her again. As it turns out, her Pennsylvanian boyfriend had called and woke her up the night before to break up with her.

This guy has been, in my opinion, waging a psychological war against this woman. One week he'll ask when she's moving out there, then the next he's saying he doesn't want her out there. If she's late coming home from work he'll leave multiple angry messages on her phone accusing her of sleeping around. He's verbally abusive and drinks himself stupid. The two times he moved out here with her he sat around all day and played on the computer, moving back to Pennsylvania only after he got a job offer here. He called her in the middle of the night to tell her that he's breaking it off and going to see fireworks with an 18-year-old from work. My friend asks him why he dragged another woman into the whole thing, and he says that he didn't know any other way to get rid of her.

As much as I hate to admit it, I'm not really surprised by how this all ended. It was a long-distance relationship, he is much younger than her, and he had already demonstrated his abusive behavior in the past. What really shocked me was, as I'm sitting in the conference room comforting my hysterical coworker, is that she blames herself for the whole thing. She shouldn't have been so needy, she was such a bother, she was too emotional. What the hell is wrong with women today that we assign blame to ourselves when we are treated badly? I feel bad for my friend, but I wanted to grab her and shake some sense into her! Problem is, I was the one on the other side of that table not too many years ago, crying and wondering what I did wrong to make my (now ex-) bf treat me so poorly.

Emotional and physical violence is not the victims' fault. Why do we hear about how someone was abused and ask "Why did she stay with him?" "Why did she allow herself to be abused?" We should be asking why we perpetuate a society in which violence against women is normal and up to the victim to avoid. We should not be asking ourselves how one woman could have avoided a bad situation. We should be teaching our boys not use violence to demonstrate their manliness. We should be teaching our girls that violence is not something they just have to adapt to.

I'll get off my soapbox now. Hope everyone out there had a safe holiday! I'll have knitting stuff again soon.

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