Enough is Enough

Domestic Violence Wheel Non-Gender

When I write and speak about child sex trafficking and abuse, I am encouraged by the support from most people who hear my story or read my blog. Most people understand that children are victims and do not have the power to stop the abuse that is controlling their lives. Most people understand that the brainwashing and shame transference in these situations runs very deep and can keep a child victim from speaking up for many years, or at all. Most people understand that children are afraid in these abusive environments. And I am grateful for this.

But during the past two weeks, I have been discouraged and disappointed by the victim-blaming associated with three different attacks on adult women, some of whom were rich and famous adult women. The difference in our support of child victims compared with adult victims of abusive behavior continues to perpetuate a culture of oppression in which victim-blaming is acceptable.

It started when nude photos of several famous actresses were leaked on the internet. The backlash of slut-shaming that ensued showed how our society instantly blamed these actresses for the release of these photos. There was a general assumption that they should not take nude photos if they don’t want them leaked. I was appalled by these opinions. Instead of naming the oppressor as a sex offender, we choose to assert that these women got what they deserved for taking private pictures of their private bodies.

This assertion is another version of rape apology. As a society, we are quick to assume that women are raped because they walk alone when they should know better or they are wearing something that invites the attack. These responses are fear-based. They are based on the desperate need to separate ourselves from the victims. If we can find a way to make it their fault, then it can’t happen to us because we are better than that.

But let me ask you this. Do you back up your pictures in the cloud so you won’t lose them when your computer crashes? Have you ever purchased something on the internet with your credit card? Have you ever vented on Facebook to your group of private friends? How would you feel if a hacker stole any of these things? Like a victim? You would be right. You have been violated. You have been attacked. And if you happened to have a picture of yourself without a lot of clothing, you might have been sexually attacked. But it probably won’t happen to you. Why? You aren’t famous. But even famous people are human beings. And we can’t justify an attack on them because they happen to be famous.

Nude Photo Leak Is A Sex Crime

Next I heard about a man who called and texted a women more than 20,000 times after a break-up. He was demanding compensation for some work he did on their apartment, but he would settle for a “thank you”. This is harassment. This is stalking. This behavior can and will lead to more abusive behavior. It is a gateway to serious abuse up to and including murder. It is not ok and this man is going to jail for it.

This happened to me on a much smaller scale after a break-up. And it was scary. I was petrified of this person, which is what he wanted. I was always looking over my shoulder. I was always worried about my internet security. If I responded in any way, the incessant communication would increase dramatically. I finally threatened to call the police and it stopped.

The other morning, I was listening to two local radio personalities as they discussed the story. One of the DJ’s decided that the woman was more “crazy” than the man because she was too “stubborn” to say thank you. I was dumbfounded by the idiocy of this talking head. She was “crazy” for not responding to the harassment? She was supposed to comply with his demands? Where do we draw the line? What demand would have been too much? What if he had asked for nude pictures? His demand for gratitude was a power-play. It was a mechanism for control. Her response would have been complicit with his abusive behavior. She was extremely strong in her lack of response. She was not crazy.

Man Jailed For 21807 Texts And Phone Calls

And then there is the horrifying story of Janay Rice. I have heard the countless speculations from others about how she should have behaved. “She should have walked away from him.” “She should have never married him.” She was even mocked on television for not leaving. These comments show the minimal understanding of what happens in these relationships. These relationships don’t start in an abusive manner. They start with love and kindness. The manipulation and control build over time.

And it is important to understand that this is probably not her first experience in an abusive relationship. Her childhood beliefs may have been formed in an abusive household which has led to a normalization of abuse as an expression of care. She may be familiar with abuse from family members or other intimate partners. She may believe that she doesn’t deserve better. She may believe she isn’t worth it. She may believe that she will not be loved by anyone else. She may believe she has no choice. She may believe that she loves him and he loves her. And on some level, that may be true. But she may also believe that this love could be fatal if she leaves.

Rice Victim Mocked

But just like trafficking victims who can’t leave their pimps, domestic violence victims have grown up to believe this is a part of who they are. And their innate belief systems from a childhood of trauma keep them from taking back their power. Fear doesn’t go away when we become adults. We don’t cross over the threshold at the age of 18 completely freed from our traumatic experiences. Fear is always there. In adulthood, it drives most of what we do. So if we are willing to understand how a child can be driven by fear, why is it impossible to accept that most adults are driven by the same emotion?

We are all slaves to fear.

Some people may take a stressful job with a controlling boss because they are afraid of financial destitution.

Some people may keep their opinions to themselves because they are afraid of not being loved.

Some people may avoid flying because they are afraid of death.

And some people may stay in an abusive relationship because they are afraid of all three.

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11 thoughts on “Enough is Enough

  1. Excellent article, Elisabeth. I think it is so true, as you say, that victims of domestic violence and/or sex trafficking have grown up to believe this is a part of who they are. I imagine any victim has at some moment said to him/herself “Just me being myself is why this is happening to me.”

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  2. This is bang-on. If other women didn’t say/do/behave as such, they wouldn’t be victims??! When did we lose all human empathy?? No one ever chooses to be a victim. We’re victimised everyday by a society that has normalised our fear, silenced our voices & made us believe that there is no real aggressor, no real perpetrator, only a victim who brought it on herself. It’s beyond shameful. Thanks for writing so succinctly & saying what needs saying, again and again!

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    • Sam, I liked your response to Elisabeth’s post. Though I wasn’t involved in sex-trafficking like Elisabeth and others have been, I was set up during my second year at a Junior college by my own father while I was working for a family friend at their restaurant, banquet and motel business. It was rape by a man whom my father had set up to pay the owners what “they claimed” I still owed for my one-room place to stay while attending college. I was able to confront everyone involved including the female bartender, who helped make it so I couldn’t call out from my room for help! I still live with some of the guilt that I couldn’t push the man off of me and just run away from the situation. It was like he was too heavy and I was too “chicken” to round around him when I heard the key in my door. I had the chain on the door and foolishly I thought that I could escape somehow. The bartender ended up leaving the job and I did too. What sadden me even more was I went to stay with my father’s sister and her husband until I was approved to go into the U.S. Navy in March 1980. I couldn’t quite bring the whole story out to my aunt; but I told her something bad happened to me and she said that she was afraid of that. I’ve forgiven my father as best as I can and he is 91 years old now. My mother passed away in 2009. I am 54 years old now and when the rape happened, I was only 20 years old and still a virgin. When I confronted my father at his favorite pitstop after work, he said, ” I thought you were like your mother?!?!” My mother had been a nursing student in the 1940’s and because some hospitals wouldn’t hire a nurse if she was married or getting married, mom resigned from school; but she was an “A” student. In 1950, after a traumatic brain injury that occurred from a high fever that lasted too long after giving birth to my oldest brother, my mother ended up just being a stay-at-home wife and mother. She was in and out of the hospital various times of her life and during my plus my sibling’s lives. In 1974, mom was put in a nursing home setting permanently; but not before a family member had knocked her unconscious and left her to be found by me when I got home from school. I was to graduate from 8th grade a few weeks later and my mom survived the severe knock on the head.

      Anyway, I found out within the past couple of years or so that someone from the Veteran’s hospital that I was treated at for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, somehow let an employee obtain some of my personal Psychological stuff and had the nerve to twist the story around plus gave the information to people where I currently live. The previous Property Manager told me the truth and she had left a detailed voicemail explaining some of the stuff they had tried to do to me. Corporate office admitted that someone was trying to “hurt” me in different ways – such as psychologically, financially, etc.

      So not only do people rape some individuals bodies; but they also try to rape a person’s mind, finances, etc. I am a disabled female U.S. Navy veteran; but that doesn’t do me any good when I can’t get important people to help stop the HIPPA violations. I’ve tried different avenues; but I do not have the monies to fight the federal government and individuals who believe it is hilarious to mentally/emotionally abuse a disabled female. My belief in God has helped me overcome many obstacles and I pray that one day that I can walk proudly without hanging my head in shame because it seems that several people believe I am “junk and no good”.

      Take care and it is good to see that you and others have empathy for women, children and even men who are exploited in various sex-trafficking or abusive situations.

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      • Thank you Faith for sharing your story here. I am sorry that you have been through so much. We must focus on the healing of survivors and not the victim-blaming or even worse, attacks on victims. I hope you can find peace and refuge from the abuses you have endured.

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  3. Thank you so much for this post. It hurts me so much when people blame me for waiting 18 years before I left my abusive husband, I lived in hell for all these years and was beaten to death so many times, but was too scared.

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