In Praise of Abused Women

by Annie Kaszina on June 14, 2007

Let’s face it, we live in a culture that feels
uncomfortable around victims. The
Brits, especially, love an underdog (who, by definition, fights back despite
their weakness). We show compassion
towards the suffering, and persecuted groups. But individual victims make us
feel defensive. Abused women are,
obviously, prime illustrations of this group. It’s easy to blame them for their misfortune.

I remember watching “Sleeping with the enemy” in which
Julia Roberts stars as the battered wife who fakes her own death in order to
escape her gilded hell. And I remember
thinking:

“How could she have got herself into that mess?” Even as I sat next to my own emotionally
abusive partner, I was unaware that I lived with the same kind of fear and
misery. (Denial truly does catapult you
into a topsy-turvy world!)

Once we start to move away from the abusive relationship
we feel obliged to blame ourselves for our stupidity, for not knowing
better. This self-flagellation may be a
first step on the journey to recovery, but equally it is a way in which we
revisit abusive judgments on ourselves.

Recovery requires self-discovery. It obliges us to own
responsibility for our lack of boundaries and self-love, our failure to make a
strong commitment to ourselves, our naïve view of the ‘power of love’.

Healing requires that we learn to love ourselves. Why should we not learn to celebrate the
special qualities that we bring to our relationships? 

I am reminded at this point of the quotation that there
are no weaknesses only overdone strengths. Abused women overdo generosity, selflessness, devotion, trust and faith
to name but a few.

There is another one that has struck me very forcibly of
late. We are visionaries; we hold a
vision of what our partner could be – in the best of all possible
worlds.

As I coach I work a lot with the power of positive
expectation. Part of my role is to hold
a vision for my clients until they can hold it for themselves. In most cases it is a very powerful tool for
healing. 

So why does it not work with an abusive partner? 

First, as a coach I hold that vision, but the client does
her own work. As a wife, I was prepared
to shoulder my husband’s emotional burden and do all the work for him. Just like any other abused woman does. 

Second, and this is a powerful thought to take on board,
an abusive man has no real wish to change and his psychopathology means that he
can’t anyway
. In other words, we
are flogging a dead horse

The effort is utterly misplaced. One of the things people don’t tell you, unfortunately, is that
not all relationships are created equal. 

Still, discovering that he cannot change is very
freeing. Because you still have that
wonderful gift of being able to hold a healing expectation. If you can do it for another person who puts
you down mercilessly then you can learn to do it for yourself. 

Sure, you are nearly as good at putting yourself down as
he was, but that’s as nothing compared with your dogged determination. My ebook “The Woman You Want To Be” helps
and supports women in developing that positive vision for themselves.

You really are allowed to offer yourself as much love,
support, belief as you ever offered your partner. You are allowed to hold a vision, for yourself also, of
realizing all that is best about you in ways you may not even suspect yet. 

Why not give it a go? And, remember, that means months, maybe even years. After all, you did it for someone who didn’t
thank you for it and whose life you could never change. Why not do it now for the one person whose
life you do have the power to transform?

Previous post:

Next post: