Diapers and Dragons

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Monsters That Lurk Within

Halloween brings visions of ghosts and goblins, witches and wizards, murderers and mayhem. We thrill in the terror, turn fear into fun, mix harvest with horror. This one time of year, we embrace the monsters. We paint them and plasticize them and plant them in our yards and parade them through the neighborhoods. Their very physical presence somehow lances the fear, allows us to shiver deliciously and then, on November 1st, tuck it all away in safe storage.

It's in daily life that the monsters remove their rubber masks and talons to expose an uglier truth. We see the real ones on television every day. We read their stories in the newspapers and online. And even then we know that we are only witnessing a fraction of the monstrosity this world has to bear.

I wish I could say that the monsters are easy to spot. Some are. Most aren't. They are our neighbors, our lovers, our family, our friends. And the reality that we are most unwilling to face is that there is a touch of the monster in just about every one of us. Every time we lose our tempers just a little too much, every time we feel the need to undermine someone we love in order to feel stronger ourselves, every time we stop considering what our actions may do to others, we loose the chains on that monster a little. When we fail to shut down the monster, when we loose or free the chains entirely, then the monster rages free.

A short while ago I posted about a student of mine who was abused by her boyfriend, another student of mine. I wish I could say this is the only experience I've had with the monster of abuse. I would be lying. I can't tell all the stories here, mostly because they aren't my stories to tell. I didn't tell the entirety of that story either. I told the parts that were fresh and raw and part of that day. I wish I could have done more, had done more, to keep that story from being one that ever even happened. I wish my one student had never suffered the horror of what she went through. I wish my other student had never warped into a violent abuser who will now face the legal ramifications for his crime. I wish I didn't have to fear that there will be more victims of his violence in the future. I wish I didn't know there are other stories just like theirs that go unknown, untold.

Abuse comes in many forms: child, adult, spousal, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual. There's molestation, rape, incest, pedophilia. There are so many forms that we classify them, categorize them, rate them by degree. The law contorts itself trying to determine what deserves which punishment and when. And such is the nature of abuse and how it damages its victims that many abusers go unpunished, unstopped, undealt-with, because the victims cannot speak.

You may have noticed I have a button for the Violence Unsilenced pledge on the left side of my site. I discovered this website a few months ago through some Twitter rabbit trail and was glued to my computer screen for hours. For some reason I did not add it until my blogroll until just this week. Instead, I would occasionally stumble back and catch up on entries, once again riveted by story after story of the pain we as humans inflict on each other. Again and again I am struck by how crucial the step is for all these victims and survivors to speak out, to share their stories and their pain and receive love, support, and healing in return.

Violence Unsilenced is all about breaking the silence about abuse in any and all of its forms. It's about giving people a safe place to tell their stories, however subtle, however horrific, however old, however new and ongoing. It's about providing support and sharing the pain so people don't have to bear it all by themselves. It's about giving people a forum to learn the reality of the monsters in our world.

And it's a reminder that when we look in the mirror and see something prowling behind our eyes, it's time to tighten the chains a little more; it's time to kneel and pray for the endurance to be stronger than the monster that lurks within.

2 bits of love:

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

It is scary the level to which abuse pervades society and the level to which the abusers often don't realise the extent to which they are abusing others. They simply don't realise it.

Congratulations on highlighting the issue. Your post on your student was a very moving, thoughtful piece and highlighted the the dilemma about intefereing or not.

I appreciate your writing and bringing issues like this to the fore. Keep on at it. xxx

mom said...

"And it's a reminder that when we look in the mirror and see something prowling behind our eyes, it's time to tighten the chains a little more; it's time to kneel and pray for the endurance to be stronger than the monster that lurks within." You sound like someone named James, who said:"each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." We do have monsters lurking within. And you did a good job of citing some of the most frequent ways they show themselves in our daily actions. And then there are the horror stories. I hate reading them, hate thinking about the suffering. But we must champion those who have suffered, who are still suffering. I'm glad you're doing it. It takes courage of several kinds.

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