Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gender Issue of Abuse

By Tanya Warrington

It saddens me when people hate a gender because of the painful abuse they have endured in the past. Abuse is horrible, but it is not limited to only one of the two genders. Men have abused women, men, girls and boys. Women have abused all the same groups.

Women and men, let’s face our real enemy square on.

Sin drives abuse. Greed, lust, and desire for more power motivate abusers.

When I write about abuse I sometimes write about the victim as she and the abuser as he, because it is less cumbersome writing and because more women than men report being victims of abuse. I never want grammar, however, to confuse anyone about the nature of abuse. Consistently, sociologists report abuse demographics cross all boundaries of gender, age, nationality, economic status, sexual orientation, or religion.

Some researchers focus on the role patriarchal society has played in giving birth to the victimization of women.

I suppose anything that creates a power imbalance does increase the incidence of abuse. It makes sense. But patriarchal considerations only explain one type of abuse. We would need to explore all the other imbalances of power to have a complete picture of abuse. What about the power adults have over children, the power teens have over elementary aged children, the power caregivers have over their charges, or the power adult offspring have over elderly parents with health or mental issues? I suspect abuse occurs most frequently in situations in which one person naturally has greater power than the other. But it doesn’t explain all abuse.

What about a young child who abuses a peer? What about a teenager who date-rapes another teen? What about a younger child who abuses an older sibling? What about gangs abusing peer-age groups? What about wives abusing their larger husbands? What happens in matriarchal societies? Is there less abuse or more abuse in which women are the abusers? As long as we have sinful human beings interacting with other sinful human beings, abusers will abuse.

When we are hurt, the first question many of us ask is, “Why?” But knowing why, when it can be known, does not heal. Understanding why someone did it, does not fix the injuries. It doesn’t even help us to do the full work of forgiveness, not really. To forgive I must fully acknowledge how much I was hurt and how incapable the other is of fixing the damage they have done—why he or she did it doesn’t really make any difference in whether I can forgive. Understanding Hitler was insane should not short-cut the painful healing process for any concentration survivors.

For healing purposes, why someone abuses is much less important than how we deal with abuse. To heal we focus on acknowledging the effects of abuse and processing our emotions, beliefs, thoughts, and actions. We take responsibility for how we will live the rest of our lives, regardless of whether our abuser is male or female.
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