Sunday, March 6, 2016

Women's Health - The Worthlessness of Words Without Actions

“Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – James 2:17b (NKJV)

Infuse your life with action. Don't wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen... yourself, right now, right down here on Earth. - Bradley Whitford

My blog has been pretty quiet in terms of contributions these days.  Work has consumed much of my working time with whatever is left over for family, with the time spent comprising 2 of my 3 major projects in progress.

The third project is the one that torments me the most.

I am helping a woman rise above the vicious cycle of battery and abuse.

While I can’t get into the details of the situation because of court constraints and such, I am struck by the complexity of the situation.

Take a woman who has little sense of self-worth and self-value, having been battered or abused in one form or another, including verbal, financial and physical abuse, for over 50 years.

Add to that the place where she grew up and lived, rural towns in Western Canada, where statistics show abuse to be so shockingly common that it is almost considered to be normal by both abusers and their victims.

Then add to that a system that claims to care but then throws so many barriers in place that the abused woman has no idea what’s going on.  Imagine the confusion that comes from a dozen opinions from within the system, each contradicting the others and urging her to take action while doing everything it can to slow her down. In fairness, the ONE group that has stepped up is the RCMP.  They have been extremely supportive and informative and have offered everything within their power to provide assistance.  Unfortunately, they are also constrained by the rules of the law and can only act when the law calls for them to act.

And finally, add a series of actions that, if taken against most of us, would have stirred outrage in our hearts and minds and we would have taken action immediately.  Unfortunately, a battered woman has attained a level of desensitization over many years of abuse and the things that would affront most of us are either “minor” in the eyes of the battered woman or are actually defended – “it’s not a big deal”, “he’s just having a bad day”, “someday he will change”, etc.

When all of these things collide, it creates a bewildering scenario – a voice that alternates between cries for help and cries of defense of the abuser, a system not in a hurry to do much for the battered (but has plenty of processes that appear to defend the abuser) while urging haste, an enforcement system ready to defend the safety and honor of someone but who has its hands tied ….

… and a human being left blowing in the wind, not knowing what to do from one day to the next, with her fear alternating from fear of hurting the battered by her actions (yes – this happens) to wondering if he is coming in her direction to “express unhappiness” that his actions have been exposed.

As I stood on the 12th floor of the Provincial Courthouse in Calgary on Friday, the floor where EPO (emergency protection orders) are filed, someone said something that struck me as I thought through all of this.

A representative of the court noted that she was lucky that I was helping her because in most cases, people can’t be bothered when they see the complexity of what is required or the potential danger they place themselves in when helping someone throw off an abuser.

His comment has been rattling around in my brain all weekend.

It doubly struck me because a couple of weeks ago, I was on the receiving end of an argument by a couple of women who claimed that all men are responsible regarding the problem of abuse against women - that men are either committing the abuse or they are allowing the abuse to happen.

In the argument that ensued when I tried to explain that many men work hard to defend the rights and honor of women, I was told I was wrong.

When I asked what they were doing to help abused women, they said they were being quiet for now for reasons unexplained.

Battered women don’t need us to be quiet.

They don’t just need words of support.

They don’t just need feel-good rallies in the streets and rah-rah press conferences.

They need someone to stand beside them, to convince them that they are worthy on the days when they feel that no one cares.

They need someone who cautions them against falling into old patterns and returning to the lair of the abuser.

They need someone to guide them through the minefields within the court system, a system that through its checks and balances sometimes appears to the battered woman to be placing the abuser’s rights ahead of her own or through its detailed processes, exhausts someone who is already exhausted beyond measure on levels we couldn’t comprehend.

They need someone who can show them that what they have suffered is not normal or acceptable and that they must fight for the right to be treated with dignity, respect and honor.

And they need someone to prove to them that better days are ahead, brighter days than they have likely imagined are even possible.

Because when we stand on the sidelines and read statistics, pat women on the back and say “You can do this” and walk away, spend time in feel-good rallies or spend time on social media sharing articles about abuse and the like, we may think we are doing something when we are in fact doing nothing.

The battered woman often stands alone in the courtroom or at home (wondering if the abuser is coming to get her).

And I for one can’t accept this, especially from a civilisation that claims to be at the pinnacle of its enlightenment and justice.

Why do you?

What are you willing to do about it?

Someone is waiting for you to stand up beside them and for them.

What are you waiting for?

In service and servanthood,


Addendum - What Men Think About Violence Against Women in Alberta

A study was just released outlining what men think about violence against women in Alberta. Given how many cases of violence have been brought to the attention of police and given how many incidents are never reported, I wonder about this report (including how many abusers or victims answered their questions truthfully). The report can be found here.

Thought for the day: If we put as much thinking into how the victim feels as we do in feeling outrage when we consider the abuser's offenses, I wonder if we would be more motivated to solve this heinous issue in society.

What do you think?

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