reactions to powerlessness

There are at least three cases of the aftermath of abused women that ISHI is dealing with right now. They’re not married anymore, but the damage that their ex-husbands cause does not end. I’m not even getting into the damage they’ve done to the children right now. Much of the time, one of the outcomes of this abuse is that the women cannot control their own destinies. They’ve been broken, for sure. Even without all the financial problems, they are so often incapable of seeing their way out of their dilemma.

Actually, I just realized there are four cases. One of them is not as obvious, but it shows up, now that I take a moment to think about it.

Yes, scary.

What happens in cases like these are two usual behavior patterns, with variations, of course, in each one.

The first is allowing themselves to become victims.

The second is to never allow themselves to be victimized.

The first’s variations are withdrawal; inability to stand up for oneself, ever; falling into a pattern of finding their victimization in every corner of their universe. Some women fall into all of these. That becomes, in a matter of speaking, a state of hysteria. Nothing can go right; they are incapable of fighting back. But believe me, nastiness can still ensue. It’s not pretty.

The second’s are angry fighting at everyone; thinking that everyone is against them but not letting anyone have a chance at making them hurt, even if it means hurting other people instead; lashing out without hearing what is going on; thinking the worst of everyone.

Us against them.

Or me against everyone.

And the truth? That gets absolutely lost.

Now, the story of Purim is one you might say (at least partially) is a case of abuse against women. And it is definitely a case where this one woman has to figure out a plan to act in the face of powerlessness, against impending doom of her people. But Esther rises up and figures out how to do it; how to work the system, how to gain the upper-hand, to a point. Once she points out to her besotted king that this bad guy wants to have her killed, and he is killed instead, she still has to beg for the king to cancel the edict against the Jews. That can’t be done; they still have to fight. It doesn’t go smoothly at all. Prayer isn’t enough. They have to go to fight and stand up for themselves, since no one else will guarantee their safety.

So what should we learn from Esther? How should women learn to stand up for themselves?

I told the mother of one of these women who is fighting for her children in a series of arenas (too sad for words, really) that she/the daughter has to learn to present herself as if she is representing herself. In other words, she has to pretend she’s talking about herself, but she’s someone else. She has to be professional; separated from herself, when talking to the outside. She can’t afford to be emotional.

But that’s not exactly what Esther did. She figure out how to spread the emotion at the right time. She rose to her power, but knew the limits.

Can I throw in politics, for a moment? Playing the victim is draining, ugly, and usually, bottom-line, counter-productive. Politics local and far and wide. So when the Palestinians play victims and don’t take responsibility for their own [everything], then why is it that the world listens?


One response

  1. Pingback: it’s the night before and i really know what’s different « Learning from the Learned

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