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Questions such as “am I being abused,” “did I deserve it” or “am I overreacting” should not be asked in 2013. It is somewhat baffling to acknowledge the fact that women are still taught to not know when they are being abused. In the twenty-first century, how can women not feel entitled to feel safe and secure mentally, emotionally, economically, and physically? I have to admit that my white privilege may encourage me to feel more entitled to these, what I consider basic, human rights. However, since most of us were trained to not label any act of aggression as “violence” short of being physically hit and even then it was questionable we are left with a basic, but important question: what is violence?
Violence is anything that hinders you, in any way, from doing all you can possibly do. With this definition, we are left with a completely different perspective on violence. If we take away the traditional meaning of violence and replace it with this more all-encompassing one, it allows people to recognize that their “unfortunate” situation that is not “really that bad” is truly a form of violence.
For example, economic abuse is often ignored, because the out dated definition of violence does not include financial abuse. A woman can be systematically forced to depend on her husband to earn the majority of the family’s income. Thus, the husband can singularly control the money and give his wife a limited “allowance” which controls her monetary freedom impending her ability to fully participate in the consumer market.
However, economic violence usually happens unnoticed or not recognized. Violence seems to happen slowly. It is overlooked. It is like the metaphor of putting a frog in a cold pot of water and allowing the water to slowly come to a boil. In the narrative, the frog will never try to escape, because by the time it realizes that there is something wrong with the water, the frog is dead. In the YouTube video below, Lily Myers explains how she realized that the water was getting hot before it turned into a boil.
During this poem, Lily explains generational psychological violence. She is so mistreated that she cannot even feel deserving enough to ask a few questions during class. Her mother does not believe she deserves food and feels guilty for eating plain yogurt. This is violence. Lily and her mother are constantly being held back from success, because they are too worried about absorbing their sorrows and shrinking their bodies.
Violence is more than just being physically beaten. It is a widespread phenomenon that is often ignored or dismissed as being drama or otherwise someone simply overreacting. Failure to realize that violence is constantly being experienced in all different forms may cause women to merely continue with the invalid violence they experience. Invalidating all non-physical forms of violence only validates the abuser’s power.
– Tori Neal Section 007