The three faces of abuse

The three faces of abuse

So, apparently it’s the season of return of the battered ex’s. First it was Rihanna canoodling with Chris Breezy, whom for a lack of a better term, hockey checked her face not too long ago; then there is Ms. BBW Evelyn Lozada, whom endured “unnecessary roughness” from her husband Chad Johnson (of only a month) in the form of a head butt, only to turn around and recently show up in court with him, and drop the restraining order she filed against him.

This leads me to wonder, what’s with the “Stand by your man: Abusers edition”? I mean really WTF is going on? Growing up, I was always taught that if anyone put their hands on you, or threatens your safety in ANY way, that means immediate expulsion from my life and a call to the local authorities! Why aren’t these women getting the same message?

Unfortunately, abuse doesn’t have to be physical, it doesn’t even need the presence of bruises in order to make it real! And the pain goes must deeper than that of the scars.

a·buse  (-byz)

tr.v. a·bused, a·bus·ing, a·bus·es

1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse: abuse alcohol; abuse a privilege.
2. To hurt or injure by maltreatment; ill-use.
3. To force sexual activity on; rape or molest.
4. To assail with contemptuous, coarse, or insulting words; revile.
5. Obsolete To deceive or trick.
n. (-bys)

1. Improper use or handling; misuse: abuse of authority; drug abuse.
2. Physical maltreatment: spousal abuse.
3. Sexual abuse.
4. An unjust or wrongful practice: a government that commits abuses against its citizens.
5. Insulting or coarse language: verbal abuse.
I guess I’m just trying to wrap my head around this nonsense, making sure that I pay close attention and it get it right. Needless to say I’m not quite there yet, because it all seems foreign to me in some way. On one hand, one should make absolutely sure you’re not “Victim Blaming”, absolving the abusers and vilifying the abused. However, where does it stem from?
There’s an epidemic invading the African-American community, invading our homes, churches, and our interpersonal relationships with one another. We’ve seem to have adopted a social acceptance for domestic violence against women, and worse, sometimes assigning blame to the female. The disease comes in the form of apathy towards the our women and children at the hands of grown men, whom assert themselves physically and psychologically on the helpless and those weaker than them. We’ve gone from blind acceptance to outright fervent support of known attackers. One case springs to mind, illustrating that very same fact, the case of R. Kelly and the allegations of his sexual abuse of minors. I still remember the outpouring from supporters in the days and weeks following the initial arrest, despite the fact, Mr. R-ruh Kelly was caught on VIDEO!!!! lemme give you dat one more gain…CAUGHT ON VIDEO! engaging in sexual acts with an underage girl. Many black women–shockingly and disheartening came to his defense, even to this day. They didn’t come to the rescue, because they had their doubts (not sure how can one have any doubts), but because of their “love” for his music– choosing to instead horribly claim the young girls “knew exactly what they were doing” and “the parents were just out to get a quick buck”, ultimately attributing their victimization to adolescent promiscuity. What?! Amazingly the black community has welcomed him back with open arms, essentially letting bygones be bygones, and who can forget the heinous murder/suicide crime of pro-footballer Jovan Blecher, who savagely shot girlfriend and mother of his 3-month old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, before shooting himself in the head. Reports have recently surfaced involving the alleged “cause” of the fatal argument. Apparently, the mother of Jovan Blecher has come out stating the reason the argument occurred was expressly due the fact Blecher’s paternity was in question!
I ask you, why is that relevant news? Why was it necessary to disclose that information? As if it somehow justifies his decision to murder. Again, the presence of victim blaming at its best. A psychology evident in the incidents of Evelyn and Rihanna as well. Remember how everyone immediately thought Rihanna must have provoked Chris Brown? Or that Evelyn’s poor choice in men is what led her to get pummeled?
However, how can one justify it when the victim goes back to their abuser? Does all sympathy go out the window then? Maybe it’s a case of Stockholm Syndrome, where for reasons unknown the attacker is loved by the attacked. The aforementioned women have with straight faces, and unwavering support, forgiven, and (in Rihanna’s case) taken back the men who disrespected them in such a way. Can blame be rightfully placed on them then? Again, I wonder.

What we’re tackling here is kyriarchy. In a country that has historically emasculated black men in the collective sense, through disproportionate sentencing, profiling, and lack of education and occupational opportunities, some black men feel the need to assert their authority against the only people that they feel they can – their women and children.

It’s their way of asking, “Ain’t I a man?” “Do I have the right to control anything or anyone?” “In this nation of white privilege, if my woman or child ‘disrespects’ me, don’t I have permission to physically show them who’s the boss?”


Being thought of a man, doesn’t include putting your hands on anyone weaker than you to “prove a point”. Abuse on anyone whether male, female, or child is morally reprehensible. Everyone deserves the right to be in charge of their own body and person.

In a study titled African-American Women and Violence: Gender, Race, and Class in the News, Marian Meyers gathers powerful data that proves silence and deflection in our community over issues of domestic violence are nothing new, writing:

A number of Black feminists have criticized the tendency within their communities to silence female victims of male violence while rallying around the men who abused them (hooks, 1981; Lorde, 1992; Richie, 1985; Smith, 1992). Lorde (1992) notes that the need for racial unity has made Black women ‘particularly vulnerable to the false accusation that anti-sexist is anti-Black’ (p. 500).

There have been numerous studies which show that black women, and women of color are disproportionately the inheritors of abuse. However, it is women who will point the finger, saying “well she must deserve it, because she’s staying!”, thus taking the power away for the violated and giving it to the violator. However, we whom are on the outside looking in, should be more sympathetic to the psychological well-being of those involved, because it is their life’s story which we do not know, and may never understand. The first lesson children get on relationships, and the social dynamics of them come from the home and from their parents; if the foundation is toxic, then their reasoning of it will be also.
We must try to find a way to teach, instead of preach or the cycle will never end.