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How Women With Lived Experience of Coercive Control & Abuse Can Become Speakers Who Change The World


It can feel scary to speak up about coercive control and abuse if you or someone you love has experienced it. And let's face it, it's estimated that 1 in every 4 women do.


That's the estimate based on reported incidences but how many more, in a culture that even today is still rooted in patriarchy, have to deal with 'just' the coercive control element [ie: are not hit or otherwise physically harmed by a man we love, or perhaps not as routinely as we might be verbally and emotionally abused for instance].


How many live with 'just' casual misogyny, put downs, insults, criticisms, mental cruelty, gaslighting etc? It's so damaging - and in more ways than most would imagine. Even so called 'battered wives' will often say that the psychological wounds take much, much longer to heal than physical wounds - if they ever even do!


The prospect of opening up about something so personal and difficult to talk about brings up so many powerful feelings, from shame and embarrassment, through humiliation about how we ended up in such a situation and fear of judgment or further rejections right through to guilt for shining a light on the abusive behaviour of someone – or quite possibly multiple ‘someones’ – who we used to share some part of our lives with and in some cases, maybe still do.


Nobody wants to shame anyone. If you've gone through it, it happened. It was traumatic, disruptive to every area of your life. It hurt - and it hurts everyone - even those who 'seem' to be using it with impunity for their own apparent gain - you know, those deeply insecure men who only find a [fragile] sense of power and significance through bullying those who get caught up in desperately trying to please them?


But here's the thing - when we don't talk about our experience and bring the thorny subject out into the open where we can work together to understand what's happening on such a large [global] scale and why, because we don't want to hurt the feelings or reputations of other people who so recklessly hurt ours; whose attitudes, words and actions wrought havoc in our lives and damaged or maybe destroyed everything we tried so hard to build], how can we hope to get to the real cause and begin to change things -


for everyone's sakes?!?


People who use abusive behaviours are, in my view [for the most part at least] not monsters but damaged and/or severely misguided human beings and allowing our thoughts to go in the direction that misses that only makes the issue seem insurmountable when it may actually only be difficult; in need of innovation and the application of emotional intelligence.


Something in our culture is going wrong. Has been for a long time. Perhaps the challenge now is, how do we bring new insights to this disastrously destructive social problem [because ultimately, that's what it is] from the intimate space of our own lived experience? How do we collaborate and use what we've learned to steer our culture in a new direction? How can we remain plugged into our hearts, with our feet firmly planted in the solid ground of our truths while sharing some of darkest experiences of our lives - publicly? Not in order to 'expose' anyone, but in order to expose the culture that led to so much abuse around the world against women and girls - so that we can take collective action to find the solutions.


What are women seeing in the men who have behaved this way? Women are often very intuitive. We work things out. We drive ourselves nuts trying to unravel stuff that doesn't sit well with our gut instincts. You've heard about 'women's wisdom', right?


How do we remain in our humanity so that we can see the suffering of so many men that underpins the dissociation from feelings, clearing the way for horrendous abuses of others with apparent ease and unnervingly, sometimes with what looks like pleasure? How do we tough love our way out of excuse-making for appalling behaviour because of our natural compassion? How do we do holding accountable, even when we recognise that there is something wounded beneath the surface?


When we can take a metaphorical headlamp and go mooching around in the dark spaces - usually best done once we've finally moved away from the abuse and the relentless pressure is off - what can we discover beneath the pain and struggle; beneath the gazillion infractions that were our day to day back then, before we broke away?


Why do we think it happens - to ourselves and to millions of others around the world? Why are so many children being conditioned by the patriarchal playbook so the pattern goes on wrecking lives, spirits, families and society through the generations? More importantly, what can we do about it - with all that combined hard experience - our own and that of generations of women before us?


How do we use our innate feminine ability to transform things through our love, compassion and the intelligent sharing of our knowledge? How can we use our personal story to uplift and empower not just ourselves, one another and all who are going through it still but also position it in the best way so that we turn all that statistical but dry; terrible but real dissociated 'data' into world and culture-changing wisdom?


Perhaps we, the women on the front line for so long, stand up and say what needs to be said out loud.


Perhaps we push our way through the discomfort and learn the ways we can make sure our voices will finally be heard.


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