(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 8 September 2012)
Last week, I wrote about local female musician Jackie Hanover, who has a song out that encourages women to be independent and to make a good life for themselves. This week, I want to highlight another local female musician who is also sending out a positive message for women.
Lucieann, from Berbice, has recently released a powerful song, entitled “I am Woman,” that speaks to the issue of domestic violence. The titular woman of the song starts out talking about how the man tells her he loves her and needs her, but yet he likes to beat her “like a drum.” But, (Woohoo, there is a “but”!) according to the song, she is woman and she is strong and she is not going to put up with the violence for long.
The woman talks about the sweet talk from the abuser, who wants to show her the type of love that will make her blush. He is just going through a hard time and she should be patient… but all she sees are swollen eyes and broken hearts. She will not shut up, she is going to lift her voice, and she is going to make some noise (honestly, women have been acquiescent and silent for far too long).
The woman continues, saying she tried to deny the truth from the start and told herself so many lies. She gave love from her soul and all he did was beat on her bones. She won’t take it anymore. Good!!
There are so many women who do not want to admit they are in a domestically violent relationship. The myriad of reasons for not wanting to face the truth could include low self-esteem (feeling as if one does not deserve better), feelings of affection toward the abuser, fear of retaliation from the abuser, social expectations to stay within the abusive relationship, financial reliance on the abuser, social expectations to accept the abuse as part of life, and the list goes on.
Are you a victim of domestic violence? Do you think that you might be, but you are unsure? Wikipedia is not an authority on domestic violence, but the following definitions from that site can provide the reader with a description adequate enough to help determine whether she is a victim of domestic violence.
Domestic violence can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviours by one or both partners in an intimate relationship, such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation.
Domestic violence has many forms, including physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.
Physical abuse involves contact intended to cause feelings of intimidation, pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm. Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing, and other types of contact that result in physical injury to the victim. Physical abuse can also include behaviours such as denying the victim medical care when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live, or forcing the victim to engage in drug/alcohol use against his/her will.
Sexual abuse is any situation in which force is used to obtain participation in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity constitutes sexual abuse.
Emotional abuse (also called psychological abuse or mental abuse) can include humiliating the victim privately or publicly, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family, implicitly blackmailing the victim by harming others when the victim expresses independence or happiness, or denying the victim access to money or other basic resources and necessities. Emotional/verbal abuse is defined as any behaviour that threatens, intimidates, undermines the victim’s self-worth or self-esteem, or controls the victim’s freedom.
Verbal abuse is a form of abusive behaviour involving the use of language.
Abusers may ignore, ridicule, disrespect, and criticize others consistently; manipulate words; purposefully humiliate; falsely accuse; manipulate people to submit to undesirable behaviour; make others feel unwanted and unloved; threaten economically; place the blame and cause of the abuse on others; isolate victims from support systems; harass; demonstrate Jekyll and Hyde behaviours, either in terms of sudden rages or behavioural changes, or where there is a very different “face” shown to the outside world vs. with victim.
Economic abuse is when the abuser has control over the victim’s money and other economic resources. In its extreme (and usual) form, this involves putting the victim on a strict “allowance”, withholding money at will and forcing the victim to beg for the money until the abuser gives them some money. It is common for the victim to receive less money as the abuse continues. This also includes (but is not limited to) preventing the victim from finishing education or obtaining employment, or intentionally squandering or misusing communal resources.
If you read any portion of this passage defining domestic abuse and now recognize that you are being abused, then it is time to start making some healthy choices concerning your physical and emotional well-being. Stop using excuses to diminish the reality of the abuse, like “He only hits me when he’s drunk,” or “I made him mad and deserved it,” or “He just had a hard day,” or whatever rationale you attempt to try to justify the abuse.
Lucieann’s song boldly turns the table on the long-held way many women have dealt with the abuse in the past – by just taking the beatings until she is hospitalised, or worse, dead. However, as Lucieann’s song demonstrates, this way of thinking is changing dramatically and women are now standing up for themselves. She will not shut up.
You can watch Lucieann’s moving “I am Woman” video on YouTube. Sisters, it is important to support these female music artists who are taking a strong stand for the betterment of women. We are Sisters helping and supporting Sisters. We are a Sisterhood.