Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Tag: battering

“So You’ve Sexually Harassed Or Abused Someone: What Now?”

Ijeoma Oluo, writing at The Establishment, offers guidance to men (and womxn) who have harassed or abused someone. It’s advice I wish two of my exes would read and take to heart. How to be honourable, folks.

So You’ve Sexually Harassed or Abused Someone: What Now?

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) BELIEVE THE VICTIM

This is a literary blog and exactly the place literary essays about domestic violence belong.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month in the US. November is Domestic Violence Awareness month in Canada.

S/he/they don’t have to be hitting you for you to be a victim; abuse happens with gaslighting, lying, cheating, yelling, sexual abuse, dehumanizing you, demeaning you, threatening you, throwing things, frightening you/the children. This month and next, I ask everyone to remember that this is not just a heterosexual, able-bodied crime. The disabled are victims of violence at home at a much higher rate than are the able-bodied. Queers and trans people are frequent victims of violence both outside the household perpetrated by strangers, and inside it perpetrated by their intimate partners. If you want to read more about queer violence, I started a website to collect the pieces I could find about it at www.queerviolence.com.

Thank you, readers, for having the interests of victims at heart this month and next. It is your understanding that will make a difference. Thank you for educating yourselves.

All a household needs for domestic violence to occur is one partner who feels entitled and willing to batter. It’s not about the victim. It’s entirely caused by, about and the fault of the offender.

Why doesn’t she leave? S/he/they have told her that she’s crazy, she’s imagining things, it’s not that bad, s/he/they love her. Periodically, the violence ends and the loving relationship begins anew, refreshed and revitalized This pattern of violence broken by love broken by violence broken by love eventually twists a victim’s mind. She believes in the love. She hungers for it. She needs it. It’s the “real” relationship, after that. The violence is just something to be borne. This creates a psychological condition called trauma bonding. (In a hostage situation the same dynamic would be called Stockholm Syndrome.) When there’s violence, she would give anything, do anything, be anybody just to have the pendulum swing back to where her partner loves and approves of her again.

Kids are often caught in the crossfire and this is particularly grievous because they are observing behaviour that will make them feel “at home” as adults. They won’t know how to form healthy relationships with healthy people. If you can’t make yourself leave for yourself, make yourself leave on behalf of your children.

Call your local transition house because, there, you will have breathing room to think through your circumstances and to begin the process of healing and figuring out the next steps to your free future.

What can you do? Support resources helping battered women. Educate yourself on feminism and why it’s critical to everyone’s future. BELIEVE THE VICTIMS. If you like the offender, and you don’t like the victim, nevertheless, BELIEVE THE VICTIM.

Read Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft.

Below, I’ll link to literary essays on abuse. Please feel free to add the ones that have been important to you in the comments.

It Will Look Like a Sunset by Kelly Sundberg, Guernica, Best American Essays

Apology Not Accepted, a blog by Kelly Sundberg with guest essayists on the topic of IPV

(Stay tuned for a book on the topic by Kelly Sundberg in 2018.)

Using CNF to Teach the Realities of Intimate Partner Violence to First Responders: An Annotated Bibliography, by Christian Exoo, Assay Journal

The Story of My Fear Over Time, by Kelly Thompson, The Rumpus

Underwater, by Kelly Thompson, Manifest Station

I Understand Why Some Women Stay, by Virginia Mátir, xojane

The Mule Deer, by Debbie Weingarten, Vela

On Car Accidents and Second Wives, by Mandy Rose, Apology Not Accepted

Never Say I Didn’t Bring You Flowers, by Jane Eaton Hamilton, Apology Not Accepted, Full Grown People, notable in Best American Essays

 

 

Best American Essays 2016 notable essay

When good comes out of bad… That makes a notable in Best American Short Stories, a notable in Best American Essays, and inclusion in the Journey Prize, Best Canadian Stories and Best Canadian Poetry. Joyce Carol Oates has chosen BAE 2016 as her recommended winter book. I’m with her. The Best American series is my go-to for new essays, poems and stories no matter what year it is. And if I’m seeking Canadian work, Best Canadian.

bae2016bae-2016

Milktini

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-11-06-45-am

Milktini

I) The Broom

is a pole with attached bristles
The broom can stand in a closet and be seen by no one
The broom comes alive only in hands:

a woman’s hands
ordinary, tremoring
sweeping mouse nests and spider webs across the kitchen tile
towards the living room carpet
under the underlay they lump like live things

The problem of cash
The problem of the vomiting child
The problem of varicose veins
The problem of the car’s bald tires
The problem of the husband’s fist

At the intersection of Drake and Thomas
a broom–turquoise, plastic, with short black bristles
has been struck, the pole twisted and warped,
the head de-throned

II) The Sponge

is not what the woman calls for when
her head splits, but it is all the boy thinks
to grab from the silver belly of the sink
and what he holds to her blood-clotted hair

It is the same sponge swiped the night before
across a clot of pork gravy

III) The Bucket

is worn by the boy when he wants to
shut out fighting
Is yellow. Has a
compartment to wring out the mop
When the boy wears the bucket he believes
he is invisible, an action hero
who can zip through the battlezone
as invisible as his mother
who is known to be clumsy
who calls in sick on average four days every month

IV) The Vacuum

was originally her mother’s vacuum
is so old it has a fabric electrical cord
a two-pronged plug

The bags fill up like paper pregnancies
to be discarded
She would like a wet-dry vac

The vacuum makes an unholy roar. Sounds like aircraft

V) The Mop

also combats dirt
the kind that adheres
the way a bruise adheres

When dinner is flung from the table
a broom will take care of the mess
(Caesar salad, green beans, rice, salmon)
but anything wet
blood in particular
leaves a sticky film

The mop is a fright wig
a Medussa head

VI) The Toilet Bowl Cleanser

Pine Sol. The boy adds it to water
where it turns to milk
While his mother serves ice cream
he passes it to his father
Milktini, Dad! Drink your milktini!

-Jane Eaton Hamilton, from LOVE WILL BURST INTO A THOUSAND SHAPES, 2014

Blaming victims for domestic violence: how psychology taught us to be helpless

I’ve been battered and raped. For those of you interested in preventing violence, here is an important article:

Blaming Victims

And, from Judith Lewis Herman in her book TRAUMA AND RECOVERY:

“It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering …

“In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator’s first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it upon herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.”

YES

I Didn’t Report Because Fuck You

A Shattering Day for Canada’s Survivors

This morning, Jian Ghomeshi was found not guilty on all charges. The judge: “We must fight against the stereotype that all sexual assault complaints are truthful.”

As a survivor who never disclosed to police, I am devastated on behalf of everyone who knows Jian Ghomeshi, who worked with him, who wondered about him or who didn’t have to wonder about him because they (allegedly) knew for sure.

Maybe this verdict is a different experience for people who haven’t been raped or battered, but for survivors, this is crushing. It is crushing not to be believed, to shoulder the burden of both the assault and then on top of it, the disdain from people you both need and are counting on for support and protection. I send respect and admiration for the women in this case who put themselves through the testifying madness in order to save other women from going through what they (allegedly) went through. I’m profoundly sorry, if not surprised, that it didn’t work.

This morning, Canada should be profoundly ashamed of itself.

Canada Is Raping You

The Preludes to Assaults

Here’s what you can do about Jian Ghomeshi

#violenceagainstwomen  #nonbinaryviolence  #rape  #battering #patriarchy #misogyny #JacksonKatz #JianGhomeshi #hopefortomorrow “@whattodonextIMG_3584

doodle by Jane Eaton Hamilton unknown date

People have been asking me, since my blog post about Jian Ghomeshi and violence against women went viral, what’s next? What can we do with our fury, our deep frustration? How can we stop the patriarchy so that our daughters, granddaughters, sons and grandsons don’t have their lives reduced and shattered by the very societal malaise that fractured our generation, and the generations before ours?

What’s next, folks?

You tell me.

I do know change has to start inside us. First we have to identify what’s wrong, but the next step is to  work to surpass it in ourselves–in our own homes, in our schools, in the fields in which we work, in our institutions, in the government so that we are not part of the problem but part of the solution.

As a first step, watch this Ted Talk by Jackson Katz and pass it the heck on–pass it to every one of the 100,000 people who viewed my blog post, and get them to pass it along to 100 or 1000 more.

There is a will to change sweeping this country, so let’s change.

Jackson Katz’s Ted Talk

 

George Saunders on story

IMG_3527

sketch: Jane Eaton Hamilton uncertain date: 2011?

Here, from The Atlantic, is George Saunders talking about how to write a good story. I love George Saunders’ heart. Sometimes, the Semplica-Girl Diaries, a story of his that IV-dripped into me, swirls in my brain.

After listening to this video, now I will hear this:

“…what you try and do with the person you love. You come back to them again and again and try to intuit their real expansiveness and you try to keep them close to you and give them the benefit of the doubt.” I have never heard this expressed quite this way before and I hope George Saunders wouldn’t mind if I say that this is why women stay with battering spouses.

This, indeed, is why I stayed with her. I continued to try to intuit her real expansiveness. It was this expansiveness under her crabbed expression of rage that bound, fascinated, compelled and tugged me closer.

It’s discontent and generosity that builds story. May I always remember this.

George Saunders

Here’s another interview from Triquarterly:

An Interview with George Saunders

“We just got our submissions for our grad program [at Syracuse] and we got 600 this year for 6 spots. And I read 165 of those. And it’s so interesting. Everybody has a beautiful life. And everybody has an intense childhood. And everybody has, I think, some ability to be moved by literature. But then you see 165 people stepping forward to try to make that magic on their own, and it’s not a given. You can be a really smart, really well read, really well intentioned person, but somehow the thing you’re writing doesn’t come alive. Every year we do this, I’m kind of stunned by how many people are writing and also how well, and also how few of those people really get into the zone of speaking to me or speaking to another human being at the heart level. It’s kind of a mysterious thing. It’s kind of terrifying.”

Full Grown Batterers

JEHnudeD

Jane Eaton Hamilton sketch 2014

Of all the topics I’ve had at my fingertips, perhaps none has been as difficult for me to write personally about as being battered over 18 years.  I remain highly embarrassed that I went through this; I ought to hand in my feminist credentials and have them retroactively scrubbed.  I ought to hand in my lezzie activisit credentials while I’m at it.

Yes, I’m a feminist.  Yes, I’m an activist.  Yes, I was battered.  Yes, I stayed.

Yes, I accepted a certain base-line of violence into my marriage and would have gone on staying the rest of my life.  That’s the dumb truth of it.  I adored her; I would have stayed with her forever.

Never Say I Didn’t Bring You Flowers

 

 

Kelly Sundberg has a way with words

One the the best things about my 2014 was a group on FB for women writers called Binders, and, in particular, its offshoot group of essayists.  There, I’ve discovered the extraordinary talents of Karrie Higgins, Sonya Huber, Jen Pastiloff and Amy Gigi Alexander, among others.  Colour me grateful.

But this is really a blog post about my discovery of Kelly Sundberg, a writer whose wisdom has the deep purple of new bruise, but also enriches, educates, heals.  She’s literary, sophisticated, and smart as tacks.  Plus, you can warm your hands on her style.

Here she is at her finest:

It Will Look Like a Sunset

And here she is today, on her blog, answering a woman who wrote to her about battering:

On Telling Our Stories

“In divorces, the common mantra is It takes two. This is generally true, but I see people saying the same thing about abuse, and no, it does not take two. Abuse takes only one. And because of that, there are sides in abusive situations, and anyone who truly supports the victim will be willing to take a side, will be willing to eliminate contact with the abusive person, and anyone who thinks that it is “immature” or “petty” of me to say that does not understand abusers. Anyone who thinks that it is okay to remain in contact with an abuser does not understand that the abuser takes silence as permission, that their silence empowers the abuser, and that the person who remains in contact with the abuser (assuming they have not taken a stand directly to the abuser, and let’s face it, if they have taken that stand, then the abuser would have dropped them already) becomes complicit in the abuse. I wholly believe this. It is a controversial view. Our culture thrives on neutrality, glorifies neutrality…”

 

 

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