Smack Me, Baby, One More Time

At least, that’s how I always sing that song. And I’m sure Britney wasn’t singing about any kind of abuse, but the word “hit” does have certain connotations I find hard to ignore. Then I think about that Matchbox 20 song, and how the lead singer keeps saying how he wants to push me around, push me down. That’s a little harsh. Man, those 90s were a trip with all the physicality in the songs (don’t even get me started on Sisqo’s “Thong Song”), but it brings up a good point I wanted to make. You hear it again and again from abused women (and even more so lately, from abused men), that they didn’t feel safe long before they were physically abused by the person who was supposed to love them. This comes from all the verbal abuse and torture that most often precipitates the physical aspect, verbal abuse that’s most often worse than anything physical that could be done. And yet, it’s still not taken seriously enough in our society.

Babyface said it best in his song, “How Come, How Long,” which is all about a woman who is abused and how it ended up.

She had a college degree
Smart as anyone could be
She had so much to live for
But she fell in love
With the wrong kinda man

While I love the song, it reminds me, though, that there isn’t a “wrong kinda man,” as it purports. There is a man who does wrong, and he doesn’t have to always be abusive. If he is abusive just once, that is once too many. Too many women talk about how their man “slipped up,” but if he can “slip up,” he isn’t doing right by you, and you shouldn’t

“But she fell in love with the wrong kinda man.”

take it. Is it true that everyone has the propensity for violence, given the chance and the circumstances? If he loves you, ladies, he won’t even verbally abuse you, and if he does, he needs to be set in his place, not given a free pass because he treats you right most of the time.

Words can cut bone deep too. I knew a woman who went through most of her adult life married to a man who often belittled her, even in public. He was always talking about her weight in a joking manner, somehow thinking, I’m sure, that if you say it as a joke it isn’t as terrible. That’s completely incorrect. He would also talk down to her like she was a child, and laughed about that too. And nobody would put him in his place for fear that if he would talk to her about those things in public, what must it have been like in private? Instead, we would all talk to her and tell her to leave him, but she loved him. Somehow, she still loved the man who treated her like garbage for most of the time. How do you break that hold before it’s too late?

And she paid with her life
For loving that man
So we cannot ignore
We must look for the signs
And maybe next time
We might save somebody’s life.

It’s sad, too, what this wearing down will do on someone who is abused. Even if they say they’re fine with it, that they’re strong, they’re really not. She’s just putting on a brave face, for you, but if you’re a real friend, you will see that she’s hurting anyway. And it’s our responsibility to talk about it, to get her to talk about it, because it’s only in communication and in being a good friend that you can hope to change her view of herself. Because that’s what the real problem has become. His harsh words, and his cruel japes have turned her against herself, against her body, against her own thoughts, and it can’t be taken lightly at all. Not only do the abusers have control with those words and those actions, but they can bring on self-loathing in the abused, and too many battered women take their own lives, their way to get out of the situation. It’s shocking, and yet at the same time it’s not. Imagine how you would feel if someone was beating you down every single day, the same person who is supposed to be building you up?

“We are all responsible for making a difference…”

Don’t think it only happens within the bonds of holy matrimony either. On the contrary, it can happen with any kind of significant others, meaning boyfriends or girlfriends, people you are dating, or even family members. We care an awful lot about what our family thinks of us, and sometimes the abuse starts early with mothers being dissatisfied with their daughters’ or sons’ appearance, and making it known. If that’s what they know, and the only thing they know, from an early age on, how are they expected to find someone who doesn’t make them feel that way? That’s all they know, so that’s what they seek out. It’s devastating, and yet it’s so prevalent in our world today. We are all responsible for making a difference, though. Just as abusers can crush with words and actions, so we can work to repair with our words and actions.

That’s why friends are so important. If you have a solid network of friends, you can get free of that situation so much easier. While I don’t care for interventions, they can be very helpful because they gather together the people who really do love you, not the ones who say they do, but then act just the opposite.

What do you think are other solutions for this problem of abuse?

Sam

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18 thoughts on “Smack Me, Baby, One More Time

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  1. In the UK after your baby is born the Health Visitor comes by your house every week for a few weeks and then every few months until the baby is 1. They weigh and check the baby, ask about feeding and general health. One of the other things the do ask is whether there is any abuse going on in the home, in recent research it has been shown that it takes women being asked approx 30 times before she will admit to being abused, I always feel terribly hopeless when she asks me this question because I know that there must be women who shake their heads while wanting to scream the truth. It may seem a bit intrusive for medical professionals to constantly be asking if you are abused but for those people who feel as if they’re stuck I hope it doesn’t take them being asked 30 times to turn their abuser in.
    Great Post πŸ™‚

    1. Wow. 30 times is the average? Imagine if an abused woman doesn’t have any friends who can see what’s going on with her, and can ask her this over and over again. There is just something about not wanting to admit to being a victim. Thank you so much for the reply. I will check out your blog soon!

      1. I know, 30 seems so much. I guess they just come to a point where they no longer have the strength to hide it. I worry for those who have no one to ask friend or professional, it must be terribly isolating.

      2. It makes me even more hopeful that this more-connected world that has made everyone so much closer together globally as well as locally can make a difference that way. If they can’t talk to someone in some kind of inner circle, maybe they can reach out to someone online.

        Oh, and I love your blog, btw! Nice job!

    1. One of the hardest things we can do in this life is be honest with ourselves. I suggest counseling for everyone. There are many things we can face about ourselves if we have someone outside of ourselves to listen to us and to offer advice.

  2. I actually have a friend who’s in that situation, kind of. But it’s never that black and white. You’re right; every time is one time too many. But she does love him, and honestly, I think he loves her too. I’m soon to be a health care professional too, and I’ll probably be expected to be proactive. It’s different with a patient. She’s my friend; I’m not a nurse there, I’m her friend. I’m closer. All I can really do is never, ever pass judgment on what he does or how she deals with it. Who am I to say it’s not okay, if she feels happy there? Who am I to say ‘you’re not happy, I can tell, just leave him’? So I never said a word, even though an alarm bell rang. I just hope that one day, if she ever has a change of heart and wants to get out, she’ll feel like she can come to me, and from that point on I’ll move heaven and earth to make it happen. I know that I’m the only person she ever talks to about that stuff, and it’s probably because she really trusts me with that. And I just aim at making sure she keeps realizing it’s not okay, and she does. Like I said, it’s not like he beats her up every week. But when he drinks too much or is in a bad mood, she has to deal with all his shit, and I know sometimes he raises his hand at her. It blows, but nobody really has any say over what happens within a relationship. From the outside, you only get a really small window on what’s legitimately going on.
    But maybe this particular case is too ‘light’ to be relevant. If he did regularly beat her up with the very intent of cutting loose on her to get rid of excess anger, I’d probably intervene more. I don’t know.
    Girls who end up with men who really treat them wrong, have real self esteem/self respect issues at the root of their loyalty for such a scumbag, and that’s where you can really invest your energy in as a friend. Make them happy, make them feel good about themselves, give them compliments. It’s a slow process, but it’s one where no trust is violated and no boundaries are being forced. Definitely a tough one.
    A key element, always, is to never promise you won’t talk to anyone else!! NEVER, or you’re stuck right there with them. Or, even worse, you hurt them deeply and push them further down.

    1. You are so right here. We only get a window into a relationship, and we don’t see all of the dynamics working there. We can’t truly judge when we aren’t in the relationship ourselves. I just feel so bad for women who feel like they can’t say anything because he will leave them, and yet they’re being so deprived of their own choice because of it. Do they love him, or do they love the idea of him when he’s not drinking or angry? Nothing is ever black and white, sad to say.

      1. Absolutely, it’s super sad that most of these women probably believe they’re getting what they deserve. I always try to curb that speech, that inevitably follows after laying out what happened; “you know, I was really bitchy too, it was also my fault”. That doesn’t make it okay… And then there’s the loads and loads of relationships where it happens behind closed doors, where the whole lovy-dovey act in public ends as they get ready for bed. That’s maybe even worse.

      2. Oh yes, the pretense! It’s murderous. I mean, if you’re unhappy, be unhappy. Don’t put on a happy face for others. It does more harm than a little bit, for both you and your significant other. When do you think that suppressed anger and unhappiness goes when you’re behind closed doors? And it’s not just physical, but verbal abuse as well. Horrible when it’s both too. Just get out, but it’s easier said than done. At least try and be honest with yourself. Don’t apologize when it’s not your fault.

      3. Yeah, bickering is absolutely horrific to watch. Painful even, when obviously both are hurting but have no efficient way to communicate about it with each other. As a girl, I can easily relate to “not knowing any better” though. If you come from a messed up family, you just genuinely believe that’s love, you know? Both for the abused woman/man as for the abuser, who’s often not terribly peaceful inside either. It doesn’t justify it, but I mean they often just don’t know how to deal with stuff, and could maybe just need some help there.

  3. I think have support from friends is very important. They can offer fresh perspectives, stand by you, support you, listen to you, be your cheerleader, and give you the push that you need.

    1. I like that. Be your cheerleader. If only we could be our own cheerleaders too. Sometimes no matter how many people show you and tell you, you still don’t let it sink in.

    1. I agree. We forget so often that a lot of those learned helplessness ideas are forged at home from an early age. Parents have an awesome responsibility.

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