Guest Post: Weird, and Proud of It

Guest post from Lisa. I had wanted to respond to this particular Robertson quote since it’s outside of his normal homophobic, misogynistic, racist, anti-intellectual, abilist bullshit. I mean, it’s so generically xenophobic as to be kind of shocking since he’s generally pretty good at specifically identifying all the groups of people who he dislikes rather than just outright saying, “anyone who isn’t just like me.”

Regardless, I’ll let Lisa take it from here.

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You, sir, Mr. Robertson, are an asshole.

I’m a few days behind on this, mostly because I try to avoid the poison spewing forth from Pat Robertson’s general direction. If I paid attention to him on a regular basis, I’d probably need to be on medication to control my blood pressure. He has a tendency to hit far too many of my triggers during any single conversation than most of the other people on the planet. However, this is a particular message to which I feel the need to respond. On Thursday, Mr. Robertson made outrageous and egregiously malicious claims against adoption and, specifically adoption of abused children.

I’ve spoken before about my history as an abuse victim, specifically as the type of abuse victim that he has insulting things to say about, and I can tell you that I AM weird. Of course, weird is the new normal. This is not the 1950’s where we all have a homogenous way of living or risk being forever outcast and unable to function in society by dint of our weirdness. Being weird does not, in any way, make me less deserving of a loving family. I have the great fortune to HAVE a loving family, but how dare you, sir, imply that I am any less deserving of one, or that any child is less deserving of one, especially a child who has been traumatized? Children need loving homes where their needs are met. Plain and Simple.

Now, I know that I fit many of the criteria by which Mr. Robertson thinks me unfit as a human being to be on the planet. Apparently, he believes that as an abuse victim, I must be mentally ill in some way, which is reinforced by my sexual orientation (for those of you not “in the know”, I’m proudly bisexual, though married happily to a wonderful man), but you would never know these things if you met me on the street. Likely, I would tell you, if it happened to come up in conversation, because I do not feel these are things to be ashamed of, as he does. They do not hinder me or my ability to function and add value to the society, just as they would not with any person having gone through what I have. If anything, having been traumatized has given me one greatly positive outcome: EMPATHY. Unlike Mr. Robertson, It pains me to see people suffering unnecessarily no matter their orientation, gender identity, wealth (or lack thereof), or personal history. Suffering is the evil that must be uprooted in our world, and by advocating against loving anyone, especially a child, you are more likely creating the monster you fear them becoming than by taking them in and providing them with love and services that can turn that tide toward a functioning life.

Children need love. They need homes, and food, and clothing. They need education. Children who have been abused also need social services such as therapy, to learn to cope with the tragedy that has befallen them. By avoiding them, you are putting them at greater risk for things like suicide, continuing the cycle of abuse, and other dangers. I know in his perfect world, abuse victims would stay under the radar in some hole somewhere, but eventually we grow up. Without access to vital services and a loving home to nurture us, we won’t grow up to be productive members of society.

I was fortunate to grow up with a family who was incredibly supportive of me. My journey to the other side of the trauma has been long and arduous, and will never be completely finished. I would not have been able to make the progress that I have without them. I spent many years in therapies, from the initial victim’s counseling to depression therapy. Abuse leaves its scars and its un-healing wounds. Every now and again, they creep up. Without the support of loved ones, this would happen more often and be far more dangerous. I would not have learned how to deal with anger, or be able to have a healthy view of sex, and possibly not be able to maintain a relationship with a partner, or be a loving parent to my two healthy, beautiful children.

By advising people to not bring these traumatized children into their loving homes, you are doing irreparable harm to their futures. These are the children who arguably need the most love and support (though it is absolutely needed by all children). These are children who are already in deficit of love and understanding. They need more help, not less, sir. If I had the ability to adopt (the time, funds and care required are currently outside my economic ability), I would not hesitate to take in a child to rescue them from abuse of any kind. Adoption is an incredibly expensive and labor-intensive process. If you are adopting, you WANT a child. Are there not enough children born unwanted in this world every day? I think so. We should be encouraging people to provide for them.

Many people feel unequipped to love a child that has been traumatized, but instead of encouraging them to take a chance to save a child from a harsh system and possibly turn the tide of anger, pain, and fear, you have done the opposite and told them that these children will basically be a poison in their homes.

Shame, sir. Shame on you for encouraging divisiveness where you should be encouraging unity.

Guest Post: Illness is Illness, Not Excuse

I’m in a class for work all day, but fortunately I have friends who also have well-conceived opinions, so this is a guest post from my friend Lisa Tyler. Lisa is a college student at the moment and well versed in social justice theories as well as one of the smartest people I know. The headline is mine, but the rest is hers. Enjoy.

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I’m fairly certain that the vast majority of people would agree with the following statement: abuse is not okay. Most people would go so far as to agree that it is a vile, inhuman practice that should be stopped at all costs. So why do we have so many people (even people who would claim to agree with those statements) that are willing to defend abuse, enable its occurrence, and blame its victims? We will never get rid of abuses if there are people still defending them. Personally, I find the enabling of abuse as damning as the practice itself. If we stop enabling abuse, stop victim-blaming (and in conjunction slut-shaming), and begin to hold abusers accountable, we can put an end to abuse, or at the very least lessen its duration for the victims of such treatment.

Let me be VERY clear on something. No victim asks to be abused. They do not incite the treatment brought down on them (unless using  themselves as a shield to intercept abuse already directed at someone else). Blaming a victim does nothing except reinforce the abuser. Abusers don’t just hit, or rape. There is a mental aspect to abuse that steals the power and choices from the victim and places it in the hands of the abuser. Victims are broken down, oftentimes to apologize and defend their own abusers. They are made to feel inferior. They fear. By directly or indirectly stating, or subtly implying the victim’s guilt, they are kept inferior. They internalize that inferiority to their abuser. Abuse
(and rape is included here) is about POWER. It is about anger. It is about hate. You take away that power and the victim stops being a victim. They are able to break free. This break from the cycle of abuse should be encouraged. Far too often it is the abuse that is encouraged instead.

I will admit: I have a temper. As a child, I was impulsive enough to let it get the best of me, and from time to time I was known to lash out  physically. Here’s the thing though: I GREW UP. I learned that
violence is not an appropriate response. These days, the most you’ll see me hitting is probably a pillow. I was a victim of abuse. I learned all about using your size, strength, and threat to intimidate someone. Though I was abused sexually and not beaten, I knew the threat of violence if that abuse was uncovered. I learned that this was not an acceptable way to treat other human beings.

We can step up and take a stand for the victims by telling abusers that there is no excuse for their actions. We can give power back to the victims to make choices for themselves. We can tell sympathizers that they are wrong. We can tell enablers that they, too, are wrong. We can tell victims that abuse is NOT their fault. They can choose to end it. They can tell someone. They can get help. We can teach them that they can live without the threat of violence and that they can learn ways to handle
situations without using it themselves.

Yesterday, I received word from a friend that her husband (who is a friend of mine as well) has lost control. He is bi-polar and we are unsure if at this time he is being monitored and correctly medicated to manage his disease. She was in fear for her life. His behavior was violent and erratic. He has held down and beaten the family dog, had grabbed and thrown her around, and most frighteningly had poured gasoline on the kitchen floor a lit it ablaze while she was standing in the room. He was threatening to kill himself if she left (another abusive mind game placing onus on the victim). When she initially attempted to reach out for help and contacted his family, they laid the blame on her telling her that she “couldn’t hold it against him. He’s bi-polar,” and, “though I don’t condone hitting a woman, I can see why he would.”

Firstly, if you sympathize with someone resulting to violence, you ARE, in fact, condoning it. Secondly, though mental illness is serious, if someone is a danger to themselves or someone else, they should be seeking professional help. He is bi-polar, true, but that is not an excuse for him to be abusive.

There is NO excuse for abusive behaviors.

I understand that it is difficult loving someone who has mental illness and needs help. Denying that they need help is not helping them. Allowing them to victimize another person is definitely not helping them or their victim. At that point, your enabling is spreading the disease of abuse on top of the disease they are already combating.

You know the saying “to the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world”? We each have the power to give the world back to someone just by being there and choosing the right side. We need to stand with the victims and against the perpetrators of abuse. Show them that abuse has no place in the world and we won’t sit idly by and let it happen. This is NOT a call to arms. It’s a call to peace. It’s a call to justice. It’s a call to LOVE.

FYI- The following are all excuses and need to be refuted (by all means, not an exhaustive list, just the most common):

1. He/She didn’t mean it.
2. He/She won’t do it again.
3. He/She didn’t know what he/she was doing.
4. He/She wasn’t in his/her right mind.
5. He/She is sick.
6. He/She wouldn’t really do something intentionally mean.
7. He/She wouldn’t do that.
8. He/She is incapable of that.