He struck her with the bat.
She falls to the floor in a heap.
“Stand up.I SAID STAND UP.”
Another series of blows.
“Stand up! I said STAND!
I wasn’t even the height of the bat when I got struck. STAND UP!TAKE IT LIKE A MAN!That’s what dad said to me.So now you’ll know what it feels like.”
As she narrates the horrors swim before her eyes and the tears fall freely- she does nothing to stop them.
“I don’t now how I stood up, but I did over, and over and over .Until I could stand no more and I thought with every blow- this must be the last,I’m going to die”.
She pauses.Then she looks at me and says words that I still cannot understand.
“You know what? I forgive him for everything. I’ve forgiven him for everything he’s done.And I don’t blame him for any of it. I love him.He’s my son”.
The next time he is bolder & beats her till she nearly dies.She finally severs ties with him,but is forced to do so.Half her existence is still dependent on a reconciliation that is illusory.I do not in any way mean to berate her for the desire of wanting her child back, for she sees the little bundle she held in her arms,the chubby clenched fists with dimples and the cutest little button nose.
She refuses to see the monster that towers over her.
Silence on assault is sort of mandatory in our society.
As we have twisted Islam to suit whatever pleases us, we have in this manner also concocted silence as patience with the promise of divine rewards. Inconvenient truths are not to be spoken of- with the standard “who are we to judge?” applied.Or worse, the flimsy excuse that the “woman must have done something”.She must have done something so he had a valid reason to beat her,kick her,slap her,torture her.She is guilty even when proven innocent.
We daringly confuse God’s Justice with Mercy and lash out at anyone who disbelieves this.That is because we are threatened with hearing the anguish of these voices.Our instinct is “DO NOT OPEN THE FLOODGATES”.So we bury and cover and bury and cover.
That needs to stop.We need to acknowledge domestic violence whether it be spousal or familial as a sin.
Imam Ali (a.s) said “I am truly astonished at the man who beats his wife when he is more deserving of the beating than her”.
How bold we are in our deliberate transgression.We refuse to make known what the Imam has said because it is inconvenient.We cannot speak of changes that weave through the fabric of society; it will be an upheaval.Families bound by threats and physical violence are more palatable to us.Our world has not altered-changed-shattered as we know it.
In most cases in our part of the world,wives who continue to live with abusers because of the financial burden of the children and other plaguing stigmas.
The child grows up resenting the mother for tolerating the abuse.
The mother believes she tolerated everything for the sake of her child.
She feels her children owe her everything-because she nullified her dreams,desires and existence for them.
She lives vicariously through them.
They cannot speak against her directly.They feel emotionally blackmailed.Burdened.So they do as she says.
And then they repeat the violence on their children.
And the wheel of pain continues to spin furiously, dripping with blood, the spokes creaking in anguish-but we deafen ourselves to it.
Class fellows have insisted on marrying incompatible people their elders paired them with so that they could take out their frustration on the children-physically beat them.Imagine the mental and emotional stability of a child whose existence in part is born out of the desire for revenge.
Now do you see how as the pages turn why the stories remain the same?
Let me present to you the alternative to suffering.
Humor me, if only momentarily.
Imagine if we called this sin a sin openly.From the pulpits.If we placed the burden on the abuser and created an environment that shamed his actions, not the victims.If he was solely responsible for what he did and we ripped apart the withering excuse the woman must have done something.
If we created even grass root avenues for people to speak up. A safe heaven socially acceptable (not morally repugnant) that could lead to methods of helping these silent sufferers seek counsel,to equip them with the necessary tools so they could avoid becoming abusers themselves.
They are not coerced into believing a maligned version of Islam, they know that what was done unto them was unjust.The equilibrium of their faith and sanity is left intact.It allows their children to be brought up with someone who perhaps has scars instead of gaping wounds.
If we follow the standard that we are no one to judge then by that very standard we are also no one to afford clemency to those who do not deserve it.When we vow to stand against oppression it is oppression of every kind, not of the selective sort.
Let us not wreak havoc with our careless words and cause broken hearts to further break.
The benefit of acknowledging such crimes as crimes and sins could be that over time,the spokes are gently bent and perhaps even snaps- so that the wheel stops spinning- if not absolutely then perhaps to a slow whirring.
I will accept even that much as a beginning.