Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cheers to Her!

“Please don’t hit me...” she whispered amidst tears, avoiding the eyes of her abuser as he made a fist to sock her in the face. She was used to this. A girl, tender in age and young at heart, had fallen in love with a man who used the Bible to justify hitting her. A fanatic, over-zealous type, he spent many-a-day reading the word of God, picking and choosing verses that he would eventually use against her sins. What were her sins? 1) She giggled a lot. 2) She listened to hip-hop music. 3) She painted her nails.

I’m not too sure if any of you have picked up a Bible recently, but let me save you some time. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies blatantly oppressing women to the point of worthlessness. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies hitting a woman because she giggles more than the average person. In fact, the Bible encourages having a joyful spirit. What was wrong with giggling? In her abuser’s mind, the victim’s constant giggling showed her lack of seriousness and peace of mind. There is nothing in the Bible that justifies using this Holy Book as the abuser’s very same object to inflict a scar on her shoulder because she listened to hip-hop music. In fact, the Bible encourages song and dance; I could probably list about fifteen verses off the top of my head right now that support my statement. What was wrong with hip-hop music? In her abuser’s mind, the hip-hop artists had lifestyles that he didn’t agree with, thus punishing his victim for her poor choices in music. Anyone else see something wrong with this picture? There is nothing in the Bible that allows an abuser to kick his victim in the abdomen as she’s laying on the floor, helpless and hopeless, because he noticed that her nails were painted a light pink color. In fact, the Bible even shows us how Solomon praised his love’s beauty and her adornments.

The Bible promotes love, not hate. The Bible promotes compassion, not a hardened heart. The Bible promotes mercy, not persecution. The Bible promotes kindness, not cruelty. The Bible promotes protecting, not attacking others. The Bible promotes forgiveness, not accusation and blame. The Bible promotes encouraging, assuring, and covering, not intimidation, warning, and bullying. Newsflash: if you’re using the Bible for anything else but love, you’re using it in the wrong way.

At first, the victim refused to succumb to his requests. She’d rather stand up for who she was – a bubbly, giggly, creative, colorful girl, and did not want to change for anyone. After all, her independence and sense of self were strong, unique, well-liked, and accepted by 99.99% of humans. [Note: the .01% equals unreasonable humans, much like the abuser in this situation.] After a while though, she lost her sense of self. Her eyes no longer sparkled like diamonds. She stopped being true to her character, quit dancing lessons, cleared her iTunes and browsing history from any type of song that might enable her to be abused, hid all her accumulated nail polish bottles under her bed, and even made sure to not even crack a smile in front of her abuser. She was mute on the outside, yet screaming and crying for help on the inside. One day, her abuser found that box of nail polish. He dragged her by the hair, slammed her against a wall, and punched her in the stomach. This was the beginning of her freedom. While she refused to report this incident/press charges because she had a merciful heart, she did make it quite clear that their relationship was over. At first, she shrugged it off and tried to go on with her everyday life. It succeeded for quite some time until she realized that she harbored feelings of self-hatred for falling in love with someone who was capable of abusing her. She realized that she no longer was able to trust, be open and honest in familial and personal relationships. Above all, she knew that the smile she plastered on her face each morning was a fake one; a smile that was wiped away and replaced with tears when she was alone.

Hey, has anyone else noticed that at times, the more fanatical a person is, the more hypocritical he/she tends to be? I tend to believe that fanaticism parallels hypocrisy. Consider a person who is an avid believer in a religion that requires both sexual restraint and covering the faults of your neighbors with kindness and love. Suppose this person persecutes his/her neighbors because of their promiscuity, thereby attempting to appear morally superior to them or more pious and at the same time, warning others about their neighbor’s sins to the fullest extent. This person might well be described as a fanatic because of the zeal with which he or she criticizes the neighbor’s sexual morality, yet at the same time we might say that these actions betray a kind of hypocrisy, in that the person falls short of the requirements of neighborly love and covering their sins which his/her own professed religion calls for. So, this person is a fanatic and a hypocrite at the same time! Sure, hypocrisy can be found in the person who has no commitment to principle, but also in the self-righteous moral fanatic. [I smell a new blog post on this topic….coming to you soon!]

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato knew what he was talking about. The next time you judge someone for his/her actions, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that something much deeper might be at the root of why this person acted a certain way. The next time you chastise a person for living in his/her "own little world", perhaps you should take a step back and realize that this world was created for his/her own protection and security. The next time you verbally reprimand someone for his/her lack of openness and honesty, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that in some circumstances, it might take YEARS for someone to gain trust, be 100% open, and find faith in a friend again. The next time you wonder why someone acts worried, fearful, defensive, or apprehensive in a relationship, perhaps you should take a step back and realize that there might be something that has been plaguing this person for years.

This girl is currently in law school. She’s kept her silence for very long, providing the usual, “It’s a lucrative career and I love legal studies!” answer to those who ask what her motivations were for embarking on such a demanding yet well-respected and much-admired path. Little do people around her know…that her main motivation was to empower herself and others through the vast amount of knowledge and legal protection that our wonderful legal system provides. Little do people know that law school provided a security blanket for her; a sense of peace that she wasn’t able to find until she was enrolled. She’s on her way to trusting people more, to finding and maintaining real friendships, and to embarking on romances based on respect, equal sacrifices, honesty, love, and lack of paranoia.

Readers, there’s a time and a place for everything: now is her time to shine. Cheers to her voice. Cheers to her strength. Cheers to finding herself once again. Cheers to her.

I hope I helped you further find your voice. Written with love, honesty, contemplation, and permission.

38 comments:

  1. I can't stop crying!....CHEERS, CHEERS, CHEERS!!!!!

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  2. I agree with you entirely on the subject of hypocracy. I think I made a blog post about that a few years ago; I could try and drag it out when I have time.

    But I agree--anyone who uses the Bible--or any other sacred text--to justify--or even try and justify hitting a woman in anything other than self defense.....yeah, something is wrong with them. And I agree. People should be wary.

    Let her shine.

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  3. What an amazing story! By the way, your writing rocks.

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  4. I never cry, but this made me weep twice as much as my terrible-twos on a bad day. My wife needs to rock me to sleep tonight. You are great. -Paul

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  5. A million times, "Cheers....."

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  6. You did an excellent job portraying a victim’s journey. We chime in with a huge "Cheers"...now is her time.

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  7. Ms. Bakes, your posts just keep getting better and better. Cheers to her! I'm looking forward to your next blog on religious hypocrisy...As a convert, one thing that always makes me mad about the faith is the self-righteous ones who pinpoint every single little sin. Take the LOG out of your eye before removing my speck!

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  8. ^ ditto. I can't deal with hypocrisy anymore. If a person claims to be of a particular religion, they should embrace the ideals of that organization. Rarely have I seen this to be true. I actually find that converts tend to be the most fanatical b/c they seem to take everything to the next level, as if they have to *prove* that they are truly worthy of being part of a faith. (Not pinpointed at you, Jeremy...just a general observation.) What do you think?

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  9. I agree with you to a certain extent. Just on facebook alone, I notice that converts are always the first to shun/point fingers at different religions, and trust me....it's not done in a loving way. What happened to respect? Just because you don't agree with Protestantism doesn't give you the right to belittle its members. After all, we're all made equal in God's eyes. Sure, go at lengths to promote your religion, but don't become a hypocrite and judge your neighbor at the same time.

    I think it's easier for converts to fall prey to fanaticism, because cradles just know better. ;)

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  10. I raise my glass. Cheers!

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  11. The same goes for homosexuality. Some ultra-conservatives dehumanize homosexuals because they think their religion gives them the right to do so. Hypocritical. Where's the love in dehumanization?

    Can't wait for your next post. In typical Kathy fashion, I expect to be seduced by your words while you put the hammer down on your beliefs.

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  12. Thanks for posting your blog on the "Women Against Abuse" facebook page. We wish you success as you bring awareness to our community. Cheers to her!

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  13. This was so tear-jerking. Congratulations. CHEERS to HER. CHEERS TO HER VOICE.

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  14. Maria and Paul RizzoOctober 25, 2010 at 8:18 PM

    My husband (Paul the weeper, above) recommended I see your blog. The paragraph you wrote starting with Plato's quote really hit home...I think this post is the perfect example that "things are never what they seem..." My sister-in-law went to law school because of the injustices she saw during her parents' immigration to the US. She is now an immigration lawyer. :)

    I think the victim in this story, whoever she may be, is an exceptional role model. Not only did she show love and mercy to her abuser, (OUT OF ALL PEOPLE,) but she is embarking on a path for HER...not for the money or the fame, but to fuel her own personal fire.

    I have forwarded your blog-site to many organizations. I am touched by you and your writing.

    Cheers!

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  15. Thanks so much, everyone! Rizzo family, I appreciate your willingness to promote my blog. :) Love you all.

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  16. :) I love reading all the "Cheers!" comments. Cheers to her! I'm so proud of you.

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  17. "Cheers!" indeed.

    And I agree with Maria Rizzo above, about the paragraph that starts with the Plato quote... Reconfiguring one's interpretive lens of anothers' difficult, damaged, and defensive behavior within a friendship or relationship, such that one tries to "see" why and how these kinds of behaviors might have come to be in the other, is an incredibly humbling experience. It's especially humbling because, oftentimes the defensive behavior is directed *at* the person who is trying to reconfigure how they see the hurt other, as a coping mechanism, which makes the entire process all the harder--but absolutely worth it. The person underneath all that defensiveness--all the walls that person has erected around themselves--is beautiful, just like the woman in this story. Loving is not always easy, but it *is* the best of all possible choices in such situations.

    Thank you for this post, Kathy dear. I, too, look forward to your reflection about fanaticism and hypocrisy.

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  18. My comment would be a combination of Maria Rizzo's and Donna's responses.

    Preach it, sista! clink clink. (I don't mean to make light of your blog...it's just tough to read through.) :(

    I wish I had networking skills to pass on your blog. Le sigh. I'm just a dumb law school student.

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  19. I'm not sure there's such a thing as a "dumb law school student." ;) We're a pretty intelligent bunch, whippin' out laws left and right. Hope you're well, friend!

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  20. Aren't you just the greatest ego-picker-upper?...Ah yes, I remember the typical Bakes "there's a silver lining!" attitude. One of these days, your awesomeness will rub off on me. o_O

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  21. What can I say? Stick with me, kid, and you'll go places. :)

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  22. Now THAT'S what I call an invitation. RSVP YES. ;) O_o

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  23. Your post has been circulating on two email serves so I decided to check it out. What a powerful message. This victim is a hero, a merciful one at that. I have some questions. What's your email address? I can't seem to find it on your blog.

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  24. Jennifer, thanks for the reminder that my info doesn't include my email address! I will fix that after I post this reply message. Feel free to email me at katerina.bakes@gmail.com

    Thanks for reading and for your comment! :) I look forward to hearing from you.

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  25. Wow. I have goosebumps.

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  26. Where's that religious hypocrisy post? I look very forward to reading your views. If it's half as brilliant as your other posts, then you have my applause.

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  27. Sitting next to Jon while commenting on the most matter of fact post I've ever read. Kath, the paragraph I find myself relating to the most is, "The next time you judge...." etc. Really reminds me of when I was dealing with my mother's diagnosis back in highschool. Everyone kept judging me because I was always to myself. Once they realized my reasons, they then apologized to me. Experiencing that, I try my hardest to NEVER judge anyone for their actions for we never know what they're going through. I love the girl in the post above. She is the perfect role model, as mentioned in the comments above. She only deserves true friendships that don't judge nor criticize.

    As an overall lesson, one should never judge nor criticize because the judger a) has to answer for it one day, and b) you reap what you sow. If you have an ugly heart, you will reap ugliness and loneliness. I can imagine that the girl in your post has put these ugly people in their places and has gathered a whole new fan base of supporters and understanding friends. Besides, she doesn't need negative people in her life.

    Back to studying for my midterms! Sorry for the ramble! As a final note, CHEERS.

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  28. Jon, I just finished a Contracts midterm today; Thus, my post is still in its drafting stage. It will be posted sometime next week. :)

    Christina, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I agree with all the points you made above. She has definitely blocked out all the negative people: they don't deserve a spot in her life, and they were and definitely will be put in their places.

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  29. ~*~*~ There comes a time in life when you walk away from all the pointless drama and the people
    who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh, forget the bad and focus on the good. Life is too short to be anything but happy. ~*~*~*

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  30. I love this post. God bless you and your writing.

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  31. By the way, the links you post on your facebook are priceless....I find myself refreshing your page everyday. Thanks for making me smart, KayBee!

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  32. Andrew, what happened to you posting as an anonymous law school student? The "KayBee" gave it away. :) Also, you might want to get upgrade your knowledge sources. Just sayin'....

    Jasmine, thanks for the quote!

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  33. Michael sent me your link...wow. Did the victim ever tell anyone (family, friends) about what she went through?

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  34. Anonymous, she tried, twice, to tell two friends. She had asked a friend to do new year's resolutions with her - and she was going to come clean with the abuse she endured. She also was in the process of sending a huge letter to a friend with details, pictures, etc., but this friend ended up conspiring against her with another "friend." I believe she shredded the letter. :)

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  35. Regarding your comment:

    >I’m not too sure if any of you have picked
    >up a Bible recently, but let me save you
    >some time. There is nothing in the Bible
    >that justifies blatantly oppressing women
    >to the point of worthlessness.

    Actually there is a lot in the Bible that justifies this very thing. Try Genesis 19: 7-8.

    And don't forget that Lot was the one person who, with his family, was considered by God to be righteous enough to be saved the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. He was certainly all in favour of the oppression of women. And we know this because the Bible tells us so!!

    The story is echoed later in Judges 19: 23-9. This time it was worse: the Levite's concubine died as the result of the abuse.

    Both these episodes of abuse occurred in the context of being sanctioned by the righteous elements in the stories (Lot *and* the angels of the Lord in the case of Genesis, and the hospitable old man and the Levite scholar in the case of Judges).

    The claim that 'The Bible says nothing about ...', is usually nonsense, since the Bible often says a lot of thigs that people ignore when putting forward a thesis that they want the Bible to back them up on.

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  36. "Douglas" - The Bible says lots of things...such as "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth..." WELL! There sure would be a lot of blind, toothless people walking around! I'm pretty positive that God does not condone physical abuse within a relationship. It's evil, not Christian-like, and beyond sinful/wrong. I hope you don't condone it, either! :)

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  37. Kathy, I don't condone physical abuse within a relationship. Then again, I'm also not a Christian, so I can try to be a good person without being a hypocrite who picks and chooses what part of God's word he or she wants to believe and what parts are so embarrassing that we'll just pretend they don't exist. (Refer to your posting on 'Hypocrisy' for more on this.)

    I am merely pointing out:

    1) God apparently does condone such violence, because His Holy Book does. He wasn't talking in metaphors, the account of Lot is pretty darn straightforward and explicit.

    2) People who tell us not to bother reading the Bible because they will tell us what it says, clearly haven't read the Bible themselves, or are picking and choosing what they want to believe and what they don't want to believe. (Refer again to your article on 'Hypocrisy'.)

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