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FAMILY VIOLENCE isn’t one act committed by one person. Communities, Governments, and friends can all be contributors to Family Violence. It wasn’t until 1983 that Canadian law outlawed marital rape [1]. “Family violence is more than just beating a partner or child. It’s the abuse of power to harm or control a person who was or is a family member.”[2] The Alberta Government now recognizes NOVEMBER AS FAMILY VIOLENCE PREVENTION MONTH which replicates a campaign that was started in Hinton in 1986 [3]. So for the month of November we’ll be posting stories that hopefully help identify family violence so that communities are able to recognize there contribution to violence and find ways to end the abuse.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I Want To Tell You I'm Mad

Ironically I find myself feeling angry a lot of the time but I often blame my mom for not teaching me healthy angry behaviours. I’ve been so afraid to get angry because I’ve feared that I’ll turn into my dad when I try to express my frustration. I envision myself punching a hole in a wall or throwing objects around. But conversely when my dad tries to argue with my mom she doesn’t say anything. She stands there and just nods her head.  I’m sure some of her minimal response is residual effects from the years of abuse my father has tortured her with. But she has also told me that she never once saw her parents get angry with each other.  Do I suffer from two generations of women, my Mom and my Nanna, who haven’t learned to decipher aggression from anger? 

I now blame both my parents for my struggle to develop healthy angry behaviours. When I am angry I desperately try to hold it in and not let the anger express itself. I fear the expression of anger will be a mirror image of breaking things and saying mean passive aggressive things.  I know it’s not my mom’s sole responsibility to teach me how to express my anger. My father has a responsibility and so does my community. I also have a responsibility to express my anger to others. It’s important for me to express when others are miss-treating me or the people I care about. 
~Anna Joy

Friday, 25 November 2011

Rights of Ownership – I’d Like the Keys Back!

My mom told me it was inappropriate that I had broadcasted to so many people that I was going to the film screening of Orgasm Inc. She said I should be concerned with what my Nanna would think of me.

My dad sent me a text message describing how much I had disappointed him despite all the things he had done for me. He said I had hurt him because I was going to spend the weekend in Jasper with my new boyfriend.

My boyfriend held onto my hand tightly and asked if I wanted to be like women who would never orgasm in their lives? He told me I didn’t orgasm like the other women he had been with. He told me I should have laughed to ease the tension instead of running to the bathroom when I had an allergic reaction to the lube we were using.

How do I talk to my parents about the things my boyfriend says to me when all they can think and talk about is how much they feel ashamed of me ?
~Anna Joy

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Don't be a Bully.

I heard about this very sad story today.

I remembered that in addition to November being Family Violence awareness month, the week of November 13th - 19th was National Bullying Awareness Week  .

I thought it might be a good idea to read those two links and think about how we can work individually and collectively to end Bullying.  I think that abusers are just grown up Bully's, exercising their power over another.


Friday, 18 November 2011

The Government Makes Family Violence Excusable

Criminalizing Abortion or any Contraception excuses abusing women. Perpetrators (father, brother, mother, aunt, grandmother) can say they were just trying to protect their future “child”.

Criminalizing Pre-Natal Drug Use excuses perpetrators abusing women.  A father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, cousin, grandmother can say they were only acting in the interest of the “child”. They can dismiss a woman’s feelings claiming she was too high, too drunk or too caffeinated.

Categorizing Homosexuality or Transgendered as a Disease grants fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts or cousins an excuse for abusing someone in their family. If an abuser believes they can provide a “cure” they’ll be seen as only trying to save their fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts or cousins.

Criminalizing Marriage Fraud and prescribing minimum sentences, such as 2 years, of marriage before granting full immigration status to a woman, excuses abusing women and makes it difficult for a woman to report abuse. An abuser can threaten a woman that if she doesn’t “act like a wife” she’ll be deported.  What a wife does or acts like will be controlled by the abuser.
~Anna Joy

My Soul

Every day, she screamed reminders inside my head.
“You’re so demanding.”
“You always need something.”

But the fact was, all I needed was her love.

A day or two later, she would present me with money, as if somehow the dollar bills would soak up the terrible things that came out of her mouth.

A week or two later, she would yell again, using the money as an excuse to call me ungrateful when I lost patience and fought back.

And then she would call me a bitch, and a slut, and I would tell her to go fuck herself, throw things at her and push her.
And then my dad would start yelling at us, and I would cower in the corner and cry as my mother explained to him that it was my fault – that I started it all, that I was a little troublemaker who wanted to make them fight. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

like a flash

i have these snippets of memories. they appear and disappear in an instant. like the flash of an old slr camera. *poof* i can not really make sense of them, as in, i can not string them together with eloquent words to tell a story or depict a picture. my mind, my body, is not ready to do so. to see it all in a full light. so they remain little flashes of images etched in my mind. like the time i did not understand my math so i was hit repeatedly in the head and tossed up the stairs with the words 'idiot' ringing in my ears at the age of 9. or when my father asked me where those marks came from on my back as i bathed one night. the time i stepped between her and my little sister who was being pushed into the dresser only to be screamed at and shoved myself. or the time that same sister called the police because of the fighting in our home. i remember the phone calls to my older sister to come and get me because she 'could not fucking stand the sight of me anymore!'. *poof-poof-poof* i see these flashes and i am grateful in a way that they do not haunt me. that the violence in our relationship is so far removed now that it is hard to believe it was there at all. but i do still have these snippets. like a flash, i see them. and as quickly as they come ... they disappear.

Monday, 14 November 2011

How My Mother Shows Her “Love”

My mother says she loves me, more than anything else in the world, more than even herself.

Over the years, she’s shown just how much she loves me by:

repeatedly telling me that I am fat, and that even though I might not like to hear it, she needs to say it because she’s concerned about my health;
repeatedly telling me that “boys don’t like girls who are so stubborn and opinionated”, and that I need to “tone it down” if I ever wanted to find someone;
expressing how surprised she was to find that my life was full of loving friends who actually loved me just the way I was;
suggesting that I drop out of university so I could be a better wife to my husband (which revealed to me that the entire lifetime of stressing the importance of education turned out to just be her back-up plan for me in case I couldn’t find a man);
asking, when I told her my marriage was ending, what I did wrong;
telling me that my marriage ended because “you’re too much like your father, there’s something wrong with your personality”;
telling me that I was cruel for not speaking to her for a year, which I did to protect my own mental health as a result of the extremely hurtful things she said to/about me when I ended my marriage;
telling me that the reason she had me was because she thought it would make my father hang around the house more often (for those wondering, this did not work);
threatening suicide when I didn’t do what she wanted;
excusing every abusive word and behaviour under “I say/do this because I love you.”

People ask me what my family thinks about me being in an interracial relationship (I’m Asian, my partners have always happened to be White). I tell them my mother is just relieved that anybody wants to be with me. People laugh, but it’s not a joke.

In my life, I recall my mother slapping me in the face twice; those were the only instances where it got physical.

But the emotional and psychological blows were constant.

Too often, I find myself disturbed by the internalized version of her that lives inside my head; the voice that tells me that I shouldn’t be surprised to be treated poorly; that my needs and wants should come after those of others; that I am “lucky” that people put up with me.

This is how my mother shows how much she “loves” me.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

the kitchen window

I hadn't realized how many little things I had learnt to do over the course of our marriage in order to keep as much peace as I could in the home. It occurred to me in the months following the separation. I began to notice behaviours that no longer served a purpose. To me, the most profound was the look out the kitchen window. I noticed that I would be glancing out the kitchen window around dinner time waiting for him to come home. Partially because it was strange that he no longer came home, but more so to do an assessment. I noticed that at that moment, I would experience some anxiety, so I began looking at this habit, questioning its purpose. I found that I had spent the last few years watching for him to come in that back gate so as to asses his demeanor. To gather the necessary information that would allow me to use the next 30 seconds wisely. In the time it would take him to walk from the gate, get out his keys and enter the house, I would do a mental check - was dinner far enough along? were there toys in the way? was the music too loud, not to his approval? were the kids too excited, grumpy, bouncy? I would look at him, read his face and body language as he'd come through the gate in attempt to prepare for the mood that would be with him upon his entering the door.

It took a while to stop this, or to do it less frequently, as every so often I still find myself doing the look out the window. It is strange the little things that become so routine in the toxic environment, so essential for survival that we do not see them as abnormal. We do not question them, they just are. I was not even conscious of the look out the kitchen window until months after he left.

~ Whytelash

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Not Mine

Have you ever had the distinct feeling that your body wasn’t your own? As a kid and as a teenager I was aware that decisions about how I looked and acted were controlled by my father.

I’m not referencing protective parenting where you won’t allow your child to cross a highway because you fear they’ll be struck by a truck. I’m referring to my dad not letting me get my hair cut. If I wanted to cut my hair, I had to get my dads approval first because he liked it long. Even after the major moment, when I was thirteen and finally allowed to cut my long hair, my dad continued to express his disapproval of me cutting my hair short. The shortest I ever had it cut was to my chin but that was still too short.

Throughout high school as my hair was cut, re-grown, and then cut again my dad could never say anything positive about how I looked. He scoffed at me, teased me, laughed at me, or told that he didn’t like my hair cut. I was caught in a trap with my dad. I only felt good or beautiful when my dad thought I was beautiful so I was chasing the balance between my father’s approval and my own. He only seemed capable of praising me when he had made a decision for me. My image wasn’t my own to decide. And when I deviated from a norm that was determined by my father, I was expected to understand that I wouldn’t be supported.

Monday, 7 November 2011


I think the first time I felt she'd wronged me, really wronged me in a way a mother just should not wrong her daughter, was when she had all my hair cut off. Long long auburn hair cut so short I was often mistaken for a young boy. I'd felt wronged when she asked my father to leave or when I received a punishment I didn't understand, sure. As an adult, as a single-mother now myself, however, I've come to gain an understanding for those things.  Those events I could not grasp merely due to age, life experience and a lack of such encounters personally. But the Hair? Though I have my suspicions as to why, have my own idea's ... they still leave me feeling wronged. They do not excuse the act. They do not provide comfort for the self identity that was stolen. That is the first time I felt wronged by her, by my Mother.

~ Whytelash

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Things my Mom’s NOT allowed to do

 I was soo proud of my mom because she had decided to go back to school. Her reasoning was she wanted to help support the family financially now that my dad wasn’t making as much money as he used too. Part of me believed her, but part of me wanted to believe her motives were so that she could be seen as an equal contributor to the family. That if she contributed monetarily my dad would grant her equal rights to make decisions about the families’ financial status.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Had I known.

If I had known how sacred I would feel at times, would I have said 'I Do'?

If I had known how much debt I would endure when he 'couldn't work', would I have shared my credit?

If I knew the guilt & shame that would come from saying no to my 'wifely sexual obligations', would I have invited him into my bed in the first place?

Had I a clue he would become an addict blaming me for his choices, would I have given him my trust?

If I'd had any idea how many walls would be punched in, doors riped off hinges, things thrown, slammed, broken...would I have agreed to share in that life?

Had I been able to see the damages living in that environment would have on our children, the anger & desperation they'd acquire, would I have had these babies?

If I had known that he would want his life to end, that most days were more a challenge than a joy, would I  have allowed myself to love him so deeply?

If I knew for sure that he would change, would I have stayed?

~ Whytelash

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Family Violence

When I was first asked if I’d like to do anything for Family Violence month, which is November, I felt uneasy. Even though I identify my father’s behaviour as abusive and I am able to recognize how it is affecting me I had never considered it to be family violence. Firstly my family didn’t look like the ones I had seen on tv or movies that were called violent. Secondly I was supposed to forgive my father because he had a troubled childhood. And Thirdly because of how frequently my father would have tantrums I let them blend into one long continuum to try and forget them easier. 
No my dad never hit me, or my mom, or my sister. And that was my understanding of what violence was growing up. If he didn’t hit us, not including spanking, we weren’t being abused. My dad would even boast proudly, acknowledging his temper, that he had never hit his family. But the hole in a wall left from a door flung open REALLY hard, the sound of tires spinning outside as a truck sped off, or the threat that my sister and I were never too old to be spanked were leaving scares on me. And these incidents never happened just once, but all the time.