This post deals with issues surrounding abuse.
We didn’t look like an abused family. He didn’t look like an angry, abusive man.
Well, that doesn’t sound like him. At all.
That was the common response I received when telling close friends or family members about the abuse my mother, my brother and I were experiencing on an unforgiving frequent basis. In fact, the disbelief and the silent interrogations and the inaudible doubts were enough to keep us as tight-lipped as our father had instructed us to be.
We didn’t look like an abused family.
He didn’t look like an angry, abusive man.
Society has a very clear, very particular picture in their minds when they think of an abusive man.
They want him easily visible, like an adulterous hickey or an unfortunate, protruding pimple. They want to spot him when he’s in their grocery stores or among their children or attending their churches, so they envision a specific man with specific trademarks that make him specifically revolting.
He should be slightly overweight, carrying a gut only the frequent six pack could provide. He has cheap tattoos and is slightly balding and wear’s wife beaters, because of course. He scratches his ass and burps after crushing his thirteenth beer and yells obscenities frequently.
You can find him permanently attached to a decrepit couch, unable to hold a job or acquire any worthwhile friends due to his blatant alcoholism. He never buys flowers for his wife or toys for his children. He never says a kind word or expresses a hopeful gesture.
And while this man does exist, I have no doubt, this man is more of the exception to the rule than the steadfast rule itself. He is created for Hollywood’s guilty pleasure or society’s peace of mind. He is a reflection of our greatest fears, sometimes manifested into human form but mostly an illusion, fed by our disgusting laziness.
Most abusive men are successful.
They have budding careers and hopeful futures and are extremely driven. They’re middle to upper-middle class, providing for their family financially with a decent house and one or two cars and a mid-size backyard.