Today, I received a sad communication from someone who has been abused by people near and dear to her. My own world crumbled within me, because I felt her pain, yet I am incapable of resolving it for her. I felt guilty, in a way, that I escaped the terrors that she had to endure, and I have wonderful friends who stand by me firmly on my side through this bumpy ride, while she has nobody but me to confide in. I am overwhelmed by empathic grief. As cosmic coincidence would have it, I turned on the telly, and was met with a report on yet another form of abuse. My heart weeps inside a very dark space today… and I am all the more grateful for the comfort that my beautiful Angel offers me inside her innocence.
Not all witches ride broomsticks wearing pointy hats. In fact, that is a laughable myth. The truth is, the most cogent evil is very often swathed in silken bundles of precious piety and steeped in a rich brew of religiosity and/ or moralistic postulation.
The world at large readily rushes to the aid in vociferous sympathy towards those who are violently physically assaulted, because obvious acts of evil are easy to understand and identify. So we should indeed rally round victims of such heinous cruelty. Even then, sadly, acts of physical violence are too often overlooked or covered up with excuses upon excuses. I am overcome with grief and anger whenever I follow the proceedings of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse happening here in Australia now. Crimes against children, the weak and vulnerable are especially heinous, because the victims are unable to adequately defend themselves, and are too often further crushed by the weight of undeserved guilt, somehow believing that they were complicit in the crime because they did not have the ability to fight back. I can hardly choke back my own tears whenever I watch telecast footage of victims, now in middle age, some even in old age, giving their accounts of what happened to them decades ago. In the meantime, even with the sheer force of a legal enquiry upon them, the institution of abusers continue to deny their crimes, causing divisions within communities, and driving the suffering of their victims ever deeper.
Another kind of evil that tends to go completely unrecognised, and even sometimes applauded by the cheering audience in its unfolding Artuadian theatre of hyper reality, is mental and emotional abuse. All too often, pain and suffering is meted out to the voiceless along with forceful subjugation under the guise of care and concern. Following which, Hallowed Institutions and Organised Religion tell victims to “forgive and forget” while wrapping the evildoers inside its cocoon of conjured doctrine, protected by artful deceit, intrigue and a set of carefully measured constructs that effectively place the vulnerable and weak under the control of the ruthlessly strong. If the Hapless even so much as wave their feeble fists in the air, they are promptly trampled to the ground with saccharine moralistic roars so powerful that the sheer decibel level is shattering to fragile nerves, and the weight of which eventually crushes the wearied soul.
“Forgive and Forget” is the most common condemning mantra of judgmental and ignorantly unempathic bystanders. This kind of ‘advice’ is extremely painful and damaging to the victim. Forgiveness is not forgetfulness. While forgiveness can lead to reconciliation, provided it is preceded by sincere repentance on the part of the abuser, it is never wise to forget, because forgetfulness means we fail to learn from our mistakes.
Let me cite a personal encounter as an example. For many years, I was in an abusive relationship with someone who styled herself as my “best friend.” When I finally broke free, I came away with phobias triggered by certain traits that I associated with this person. Social forcefulness is one of these traits. When a new friend began to exhibit a measure of pushiness, I became agitated and alarmed. Then this new friend did something that upset me deeply, and I fell into a swirling bog of fear and revulsion, tainted by the associations from the past. However, this new friend subsequently apologised, confronting her own grievous deed frankly and honestly. She called it what it was, and she even made me speak the words out loud, refusing to allow me to evade the entire issue. I almost cried when she did that. I cried from relief and emotional release from an invisible bondage. This paved the way for forgiveness and reconciliation. We are friends again, and I appreciate her for who she is all the more, while having learned better how to deal with the trait without associating it with my abusive past. We do not forget this incident, we still speak about it, but there is no more pain attached, because we live on in forgiveness, not forgetfulness.
Where it comes to the unrepentant wrongdoer who refuses to admit or address their own offense with any level of honesty, however, a victim’s act of forgiveness may instead be the clemency of walking away, starting anew, and not giving the abuser any more opportunity to continue. Forgiveness does not wish the evildoer any harm, but it should not perpetuate or condone the evil either.
A sad reality of abuse is that the abuser is usually a former victim of abuse. Such people have chosen to act out their own pain by dominating over others in some way or other.
Mental and emotional abuse is the most difficult to prove, and often futile to even bring to light at all. Twisted minds manipulating tortured minds in an arena where nobody is more ‘normal’ than the other, and the Abusive Colonial Powers plead mental trauma as an excuse for their behaviour. The insidiously subtle difference is the formidable are able to adroitly wield their own mental pain as effective weapons, while their victims are left flipping clumsily on hard concrete ground like dying fishes out of water, gasping in vain for life giving breath. Victims of mental-emotional abuse are usually people with dysfunctionalities more easily identified by society, which, of course, render them even less able to prove that the demons do exist. The wounds are so deep, fragments so shattered, there is no methodology possible for effective repair.
In the case of a lack of reconciliation, Forgiveness really just simply means wanting to be left alone to forge a fresh journey ahead. Unfortunately, some abusers continue to stalk their victim’s shadow with relentless force, and it is seldom possible for the embattled quarry to stand for long in sync with the direct noonday sun, leaving no shadow on the ground to be picked upon. Yet, in the eyes of the onlooker, the victim is nothing more than a hallucinating lunatic, a bitter and unforgiving soul for wanting to sever all ties with the abuser.
For the autistic person, the realm of socio-emotional entanglements is all the more frightening and confusing. Not ever really knowing how to unravel the tangled threads of a complex social system that is not native to one’s own elemental resonance, the silent tortured screams are deafening inside their roaring vacuums, and dignity is reduced to comical writhing in farcical operatic dramas. We become mere goldfish in glass bowls, coloratura birds in golden cages, pleading for recourse in a language so alien to the listeners that even the most melismatic gentle tune becomes a jumble of rabid gibberish to foreign ears, shaking our fists at imaginary phantoms.
This is why I choose to flee from evil: because evil is too overpowering for me to challenge in direct confrontation.
And here is a song I wrote many years ago, which rings all the more poignantly now. At the time I wrote this song, religion had failed me, and I left the organised religion within which I had grown up, in a heartbreaking circumstance, though I have never given up on my spiritual beliefs. In fact, I often tell people who ask me, that I found my faith when I left religion. (Please click on the title of the song if you wish to listen to the recording.)
(words and music by Dawn-joy Leong)
Walk away, child.
Walk away, now,
Walk away from the empty house.
Turn your back, child.
Turn your back, don’t stop to gaze,
Just close the door.
Leave behind your hurt and pain,
Haunting mocking memories.
Come away, child.
Every tear you cried I cried for you long before,
Lay your memories down to rest
There’s no more reason left to stay.
Bring to me unspoken yearnings
At my feet lay your weary heart
I was there then,
Right beside you as I am now and e’er will be.
In my hands I hold your future,
Just as I have held your past
I will give so much to live for,
Many roads and open doors.
Walk away, child,
See your victory