The 19th century playwright Oscar Wilde once wrote, "The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame."
And the same holds true today... in the digital.
In 2010 when Eminem's video for "Love the Way You Lie" was released, I'm sure many of you recall the outrage the ensued. I admit, the first time I watched it, it struck a nerve with me. I wasn't in a DV situation at the time, little did I know I would be. But it was Powerful.
A little more than a year later when I found myself in the midst of my own storm, the song took on a whole new meaning.
DV is not an easy topic to talk about. I get that. It is downright painful, especially for the Survivors. BUT DV is prevalent in our society whether we like it or not... Whether we talk about it or not. And it is time to TALK.
The storm clouds don't gather overnight. It is a process. A methodical, insidious process.
As Wilde alluded, those things that show humanity its flaws/sins are shunned and called out for their "filth," "violence," "blasphemy," etc.... But I DO NOT believe accurate portrayals of DV, like Eminem's song/video should be ignored, boycotted or avoided. We as a society need to stand up and call the Beast by its name.
** Eminem hasn't been the only one to speak out, but due to the graphic nature of his approach he was called out. Other artists like Eve ("Love Is Blind"), Til Tuesday ("Voices Carry"), Suzanne Vega ("Luka") and Pearl Jam ("Rearviewmirror") to name a few have broached the subject with a little less push back.**
I remember listening to a talking head on one of the major news stations literally going OFF about the video. She said, (I'm paraphrasing here) "He sings, and I quote, 'If she ever tries to fucking leave again I'm gonna tie her ass to the bed and set this house on fire..." She was appalled that our Youth was listening to such Violent lyrics. "That is music? That is art?" Totally indignant. What gives him the right to rap such things? IT'S REALITY. That is what gave him the right, Lady.
DV is the taboo subject we thrust under the rug. And it's time to rip up that rug. We think nothing of it when junior asks for the latest shoot-em-up video game, listens to violent music or consumes other forms of violence on television and in movies. After all, violence (like sex) sells. Society has no qualms about it. But why such outrage when society is shown its own Shame when it comes to DV and its lack of willingness to seriously address it?
"People say it's best to go your separate ways... guess they don't know you..." Yeah, it is easy for the outsider to offer their opinion... especially when they've never been in the depths of the abyss.
Statistically speaking, it takes a DV victim SEVEN attempts to leave. SEVEN. So, despite those who freely comment on DV and voice their adamant opinions (which they have every right to do, I just wish they were better informed before passing judgment) it isn't so easy as to simply walk away.
The moment a woman (or man) leaves -- and for several months (and sometimes years) following -- is the MOST DANGEROUS time. The abuser then knows he (or she) has lost control and will do whatever it takes to get the other back. The best hope a Survivor has is that his/her abuser finds new supply or something else to attract his/her obsessive attention.
I admit that after I left and started rebuilding my life and myself, I couldn't watch the video for quite some time. The song echoed in my head off and on... I was trying to make sense of what happened. How the hell did I end up there?
You've heard the saying the best way to get over your fear is to confront it, yes? Well, that is the logic I followed.
So one day, I faced down what had haunted me for so long and confronted the Reality and watched it again for the first time. When I did, the tears streamed down. My heart ached not only for my own experience, but for the millions of those still caught in the midst of the abyss.
For those who scoff at the "simplicity" of a Choice to watch or not to watch a video, I don't expect you to understand. And if you don't, that is OK. Just please try to refrain from passing judgment on something about which you have no experience.
I can't count the hundreds of promises my abuser said that he would never lie again. He would never put hands on me again. He would never cheat again. He didn't know what was wrong with him, but I was his world and he would never act that way again. I would later learn that is called the Honeymoon period. They win you back and things are great for a while, until you step out of line again. Then the Beast rears its ugly head and the cycle of violence begins again.
When Rihanna sings, "just gonna stand there and hear me cry..." that IS what they do. I still have flashbacks to the countless times when I would be sobbing in front of him begging him to change. Each time he would apologize saying he didn't know why he did the things he did.
The Detroit rapper says, "I apologize even though I know it's lies..."
And, as ironic as it sounds, that is the Truth. It's lies. What my abuser said were lies.
Wilde was onto something. I firmly believe he would be one of the loudest voices speaking out on behalf of those suffering DV. Calling for a SERIOUS discussion about how to put a stop to one of Society's most taboo topics that shows the world its Shame. And if no one would listen, I would like to think he would be a booming Voice putting pen to paper writing a work (or even going digital w/video or blog) that would make Eminem (and other artists' works) look tame.
In Peace and Love,