“Daring Greatly” and Intimate Partner Violence

“Daring Greatly” and Intimate Partner Violence

I do not board the Self-Help Reading Train very often. When I was a domestic & sexual violence advocate, I read a great deal of books that would help me to become a better advocate. Those books ranged from books like The Courage To Heal, memoirs written by abuse survivors, or art therapy books that might help me to think about how I interact as an advocate. Now that I stay at home with my children, my reading as turned more towards things that interest me, but when I heard several people talk about the book Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, it seemed time to pick it up.

The more I listened to the sort of information and tolls that people were taking away from the book, the more curious I became. I bought it and discovered that Brown’s research is fascinating.

Brown talks about the concept of scarcity as a way to “collect” all the “not enough” sentiments: not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not strong enough, not enough. This is a concept that has not escaped the feminism movement, no matter what branch or tree of the movement with which you identify. Feminism seeks to eradicate the concept that women are not enough. Sure, there are different ideas and approaches, but equality means equality.

When it comes to intimate partner violence (IPV), sometimes it feels different. Folks that typically would fight the concept of mommy wars, or fight for women’s equality seem to feel uncomfortable when a woman experiences violence in her relationship. Here are some things I have actually heard said about women in violent relationships:

  • She must like the drama.
  • She deserves it for having kids with him.
  • She is a grown-ass woman and should fight back.

This sort of talk leads me to believe that, in general, most people do not understand the dynamics of IPV. Or even how “domestic issues” are handled sometimes with the legal system, but that is another conversation. Why isn’t it as simple as being drawn to drama, or deserving it, or fighting back?

I think in many ways, the concept of scarcity applies to this. It is one thing to live in a world filled with messages from the media, advertisers, maybe a few so-called friends that you are not enough. It is a horse of a different color to live in a world where the person that is supposed to love you and that you love in return, also fills you to the brim with not enough. Imagine for a moment that your loved one told you that:

  • Because you are a woman, you are not good enough to be more than his servant.
  • You are not a good enough mother to your kids, and if you left, he would surely take them away.
  • He only treats you the way he does because, if you were thinner, he might love you again.
  • Your family and friends can’t come to your home because you are a slob and not clean enough.
  • Said all of the above and then used threats of or committed actual violence, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and limited your financial access.

The fact is that every instance of IPV is different, yet strikingly the same. It is set up to manipulate and control the victim. It is never as simple as leaving, especially since we know the threats and likelihood of lethality increase when a woman leaves.

I read the first chapter of Daring Greatly, and instantly thought about the women I have known that lived with abuse. If we fight to end the “not enough” messages that women encounter daily, then that means fighting to end IPV, and helping women survive abuse and its aftermath.

Posted originally here, republished with author’s permission and edited for clarity.


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