I’m not a fan of masks. It’s not a political thing. I just don’t like it when I cannot properly see the person I’m dealing with. I’m not getting the full picture. Who is that behind the mask?
I’m not talking about you behind the COVID-19 mask, or Alice Cooper, or Batman, or you on Halloween. I’m talking about the guy who married your daughter, or neighbor, or co-worker, or friend, or you. You know him, the one who wears-well the mask of the respectful, supportive, independent, responsible, generous, great husband, kind, caring, romantic, passionate, protector. The one who professes undying love for his beloved. The one who wears this mask everywhere, except at home. Maybe it’s you?
At home, the place that is supposed to be a retreat from the dangers of the world, the mask is off. Now we have a bully who threatens and argues and insults and demoralizes that love of his life. He limits her movements, controls her money, interrogates her every choice, scares off her friends, intimidates her with his turn on turn off anger, abuses her children (after all they remind him of the other men she has loved), and blames her for every wrong she has forced him to do to her. If only she were smarter, better behaved, more responsible, more obedient, more agreeable. If only she understood his superiority and didn’t challenge it, he wouldn’t have to punish her and destroy her things. His love and protection is only possessiveness and jealousy.
What a horrible, horrible way to live. Many hundreds of families are so afflicted in Okeechobee. Martha’s House served members of over 300 of these families last year. There are many more who haven’t reached out, mostly women and their beautiful children. Children who mostly have to stand by helplessly watching as dad or stepdad or new boyfriend treat mom like she is not quite as human as he is. And they know that means he thinks of them the same way. Possessions, tools, toys, annoyances, pawns in a manipulation game.
The lifelong injury caused by domestic violence is real. It is real trauma, real emotional and psychological injury, real physical harm. It is purposeful, chosen, one sided behavior.
It’s no masquerade party at home, but it often is in public. In our civilized world domestic violence is inexcusable and should not be tolerated. This is a mask that needs to be removed, and the wearer held accountable. Make a pledge with yourself not to excuse it when you know it is happening. If you need help or know someone who does, please call Martha’s House domestic violence victims’ center and speak with our trained advocates. 863-763-2893, or 863-763-0202. 24hrs, 7 days.