Only women bleed

If you were around in the 1970s, the name Alice Cooper conjures up a mental image of a hard rock star, who was one of the first performance artists. Yet, he also wrote and performed numerous hit songs. One of his more out of character songs is a poignant and troubling tribute to women who live a life they did not envision called “Only Women Bleed” which he wrote with Dick Wagner. Below are most of the lyrics, being shortened where he repeats the chorus.

Man’s got his woman to take his seed
He’s got the power – oh
She’s got the need
She spends her life through pleasing up her man
She feeds him dinner or anything she can

She cries alone at night too often
He smokes and drinks and don’t come home at all
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed

Man makes your hair gray
He’s your life’s mistake
All you’re really lookin’ for is an even break

He lies right at you
You know you hate this game
He slaps you once in a while and you live and love in pain

She cries alone at night too often
He smokes and drinks and don’t come home at all
Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed (repeat)

Black eyes all of the time
Don’t spend a dime
Clean up this grime
And you there down on your knees begging me please come
Watch me bleed

Only women bleed
Only women bleed
Only women bleed (repeat)

I write this song today as the suspension of Ray Rice, the football player who decked his then fiancé and now wife, was overturned yesterday. I have written before that domestic violence happens far too often in our country (and world) and we look the other way. It starts as a control issue, where the man (almost always) exerts undue power and influence over his significant other. Eventually, it can lead to violence. And, it is not unusual for the woman to hide it from others, as she is ashamed. There is also an esteem issue, where victimized women feel they deserve this maltreatment.

The song’s lyrics speak to the lack of self-esteem. Women will continue in such a relationship, even when they end up bleeding or beaten black and blue. If you are in such a relationship, please get out now, especially if you have children. If you know or sense a friend or family member is in such a relationship, provide a voice and suggest where she can get help. He will not change. He will say he will, but he will not. He will eventually put you or your children in the hospital and could kill you. Please get out now, as that is the only antidote.

The agency I volunteer with for homeless families gets about 30% of its single female parent families as a result of domestic violence. They are referred to us from a domestic violence shelter for families. There are places that can help. I have shared the story of a friend who along with his siblings had no idea their brother-in-law was beating their sister until he killed her. He also beat the children. I have not shared that I had a neighbor who knocked on our door one night with her daughter, getting away from her husband who had beaten her for the last time.

Women, you deserve better than to be maltreated like this. Your children deserve better than to be maltreated like this. Get out. Get some help. And, if I have not convinced you, re-read Cooper and Wagner’s lyrics above. Only women bleed.

Domestic violence is nothing to play around with

The Ray Rice story is making the rounds the past twenty-four hours with his release from the Baltimore Ravens after a video showing him punching out his wife and then dragging her from an elevator. The National Football League denies having seen the video before, but now that it is in the public domain, moved quickly to suspend him. Rice’s wife Janay has blamed the media for causing her husband’s demise, which is unfortunate, but not unusual for the domestic violence victim to make excuses for her perpetrator. It is also not uncommon for the victim to blame themselves, because the perpetrator has told them such in an exercise to control. I feel for her and wish her friends will give her advice that I note below.

The sad truth is domestic violence is more than just the violent acts. It is one person controlling or dictating his power on another weaker person who lacks self-esteem. The violence tends to manifest itself at some point, but often it is demeaning put downs that are part and parcel with the equation. The victim’s esteem is so low, she blames herself and makes excuses for her perpetrator. If there are children around, they will normally be included in the violence. And, children who have experienced domestic violence will be prone to be involved in domestic violence as an adult, as a perpetrator or victim.

The other sad truth is the perpetrator will not be prone to change. He may say he will, but he will invariably fall back on bad habits. He may say he is sorry and he loves you, but that will be an echoing refrain each time. He is truly a powder keg waiting to explode. And, he will again and again. So, if you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, get out or help them get out. He will not change.

Rather than cite statistics, let me repeat a story I have told before about a friend. He came from a big Catholic family of several brothers and sisters. None of the siblings including my friend had any idea one of their sisters was being beaten by her husband. None of them had any idea that the outings she missed were due to her wanting to save face for her family and hide her cuts, bruises and broken bones. None of them knew until one day the husband killed their sister. What they found out later is he also beat his children, often taking the boys and banging their heads into the ceiling when they misbehaved in his eyes.

I feel greatly for Janay Rice, but someone needs to tell her to get out. And, to repeat what I said before, if you are in such a relationship, get out. If you know someone is such a relationship, help them get out.

Two excellent posts about this issue can be found with the following links. The first is by Hugh Curtler on the NFL’s possible cover up of the issue. The other by Diatribes and Ovations on an open letter to Janay Rice.



Violence Against Women – We cannot tolerate this anymore

After being sufficiently chastised, Congress finally acted and passed the refined Violence Against Women Act. You would think that passing an act against violence would be as close to a no brainer as possible, but when describing Congress these days, “brainy” is not an oft-used term. The hold up had been adding clauses to protect LGBT and Native American victims, to give them recourse against violent attackers. I think the shaming of Congress finally got the Speaker of the House to act and enough GOP votes when added to the Democratic minority votes got it passed. This is at least three votes where the majority party did not support something, but enough more reasonable GOP heads helped a needed law prevail. This is a story in and of itself.

Yet, now that the VAWA has passed, I want to reiterate messages from earlier posts, that we have to have a seriousness of purpose to stopping domestic violence. It is a severe crime perpetuated on family members or close friends. The studies show at its heart, the perpetrator is exhibiting power or control over his victims. It is done over time through word and deed and in a way that makes the victims somehow think it is their fault. To this point, one of the most disturbing stories I have heard is when an African-American female friend told me she went to her minister for counseling because her husband was beating her. She reluctantly agreed to a joint counseling session with her husband and minister. Her minister told her if she would be a better wife, this would not be happening. I put this in bold and italics for emphasis. No, no, no. This man was beating her and committing a vicious crime, reverend. It is not her fault. It is not your fault, if this is happening to you.

If you are in a situation where you are being beaten by your husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, father, etc., find a way to get out. He (or she) will not change. It is not your fault. It is his. No matter what you do, you cannot please the person, so get out. If you know of someone who is in this situation help them get out. Many times, you don’t know, as the victim is often so humiliated that they do not want others to know. If you suspect something, do something before it is too late. Get her away from this criminal.

I have mentioned before that I volunteer with an agency that helps homeless families. The average view of these families are a female head of household, with two or three kids. Some of these families come from a domestic violence situation and need to escape from the father or significant other. I mention the families, as kids are victims, as well. Usually, if action is taken, it is because the kids are being beaten. But, the harm goes deeper than the physical and immediate mental trauma. Studies show that boys who witness domestic violence, even on themselves, have a higher propensity than others to commit domestic violence as an adult. You would think the opposite would be true, but they see this as normative behavior and will act out on it.

The girls also are impacted, as the same study shows the girls have a higher propensity than others to enter a relationship and accept domestic violence. Again, you would think it is the opposite. I don’t know if it is a crushed self-esteem or if it is being attracted to the same kind of person who exhibits the traits of the perpetrator who may be her father. Often, the future abusers, dress up nicely during courting their future mate or girlfriend. Yet, if you see anything in your new beau that gives you pause, talk with a friend. As this may be the glimpse of the future you need to avoid.

I have heard many terrible stories. but let me close with one that is telling. A business colleague who now is Board Chair of a group that helps domestic violence and rape victims, told me this about his sister. His sister had many siblings coming from a big Catholic family. She was married with two kids. All of the siblings had no idea that her husband and their brother-in-law was beating her and the kids. She hid it from them, by missing an occasional family outing or explaining away an obvious injury. They did not know until her husband beat her to death. They also found out later from the boys, now teenagers, that their father used to lift them up and beat their heads into the ceiling.

Ladies and girls, it is not your fault. This is not right. If you in a controlling relationship and sense something is wrong, talk with someone – a trusted friend, a parent, a counselor. If the violence has started, get out now. Leave. He will not change. He will tell you he will change and he may believe it, but he won’t. Get out now. It is not your fault. It is his.