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February 28, 2013 / Man in the Mirror

Name the Abuser?

In the society I belong to, no one has ever asked me to stay quiet about it but I have always known that it is taboo. Women never talk about abuse that happens to them; victims of abuse, violence and rape stay silent for the ‘betterment’ of society. It’s just not done.

Although people have graciously informed me and my family of all the details, fiction and non-fiction, that my abuser and his family were spreading in the community, we still decided to remain silent within the public realm.
I had an interesting conversation with my roommate last night. In my line of work, many survivors identity themselves to provide assurance and credibility to their work in preventing abuse to women and children. I have always remained silent about my personal experiences and have carried out my work professionally. However, I did confess to a close friend that I felt like a hypocrite not to reveal myself as if it were something wrong and I was ashamed of what happened to me. Yet, here I am devoting my time and efforts towards preventing abuse against women. Last year, I had written a post, inspired by the movie ‘Soraya M.’, and in it I gave some examples of my experiences. I still hesitated to post my writing online where my friends, family and acquaintances would read it. Most of them either know, have guessed or have heard rumours but no one has had it affirmed by me. But it finally went up two days ago…fingers crossed to everyone’s reactions.
Another thought occurred to me that many who know me and the abuser may think that I am trying to identify or point fingers at them, which is far from my goal. Instead, I want to spread stories of not only my abuse but other women’s experiences to create awareness.
This brought up another idea that I had read a while ago. Why is that we identify rapists, extortionists, embezzlers and violent criminals yet when it comes to abuse; society hushes up the situation and the name of the abuser is not released? I don’t support a situation akin to the Salem witch trials. Everyone is entitled to their privacy and we all make mistakes and try to change our ways. Shaming someone in public may deter them from ever changing their lives for the good. However, if a person is a serial abuser, how does one prevent him/ her affecting future victims?  Does a first-time abuser get a chance to attend workshops and counselling sessions to change their ways? Should there be a numerical limit? If an abuser affects two people, then are their names are released? This may deter the abuser from carrying on without fear of public humiliation on them and their family.
However, for those abusers who hold higher positions in society, it is very dangerous for the survivors because such abusers can continue to hold power over them or their families even if the victim leaves the abuser. It is in these situations where it is important for abusers to be identified and to prevent them from using their privileges to their advantages.
I have met abusers who grew up with similar abuse in their childhood and didn’t realize what they were doing was wrong. Most of these people want to get help or change their ways but the behaviour is so ingrained that it is a struggle. 
This problem is very complex and there is no easy answer.

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