TRIGGER WARNING: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE REFERENCES
We live in a world where girls and women are still not safe—especially in their homes. Indeed, Tracy Chapman’s famous song, Behind The Wall, tells an all too familiar narrative of what happens when neighbors are long-term witnesses to domestic violence. True, the neighbors in Tracy’s song, like everywhere else this type of witnessing happens, didn’t “see” hands and feet connecting mercilessly to assault. The neighbors in the song never saw the violence unfold; but, what they heard through thin walls sometimes resulted in police presence, eventually required an ambulance, and by the somber end of the song, we can assume that that night was the last night anyone heard the screaming behind those walls, because the woman who was screaming, was now dead.
I had a neighbor whose spouse beat her routinely—brutally. In fact, I was so distraught about it that I would leave my apartment for fear that they would come crashing into my space. The noises were epic and impossible to reconcile. He was in the Army. Built like a muscled cyborg and she was a diminutive woman, civilian, and an immigrant. One day, my neighbor stopped and formally introduced herself to me. As we were doing the small talk shuffle, I realized that my neighbor was nearly apologetic for “the noises” that I may have heard. That day, Mrs. Williams had a black eye and explained it away as an accident in the kitchen, a cupboard door was the culprit.
We parted as the polite exchange quietly threatened to shift toward all things “off-limits.” At this stage in my life I can reflect back and only now can I recognize that not only did I not have the skills necessary to fill the awkward space with more chatting, but that it was mostly because the words that I wanted to say were locked in my throat. My throat was locked but I wanted to say, “Neighbor, your husband is in the military, just like me. As such, the violence that you are experiencing is something that can be reported to his chain of command. His commander can order him to stay on post and/or he can be ‘ordered’ to anger management therapy—and so much more. Bottom line, Mrs. Williams, you do not have to suffer like this.” Yet, instead, I said something banal and fitting with the American mind-your-business model. I ended up saying something like, “Well, it was very nice to officially meet you, Mrs. Williams! Maybe we can chat some more later this week or next?”
I recall us exchanging the see-you-soon-smiles that are only complete with the scrunchy eyes, and then we both disappeared into our apartments. The next time we talked was over a dinner we prepared together in her home. Her husband was out of town on a three-month deployment. In that time, when we grew to be friends, I shared the information I knew about physical abuse and how to deal with it as a military wife.
Within a month of old boy returning from deployment, the noises next door went from fucking to fighting, to beatings. A week later, he was moving out of the apartment to a room on post; my neighbor had called her husband’s commander and told him about the frequency and intensity of domestic violence she has endured and that I had informed her of her rights to bring the matter to the military leadership.
Though we fell out of touch because—that’s life, we’ve connected irregularly over time because—that’s internet. I know they stayed married for many years but eventually divorced. My only questions are (1) what if I never said shit to my neighbor? (2) What if I acted like what I was hearing next door wasn’t my business? (3) What if the Abuser never moved on post and got the help and support he needed to be a better person? First and foremost for himself and then, as a natural consequence, for his partner and later on their daughter?
So, the reason there is so much hate in the world for the woman-first empowered “FUCK OFF” vibe is because when women are the CEO of their own sexy, as Sociologist Kathyrn Buford, PhD once described it, they send a cancel culture signal to the heteronormative vibe. It’s a vibe that says women should be seen and not heard. Much like children were traditionally handled.
But, that shit isn’t working anymore.
#WETASSPUSSY #EATSOME #BEHUMBLE #ItsMyPussyFOH