Tag Archives: battered women

Obama, the Battered Woman

After watching a few videos of Obama speaking about ISIS/ISIL and their unthinkable acts; it finally struck me. Obama is acting like a battered woman. (Or battered man, as the case may be when it comes to domestic violence.) We most often think in terms of battered women so, and in honor of Obama’s mom jeans, that’s the term I selected.

After graduating from law school, prior to my decision to get the hell out of the profession as a full time job, I strongly considered working as an attorney for groups providing services for battered women. One of the organizations put me through several interviews. For the final interview, I was to meet with the person who ran the program. As I entered her office, she greeted me and told me she had heard great things about me from my previous interviews with her staff. After a while, I figured the job was a done deal. Then, she asked me one more question.

Now, I don’t remember the specific words she used so I can’t give an exact quote; however, I can give you a version of the question that is very close to the original. Here’s what she said to me: “Imagine you are working with a women who has been the victim of domestic abuse several times. You have assisted her in obtaining a PFA order and she is now living in a secure shelter with her two kids. Several times, her injuries were so bad, she was in the ICU for several days. Every time she was injured, she returned home to her abuser. Except for the last time. She is now safe at a location where her abuser can not find her. Her children are safe and are comfortable in their temporary home where they play with other children of abuse victims. The organization has helped the woman get a job and she is saving her money to move into an apartment on her own.”

The question isn’t finished, but as she’s talking I’m listening intently and nodding my understanding. I’m waiting patiently for the actual question. Here’s the actual question she finally poses: “The woman calls you, after all of the help you have provided, and tells you she wants to return to her abuser. What do you do?”

My independent, individual-responsibility, make smart decisions, don’t be a fool mind knew just what I’d do. My answer was that I’d ask her why she wanted to return and then try to give her reasons as to why she might want to change her mind. I didn’t get the job. The woman stopped me right there and told me my answer was unacceptable. The correct answer was to give her 100% support for her decision to return. My jaw dropped. I asked for an explanation as to why. Her response was, it was more important to keep the woman’s trust by providing non-judgmental, 100% support for her decision than to try to save her life.

The woman then went on to explain that these women are so damaged, they can’t see their abuser for what they are. They think their abusers love them. They think things will be different this time. They think their abuser’s actions are because of something they (the victim) did wrong. They blame themselves for their abuser’s actions. In other words, they can’t think rationally. They can’t begin to fathom that something might actually be wrong with their abuser. They don’t see how people find fault with what their abusers do.

That’s not to say every victim of domestic abuse thinks that way, but my interviewer said it was seen often enough to be the default assumption on their part.  The woman made her point and I respected it.  She had more experience than I did; but, I still couldn’t see it her way.  I could completely understand how repeated abuse could change a person and how they perceive their world and create their own reality.  It was one of the reasons I wanted to help women regain their independence.  However, it still didn’t change my mind about how I’d respond. Obviously, it wasn’t the job for me.  I couldn’t, in good conscience, encourage a woman to return to that environment and take her children with her.

The more I think about it, the more I think Obama is acting like one of those victims of abuse.  He can’t see ISIS for what they are.  He thinks ISIS loves him. He thinks ISIS will act differently this time.  He thinks ISIS’s actions are because of something the USA did wrong.  Obama blames us for how ISIS is acting. He can’t think rationally. He can’t appreciate that the problem is with ISIS.  Not with us.

One thing you see with many abuse victims is how they blame themselves and their imperfections for the actions of their abuser.  The victim rationalizes things.   The victim makes excuses for their abuser.  The victim grow to believe their own imperfections are the reason for the abuse.  But just as with abuse victims, even if we Americans aren’t perfect, that’s no excuse for ISIS to do the things it does.