Politics of ‘Tainted Love’
There is a line from the film, Frozen, that says, “the cold never bothered me anyway.” I guess that the idea is it’s just ice. Many, when faced with the cold, harsh realities of life, even on our Paradise islands, may indirectly claim the same, “the cold never bothered me anyway”. Possibly, we could accept that at face value, if it wasn’t for the cold reality of bruised faces, often seen or covered up after having been battered by someone who claimed to love you.
Words are just that, words. In psychology, we call it explicit motives. In everyday language, we hear it as “but I love you girl” or “I love that man so much”. Yet, what psychology would want to whisper to those who would hear is that it’s proven that we behave not according to the explicit but the implicit motives; how we feel inside, our internal thoughts. Unfortunately, many of our men (and some ladies too) who went on claiming the cold did not bother them, have had their feelings and abilities to empathize with the pain they might have caused or be causing to their partner to become frozen as ice. On the inside is almost just ice.
Just Ice and Vigilante Justice
When life shows us at an early age that there is no real justice, and the treatment we received was not right or fair, possibly because mommy and daddy separated, and mommy took it out on us, or daddy was violent and someone had to be the protector or an adult did the unmentionable, which would never be mentioned, especially because it ‘never’ happens to boys. When these things happen, we learn as children to become the judge, and jury to anyone who disrupts our ‘kingdom’ that we, now being bigger, have the power to control. This is exactly too what research has found over and over; that domestic violence is rooted in the use of force and coercion to control our partner.
Often the idea of the abuser, who is ruling their domestic ‘kingdom’ or household with force, thinks that generally other people are mad, bad, wrong, or pose a threat of some sort
If we pause for one moment— it does not even have to be long—who are the persons we could almost hear talking like this?
Sadly, the women or men who find themselves in abusive relationships, hear the spoken and unspoken words of the man or woman for whom the pain of the past was ‘just ice’. This caring creates more hurt and they think that by sharing their emotions with their partner they can motivate him or her to feel more love.
Unfortunately, this ice inside is like the Antarctic that is resistant to global warming. Instead what happens is the warm partners find themselves burnt by the warmth of their own love, as their partner often punishes them for whatever they did to cause him or her frustration. Do remember that abusive partners tend to feel justified since the thinking is often that it’s a cold, cold world, where its “do them before they do you” and “never let ‘love’ cause you pain”. Ironically, the abuser acts to ensure their partner’s behaviours always brings pleasure to them and not pain, by imposing pain upon their partners. For example, the thought of their partner causing them emotional pain by rejecting their abusive behaviour and leaving leads many abusers to safeguard against that potential pain by physically punishing their partners.
Consequently, we have the vicious cycle of intimate partner violence. Not complicated!
Who votes next? It matters!
According to the United Nations Women Caribbean, one in three women in the Caribbean will experience domestic violence. While all of the English-speaking countries have enacted domestic violence legislation, there continue to be the everyday incidents of hurt, harm, and loss of life.
Caribbean governments using research and the power to legislate can make the necessary changes over time. However, while that is taking place, the politics of ‘tainted love’ continues.
The politics of ‘tainted love’ comes from the abuser using physical force and taking matters into his or her own hands, literally, to correct, coerce, punish and direct their partner’s behavior. Often such politics, with its vigilante justice, has absolutely no regard for outside interference. This is what many Caribbean governments might need to appreciate and legislate accordingly to reduce the ongoing incidents of murder-suicide. Remember “the cold never bothered” the abuser, and it is not going to become a bother now. So, it remains a matter of getting the abuser in a position where the cold can thaw just enough or long enough to protect their partners who are being burnt up by the warmth of their emotions for their abusive spouse. Sometimes too, if fortune favors there might be such a thawing of the ice within, taking place that the cold becomes a bother and then, there is some openness for the abusive spouse or partner to experience a whole new World.
Too often the abusee puts their vote of confidence in being able to change their abusive partner. The person being abused usually imagines that they might influence their abuser’s behaviour with tears, pleadings, obedience, ‘good conduct’, sexual favours, cooking special meals. Generally, the abusee is confident that better pleasing their partner would significantly reduce the abuse.
Where the real power lies in dealing with domestic violence before it happens is by combating and fighting the factors that create the cold within.
The real power is in creating warm environments for our little children to feel safe and free from harm so that they can grow with warmth within and have homes of their own where their partners and children are also free from harm. This is a cycle to work towards—to stop domestic violence in the Caribbean.
In the Meantime
In the meantime, if you or someone you know might be dealing with abuse, here are some things to help become more open to understanding that change comes from within. Also, even if a partner has agreed to change it will take some time.
For those who might be growing tired of the cold and really wanting to change, know that better is possible.
We can only give the warmth of love from the warmth of love we feel within.
By Kerriann Toby
Kerriann Toby is a dynamic therapist currently pursuing her Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD). She is a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and has trained as a cybercounsellor. Her areas of experience, expertise, and interest include child development, sexual and reproductive health, gender-related matters, marriage and family life and promoting the idea of positive psychology, using strengths to support mental health and wellbeing.
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