By April Sweazy
In response to the Obama Administration’s decision to have insurance companies cover the costs of counseling for battered women, (and other benefits), Fox News contributor Sandy Rios made the following statement:
“Is the White House out of their mind? Does the West Wing not know what the left wing is doing? We’re $14 trillion in debt and now we’re going to cover birth control, breast pumps, counseling for abuse? Are we going to do pedicures and manicures as well?” (Read more here and here.)
This pisses me off! Pedicures and manicures? How can you POSSIBLY compare traumatic healing work to a spa treatment?
As someone who is actively doing healing work of my own, I can’t even wrap my head around how anyone could make such a comparison. And to even suggest that a person doesn’t deserve to get help, or that it’s her fault in the first place…. I don’t even know what to say.
I have flames coming out of my ears over this!
These women need love and support and safety to break through the walls that have been put there, not only by themselves in order to survive, but also by the threats and lies of their abusers. And some of these women get into these situations repeatedly because it’s all they’ve ever known. A violent hand is a violent hand whether you’re 5 or 50, and the cycle simply repeats until their survival mechanisms tell them to flee or be killed.
I am fortunate in that I am able to fund my own healing work. But what if I couldn’t? What if I made pennies a week and ate SpaghettiO’s out of a can every night while sleeping on the floor in some hole-in-the-wall apartment in a neighborhood where I heard gunshots every night, because that was all that I could afford after leaving my sack of crap abusive husband/partner/whoever? Does that mean that I wouldn’t deserve to heal? Does my worthiness of a fearless life and a safe awakening depend on how much money I make?
This person obviously doesn’t understand what it’s like to be afraid, to shake at night because you accidentally burned dinner and he’s going to be home in five minutes and you still haven’t healed from the other day when you forgot to wash his favorite golf shirt. Or one of the kids accidentally spilled juice on the new carpet and here he comes down the hall and unless you sit on top of that spot forever he’s going to see it and knock you unconscious with whatever is in reach. Or you accidentally spoke out of turn with the guy you’ve been seeing for a few months and even though you want to leave you can’t because you’re afraid he’s going to kill you if you do.
People who don’t know what it’s like to be afraid shouldn’t make judgments.
I have spent a great deal of time protecting people, these very people, in fact, who don’t know how to protect themselves. I have seen the fear firsthand. I have seen what it does to these women. Until you have sat and held the hand of a woman who is covered in bruises and afraid to go home, who would rather spend the night in a cold and lonely shelter, don’t tell me that she doesn’t deserve whatever help someone is willing to give her, and certainly don’t insult me and these women by comparing trauma healing to manicures.
Most of these women aren’t looking for handouts and don’t want to be perceived as victims.
What they want is to feel safe and to be able to stand tall and proud, knowing that one day they’ll be able to say, “I did this, I overcame this, and now I can help somebody else.” And yes they may humbly take the help that is offered because it’s the only way, but I guarantee you these women will find a way to pay it forward somewhere down the line.
Consider the silent housewife. . .
You know her, the one who got married straight out of high school and who showed up on a friend’s doorstep with nowhere to go and no work experience and no life experience because she’s been a prisoner in her own house for 15 years and has three little mouths to feed and priorities piling up that don’t include how she’s going to pay for the therapy she desperately needs to undo all the horror she’s seen so she can sleep through the night without waking up screaming or crying or both? Tell me she doesn’t deserve a little help.
These women have somehow managed to come out of horrible situations where they’re beaten and left empty shells of who they once were and now someone wants to complain that if we’re going to give out counseling to these women we may as well give out manicures as well? Like they haven’t been insulted enough?
If I had my way I’d drag this Fox News contributor straight down to a battered women’s shelter and have her listen to these women’s stories. I’d make her look in their fear-filled eyes that are searching intently to determine if you’re safe. I’d make her watch every time one of these women jumps at an unexpected noise and then apologizes and starts to cry because she feels shame for what somewhat else did to her.
Don’t tell me these women don’t deserve to heal. They are survivors, every one of them, and they deserve our respect. There is a strength that comes from being a survivor. These women aren’t weak like some may think, they are strong beyond measure.
Sometimes a person just needs a hand reaching through the darkness to hold onto until they can stand on their own. And there is NOTHING wrong with that.
If you are one of those women who needs to heal, you can do this, I believe in you. And if you are one of the women who has healed and come through the other side, help somebody else, today.
With love and compassion for all these strong women,
April Sweazy is a kick-ass writer from Rochester, NY and is currently working on her first novel.