Friday, December 29, 2006

Do we really put women and children first?

Rev. Dr. Sharon Ellis Davis has written a powerful reflection on how much we need to become more aware of violence to women and children. She says:
The culture we live in has a rhetoric of women and children first. However, I began to seriously reflect on the persistent violence against women and children--rape, incest, emotional and physical abuse, unfair economic wages, and lack of health care for single, female-headed families. I was forced to ask the question, "Are we truly living in a culture that values women and children? Are our morals and values producing legislation, attitudes, and people who care enough about women and children to ensure they have equal treatment and protection under the law?" In other words, "Does our culture have a walk that equals our talk?"
Later she adds:
So, as I continue to reflect on our culture and its "women and children first" culture, I submit that we cannot begin to put women and children first until we become sensitized to women and children--their needs, special circumstances, and their value. I submit that we cannot put "women and children first" until we open our eyes and see women and children, recognizing them as valued contributors to the survival of our society. Like the male pastoral leader in my workshop who was able to admit his lack of awareness of violence against women, we have to get off automatic and open our eyes and see. Only then will our walk equal our talk. Then women and children will not simply be first in rhetoric, but truly included with the humanity of all people.
I agree.

Friday, December 15, 2006

the nightmare in the daytime

This morning I received an email message from a public health nurse who is trying to get medical and other needed help for my elderly parents. In the message she said she was required to report abuse, which my father still gives my mother, to the state authorities. I was stunned and yet realized she was right. And I felt like the nightmares I have been having was now taking place in the daytime. I was being presented an opportunity to help my mother get some relief from abuse. And yet I struggled, because I don't want to hurt either of my parents. They are old. They don't have very many more years to live. They love each other. Dad truly loves Mom, while also getting angry at her and expressing it now through verbal abuse, unlike when I was younger when it was also physical abuse.

I began crying, then sobbing, big sobs, for a long time. It felt like a lifetime of others not knowing finally coming out into the light. Of course, I've been sharing some on this blog, but that doesn't help my mother. Finally, someone who can help is stepping in to help.

It is scary. I don't want others in my big extended family to blame me for turning in my own father and upsetting the "family system." I don't want family members angry at me. I don't want my father angry at me. I don't want him to commit suicide from shame.

It is easier just to keep silent. That's one of the rules for dysfunctional, abusive family situation. But I had to tell the truth. I didn't realize it might result in an investigation from Adult Protective Services for abuse and possible elderly neglect. But if Mom can be helped, and maybe Dad, too, if somehow he can cooperate and understand what he is doing wrong, it is the right thing to do.

I hope there are people out there reading this who understand what I'm saying and can empathize. I need to be understood today.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

the nightmare again

Last night I had the nightmare again. Same basic plot, same struggle. First, some background: I just returned home from spending nearly a week with my elderly parents. I helped Dad celebrate his birthday. He is not far from 90. It was important that I spend that time with my parents. My mother's dementia is worsening but she still recognizes people and she can still think fairly clearly on many topics. Her memory is heavily affected. My father takes care of my mother in their own home. He continues to verbally abuse her. He understands that she has memory problems, but he still bawls her out for forgetting things. It was painful for me to listen. Several times I reminded Dad that Mom couldn't remember things because, well, she couldn't remember things. He said he understood, but continued to bawl her out. We did make some progress. I took my parents to a bank where they signed and had notarized forms for power of attorney and living wills. I've been trying to get them to do this for several years.

OK, in my nightmare last night I struggled with whether or not to call 911 to get help for my mother as Dad was abusing her. It might seem to some that there is such a simple answer but there isn't. If I call 911 and the authorities get involved they could remove Mom from their home. Dad could easily feel so shamed that he would commit suicide. Mom doesn't want to leave Dad. She and Dad both want to continue staying in their own home as long as they can (even though those who observe them recognize that they are not getting as good care as they need, but Dad is very stubborn about accepting such care).

Apparently I tried to speak out, calling for help or something, in my dream. I asked my wife about it this morning and she said she I had made some kinds of disturbed sounds.