Friday, November 12, 2004

Portrait of an enslaved woman

Portrait of an enslaved woman

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, November 12, 2004 12:00 AM

Part 1 of 2 parts

I sat with an attractive woman who had led a chaotic life. Intelligent and coming from the privileged class, she was educated in the best schools. Her family gave her a host of opportunities to better herself, but instead she chose to follow another route, the road to self-destruction.

Separated and deep into drugs, she led a dissolute life. She had wandered through life bouncing off one man and into the arms of another, then another until she hardly knew where she was and what was happening. As we reviewed her life, she wept and said in a soft voice, “I’ve been a slave and a loser all my life.”

She was telling the truth that she had learned late. “All the while I felt I was in command of my life, but I wasn’t. I was totally out of control. Others controlled me at every turn. I was truly a slave to them.”

She is not alone. So many persons are enslaved and don’t know it. Dominated and controlled by others, they live a miserable life of subjugation. They don’t truly have a life of their own even if they believe they do. They are deprived of their rights as individuals even if they think they are exercising these rights.

Slaves have no rights. Nowadays we don’t like to refer to people in our society as slaves because we all like to believe we are free men and free women. We are in the civil sense. We do have our rights, but I am not referring to that kind of freedom.

When a woman is trapped in a relationship where she is completely dominated by a man, then, that is not freedom. She has become a slave to that man. But, you may say she can get out if she so desires. Perhaps, but if that were so, then why does she remain and take all the abuse? Why not break out if she can? The truth is that countless women are caught in just such circumstances and they remain despite the pleadings of family and friends.

Some stay out of fear. But then, so do slaves remain captive of their masters because they fear retribution.

Still others refuse to leave an abusive relationship because they have become accustomed to being dominated. They are so used to being told what to do and when to do it that they fear leaving their slavery and face the world as free women.

You see these unhappy women caught up in the battered woman syndrome. My own sister was one of them. Beaten and maltreated by an alcoholic physician, she was a virtual slave who was completely dominated by his brutal ways. He wounded her physically, emotionally, psychologically and sexually. She felt so trapped that she even feared to tell us about the nightmare she was living every day. And since she lived a thousand miles away, we never had a clue as to what was happening.

The irony of it all is that she, like the other slaves, never saw herself as a slave. She believed herself to be a loyal and faithful, suffering wife. She was, in effect, an unfortunate slave to an insensitive beast of a man.

More tomorrow.


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