To The Fathers Of Sons

This article is written in herteronormative terms. I am aware there are incidents of domestic violence/dating violence in the LGBTQIA community as well. The visibility of domestic violce/dating violence needs to change and change immediately.  With the reash of murders of women by former lovers and spouses, I feel it is imperative to speak out and be that ‘soft light’ Michelle Obama alludes to in her book Becoming. Here is a portion of that soft light. -JBHarris, Lead Admin, The Ideal Firestarter

I am a survivor of domestic violence.

I have been thrown against walls. I have been choked to the point I almost passed out. I have been stalked. My life have been threatened on a daily basis by someone that looked me in my face and told me he loved me.

I understand, it is only for the grace of God that I am not dead. It took me years to get over, work through, the pain of having accepted such treatment by someone that hit me by the same hands he held me.

This lead me to believe two things.

One:  We expect women to ‘fix’ and endure situations that are painful, toxic or devaluing; we make women martyrs when they don’t need to be.

Two:  This current society does not prepare young men, little boys, for relationships. We expect them to dominate, protect and subdue.  There is no room for emotional growth or tutelage because it is seen aas making a boy feminine or soft.

I understand that to be a man–especially in a culture that prizes physical prowess, financial achievement and satyr sex drives–it is foreign to believe to teach a young man to emote and value the life of a woman. Yet, just like you teach a young man to shave, you must teach him there are feelings beyond sex, hunger, thirst and anger.

Rage and lashing out should not be a failsafe to someone you love. You getting angry and taking all help and resources from someone you say you love is still abusive.  You ‘losing it’ for no reason, when the situation can be talked out is a problem.

It is not the job of your wife, girlfriend or long-term partner to fix you! You cannot ask another adult to endure something that is painful, toxic and otherwise unhealthy!

To those of you whom are fathers to sons, I want you t to look at your son. Your son whom someday may find my daughter or someone else’s daughter.

As he is now, do you think that he would be a suitable husband or boyfriend or even a friend to a daughter?

If you don’t want your son to be the embodiement of a open wound walking through the world, you as his father need to make sure that he is emotionally ready to face the world.

To be ready for disappointment and letting it be okay for him to cry, to be broken, and not be seen as anything but your son. You need to remind yourself that he is a entire person–with dreams, doubts, fears and yes, even tears. You, as the stable man, in his life need to tell him, show him that a woman is a gift. Show him relationships take work, communication and reciprocity.

A woman is a vessel of honor.

Never a bitch.

Never a whore.

Never less than because she decided to end a relationship.

Teach them how to respect the word “No.” without explanation. Never someone to be considered second or last. He needs to recognize the power of influence, that manhood is beyond the antics his penis can do!

Fathers, you need to tell your sons the world, their wives, their kids, their girlfriends need them to be better. We have to give young men space to be all they are supposed to be. It cannot be as it is! This cannot stand!

The one thing I need the young men to know whom will read this is, emotional abuse leaves deeper scars than any black eye.

Worse than any bruise.

Than any cut or stitched-up wound.

Men, I need you to yoke up your sons.

Your little brothers.

Your cousins.

Your friends.

I need you all to look at what is going on in their world. What is happening? Is everything okay? Do you know the signs of an abusive relationship or a battered woman?

I need you to understand that toxic masculinity is the fodder to incidents of abuse. It breeds a perverse entitlement. This need that men whom don’t recognize this entitlement is devastating; they don’t realize how detrimental all this is to the relationship they say they want or are trying to build.

They see the protests of their partners as an insult to their manhoods; affont to their pride. That’s not a relationship. That requires you to get therapy! Screaming or lashing out at your spouse is not a proper outlet. It leaves no room for healthy growth and this must change.

Sex does not fix abusive situations!

There is never an appropriate time when a woman you are with should fear you coming home or being in her intimate space.

There is nothing appropriate about the women you marry, commit to, being fearful to leave her children in your care.

That is toxic. You cannot expect a women to stay in touch his sort of situation while you ‘figure stuff out.’ You cannot hold a relationship hostage, that is a waste of everyone’s time!

I get that life is hard, that things are tough, but home should be where you rest. Where you build. Where you ask what you can do to help one another! Where you work together to promote love and acceptance of all those in your home.

Authoritarian rule breeds nothing but contempt. I need you all to get that. I need you all to undertand that there are women you know, real women that are enduring crazy situations waiting and wishing for the better–and the better hasn’t come yet.

This is not to say people cannot change or people cannot do better. What I am saying change is a decision. The power of that decision comes from valuing the person you are with.

If you see no value in with the person you are with, no change will come. You will only address what you need, what you want and what makes you feel better!

No amount of therapy will soothe that.  amount of gifts or money will solve it. What does solve it is it self-refections. Self-assessment. Accountability. You have to own that not everything is HER fault.

And if you love her, you will do better and stop doing the things that hurt. The things that make her fearful. The things you say you don’t want to do. Become the man that you know that you can be–not just the one that you lie and tell people you are.

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