I’m reblogging this post that is an excellent articulation of the cycle of abuse, and it does a great job of also articulating the fallacy of the perfect victim. I know a lot of folks out there are trying to wrap their brains around abuse, and why people stay with their abuser, and how could they be so weak…and also, how could they possibly have been abused if they are larger or stronger or smart or if they talk back. Read this article if you want some insight into that. I, too, am an “imperfect victim.”
“The perfect victim is a white, cisgender, straight woman. She’s smaller than her abuser, who is a man. She never says anything cruel or unfair that might “provoke” him. She’s supportive and loving, meek and gentle. Her abuser is violently physical, and she finally leaves when he hurts her so badly that it opens her eyes. She has to protect her children. Or maybe just herself; that might be okay. She certainly never, ever hits back. She is as rare as a unicorn, and the rest of us, we imperfect victims, are deemed unworthy of compassion and support by comparison. “
The first thing most seekers want is books. And yes–books are valuable. I write books, I read books. But some things, you just can’t learn from reading. And that’s people involved in spiritual work mean when we say, “It’s a mystery.” The mysteries are the things that we can write about over and over, but you really won’t get it until you’ve experienced them for yourself.
I field a lot of questions from seekers on various online lists and groups, as well as when I travel and teach at events or offer events in Chicago. What’s the first question people usually ask me?
“What books should I read?”
Sometimes bloggers will ask me to write a bit about my thoughts on a particular issue…and, being longwinded, I usually have a hard time coming up with a a concise quote. Tim Titus asked a really pertinent question and I had a lot of answer, so here’s the full text of what I wrote in response.
The issue is activism, overwhelm, burnout, and magic.
Tim Titus asked me:
“There are so many pressing social, environmental, human rights, and justice issues across the world right now that it can be hard to keep up. Many witches and other magickal people want to help, but the problems seem so widespread and so intractable that it can be hard to know where to start. Sometimes that leads us to just give up. How do you choose issues to take action on? Knowing that we can’t always physically lend aid, What magickal acts can you suggest to help heal some of the world’s most difficult problems?”
I’m on a number of Facebook groups where I see people make comments that are really condescending, but that also invite conversation on the topic. However, when other people offer a different perspective, or ask what they meant by some of the terms, the person will launch into a heavy debate with them, often escalating into a personal attack. The underlying theme seems be a bait and attack from the perspective of, “You are all neophytes and of course I am right about everything.”
I’ve also seen many people ask for advice on whether or not it’s possible for there to be an etiquette guide to prevent attendees at workshops from interrupting the workshop leader or worse, playing the one-up-the-presenter game.
One of the more common questions I’m asked is, how do you deal with a disruptive participant when facilitating a ritual or workshop? In fact, one of the things many people tell me is they are afraid to teach workshops because of all the heckling and Know-it-all behavior they’ve observed as a workshop participant. The purpose of this blog post isn’t to go into why it happens, but to outline a few scenarios and how you might handle them. I’ll talk about workshops, rituals, and touch on behavior that comes up in longer-term groups.
While I’m focusing on scenarios in the Pagan community, many of these also come up in the sci-fi/fantasy/fandom community, geek community, and other subcultures.
Scenario: Know-It-All Leader
What do you do when a local leader, elder, or otherwise experienced practitioner vocally heckles you in the middle of a ritual? Maybe they are telling you that you called the quarters wrong or something else. Instead of taking you to the side after the ritual, they step into the center and loudly bully you. Not only do you have to deal with them, you have to somehow refocus your group and offer a ritual.