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Abused Women Are Victims of Societal Pattern

April 26, 1991

This is the first time I've written a letter like this. After reading Dianne Klein's column about Linda Williamson ("Battered Wife Can't Count on the System," March 17), I realized I must write you. You said there were many points of view and many places to spread blame in a tragic story like this. One observation was "not enough people who give a damn." To me, that is the worst tragedy, and why I write.

I read this article feeling outrage at a system full of human error, that fails to protect people like Linda. I was angry at the convenient excuse of "not enough time" to check out background information thoroughly. I felt disgust at the "40-stitch rule." I was upset at the injustice done to Linda and appalled at the motel couple who watched the beating frozen in fear and disbelief. Yet, as I continued to read, I also realized my anger at the lack of understanding most of us have about why these tragic stories happen in the first place, and anger about attitudes of "it's just another case" or someone else's problem.

I have also found myself in a abusive family situation, although not in my marriage. That, however, is only because of God's grace. I grew up in a home where physical, emotional and sexual abuse were a part of life, yet I denied the pain and sickness until only three years ago. Like Linda, I also didn't think I'd ever find myself in this kind of situation. During my therapy and recovery process, I have learned how easily these destructive patterns follow you until they are dealt with and worked through.

There is much written about victimization these days. It is good this subject is being brought into the open and discussed. Yet, there is a tendency to get on the bandwagon. Righteous anger over the hideous acts committed is not, in itself, enough to solve the problem. It is also not enough to understand the causes from our history so we can rationalize the pain away.

The symptoms of abuse are caused by much deeper pain than most of us are willing to admit. True healing comes to individuals, as well as society, when we're no longer afraid to ask ourselves the right questions and are willing to hear the right answers. When we can recognize our vulnerability and weaknesses, accept the challenge to grow and change, and reach out to others in the process, we will begin to break the hold of these destructive patterns.

Cindy Smith,

Laguna Hills

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