I can relate…

May 2-8th has been designated Mental Health Week by the Canadian Mental Health Association and it’s been on my mind a lot this week. Coincidentally, there’s been a very high profile court case running that deals with abuse and mental illness, and while the testimony has not been completed, and I’m not passing premature judgement, I’m encouraged by the dialogue this case has brought about.

I think we have a tendency to talk more about depression and suicide when we think about mental health, but this week, I’ve thought more about mental illness.

I suspect many people prior to this highly publicized case would have envisioned only the man as the abuser. That preconception is why the statistics are so skewed when it comes to abuse. Women are just as capable of being abusers. Their methods tend to be different, but they are no less damaging and the stigma attached to a man who comes forth with these allegations, is one of the reasons why they don’t.

I feel like this is a step forward— for men and for a more open discussion about mental illness.

The photograph above might be interpreted differently by everyone who sees it. It’s a sunrise through trees—a reminder that things are not always as they appear.

Let’s talk about it…

I’m encouraged by conversations about gender and fluidity but puzzled by the lack of those concepts when it comes to the topic of abuse.

We need to stop genderizing abusers. There are good people who live by moral codes and there are bad people who exist purely to cannibalize those around themselves.

Abusive relationships are about power and control and when we make decisions about who is abusive based purely on biologically defined factors, we are minimizing abusive behavior by women.

It needs to stop—abuse does not just happen to women and when it happens to men, there’s the added price of a stigma attached.

Abuse is perpetrated in many forms and many, if not most, do not leave visible scars or bruises.

Abuse is not just a conversation for and about women, and it’s not about raising better men. Until abuse becomes a conversation for and about everyone, and its definition beyond physical becomes more universally acknowledged, we will never come close to resolving it.