Home > Reflections > in violence, size doesn’t matter

in violence, size doesn’t matter

The words
“size matters”
bring to mind
guys animatedly
discussing whether
his size correlates
with her pleasure.

This post
isn’t about that,
so I’ve hidden its text
so that no one
who knows
size doesn’t
matter in
the context of violence
catches glimpses of
words that return
them to times
they would
rather leave
behind.

size doesn’t matter

Today
my son asked me
why I must keep
such tight rein
on our dog
outside
while others’
dogs run
free.

“Because
the other dogs are
so little, Sai would
be the one blamed–
and maybe even …
taken away
if he bit
another dog,
or a person
trying to stop
a dog bite,”
I told him.

(I might
have used
slightly more
colorful terms
in my explanation;
since I was young,
I have witnessed
evidence of the
strange idea
that size
matters in
violence.
“But he couldn’t
beat you!” people told
my mom. “You’re so
much taller than him!”)

All day afterward,
I thought about how
violence should be
measured not by
its apparent
consequences
but by each act
itself, and only
the act.

Because,
don’t you know?

A bullet
need only measure
millimeters
to end
a life.

You don’t need to be tall
to threaten to kill someone,
or to threaten her children,
or to hold a knife to her, or
to pour scalding water on
her, or beat her in
places so covered
by clothing that
no one will
ever see
her
bruises.

You don’t need to have height
to have the cruelty, and the gall,
to help someone believe she is
too stupid, and too inept,
and too alone to be able
to survive without
someone else’s
hardness to
anchor her in
this vicious world,
even while you smile
to others’ faces and
make sure they see
you as too
perfectly
lovely to
hurt a
fly.

I wish
(a burning,
ravenous wish)
that people could
see each violent act
for the horror it is,
instead of perpetrating
their own casual cruelties
with words like, “It can’t have been
that bad, because you’re
still standing, and smiling,”
as if the crime is in
the size of the
visible bruises
and not
the act
itself.

The good news:
As size does not
dictate one’s capacity
to wound another,
neither does it determine
courage, or fortitude, or the
expanse of your dreams.

In these things,
the size of your body
is wholly irrelevant.

Dream bold, and
reach far, and hold close
the possibility that, as I wrote
in “The Gift of Fear,” the
certainty of abuse
might not be better
“than uncertainty that includes
limitless hopeful possibilities.”

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Categories: Reflections Tags: , , , ,
  1. Susan
    December 5, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Very beautifully written showing strength and fortitude, Bravo!

    • December 5, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      I’ve been sitting and trying to unwind since posting it. With your kind words, my shoulders feel lighter. Thank you!

  2. December 6, 2015 at 12:40 am

    Thank you.
    I volunteer on a crisis line, and the calls from family violence survivors are the ones which haunt me most.
    One of my college friends was set alight by her partner too. She still has the aftermath to deal with. The scars, the pain, the disability will never leave. He served fourteen years and is free – as she never will be.
    Physical, mental, emotional violence are all obscenities. Slowly the word is getting out, but it is still too slow. Here in Australia two women die each week at the hands of their partners. The damage done to survivors and their children is immeasurable.
    Sorry for writing a novel in comments.

    • December 6, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      The pace of understanding moves slower than I’d like, although I am heartened that there does appear to be movement.

      I love all your comments, whether they are three words or 300. ♥

  3. December 6, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Sadly women and child abuse is on the rise and world government do so little about ot

    • December 6, 2015 at 3:35 pm

      I’m not sure if/where it is or isn’t on the rise, but I do know it is far, far too prevalent.

  4. Deb
    December 6, 2015 at 5:38 am

    Your words are monumental in size and scope, adding to the voices that speak out about abuse and violence. Thank you.

  5. December 7, 2015 at 7:50 am

    Beyond perfection. I sat and read this more than once. I took it into my spirit and my heart, fed it to my bones to heal them. I felt stronger for your words. Thank you.

  6. December 9, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Very well written. Violence and abuse are such difficult topics.

  1. December 7, 2015 at 12:30 pm

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