Power Abuse – Exploring the Roots of a Shocking Example

Recently the U.S. backed President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, reportedly signed a law which legalizes the rape of a wife by her husband by not allowing her to refuse sex, and prevents women from leaving the house without a man’s permission. This is a blatant attack on womanhood…and another example of the abuse of power that is rampant in our world. But this abuse is now out in the open, ready, waiting, and even screaming to be healed.

Rape is an act of power and control. The act of rape is often a defense against ancient inner wounds to a man’s relationship with his own mother, and a reaction to the feelings of powerlessness he may have had in childhood. How could a man be willing to treat women like this . . . unless he’s still angry at the first woman in his life, his mother?

And why would we, women and men, stay silent and allow such an act to go unchallenged? This too has its roots in childhood wounding. Healing this vacuum where effective use of power needs to be cannot stop at the here-and-now level. We all, men and women, need to heal our own early wounds around being powerless – with mother and anyone else in our childhood, whether it be a particular person, a family tradition, a cultural norm.

Right action on the here and now level is of course necessary and a crucial first step to the healing process. But…by itself, nothing in the outer world in the current day will truly resolve rape and violence against women and create sustainable change. Not the legal process. Not incarceration. Not injunctions. Not anger. Not politics. Not government. Not even therapy that deals with controlling behavior, feelings, and thoughts. Healing the experience of powerlessness and all the feelings involved to the source in childhood is absolutely crucial if we are going to create and sustain the changes we need to have happen in our world.

How do we do this? It’s a big task. . .

Taking children’s feelings seriously is crucial. Parents doing their own inner work of mind, body, heart, and soul is also crucial . . . so they won’t abuse their power with their children out of their own childhood wounds. Helping our society not be afraid of our feelings is absolutely crucial. Teaching people the difference between feelings that are truly right to act on in the present moment and feelings that are guides to healing ancient wounds, not to be acted on in the present moment is absolutely crucial. Drawing a boundary between the feelings that are from the past and action that could be destructive, then getting the help to use those feelings for healing is absolutely crucial.

Reweaving the fabric of our society to include an understanding of feelings, an honoring of feelings, an inclusion of utilizing feelings for healing is absolutely crucial.

Our not using our power to challenge laws and attitudes that condone rape is an abuse of power in itself. Healing our relationships with power – in a way that helps us work through our feelings at the core – is not only possible, but crucial – for the sake of ourselves, our sisters, our mothers, our daughters…our fathers, our brothers, our sons…and for the sake of our world!

© Copyright 2009 by Judith Barr, MS, LMHC. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Faye

    April 10th, 2009 at 2:41 AM

    I never gave it a thought that rape could stem from early childhood even down to the mother. This was an eye opener and hope that as hard as it may be, that women as well as men, stand up and not let the rapist take control. We need to report such things and not let fear control us.

  • Amelia

    April 10th, 2009 at 3:46 AM

    I agree that we need to heal our childhood wounds if this is where all the rape and abuse is coming from is from the past. And for the Rapist, they really need therapy and I’m not sure if that would help them unless they wanted help, but eventually I wonder if they will fall back to who they are.

  • Ina

    April 10th, 2009 at 10:08 AM

    I am utterly shocked that laws like these can still be passed in today’s society! Doesn’t anyone value the sanctity of what a real and loving relationship is supposed to be about? Why are more people not outraged that women in so many parts of the world continue to be treated as possessions instead of people with feelings? This is one of the few things I have ever read that has really propelled me to take action but I am getitng on the phone bwith my US congressmen and senators offices today to protest and demand that complaints be filed immediately. It may not do any good but if more people do this then hopefully the country can say loud and clear that we will not support this and that the rest of the world cannot either.

  • Dawna

    April 11th, 2009 at 10:14 AM

    You go Ina! I applaud Ina for voicing her feelings and she’s right, we all need to do at least something to fight back at this.

  • Jordan

    April 13th, 2009 at 9:16 AM

    Not to dismiss what anyone does but there is going to have to be a rethinking of international values to make a big difference. There are those out there who are afraid with good reason to rock the boat. That does not mean that i think that we have to stand by and do nothing it just means that we have to realistic about our expecatations and what we aim to accomplish.

  • Lauren

    April 15th, 2009 at 4:16 AM

    And Afghanistan is a country we still support? You have to be kidding me.

  • Hannah

    April 28th, 2009 at 8:44 PM

    How do we know what countries and policies are backed by the U.S govt.? Isnt there anything we can do to raise our voice as citizens of this country? Although violence is wrong I do remember reading this as a famous quote of the father of non-violence, Mahatma Gandhi. He says,”Women, use the weapons you are born with. Use your nails, teeth and strength to prevent violation of yourself.”

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