Two of our sons and I had a conversation about my divorce and remarriage to another man. When my first husband divorced me, I remarried within eight months to a neighbor man. I had four children and he accepted them all. The marriage was good for the first five years, but shortly before his mother died he became violent. It was almost overnight that I became the target of his obsession and the children became targets also. Within eight months after the first strike and pulled gun. I and the children left him and went into hiding for an entire year.
My overwhelming guilt all these years was that he had abused not only me but the children, that the abuse was my fault, and that fault carried with it shame. Trevor said, “Mom, you had no way of knowing what was going to occur.” Scott said, “Mom, it is not your fault.”
But I was steeped in the social construction that defined motherhood in our generation. We had two jobs: keep our husband happy and protect the children. If I could teach another woman one thing, it would be to teach her that it is not her fault. The shame should not be carried on her shoulders. We need to reframe the social construction of motherhood, and teach society’s institutions that one of the worst oppressions women face is the socially-constructed idea that we are responsible for the violent behaviors of our men.
BIO: About Dorothy Sue Laqua: I am a 51-year-old woman who is currently attending Minnesota State – Mankato and will be receiving my BS in Gender and Women Studies. I have worked in the human services field all of my life with Developmentally Delayed and Mentally Ill clientele. I earn a master’s degree in my field of study with an emphasis on Ethnic Studies, and would like to work in a reentry program for women who have been incarcerated. I believe these women are the most marginalized in our society, and understand that they are stuck in a revolving door with no way out of poverty. Many of them are mothers who have little chance of rejoining their family and making it safe. I know that being a mother and a feminist can sometimes be at separate ends of the spectrum as we try to protect our daughters and in the same breath give them the freedoms of choice and equality. I have 4 children, and two step-children. I fostered two grandchildren and helped raise three young multi-cultural women. I also have seven grandchildren to complete my family. My husband and I live in a small agricultural community and spend a great deal of time volunteering by helping older persons or persons with disabilities.
I have just opened up a new blog at http://breakingthesilence-sue.blogspot.com.
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Photo credit: Waiting by Kim Newberg