Thursday, August 16, 2007

MSNBeeCee ran a story this week titled “High-Tech Abuse Worse Than Ever”. The article illustrates how spyware and GPS devices can be used by abusive partners to stalk and further abuse/terrorize their victims. One woman’s story is included: Leah was physically abused for years, her husband monitored her cell phone use, installed spyware on their computer, and hid a hidden GPS unit in her car. He claimed her visits to certain websites proved she was cheating and then beat her. She and her child eventually got away and are in hiding. She is very cautious about electronics and makes sure information about herself and her child are not easily tracked.

This story did not claim all abusers are men. It did not state that she was cheating and therefore deserved her husband’s mistrust (and even if she was cheating, she does not deserve to be beaten or stalked).

There are well over a 1000 comments on this story. I haven’t (and won’t) read all of them. But I saw a disturbing theme in the comments. Comments implying that she must have been cheating and therefore deserved what she got. That it was her fault for not leaving. That all women are cheaters. That the article is feminist propaganda. That women really run America and men are the victims. That women fake dv and their poor, innocent husbands end up arrested and lose their kids. The hatred for women was incredible.

I’m not saying all the comments are like this, because they aren’t. There are plenty that condemn violence and explain just how hard it is for a person to leave an abuser, especially if children are involved. Some comments pointed out the yes, men can fall victim to women abusers. Sometimes women do lie about abuse. But does that make all women lying cheaters? Nowhere in the article or comments did I see the implication that all men are abusive; just that men are more frequently the abuser than the abused.

The dynamics of the comments were fascinating to me in a horrifying way. I can’t believe how many people feel that Leah was playing the victim because she stayed or that she must have been cheating – why else would her ex have used spyware? The “women are all lying cheating whores” comments painted all women with the same brush. Meanwhile the “I/someone I know was a victim of similar abuse” generally did not pain all men as scumbags, although several did state they were now mistrustful or would not get involved in another relationship. Interesting and scary.

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