You're nothing if you haven't been abused

Rowland Nethaway

August 06, 1993|By Rowland Nethaway

A RECENT Jules Feiffer cartoon hit home. It had eight panels and showed an attractive young couple standing face to face.

In the first panel, the woman says, "I just met you. So I'm concerned about date-rape." The man in the first panel has a big smile and a look of anticipation. In the second panel, the woman says, "So don't hold my hand." The man is still smiling, but a bit less. In the third, the woman says, "Don't put your arm around me." The man stops smiling.

In the fourth panel, the woman says, "Don't kiss me." The man looks puzzled. In the fifth, the woman says, "Don't fondle me." The man frowns. In the sixth panel, the woman, looking angry, says, "Don't grope." The man looks angry. Next the woman looks surprised as the man turns away. Finally, the woman yells at the now-departed man, "Rejection is abuse,you know!"

Well, of course it is, dear. What isn't abuse these days?

Is it just me, or does it seem as though abuse is sweeping the country? It's hot. It's in. It's bigger than recycling, spotted owls, rain forests and the ozone hole.

Many Americans feel they just haven't lived unless they've been abused. There now are support groups in cities and hamlets from sea to shining sea for every imaginable form of abuse. Abuse exploded out of the closet into a major American industry. It's the subject of movies, television shows and countless articles in newspapers and magazines.

Abuse is such a hot topic that it constitutes abuse if you can't remember ever being abused. And why not? Why should you be left out when all your friends and all the big tabloid stars have heart-rending stories about their abuse? It just isn't fair.

But where there's a will, there's a way. A theory advanced in a hot-selling book comes to the aid of people who can't recall being abused. As I understand it, the logic behind this theory is flawless.

If things aren't going as well in your life as you believe they should be going, then you probably have suffered abuse you can't recall. It's buried deep inside. It's clogging things up. It prevents you from feeling better and reaching your full potential.

To overcome this inability to recall abuse in your life, you must sit down and try to picture being abused. Sometimes it helps to pay a professional abuse seeker to bring this out. But if you keep working at it, eventually the abuse will come to you. Then you can sue your parents or the other guilty parties, share your story with friends and literary agents and be on your way to recovery.

Where did this nationwide epidemic of abuse come from? My guess is television. It's responsible for everything else that's wrong in America. Why not abuse, too? Of course there are handguns, trial lawyers, foreigners and Congress to consider.

Abuse is blamed for the breakup of families, poor academic achievement, drug use, violence, crime, unemployment, dead end jobs, sloth, greed, promiscuity and burned cornbread. America is becoming a nation of whiners. No stone is left unturned in search for excuses.

Abuse now starts before conception. It is practiced by prospective parents, parents, adults, siblings, peers, teachers, lovers, spouses, employers, government and society.

Feeling left out and picked on by all the other abused Americans, wealthy white males now say they are being abused. That's a good sign. Now everyone in America is a victim of abuse. We all have excuses. We can start clean, take responsibility for our lives and hope it becomes the next trend.

Rowland Nethaway is senior editor of the Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald.

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