Yesterday I bought candy, little toys, and stickers for the kids’ Valentine’s Day party at the shelter. The stickers are so pretty—pink and red with colorful “message” candy hearts, adorable teddy bears, traditional hearts, and message ‘stamps.’
The messages of endearment on the candy hearts, like “luv ya,” “forever,” “smile,” “be mine,” and many others have double meanings for anyone who has lived in an abusive home.
Abuse may not be physical. Women have told me that emotional abuse is worse: the punch that just misses their head and but badly mars the wall, the degrading verbal weapons thrown at them ceaselessly, the criticism of everything they do, the hateful control of their lives.
So “luv ya,” might become, “Luv ya if you’re perfect.” “Smile” might become “Smile” no matter how much you’re hurting so no one knows, and “Be mine” becomes “I own you.” “Forever” means forever. No escape, in the batterer’s mind, at least.
Valentine’s Day means so much to so many. It can be a re-affirmation of love Oit can be a trap like all the others when you are the victim of battering.
What does Valentine’s Day mean to you?