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Abuse in the name of Culture

What is violent behavior? I understand violent behavior to be behavior that violates the essence of the spirit. Violence can take the shape of emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological abuse. It can be passive-aggressive, secretive, manipulative exploitation. It is oppression and oppressive acts toward others.

We all come from various walks of life and different cultures—and people within the same culture can also have different experiences. However, there are dynamics that are naturally passed down due to past survival coping strategies-that when affecting parenting and attachment—can lead to perpetuating trauma (something I’ve said a gazillion times, and will say a gazillion more).

In the Latinx culture, we consider- la chankla/chankleta (the slipper), la correa (the belt), machismo, marianismo. We consider dynamics of rigid gender roles, homophobia, abuse disguised as discipline, and intimate partner violence disguised as normal social home environment and “just the way we are”. Our rigid gender roles create hypermasculinity and boys who struggle with feeling and girls that struggle with setting boundaries and standing firm in her/their needs through marianismo and learned submissiveness. Rigid gender roles can also ostracize other genders, and in terms of sexual abuse, deny a boy’s sexual abuse by a woman and instead view it as a rite of passage—”para que sea hombre.” Women and children can be seen as property and marriage seen as a commitment that can never be broken- despite any abuse, oppression, severed boundaries.

Abuse in the name of culture is still abuse. We cannot hide behind “it’s just the way things are” if we are to foster healing in ourselves and communities. Us Latinx folx cannot hide behind “ I was hit with the chankla and I turned out just fine” rationale. You’re not fine. Somewhere you struggle with attachment, I assure you. Abuse is not just outward expression of violence. It can be the subtle microaggressions. Macroaggressions.

To heal the abuse of our people and communities- we need to name these things for what they really are and learn new, healthier ways of coping, relating, communicating, discipling, loving that respects the spirits of all. Our communities are worthy of healing. We are worthy of healing.

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