I watched my 12yr old daughter scurry ahead to find our theater. Finally, Maleficent. Please, please, please Disney… do this justice. Within the first 10mn I could feel myself smiling and slowly exhaling. Hope. A friend of mine had linked me to Haley Krischer’s “The Maleficent Rape Scene We All Need To Talk About”. This was the Huffington Post, surely we will get to the heart of the matter. However, as I read, I felt like I was skimming the surface of the water in Maleficent’s world. The real treasures remained deep below the reflective exterior, unexposed.
There is a metaphor beyond the metaphor that needs to be pulled from it’s liquid depths. What if there is a deeper implication to the “rape scene” than has been obviously touched on by rape culture? What about rape in the context of abusive relationships?
The dictionary defines rape as: “an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation;violation” and autonomy as: “independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions: the autonomy of the individual.”
What if I told you that victims of Domestic Abuse were being emotionally and psychologically raped every day, sometimes several times a day? Does that change your perspective on the dynamic behind the abuse? Consider, this form of rape plays a large role in keeping victims in abusive and violent relationships. Would it help to understand loss of autonomy is the entire reason they stay?
This is the concept that so many critics neglected to expose. The scene eloquently lay out the mechanics of sexual rape and assault. The same mechanics are behind Domestic Abuse. Consider how much time Stefan took to get to know the naive and vulnerable Maleficent. He learned of her dreams, her hopes, her wants, and her desires. He learned how she both perceived and accepted love. He observed her beliefs and her values.
Armed with this knowledge, Stefan had the ingredients needed to concoct a custom cocktail for Maleficent. She willingly drank her intoxicant until she fell into an unprotected comatose. While susceptible and defenseless, she was raped of her autonomy, rendering her dependent on her environment. Maleficent was at the mercy of Stephan’s concept of love.
So holds true for victim’s of abuse. Victims are no different than anyone else having needs, wants, hopes, and dreams. An abuser quickly seduces his victim by professing to meet her needs. He builds on the victim’s hopes and dreams until she is drunk on his promises. To render her helpless he twists her values and beliefs against her. They are now her bindings. This is why it is vital that an abuser move quickly when initiating a relationship. Then the abuser exploits the victim’s every value and belief for personal gain. The unaware target drinks of this inebriating cycle willingly and with trust. Once the abuser is certain that his victim is sufficiently sedated, he sets to work to separate her from her autonomy. This essentially grounds her. Instead of one great movement, he removes her wings piece by piece. Any time the victim looks as if she may “come to”, the abuser cunningly subdues her with more of the designer intoxicant until she falls into lethargic vulnerability again. In this way he may continue his work until he considers her useless or inconsequential.
This is how it is for a victim. Day after day. Often times it escalates to several times a day. This cycle repeats over and over. There comes a point when it is no longer particularly necessary to feed her much drink. Her wings have become so emaciated they couldn’t grant her freedom with all of her will behind them. A victim simply cries and flounders at her own inability to escape emotional, psychological, and financial rape. Over and over the abuser plunders her most valuable assets; her freedom, her sense of self, and her independence. In short, he rapes his exhausted victim of her autonomy so that he may feed off of her as a predator.
A victim stays because she has been effectively grounded. Her greatest strength for escape has been stolen. Autonomy is kept out of sight and far from reach. Some victims underdeveloped wings are easy to remove. Other victims have never known wings. So many well meaning citizens shake their heads in dismay at what a flightless victim will endure. However, before you judge a victim for not flying, look first to see if they have the means.
I challenge society to be incensed about this truth. We should be just as angry about the rape of autonomy as we are sexual rape. Society should be indignant about an abuser violently holding his victim in place as he psychologically and emotionally desecrates her self-worth. Be as acrimonious as you would by a woman tied and drugged so her body can be fiercely violated. Be irate when anyone’s form of freedom, identity, or sense of self is being taken by force. Then rally for change.
If you are against rape, then be against it completely, in all manifestations. Yes Ms. Krischer, it is the rape scene we need to talk about. Much thanks for launching the dialogue.
***Revised for content and clarity. The orginal contained the misspelling of Stephan changed to Stefan.