Saturday, October 10, 2009

Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse: Break the Cycle Edition

To wrap up my thoughts on this week's theme, I wanted to span the various ways women (and song) have dealt with domestic violence: confusing abuse with love... getting revenge on the abuser... walking away from the situation to make a better life - as Maya Angelou says, "when we know better, we do better"... and there is much emphasis these days, with the current generation, to Break the Cycle and do things differently...

1) It will only get worse.
2) I'm afraid for your safety.
3) I'm afraid for the safety of your loved ones.
4) You don't deserve to be treated this way.
5) There's help when you're ready. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

The Motels: He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss)


Since I do not own, and was unable to find, the original version of this song by The Crystals, I am sharing The Motels' cover - from Wikipedia:

"He Hit Me (It Felt Like A Kiss)" is a pop song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King and recorded by The Crystals under the guidance of Phil Spector in 1962.

Goffin and King wrote the song after discovering that singer Little Eva was being regularly beaten by her boyfriend. When they inquired why she tolerated such treatment, Eva replied, with complete sincerity, that her boyfriend's actions were motivated by his love for her. The song was written and intended as a sort of protest song from the point of view of an abused woman. Phil Spector's arrangement was ominous and ambiguous.

“It was a brutal song, as any attempt to justify such violence must be, and Spector’s arrangement only amplified its savagery, framing Barbara Alston’s lone vocal amid a sea of caustic strings and funereal drums, while the backing vocals almost trilled their own belief that the boy had done nothing wrong. In more ironic hands (and a more understanding age), 'He Hit Me' might have passed at least as satire. But Spector showed no sign of appreciating that, nor did he feel any need to. No less than the song’s writers, he was not preaching, he was merely documenting.” — Dave Thompson (AllMusicGuide)

Upon its initial release, "He Hit Me" received some airplay, but then there was a widespread protest of the song, with many concluding that the song was an endorsement of spousal abuse. The song soon became played only rarely on the radio, as now. More here...

Eliza Gilkyson: The Ballad of Yvonne Johnson


From the Austin Chronicle:

In her autobiography, Stolen Life, Canadian Cree Yvonne Johnson spares little in the telling of her life of abuse, incest, rape, physical deformity, poverty, and crime. Yet Johnson, who won't be eligible for parole until 2014, doesn't point fingers, make excuses, or otherwise deny guilt for the murder that got her a life sentence. Instead, she has used the experience to not just rehabilitate herself, but to redeem her battered, brutalized spirit. When Eliza Gilkyson ran across Stolen Life in a Canadian airport, she was stunned.

"I just inhaled it. I knew then I wanted to write her story in song, but I didn't know how to do it right. So much detail; how was I going to get all these elements in, this history of abuse, the murder, how she found herself? How to convey that and the emotion? It was so daunting."

The rest of the article here...

Kristina Olsen: Keeping This Life of Mine (Song for Battered Women)


This song won the New Folk songwriting contest at the prestigious Kerrville (Texas) Folk Festival in 1985 - in Kristina's words:

"I wrote it about a friend of mine who was in an abusive relationship. She ended up in the hospital and at that time realized she had to get away from this very abusive man, but she had no self-esteem left. She finally said, "I'm keeping this life of mine" and walked away. I was so impressed with the courage it took her to do that that I wrote this song from her point of view. The nice tag to her story is that she's doing great now."

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