To be Objectified is to be Dehumanized by Pam Witzemann

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All I am is an object?Please help me welcome guest blogger Pam Witzemann. Pam contributes frequently to the discussions here in EFB and today she is writing on the topic of “Human Objectification” ~ Darlene

From Inside the Bubble by Pam Witzemann

To be objectified is to be dehumanized. One must be seen as an object before being manipulated and preyed upon. When a child is raised inside a system of manipulation, as an object, that child will grow to find her value in serving others.  A life of service can be a healthy choice when it is made from the point of pre-existing self-value. When value is only obtained through service to others, it is validation of existence. Objects have no initiative of their own but are wholly dependent upon the will of others to move them. A fully objectified individual cannot realize her own individualism. She is crippled and unable to achieve full independence. I was such a child and I grew up to be a fully objectified woman.

My mother (also objectified) has often said that she wished she could place her children inside a bubble. Inside of that bubble, she imagined her children safe from harm. This abstract idea was in fact nearly her only expression of motherly protection. In reality, she seldom lifted a finger to protect me or my siblings. My mother would not move to protect us without the direction of my father. The bubble she created protected her from acknowledging her own failure. It shielded her from her children’s cries of pain, which were the result of cruelty and neglect. She was a distant mother who kept me fed and clothed and gave little of herself. She was a woman content to live in denial, avoiding responsibility.

My mother’s bubble of protection was part of the abstract world that I inhabited as a child. My father lived by manipulation and there was no reality, no truth that he could not twist to suit. Often, I think, he manipulated us for the sake of honing his skills. His own person was not immune from his magic distortion. He painted himself a very different man than the reality through tall tales of his exploits. His failures were touted as actually being superior ways of achieving goals. My dad lived for admiration.  As a junky will do anything to obtain their drug, my dad would do anything for admiration. He used his own mother’s funeral as an avenue for attention. He performed dramas of feigned illness, including heart attacks and cancer.  He threw huge temper tantrums that kept the family terrorized. He tortured me with cruel teasing.  His favorite was to hold me so tight that I could barely breathe.  The more I cried, the harder he would squeeze. Then I was scolded for not being able to take teasing.  He drank large amounts of alcohol and my mom joined him. The alcohol added fuel to the dramas and at times, they threatened our lives. He gave me alcohol “medicinally” from the time I began teething. There were hot toddies for colds and daily “sips” of beer. Once, he gave me a driving lesson when he was drunk. I drove and he laughed while placing his hat over my face. He waited until I nearly went off the road or hit something before removing the hat. I didn’t want to drive again for a very long time. He thought it weakness to “run to doctors”.  Medical treatment was often withheld or withheld until the last minute. I nearly died from Scarlet Fever when I was four and it took me a year to recover.  My father only hit me twice. He didn’t have to. I was beat down on the inside.

The worst thing my father did to me was the way he treated my mother. The worst thing my mother did to me was to allow my father to mistreat her. Soon after they were married (my mom was 18 and my dad was 28), my dad moved her onto the family ranch which was very isolated. She had no glasses and no driver’s license. My father verbally demeaned her. He treated her like an imbecile and criticized her looks. When I displeased my father, I was told I was like her. My mother spent months alone on the ranch seeing no one outside of the family. My mother never had a friend.

When I was twelve, my parents decided to teach me about sex. Every Friday night, I was called to the kitchen table and as they drank, they would lecture me. They used their own sex life as an example. My dad would also make comments about my body. I was taught that if I lost my virginity, I would be used merchandise. I was taught that it was impossible to rape a woman. My dad used a moving coke bottle and a broom handle to demonstrate. I was not taught self value. My future value would be in pleasing a man.

The above is a small sample of my childhood. This was my world view. By twelve I was depressed and anxious.  I began stealing my mother’s allergy medicine so that I could sleep. This was my first step towards drug abuse.  My first memory of depression was at twelve. I remember sitting in my closet thinking about cutting my wrist as my parents were drunk and arguing in another room.

I was a perfect target for others to abuse. I already had it in my mind that it was better to let people do what they wanted so that they wouldn’t hurt me worse. I was raped at 14. I was raped again, by a pedophile, when I was nearly 16. He convinced me to leave home. No one cared, no one tried to come after me, or have him arrested. This led to me being abused by other pedophiles for the next year. A year later, I was forcefully sodomized and robbed. I then lost my ability to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’. I simply did and gave what others wanted. I was stalked and terrorized for nearly a year.  My drug use and self abuse escalated. I wanted out!  I chose to exit through the door of the only comfort I knew, my drugs. I died of an over dose and was brought back to life. I spent three days in a mental hospital and was released back to my desperate life.  My drug use continued and I became homeless. I weighed 75 pounds. I was sick with hepatitis. At nineteen, I crawled back home.  I had reached bottom. I would either lie down and die or begin to look up. I chose to look up.

Pam Witzemann

Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is now 54 years old. She has been married for 33 years, raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for about twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years.

The Emerging from Broken bookThe Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” is ready for download! If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you, get this book today! This 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to healing.  Get yours here through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

 

 

 

102 response to "To be Objectified is to be Dehumanized by Pam Witzemann"

  1. By: joy Posted: 7th July 2011

    Fi…exactly how i feel so really am bad to me. .I should be nicer to “me” and I am not sometimes. I need to be kind to me and the little girl who was so lied to .

    I never ever new really what it was to be a little girl. I was never treated like a little girl .things I got were for mom’s glory..whatever would make family good

    I was called stupid but i better not get lower than a b on anything or I will be beat to smitherines…which happened often.

    i never could understand how I was so stupid but got the grades she wanted me to get..

    Anyway I can’t get what i lost out on but I do play now. lol I color and do things I wished I did when I was small

    Joy

  2. By: pam Posted: 7th July 2011

    Fi,
    When something good would happen to me, I’d think that it must be a trick of some kind. That there was always bad hiding behind the good. I would also think that it was bound to be taken from me so I had better not enjoy it too much. It is good when that old tape we were programmed with begins to sound hollow. That is when the new programming starts to kick in. Its good to be able to enjoy the good things in my life and not think that I deserve the bad things that also come my way.

  3. By: Fi MacLeod Posted: 7th July 2011

    Joy I can so relate to your words in comment #94, it was a strange feeling reading your words feeling like you’ve taking a tour around my thought life. I’ve struggled with thoughts like that all my life, whenever anything good happens to me I’m always suspicious of it feeling something bad has to happen because something good has happened, it can’t last, I don’t deserve it etc. I was repeatedly told by my parents that I was worthless and never to think of myself in any other way. It’s hard to break that and think of myself in other ways. But I’m very slowly beginning to realise I can challenge that old tape.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 7th July 2011

      Fi,
      That happened to me for several years too. I had to really be aware of the fear that came up whenever something good happened so that I could reassure myself that it was not the past anymore and that the fear came from the past. It was part of the reparenting I talk about. It was TRUE that in the past anything good was always some kind of manipulation, so there was that history that backed up my fears.
      Thanks for sharing! This is such a valid topic.
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: pam Posted: 6th July 2011

    Joy,
    I used to think the same way. If something good did come into my life, I often sabotaged it because I couldn’t believe that I could have it. I had to change what I believed. I started believing that I was valuable to God and through that I found my value. Belief is powerful and we do have a choice as to what we believe. I don’t believe the things your mother said about you are true because no baby is a worthless piece of sh–. I know you aren’t either.

    My heart breaks for your sadness and the weight of it. I hope and pray that soon you will be able to begin to lay it down. You deserve better.

    Love,
    Pam

  5. By: cowanmagee Posted: 6th July 2011

    An interesting study on causes of depression describe as neurological pathways” the negative loop effect”. A negative emotional trigger sets this well ingrained process off and running. Congitive behavioral therapy helps to create new pathways through positive emotional associations.

    I too remember the feeling of worthlessness. I married a very harsh, critcal and demanding man. Over a long period in a confusing and conflictive relationship I developed levels of anxiety and delibitating depressions (at the time I did not consider that the relationship I was in was emotionally abusive). Hereing negative words continuously ascribed and spoken to me created a negative association that developed in my thought processing(brain washing effect also known as ‘negative loop’).

    Entering into counselling with my then husband (now EX) did nothing to change his continued negative attitude towards me. Only when I determined that I needed help for myself, change occurred and the process of healing began.

    I eventually left that unhealthy relationship as i became aware of the damaging affects on myself and my children. I am still healing after 8 years of separation, each stage is necessary, the first stage is the most difficult identifing and understanding the damaging effects of an unhealthy relationship.

  6. By: joy Posted: 6th July 2011

    I find it hard to believe i deserve anything good . so long told am worthless..because i feel that way ..any time something good comes my way .. i feel it wont last because am not worthy of good things. have been crying tonight over this very thought ..i cannot feel worthy of good things.. i have in me that old tape playing and when i think all the things bad that has happened that maybe my mom told me truth when she said nothing good will come to me . since i am a worthless piece of sh(i)t who should never have been born.. ..can’t get that thought out of my mind. ..tonight its playing over and over. i don’t deserve good because i should ever have been born ..some objects are more valuable than me

  7. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 6th July 2011

    Hi Pam and Cowanmagee
    Pam I love what you said in comment # 90. What I have found to be the biggest challange in working with survivors is that the beliefs were set in place so young that it is very hard for people to recognize the truth anymore. I was so brainwashed that I could not survive without someone (who was controlling me) that I could not see HOW I would be able to become independant and still be happy. My def. of relationship was so very wrong! I had to relearn almost everything about love and relationship. Today I am indepdant AND married… who knew that was healthy??
    Thanks for this conversation both of you.
    Hugs, Darlene

  8. By: pam Posted: 6th July 2011

    cowanmagee,
    I agree with the way you are handling your problem. We can’t fix anyone but we can put into place measures to protect ourselves. I also wonder, at times, if my family is capable of change but I still can’t do anything but try to live better myself. I am no longer being abused by anyone. I know that is because my thinking has changed and I am more self-confident. Abusers, I believe, are cowards at heart and they target those who are unsure of themselves and their own boundaries. For a long time, I didn’t know where I ended and others began. Now I know and it sounds as if you know also.

  9. By: cowanmagee Posted: 6th July 2011

    To Pam,
    I read your post on demumanization through objectification. Your ability to understand the magnitude of full implications of your personal experiences of abuse affirms that you have been able to emotionally detach from continued abusive relationships.

    As i have had to do myself over time concluding that the unhealthy distortions of my abusers mind could not respond in healthy respectful communications and the possibilty of change was and is unrealistic.

    Through continued skill building, education and counselling the process of detachment is possible. Learning to detect the subtle triggers that cause my abuser to become aggitated and respond with patterned escalations of verbal abuse through understanding the traits of a disordered mind.

    I no longer take personally his verbal assaults as I attribute these traits to his personality disorder.

    I have also realized that having any further dealings with this most disagreeable and abusive person( involved with issues concerning our children)meant that I must ensure that I have protection with qualified outside parties involved (never private conversations with him)this provides that accuracy and accountability is never jepordized with an unbiazed professionally trained counselor conducting all negotiations and assisstance in resolving all problems.

    I now never provide my abusiver with any oppurtunity to further abuse me (clear enforced boundaries continue to be established).

  10. By: pam Posted: 6th July 2011

    cowanmagee,
    Personal boundaries are a inalienable right. They should be respected and reinforced by our parents from birth onward. When those natural boundaries are trampled and broken before a child is ever cognizant of them is to leave that person vulnerable to all abuse. It is difficult to even begin to realize what is missing in order to reestablish what should never have been stolen. That is the task of all of us who have suffered abuse.

    The ownership of our own person is sacred.

  11. By: cowanmagee Posted: 6th July 2011

    Thers are moments of wishful hope, that keep many of us still trying, over and over again. To allow that another(regardless of significant family roles) continue in unhealthy disrepectful enabling and providing oppurtunity for continued disturbing and painful experiences(enabling is the persistant continuancewith no changed), is not to understand that what “unhealthy really means”.

    Before one can strongely protest anything with an assertive believable voice, one must learn about and define what they are protesting about. To believe in ones self, is to live within terms that one is willing to defend against and fight for.

    Within each of our lives certain moments define us, we that have suffered abuse lived within the realm of dsyfunctional is distortion created by the unhealthy minds of our abusers.

    Within families abuse exsits held tightly and firmly within the relationship ties. To be willing to let go of those ties as they are firmly established (with well patterned unhealthy responses), having no expectations of any respectful relationship from unhealthy persons allows one to redefine reasonable cause to suspend , limit ,restrict and to assert healthy boundaries which are definable and are necessary for self peservation.
    Firmly establishing clear boundaries is within every persons human right.

  12. By: Pam Posted: 6th July 2011

    cowanmagee,

    I would really like to bring in a couselor with my family of origen but they don’t believe in going to them. I have asked before. I have tried everything and they have tried nothing but to work the situation. I have no other honorable choice but to set my boundary and enforce it. I still hope that they will have a change of heart and choose to pursue truth.

    Pam

  13. By: cowanmagee Posted: 6th July 2011

    It is so strange when listening to another describe who we are to them. In words that have an intent to cause emotional damage, with disturbing and distasterous distortions of reality .

    When one feels that they must defend themselves agaisnt alligations of any kind within a relationship, this is a clear sign that the relationship is unhealthy.

    The degree of respect and value that one expects in a healthy relationship upholds and recognizes human rights. It is within each individuals right to communicate to another their feelings and ideals. Through respectful communications all miscommunications and problems can be resolved between (healthy, intelligent adults) ensuring that a valued relationship continues.

    Learning what constitutes respectful communications allows that one does not become confused or caught in damaging unresolvable conflicts. Those that cannot abide nor agree to such terms of respectful communications, but disregard anothers rights,must be considered “unhealthy( unhealthy can be defined as; dysfunctional personality disorders ,mental illness, mood disorders and other illnesses affecting an individuals brain,substance abuse, ect..)

    To continue to engage and participate in an unhealthy relationship simply allows one to reexperience the same unhealthy patterned irrational responses,a term defined as enabling.

    I have found for myself that dealing with such individuals at times in life is necessary but only with a clear and stronge sense that if they violate my human rights i immediately disengage from communications and bring a third party(lawyer,mediator, social worker, family counselor)to establish and provide reasonable terms and conditions for further communications.

    Having to realise that such difficult(unhealthy) people exsit, and yes are within our families of origin is a frightfully painful reality.

    We each must speak out against abuse, being able to articulate and communicate to an unhealthy adult their violations of our human rights establishes that no further discussion is necessary understanding that disrepect is unacceptable within any healthy relationship,there can be have no justifiable defense.

  14. By: pam Posted: 26th June 2011

    Patricia,
    If God hadn’t intervened in my life, I’m quite sure that I would be dead either at the hand of someone else or my own. I so needed God’s light to guide me. I had nothing else and my life up until that time was only darkness, a death dance. By nineteen, I was completely bereft of what it takes to defend oneself in the world. I was so objectified that I know longer had any self direction. I would have no story to tell without Jesus. There have been lots of people in my life sense then who have been a positive force but spiritual healing had to take place before I could even begin on the path from object to self-directed human being.
    Pam

  15. By: Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker Posted: 26th June 2011

    Pam, thank you for sharing your story. I was objectified as a sex object by my uncle and then my dad. I was taught that to a man a woman only was valuable for having sex. They had no other use for women according to my dad. I was taught this over and over again from the age of 11 onward.

    With my mother I was objectified as someone to take care of her physical needs for coffee and cigarettes. I was to fetch those when she needed them. I was also needed to do house cleaning which no one ever taught me how to do. Any jobs that I did around the house for my mother were never good enough for my father especially after I said no to being his sex object sometime during my 17th year. I was home going to a junior college for 2 more years before I ran away from home.

    The only reason that I didn’t fall into a life of prostitution is because God put the right people in my path to give me hope, helped me get my first ever job and gave me a place to live until I could go off to my 3rd year of college in the Fall of that year. Without those people I would have wound up out on my own on the streets.

  16. By: Evie Posted: 26th June 2011

    Pam, I honestly do not believe that my family saw the big picture. I honestly after wrestling with this, believe they were aware of individual instances where they were abusive but chose not to see the atmosphere as one of abuse. In any case, maybe because they didn’t love themselves things were the way they were.

    One thing I do know is that validating it WAS abuse is the first thing; realizing the treatment was based on lies, and grieving it is important.At some point I have to come to some resolution. I was angry and confused for years. Now I must have my energy for healing.

    Thanks for a great blog post!

  17. By: pam Posted: 26th June 2011

    Evie,
    I agree with everything you said because I have also lived it. When you recognize the truth as a child but it is continually denied as truth it confuses our whole concept of ourselves and how we react to others. Its really impossible to lead a successful life with no identity outside of garbage pail (I love that description).

    There is a big difference between reasons and excuses. Knowing the reasons as to why things are as they are gives us the power to effect change. Excuses let abuses slide. My parents always say the problem is that I don’t forgive them but when pressed, they deny any wrong doing. Like you said, they never say they are sorry. (Who’s sorry for throwing trash in the trash can?)What they really want is for me to let it all slide and continue dealing with their trash. No more. I was to be their daughter not their trash can. They missed the boat and I’m not going to pretend anymore. I am a person, a human being not an object to be controlled by others.

  18. By: Evie Posted: 26th June 2011

    Pam, this was an eye opening post; thanks!

    I believe that my parents were so hurt and damaged by their pasts that they just passed down the cumulative unresolved issues that they had onto their family.

    I think that I became the symbol of everyone who had hurt my mom in particular, and she took it out on me. I’m not analysing her, but it appears this was true, looking at the evidence of interactions with her and the facts of our history.

    As a result, my family objectified me. I was never Evie, as such, I was kind of the garbage pail they dump/dumped their frustration, fears, rage and prejudices on to.

    One of the things that has so distressed me has been that no matter what happened, even when possibly people around me saw that I was being abused, verbally, and emotionally, in particular; not one person around me ever said, ‘Stop, you are hurting Evie’, or ‘Evie, I see this is happening, and its wrong; I don’t agree with how these people treated you…’

    In other words, no one validated the abuse, called it what it was, called out the ones who did it, or validated to me that it WAS abusive, and that they didn’t agree with the abusers.

    Its a very eerie feeling to be treated that way, to sit in the painful silence of have been put down, blamed, raged at, ridiculed, and no one says a word in your defense. All that is said, if anything, is ‘Well, so and so has had a bad life, day, week,…’ Whatever; as if that is more important.

    Explaining to me that an abusive person’s bad life or bad week is more important that the fact that they are dumping their hatred and garbage on me, says to me that there is objectification going on all around the abusive situation-

    When you are expected to excuse, understand, and absorb abuse by not only the abusive person- who by the way, never apologizes- and also those around you, you are yet again being abused, twice over.

    Silent bystanders and those taken in by abusive manipulative people have their own issues. My recovery means I don’t allow the recreation of the original abuse scenario over and over. Explaining to the abused WHY the abuser is abusing you is inadequate, and insensitive. And abusive.

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