It isn’t often that a talking head says something so outrageous I feel the need to comment on it at any length. This morning on CNN, though, Kelly Anne Conway dropped a doozy:
Ã¢ÂÂ CNN (@CNN) February 11, 2018
She contends that Hope Hicks won’t become a victim of domestic violence because, well, she’s “strong’ and “smart”. She says she doesn’t worry about her getting abused because of her professional abilities and her drive.
Everything about this statement is wrong — not just because professional, smart women can be abused as much as anyone else, but because it implies that those who are victims of abuse are NOT those things. “If only these women were stronger/smarter/more driven, they wouldn’t be abused”.
This trope is used so often that organizations that deal with abuse victims have to address it fairly frequently:
There is a prevalent belief that women who face domestic violence or are exploited are from the lower rungs of society. This is just a myth. Women across society face domestic violence. When you look at a professionally successful woman who seems to be climbing up the professional ladder at a break neck speed, you don’t expect her to be a victim of domestic violence. But that’s the catch.
It’s a huge stigma in the upper classes to be a victim of domestic violence. Coming out is difficult and everyone eyes you with suspicion. Leave apart the fact that your personal and professional life can go for a toss.
Abuse impacts 1 in 4 women, and Kelly Anne’s assertion that it wouldn’t happen to “strong women” like Hope Hicks is also something that just has no bearing in reality.
But being a “victim” doesn’t seem to fit into the narrative of being a strong woman. When people see me, they see a muscular woman who wrestles both men and women. They think that I can surely take care of myself—and kick ass—if a man ever tried to raise a hand to me.
The reality is that I was a victim of domestic violence, and for so long I felt pressured to be silent around my own abuse, allowing it to continue behind closed doors.
Not only was I embarrassed by what was happening, I stayed silent because I didn’t want to be known as a victim. In order to be a top female wrestler, I needed to be perceived as a strong woman, not a victim. Besides, I was working with World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) NXT program, and my ex and I were both working with TNA Impact Wrestling at the time, so I felt I had to protect both of our careers.
As a spokesman for the White House, Kelly Anne Conway has a responsibility to look at the facts, the statistics and offer an informed answer. Contending she has no worry about Hope Hicks being abused because she is ‘strong’ and ‘smart’ is an attack on numerous women who are certainly strong, smart, capable, driven that have become victims of domestic abuse.
There is no magical rubric that defines who gets abused and who will never face abuse in their life. And as a country, we should care about every person and have some concern as to whether or not they could be subjected to domestic violence.
Don’t buy the myth and don’t spread it either — domestic abuse doesn’t exist only in people who are poor, lack ambition, aren’t strong and aren’t smart. Anyone can be a victim. Do not shame women into thinking the fact that they may be a victim of an abuser means that they aren’t “smart” or “strong”.
The more we promote these myths, the harder we make it for women to come forward without feeling as though they are denigrating themselves. Admitting abuse is not admitting you aren’t “smart” or “strong”, it is a declaration that the person who has been abusing you is a bastard. That’s all.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.