How to help a domestic violence victim resist the siren’s song

Remember these stories about resisting the siren’s song? I find them useful to remember as a therapist and personally.

There are only two stories of men resisting the Sirens. In the story Odyssey, Odysseus ordered his men to put beeswax in their ears so they couldn’t hear the music as they sailed by. His men tied Odysseus to the ship’s mast so he could hear the enchanting tunes but wouldn’t be able to swim ashore.
Jason and the Argonauts were also saved because they had Orpheus, (a talented musician) on board with them. He played music that was even more beautiful so the men hardly heard the sound of the Sirens.

Read more: Sirens :: World Mythology

Our sirens come in various guises. Take for example the victim of domestic violence who won’t leave their abuser. What song is the siren singing to them? Whatever song it is, it is powerful enough to keep them in it.  It is more powerful than anything you are going to say to them. Don’t try to compete with the sirens. Let the victim talk, and ask them what they are going to do when their partner hits them again. They may deny that it is going to happen again ( that is the siren song), and you can even pretend to agree that it probably won’t (you can acknowledge the power and beauty of the siren song) , but you can just say  that in the remote case that it does happen , what will you do? It is an absurd conversation in a way, but I imagine that Odysseus felt a little foolish having to ask his crew to tie him to the mast, and his crew felt foolish putting beeswax in their ears.

So what will you do when he hits you or tries to?

Then you just brainstorm with them. Here are some ideas you might propose:

Duck; run; find a room that locks from the inside only; have such a lock installed if you don’t have a room like that; take a self-defense class; have a second phone stashed in case you don’t have access to your regular phone, have a first aid kit; etc.

It takes some nerve to have  a conversation like this, some stomach. It is , frankly , a repulsive and scary topic. This is precisely where you need to be willing to go with a victim though, into their shame and fear. In so doing, you reduce their isolation.

You can also talk to them about how much better it is after the violence – how their partner is really sweet, the sex is really good, the promises, etc.  You are becoming  their mast as they describe the beauty of the siren song of their abuser. They are tied to you  psychically the next time they hear it. It may save them.

And never once do you tell them to leave. Never once do you try to out sing the siren.

And . of course, keep in mind, this may not work, and you need to prepare yourself for that.


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