Codependency And #MeToo — A Brief History Of Abuse! by Dr. Anne Brown | Backbone Power

Our History

When we look at the history of women as it relates to men, we see that it has only been in the last 100 years that we were given rights. Before we had rights, women and children were the property of men. Men could do with us whatever they pleased, whenever they pleased. This included all forms of abuse: sexual, physical, and emotional. Having no rights, we were groomed to be compliant, to obey, to serve, to not speak up, to not have a voice, and generally be an extension of the man. Both church and state enabled and didn’t interfere with this paradigm.

Belief Systems

Some of the belief systems that must be changed and challenged are:

  1. What I do in my home with my property is my business. This is a private matter and I don’t have to discuss it with anyone.
  2. If I get into trouble for what I am doing it is not my fault. I will take it out on and blame you. (In Malaysia, if a man is arrested for a DUI, his wife may go to jail as well regardless of where she was at the time of the offense. Part of the paradigm that women are fighting.)
  3. There are still countries that do not have strong laws to protect women and children. This fact enables men’s belief that “I own you.” It takes years to give laws “teeth” and change the belief system “I own you”.

The Challenges

If I have been able to control all the people around me, and I sense someone is going to take that control away, guess what I am going to do? If I am not ready to give up, I am going to fight!

  1. Why didn’t you fight back?
  2. Oh, look we found this in your life you are not perfect, so we are not sure about you.
  3. You are not credible
  4. You don’t look the way I think you should look
  5. Why did you continue to be there?


Now let’s look at the phenomenon of codependency. We are going to stick with our understanding of codependency as a system of distortions that exists on a continuum. Codependents learn personality traits that interfere with knowing one’s self and others. The people-pleasing aspect of codependency might drive the ignoring of who we are trying to please. The focus of wanting other’s approval may keep us from acknowledging there might be abusive behavior coming from the person whose approval we want.


The #MeToo movement has given the abused strength in numbers, solidarity, energy to join, an awakening, and so much more. Having the right to say “No” is not enough. As you can see from the history of denial and enabling, no one is going to thank you when you say, “Stop Now” or “What you did to me is wrong”. The only thanks you might get is from another abused person who may borrow your courage to find her own.

Psychotherapist, Speaker, Coach, and Author of “Backbone Power The Science of Saying No”