Review of Normalizing Abuse by Karen Tate

Review of Normalizing Abuse by Karen Tate May 23, 2023

Review of Normalizing Abuse: A Commentary on the Culture of Pervasive Abuse by Karen Tate

Normalizing Abuse: A Commentary on the Culture of Pervasive Abuse is a deeply personal book as Ms Tate bravely recounts her own experiences of abuse. She writes with compassion and understanding to help others in a similar position, as she “confronts the acculturated abuse in society.  She brings this pervasive and insidious poison to the fore so others can see, understand, and take steps to obliterate toxic elements from their lives and begin down the road to recovery.  She explains in easy-to-understand language why humans do what they do, how to recognize trauma or abuse, and the steps to take to fix what’s broken and heal from the trauma.”

Ms Tate has been named one of thirteen Most Influential Women in Goddess Spirituality.  At first glance, Normalizing Abuse may appear to differ from her six other published books, all of which dealt with the Sacred Feminine. However, in this book she brings in insights gleaned from her decades of priestess work in the Goddess community.

Ms Tate points out that abuse is extremely prevalent and that society tells us to just accept it:

“On so many levels, collectively, we have personally, culturally and socially become numb and in denial, and we normalize abuse, accepting it as ordinary, acceptable, usual or standard. We second guess ourselves when the red flags might go up. Trust me, I know how that happens. I considered myself a savvy and aware person, yet it wasn’t until later in life I realized I had often been a victim of abuse and had been blind to it. We make excuses for the abuse or perpetrators of the abuse or rationalize it away. We ignore our own pain or cannot feel our own pain, much less the pain of others. We are traumatized and aren’t even aware of it. Way too often, enduring abuse and exploitation is how we survive. Our scars are often invisible. And society has a bad habit of ignoring or downplaying our need for good mental health. Instead we’re too often told to be strong. Put on our big girl (or boy) panties and suck up the abuse and exploitation or ignore our trauma.”

Ms Tate’s vision for Normalizing Abuse is:

“Ultimately, I hope that what I have written in this book might motivate the reader to mine their own psyche, listen to their gut, and better understand themselves and the world around them. Perhaps see themselves in the stories herein, or be encouraged by my insights to courageously examine their own life with the goal of being part of the personal and social cognitive minority. Maybe even inspire the reader to not only make themselves happier and healthier, but help create a better world free of oppression.”

A world free of abuse where all can live in happiness is certainly a goal worth striving for:

“Abuse and exploitation can be overcome, regardless of what might have come before. However, without cognitive assessment, options of exits to explore and then acting on those ideas, we remain victims and victimizers. I am a believer that if we can see it and admit it, we can begin to change it… and the world.”

Ms Tate’s work within the Goddess community enables her to identify what she believes are the root causes of abuse in society:

“As a result of the three Patriarchal religions divorcing God from Goddess, deserting and distorting the Divine Feminine archetype, the Earth is no longer sacred and we live with the catastrophic effects. We devalue humanity and are no longer in service to life. We are plagued with endless war, corruption, greed and the destruction of the planet. Personally, professionally and socially we are regaled with verbal manipulation, lies, corruption, and manufactured consent. Through more and more media outlets, this bombardment has only normalized and dimmed our ability to recognize it, conditioning us to accept escalating abuse and domination. The destruction of our cognitive awareness and the dissolution of critical thinking acculturate us to being manipulated, victimized, abused and abusing. So much so that many of us no longer even see the abuse and exploitation. The difference is our indifference to it. We hardly even acknowledge it anymore.”

Importantly she begins by defining “Abuse,” “Exploitation” and “Trauma,” to ensure that readers are on the same page as her. After outlining the abuse she herself has encountered, she states:

“Long story short, supported by a few good friends, the Goddesses Isis and Sekhmet, the values of sacred feminine liberation thealogy and Nature surrounding me, I began to heal after several years.”

This indicates the importance of having a support group as well as a solid spiritual foundation. While Isis and Sekhmet are wonderful goddesses to call on, other readers may feel more comfortable with deities from different pantheons, or even mainstream religions. Readers need to find their own paths to overcome abuse in their lives.

Ms Tate’s text is replete with political, social, religious and corporate commentary. There is a strong message about the need to be informed as to what is actually happening, and that this information will not be found through mainstream media sources. Even if readers don’t agree with everything that Ms Tate writes, they will hopefully find themselves thinking issues through and questioning. Further to this, she deals with the plight of whistleblowers who take incredible risks to reveal information that the elite do not want ordinary people to know.

Ms Tate points out that we are conditioned to accept abuse and exploitation. Until we recognize this, we cannot begin the self-healing process:

“We are all products of acculturated abuse and exploitation. We have assimilated to it. We employ group think. We are like the hive-mind of the Borg, one of the most dangerous adversaries of the Federation on Star Trek, all plugged in to systematic and institutional abuse. We take it in, absorb it and expect it, as if it is quite normal and acceptable. It has become so familiar to us, such an everyday occurrence, so normal, we embrace it, even perpetuate it, and many never resist it. Whoa! Take a minute and read that again!”

Our society is incredibly unfair for everyone not part of the elite:

“Wealth is now concentrated in the hands of less than 1% of our country as the middle class disappears and we suffer the largest income disparity in our country’s history. The neoliberal Democratic Party has ceased protecting workers and unions. Many of us no longer have illusions about whether our democracy is working or serving the people. We know it does not. Corporations write the laws passed by some puppet politicians and the media distorts reality to keep the public misinformed. It’s bread and circuses. People are suffering from imposed austerity while the government doles out corporate welfare and never ceases to be able to find money to support war. Students graduate with crippling debt, and most people are under-employed with little hope of achieving what we once called the American Dream. Good jobs are outsourced so that corporations can pay slave wages in countries with no worker rights, and CEOs who used to make 50-times more than workers make 300 to 500-times more than workers. Bankers can crash the economy, causing people to lose their homes and pensions, and no one goes to jail or is held accountable. And we can’t forget, some men still think women should submit to male authority and tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies. This might be the way it is, but let us recognize it is cultural and economic abuse and exploitation!”

Despite the doom and gloom scenarios portrayed, the message of Normalizing Abuse is one of hope, that we can make a difference to ourselves, and also to others. Together, we can make the world a better place.


Tony Mierzwicki

Author of Hellenismos: Practicing Greek Polytheism Today and Graeco-Egyptian Magick: Everyday Empowerment.


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