Violence in all its forms is an attack on the dignity and humanity of another living being. When the attack comes from someone you love and who says they love you, it shatters something inside.
One of the biggest, often-unrecognized truths about domestic violence is that it is not a private issue – as if only between two people. It isn’t. The impact of domestic violence is broader, deeper, and more costly to our society. We must be willing to see that if there is to be more movement toward ending domestic violence. It affects children who are exposed to the violence, it affects family members who witness or know about it, it affects neighbors who hear it, it affects those who intervene, and others who are part of the social fabric of that family. One has to only see the domestic violence incidents of public figures – professional sports players, politicians, actors – as they rightly get visibility. It is in these moments that it touches my children. They are avid sports fans and news aficionados and hear these stories. As a parent, it is my responsibility to discuss with my boys what domestic violence is, remind them about the role of respect in all healthy relationships – respect for themselves and others. More broadly, the magnitude of domestic violence rates affects public resources in the criminal and civil justice systems, law enforcement resources, health systems, aid programs, etc.
It is well recognized that domestic violence is a power and control issue – the need of one person to assert power and control over another. My question is this: who has the power and control to end domestic violence? One reason I am bothered by the question “why doesn’t she leave?” is that it assumes that she has the full power and control to end the domestic violence experience. The courageous leaders in the domestic violence field and movement will tell you that is rarely the case. The intersection of domestic violence with so many other realities facing a victim, and her or his family, can make leaving a more vulnerable option. Who then has the power and control to end domestic violence? I propose that we all do, in the form of prevention and early intervention. I propose that we start using language and actions that prioritize the dignity and equality of every person. I propose that we have relentless courage to speak truth in the face of resistance, lack of understanding, lack of accountability, and ignorance.
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