Do we really need to make people more aware of domestic violence? We have had many public service announcements, sports celebrities speaking out against domestic violence, and the victims of abuse, some celebrity victims are speaking out. I think everyone is aware it exists, it is no longer considered to be a “private matter”.
The legal system; police, judges, etc have made some strides in how they deal with the victims of abuse, but any progress is slow.
Stats actually show an increase in the number of domestic violence cases, which just happens to coincide with government cutbacks to programs and services for the victims of domestic violence since the economic crash.
In Canada, if a woman wants to leave an abusive relationship and calls one of the shelters she is told there are no beds available. When I was looking there wasn’t space in any shelters from Chilliwack to White Rock and certainly nothing if you had a pet.
And as I have mentioned numerous times before; welfare rates are sorrowfully inadequate, extremely so if you are a single woman. There is a bit more help for women with children but let’s be serious; all mom’s want their children to be happy. The prospect of taking them to a shelter or struggling to provide for them is scarey and the last thing a mother wants to do. Then the courts rule that the dad gets visitation, he is on a slander campaign and playing the victim. More than likely the children miss their daddy and he is putting on pressure to “put the family back together”.
On top of everything else the victim has to deal with, she probably has PTSD, and also is dealing with the prejudices and misconceptions of not only society but those closest to her; her friends and family. Old stereotypes die hard and when you are struggling to find the strength to get up every morning the last thing you should have to listen to is the judgements of others.
All the “awareness” in the world is not going to put an end to domestic abuse. Until we can breakthrough old stereotypes I am afraid we will continue to repeat history. What old stereotypes am I talking about?
Stereotypes people don’t even realize they have; which makes them so hard to break through.
I am almost 7 years out of the relationship and can still feel the sting when someone says something off the cuff that they don’t mean as an insult. I know they would be surprised if they knew how much it hurts.
Let me clarify, I correct their erroneous belief but I don’t tell them how much it hurts; for a couple of reasons
1. I don’t want to make a huge deal out of it and make them feel bad or embarrass them.
2. These people have known me my whole life and been with me through the past 7 years. What is it that makes it so hard for them to “get it”.
I have to dig deep to not let it get to me and I am not freshly out of the relationship with raw emotions and shattered self esteem.
In the past few months I have dealt with extreme anger because I had gone back numerous times. The same fact was used as justification for someone I trusted to screw me over and lie about me, telling people the reason they did what they did was because I had gone back to my ex. I said to them that I hadn’t gone back to my ex and they said, “But you had gone back many times.”
My reply, “Yes, I had gone back but not that time. Not until you turned everyone against me and I felt totally deserted and thrown to the wolves did I go back.”
It seems when the victim is at their lowest they end up being subjected to mistreatment by the very people who should have their back.
The other false assumption is that the victim is stupid, can’t handle finances, and is emotionally unstable.
I was voicing some concerns for a young lady who recently started dating a guy I picked up some red flags on. I was shocked when someone who I have known 30 years said not to worry about her, she’s not the “type” to get involved with a narcissist. She is level headed, got her priorities straight and not about to fall for an asshole.
This is so much bigger than telling women to not be ashamed and it wasn’t their fault because if we don’t change beliefs that are deeply embedded in our psyche we will keep inadvertently shaming the victim into silence. Women feel forced to try to solve or fix the relationship on her own. A strong woman will be more likely to stay and try to figure out how to fix things because up until now she has always been capable an able to solve situations. She usually has strong communication skills and keeps trying to convey her feelings thinking sooner or later she will be able to explain, to the N; why she is so hurt and he will have an epiphany and go back to the sweet man she met.
A strong woman will stick it out longer in hopes of saving enough resources to leave without help from anyone. A strong woman will try to just “get over it” without talking about it because she has always been able to land on her feet in the past. A strong woman is much more likely to keep silent because she is embarrassed to be in the situation she finds herself in.
Silence pertetuates the problem.
What preconceived beliefs do you or did you hold about victims of abuse? What prejudices have you encountered?
A final thought;
Yes, I know men also suffer from abuse. I am not saying they don’t. But! Women are 4.2 times more likely to be abused or die at the hands of their intimate partner.
1 in 4 women in North America and 1 in 3 women worldwide will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
In the US there are 960,000 reported incidents of domestic abuse annually.
On an average 3 women and 1 man die daily of domestic violence.
95% of domestic violence victims are female.
I speak out primarily for female victims of domestic violence because it is what I have experienced and women are at a much higher risk. Violence against women is at an epidemic level and it is not getting any better.
If you are a man who feels men need a spokesperson I encourage you to do that. I do not hate men, I do believe in love, and I believe there is nothing better than being in a loving, healthy, respectful relationship (except maybe owning a dog)
It is like Black Lives Matter and people saying All Lives Matter. BLM activists are speaking out for black people, they are not saying other nationalities are not persecuted. But each group of victims have their own unique challenges and prejuices to over come.
As a society we can all work towards ending violence and racism by simply speaking out and not turning a blind eye when we see abuse of any kind. Do what is right, not what is easy. Have the guts to speak up when you hear people expressing prejudice and racism.
Its time everyone realized we all play a role in how society functions and take an honest inventory of our beliefs and own how our actions or inaction affects others. “I don’t want to get involved” is no longer acceptable because by not getting involved you are perpetuating the problem.