In honor of domestic violence awareness month, I would like to share my thoughts on the matter-specifically intimate partner violence against women. Statistics are that 1 in every 4 women will be impacted by domestic violence. That means that if you stand in a circle with three other women, 1 out of the 4 of you will have been impacted by domestic violence. I can tell you that the matter is personal one for me. As a young girl I was particularly impacted by abuse I witnessed between two people I loved. Due to the things that I witnessed, I grew up with anger, confusion, and resentment especially towards one of the persons I love-the woman. Why? Because I blamed her. I thought why don’t you leave? What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see that this is wrong treatment ? Don’t you value yourself more than that? Later in adulthood, I blamed for her for not being “strong” enough to leave years prior.
However, after I began to learn more about domestic violence and how complex it is, I learned it is not the victim’s fault to stay in an abusive relationship. It may be out of necessity, fear of further physical abuse or death, or multiple other reasons she stays or returns back to her abuser. Little resources, shame, blame, experiencing depression or post traumatic stress, not to mention being a mother, or being part of a culture in which abuse is tolerated or condoned, may make it difficult for her to leave. Victim blaming I learned is not only insensitive, but nonsensical, and serves to hurt rather than solve the problem of violence against women.
What about the abuser? What about him causes him to initiate violence and think it’s OK? Culture, societal values, machismo? Maybe he grew up in an abusive home himself and learned that violence is an acceptable way to manage his emotions. Whichever the rationale- violence towards women is wrong and unacceptable on all levels. The devastation it creates is inexplicable-for the victim, their children, and other family members or loved ones. Solutions must be developed and implemented to address abuse- I believe not only on an individual level but on a societal level. The time for discomfort and leaving the matter to be resolved between a couple should be no more.