We don’t talk too much about it – domestic violence. Usually when we do hear about it, it’s because a true tragedy has occurred as a result of it. You know, a death of a woman or child. (By the way, men are victims of domestic violence, too; the reports are just less. There’s some speculation as to whether that’s because the incidents are fewer or because of the social stigma attached to the idea of a man being a victim of a woman abuser.) When you hear about these kinds of things, do you ever wonder what these “victims” look like? Surely they must be of a particular socio-economic class, race, ethnicity, or something, right? The answer is no.
Take a minute and look at out your front door or window at your neighbor – the one who waves to you every morning as you both leave for work. Look at your co-worker – the one who seems to bother nobody and simply comes to work, does their job, goes home, and appears to go unnoticed. Look at your brother, sister, cousin, niece, and nephew. Now, go look at yourself in the mirror. THAT is what a victim of domestic violence looks like.
Like many viral diseases, domestic violence is a crime that literally crosses all social, economical, racial, ethnic, gender, and age barriers. There’s no such thing as a victim that’s “too young” or “too old”. Affluency or the lack thereof has no bearing.
Remember: Domestic violence is a “power” crime. It’s one person’s need to feel control over another person. On average, it’s not even an anger-management issue – although there is a definite cycle of abuse and ways to identify abusers by their behavior that we’re going to discuss in future articles. And, domestic violence isn’t just a physical beat-down, either. Physical abuse certainly is a form of domestic violence (and the one we do hear the most about – because of the tragedies that do sometimes occur), but there’s also mental, emotional, and even financial abuse, that the legal system of our country appear to not even give credence to. In fact, many DV survivors say they’d prefer to be beaten than forced to endure the mental, emotional, and other forms of domestic violence, stating that bruises go away and bones heal, but your emotions, self-worth, and mental strength is much more difficult to recover once it’s been broken.
Here’s what we know for sure: without people getting outraged about this travesty within our country, the cycle of abuse will continue. There will always be those who grew up in abusive home situations and replicate it in their own relationships, and there will always be those among us who either already suffer from low self-esteem or don’t but find themselves in an abusive relationship and think they can “beat the odds”. Without intervention, neither of these situations ends well. Will you be just ONE who decides to become enraged? Will you educate yourself and stand up for those who, for whatever reason, may be unable to do so for themselves right now? Will YOU make a difference – so that when you look at your family members, neighbors, and co-workers you’re not wondering what’s going on behind their closed doors in the evening and on the weekend? Start now.
In the Wichita area, a victim can seek counseling, shelter, and other forms of help from the YWCA Women’s Crisis Center/Safehouse (Hotline: 316-267-SAFE – women and children), Catholic Charities Harbor House (Hotline: 316-263-6000 – women and children), Union Rescue Mission (Hotline: 316-265-0132 – men only), and Senior Safe House (Hotline: 316-685-1821 – seniors only). And, if you’re not a victim but want to help support these charities and their endeavors, contact them about making a donation or volunteering your time. (On February 27, 2011, Catholic Charities will be hosting their 18th Annual Cruise Night to raise funds for Harbor House and its fight against domestic violence. Go to http://www.catholiccharitieswichita.org/index.php/events/cruise-night-2010/ to learn more and order tickets.)