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									                          DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EXISTS

We have much to be proud of in our relatively short battle against domestic
violence. Huge strides have been made in enforcement, prosecution, sanctions,
advocacy, training and public awareness. Each of these are essential ingredients
for the comprehensive approach of combating this social scourge.

Where we fall short however, is the incessant blaming, finger-pointing and
justifying the behavior. I am not talking about the dedicated professionals who are
knee deep in the muck of domestic violence attempting to accomplish the tasks
previously mentioned. The people I am referring to are the general public; our
friends, relatives and neighbors who feel compelled to offer commentary on the
state of affairs of domestic violence. Otherwise intelligent and learned individuals
who somehow believe domestic abuse is caused by such influences as the full moon,
holiday stress, bad economy, lousy weather or furry caterpillars. Ok, the last one
was a little facetious but you know what I am getting at.

Let’s be frank here, domestic violence isn’t caused, it exists. It exists in the
hearts, minds and souls of a select group of our fellow man who feel the need or
compulsion to resort to violence to achieve their selected goals.

For each person who batters, there exists a rationale unique to their
circumstances. For some it is a calculated and strategic approach in maintaining
complete control of the actions of another. If you have ever seen or heard about
the “Power and Control Wheel”, then you will understand the motivation of these
individuals. For those abusers that fall within this category, the tools available are
endless and powerful. Financial restrictions, isolation, male privilege, sex, child
custody are just a few of the means by which individuals hold court and maintain
authority, power and control over others.

A common response I hear from victims of domestic violence is, “This is the first
time he has hit me.” This may be true but sadly the abuse has gone on for years. A
common phrase I use in these situations is that not all abuse is violent. When I
share with these victims the various forms abuse can take, I receive a wide range
of reactions. Some are angry at the abuser, some angry at me for pointing out the
truth they have tried so hard to suppress and for many others the light finally
comes on with the realization of the situation they are in. I still get those who
refuse to acknowledge they are in abusive relationships despite the overwhelming
evidence to the contrary. For these individuals, I attempt to paint a picture clearly
showing the level of elevating abuse perpetrated on them over time. I lay out a
scenario that shows a pattern of abuse that begins somewhat benignly but
escalates to the physicality. My goal is to show how violence is simply the next rung
on the domestic abuse ladder.

There is another group of batterers with a much different agenda; they have none.
These individuals lack the ability for rational thought or civil reasoning and react
with force or violence in the natural course of events. Their emotional tool bags
tend to be void of resources. Because they may lack evil intent, they are no less
dangerous nor should they be granted any sympathy or excuses provided them.

Then of course are the victims. I believe there are as many stereotypical opinions
and public sentiment about abused women as for those that perpetrate the abuse.
As mentioned previously, many are quick to supply what seem to be logical
explanations and excuses to rationalize domestic abuse. When one mentions the
victims of abuse however, the tone takes on a much more accusatory flavor,
frequently blaming the victim for the abuse or at minimum criticizing them for not
exiting the abusive environment.

Violence of any kind affects us all to some degree. Ignoring violence or pretending
it does not exist doesn’t make it go away. Justifying the behavior or blaming the
victim only emboldens those that abuse.

The battle against violence in our society cannot be successfully fought by just
those in the trenches. Until all of us have had enough and are willing to take a
stand and hold batterers accountable, the battles will linger. Quoting Gandhi, “You
must be the change you want to see in the world”.

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