I just finished writing a post to this song – well, sort of this song. A remake of it from the TV show “Nashville.” I wrote about work and careers… you know, the norm. But given the vast amount of ground I had to cover from a subject-matter perspective, it didn’t seem appropriate to weave in the other side of the content I love so much to share: dating and relationships.
I had this whole post penned out about talking to old flames and knowing better because if it didn’t work the first time around… what’s really likely to have changed? I hold to a one- and done- rule. I broke it once and guess what? It didn’t work the second-time around with that guy.
But then, something truly awful happened: yesterday one of my former neighbors was murdered. She was shot to death by her boyfriend… concluding an ongoing domestic violence situation.
We weren’t close, she wasn’t my “bestie” – but for this to bother me she didn’t have to be. Suddenly, talking about texts that made me roll my eyes and bad behavior by former flames just seemed downright silly. So I’m going to talk about a different kind of activity that we should “know better” than to turn a blind eye to: Domestic Violence.
Let’s start with the stats:
• An estimated 10.7% of women and 2.1% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
• Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively).
• About 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner (e.g., hit with a fist or something hard, beaten, slammed against something) at some point in their lifetime.
• Most female and male victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner (69% of female victims; 53% of male victims) experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before 25 years of age.
I guess I’m a little late for National Domestic Violence Month, which was actually last month; but the White house shared this final chilling stat in the Proclamation by the President on October 1, 2012: “Despite considerable progress in reducing domestic violence, an average of three women in the United States lose their lives every day as a result of these unconscionable acts.”
We Should Know Better: Avoiding Temptation to Turn A Blind Eye to the Cycle of Abuse
My neighbor didn’t die in a one-time domestic incident. There was a reported history of abuse. She was told by the police (1) to stay with friends until a later date according to some reports. She was trying to move out because, although there may have been additional reasons, of previous acts of abuse/violence. She had a head’s up into this man’s character/behavior but the temptation to go back and get her stuff – alone – was greater than her desire to protect herself from potential further harm. And now? She’s dead.
I’m not trying to speak ill of the dead. I understand the temptation to believe that “it’ll work out” or the desire to believe “bad things won’t happen to me.” What frustrates me is that bad things already happened to her and she had a 10-year old child who will now have to finish growing up without a mother to help raise him. I ordered the stats above in escalating levels of violence deliberately… they show us that the gunshot that ended her life? That level of violence isn’t typically the starting point with abusers nor abusive relationships. There are warning signs, there are incidents along the way that lead up to the finish… there are opportunities for us to “know better” than to continue putting ourselves in harm’s way.
I’m told it’s hard to look at someone you care about and realize they’re not just a ‘bad fit’ for you but legitimately harmful & dangerous for you to be around. The way I’m wired doesn’t support that – self-preservation and a low tolerance for pain have always been something I’ve had in spades. But I accept that there are a myriad of ways to delude yourself into being able to separate actions from emotion and intent. I accept there’s fear with leaving and that self-selecting loss can be hard for some to do. But if anyone that reads this (2) is in any kind of relationship where their physical and emotional care isn’t of EQUAL or greater concern to both parties? Please take the time to consider the kind of relationship you are in. If there’s abuse, please look at this safety plan & find someone to talk to whom you won’t fear is judging your choices. (3) Get. Help.
Lifting the Taboo: No Place to Hide With Awareness
The biggest hurdle we have to cross towards driving down the number of domestic violence occurrences – to making it clear that it’s NOT okay to hurt others – is to lift the taboo. We have to be willing to first understand what it is and call it out when we see it.. even if that could “ruin” a friendship or cause a co-worker to not like you. Wouldn’t you rather they not like you, but continue to be around?
We have to talk about it, but as William Tincup pointed out in an unrelated blog, you need a strategy with dealing with the insane. It doesn’t make sense to take this particular brand crazy on directly. If you sense there’s violence or abuse happening with someone you know, you gently talk to the victim and not the abuser. Report the situation to the authorities, but I submit you shun the equally crazy idea of confronting the attacker as they’re clearly not stable. But whatever you do, just don’t turn a blind eye & ignore it… we all know better than that.
(1) as was he
(2) because it’s too late for my former neighbor
(3) Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet and/or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer (like the public library), call your local hotline, and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) or TTY 1−800−787−3224