I am frustrated by the media coverage of domestic violence. In our culture, sensationalism and caricature replace discussion of the intimate human experience. Until we are honest about why people become abusers or victims, we will not be able to stop fixating on the “other.” When it comes to domestic violence, there is no “other.” One in four women are victims of domestic violence. That isn’t one in four women you or I don’t know. That is one in four women that you and I know, and perhaps that woman is you or me or your friend or your colleague.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It is also the awareness month for breast cancer. How much good do these awareness months do? Honestly, I have no idea, but as a woman who lived in domestic violence I feel obligated to write something. I do not wish to add to the myth that all women who are victims of domestic violence don’t leave because they don’t have the money. This automatically floods the reader’s mind, if they are financially stable, with images of someone other than them. Many women trapped in an abusive relationship are not financially stable, but it is dangerous to paint this fact as the norm. Such an assumption blinds us to understanding how pervasive domestic violence is in our society.
Why do abusive men become abusive? Why do abused women become abused? We need to be honest about what we can do to change that, and not indulge ourselves with the NFL or the latest easy target. All that does is shine the spotlight on a remote event which should be revealed for its outrageousness but not as the solution to a very personal problem.