I remember when I was first exposed to domestic abuse. I was young, a child, and at one of my closest girl friends house. We used to sit upstairs as her dad was beaten by the god awful step-mother. Yes the step-monster was beating the father figure of the house. Role reversal? Domestic abuse happens against men and women. I cringe thinking about that monster. I cringe thinking about how abuse was being tolerated.
Times have changed and in 2011, life is different. We have excessive access to the internet, predator databases and frequently have the opportunity to voice our opinion.
This year domestic violence has hit close to home. One of the most important families in my world has been immersed in a brutal divorce, which has included both a custody battle and constant spousal abuse. I have witnessed this man be completely out of his mind, causing so much havoc in his children’s lives. With every poor decision he makes, the children suffer. Tears, meltdowns and so much more. After helping this mother and children work through the drama over the past few months, I finally thought I could put domestic violence behind me.
Violence is everywhere. We see it constantly in media – whether it be a newspaper or a Facebook update. We see boys get a little too rough when playing outside. We see girls fight and pull each others hair. We see murder occur in our neighbourhoods. We see political figures plan assassinations. We see terrorism.
Violence is not the answer – whether it be in the world or the home.
Last week I received an email that made my eyes fill with tears. A girlfriend’s boyfriend had taken anger to the next level. This boyfriend took his anger out on my friend.
My heart shattered in two.
I couldn’t believe what I was reading.
I immediately thought – she doesn’t deserve this. She deserves the world. Well you know what… we all do.
The Canadian Women’s Foundation and the Violence Prevention Fund provide some statistics:
- HALF of Canadian women (51%) have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16.
- EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY a Canadian woman or child is being sexually assaulted.
- One to two women are murdered by a current or former partner EACH WEEK in Canada.
- Women experience higher rates than men of sexual assault, STALKING, serious spousal assaults and spousal homicide.
- In 2004, TWICE AS MANY WOMEN than men were beaten by their partners and four times as many were choked.
- Women are five times more likely to FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES as a result of spousal violence: the violence or threat of violence was so severe that 38% of women feared for their lives compared with 7% of men.
- Every year in Canada, up to 360,000 CHILDREN are exposed to domestic violence.
I know what you’re thinking. “I don’t know anyone who has suffered from abuse… of course I don’t…” Domestic violence is aggressive physical behaviour, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, controlling behaviours, intimidation, stalking, neglect, economic abuse, and so much more.
Now think of your family and friends?
Think about how many of them are in nurturing, healthy relationships?
Whether husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend, common-law partner or random encounter… domestic abuse makes me angry.
I want to shout all their evil names to the world.
I want to ruin their reputation.
I truly believe that if people know what they have done, they would be done.
But that’s not how it works. We have a legal system. We have the police. We have process.
Process is process. Time consuming and lengthy… but in these situations, we can’t not get the police involved. As citizens we have a right to report acts of violence and to adopt a zero tolerance policy when it comes to abuse against anyone.
Today I will ask you to make a promise to me.
A promise to…
… not commit violent acts.
… not stay silent when violent acts are committed.
… report incidents of domestic violence.
… teach people around your children about respect and self-esteem.
To the women that I know and love, that I barely know, and the random blog stumbler two years from now:
You are not meant to be harmed.
You are not meant to feel humiliated.
You are not meant to be treated like a child.
You are not meant to fear for your life.
Do everything you can to protect yourself. Do everything you can to live the life you have imagined.
With absolutely all my heart,