October is a month that has been set aside for Domestic Violence Awareness. However, in light of recent events, I felt compelled to share my thoughts on domestic violence. While I personally have not been a witness to domestic violence, I cannot help but express the pain of seeing others who are either directly or indirectly impacted by domestic violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.”
For many people in Baltimore, MD, my place of birth, this will no doubt be a subject of great emphasis given to this with the recent events of The Baltimore Ravens dismissal running back Ray Rice. At just 27 years of age, it may very well be the end of a most promising career for this young man who America has now come to see footage that reveals the horrendous beating of his then fiancé, now wife, Janay Rice.
According to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- 1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 10 men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- 30.3% of women in the United States have been slapped, pushed, or shoved by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
To some people these are just a bunch of numbers. However, if you’ve ever spent the day walking through your local mall, grocery store, down a city street, sat in a movie theater or on a public beach, the idea of imagining that one of ever three women that you’d pass, or one of every ten men has probably been a victim of domestic violence, then it hits home how devastating these statistic really are and how important it is that we work to not just bring attention to it, but do our part to end it.
Before my wife and I knew each other, her daughter was shaken violently, which culminated in Traumatic Brain Injury via Shaken Baby Syndrome. She’s endured years of rehabilitation, had to adjust to being legally blind, and so many other things that I hesitate to even begin to list. Through it all, she has managed to excel in school.
Why do I share all of this with you? First of all, as I write this, she is enjoying her first full month as a student in high school. Second, as parents, one of the things my wife and I stress with all of our children is the need to protect one another, and to refrain from hitting one another. This second part is not always easy to convey, but it does not stop us from stressing it the more. We understand that how they treat each other as family is the foundation of how they will treat others outside the family and home.
We model proper conduct before our children as well as have continual discussions with them because we know that things like this don’t become character traits over night. More importantly is that we always let them know that in the case of someone hurting them, that the should not lash out in retaliation, but to always let us or someone in authority know what happened. The road to good character is developed through time and experience. The more we make the point, get it across to them, and they grow to understand its importance, the closer we come to sending out into the world people who are strong in virtue and character.
I remember a few years ago of someone I met in an airport who was in a very troubling domestic relationship. I was pleased when after much praying with her she made the decision to get out of that relationship.
Too often, people may feel as though confronting someone who is going through domestic violence is being intrusive or interfering. However, as Christians people are to know us by the love we show. When Jesus is teaching one day, he shared a story of a Samaritan. In the story, he tell of how unlike the priest and the Levite before him, stopped to look on a man who had been beaten and left for dead. The moral of the story was to convey the message that we can only truly say we have love for our neighbor or anyone for that matter, when we become involved, sometimes even at great personal expense. The Domestic Violence Resource Center Victoria lists several ways in which someone can proactively assist someone you may believe or know is in a domestic abuse situation.
As this month continues, pray earnestly for those who have been and are currently in abusive domestic entanglements. Pray for them to find the courage to get help or accept the help from those who truly love them. Pray even the more earnestly that those who are the perpetrators of abuse find help for their aggression and misplaced fury. At the end of the day, many abusers were and are victims in their own respects.
QUESTION: Are you a survivor of domestic violence or know someone who has faced it? How did you handle it? How did it affect your own life?