I just learned yesterday that October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This started my thinking about this major epidemic that seems to be growing worldwide and what I might be able to do in order to help to find a solution to this problem. And after hours of pondering this matter, I realized that I have absolutely no idea about what to do.
October is also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and for that we have a very well-defined message and ultimate solution.
Despite laws that are already in place, the problem continues to escalate. For those who are arrested for abuse, they will most likely return to their victims and punish them with even greater abuse for having reported them. There is also the element of fear that comes with abuse as the abuser threatens their victims that if they tell, they will be killed, their families will be made to suffer or at the very least, they will be abused again.We want women to be tested for cancer, to receive the treatments needed when cancer is diagnosed and to raise funds for continued cancer research to find a cure. But what about domestic violence? There is no course of action that can be outlined or a cure to be found to eliminate it from our lives. While this problem continues to grow, the solutions are nowhere to be found. And as much as I consider myself to be a pretty good problem solver, I have absolutely no answers to the domestic abuse issue.
In order to change the outcome of a particular situation, we must first look at the cause for it. In the case of domestic violence, there are so many causes not the least of which are what people choose to teach their children such as men are suppose to control women, that women are their property and that men are king of their castles. In such cases, the women are treated as servants and their behavior is controlled in all aspects and when the women are not compliant, they will suffer the appropriate consequences for their non-compliance. Then there are those whose own self-esteem is so low that they feel that their power exists in their ability to control others, be it a wife, a girlfriend, a boyfriend, children and even animals. And for those who sexually abuse children, I don’t know what the mental process is that would allow for such a behavior to even be conceived in the first place so I am inclined to believe that there is some sort of mental imbalance. And I truly believe that all physical abuse of any kind is made worse by substance abuse.
So, what might be a solution? Despite laws that are already in place, the problem continues to escalate. For those who are arrested for abuse, they will most likely return to their victims and punish them with even greater abuse for having reported them. There is also the element of fear that comes with abuse as the abuser threatens their victims that if they tell, they will be killed, their families will be made to suffer or at the very least, they will be abused again. There are also those abusers who actually convince their victims that it was the victim’s fault that this happened, that they asked for it by not listening or disobeying the rules or dressing too provocatively or spending too much money or flirting with someone else, etc. The list goes on forever. And there are those who are in positions of authority who abuse because they know that they will not be arrested or charged or if they are, they will be able to buy their way out of the situation or resort to the old adage that it is your word against theirs and who is going to believe anyone other than the powerful person.
I don’t think that there is much that we can do other than what we are already doing. Anyone who is not or has not been a victim cannot begin to understand abuse and therefore, is not likely to even care about it as it doesn’t affect them. To fight for more legislation will only increase the likelihood that the abuser will increase his abusive behavior. No laws or restraining orders or the promise of greater punishment will ever deter a true abuser who is usually so angry that they are not even able to contain themselves if they realize that what they are doing is wrong.
The only thing that we can do is to help those who choose to leave. If a woman needs to leave an abusive situation, she needs a safe place to go and to take her children, if necessary. Those who are abused need to be able to file for an order of protection and to know that if the order is violated, they can find a safe haven from their abusers. Nothing will ever stop the retribution from all abusers just as nothing will stop all murderers from killing but we can do more to offer protection and a new start to those who need it. That is the message that I would like to be the core of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, you can seek help through the National Domestic Violence Hotline – 800-799-SAFE (7233) – 1.800.787.3224 (TTY).
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.