I have spent a lot of time in the last 13 years writing about, teaching, speaking, and training about domestic and dating violence. I have worked with victims directly, have coordinated many events, and have lobbied for legislative change. It still intrigues me that the question I am asked most frequently is whether I was a victim, as if that status determines my credibility.
I understand that the question comes in part because the battered women’s movement was started by survivors, and at many domestic violence shelters, a large percent of the staff has experienced abuse. But it also seems to emanate from a feeling that no one devotes themselves to an issue if it doesn’t or hasn’t personally affected them. I have seen that perspective about racism, homophobia, and other social issues, and I find it very troubling.
In the U.S., it seems, the only way to get support for domestic violence work is to schlep out a survivor who will tell a horrific tale. Many studies have shown that an individual hero garners far more funding than does an overview of the scope of the problem. While those stories are very important to give voice to survivors, it is also sad that people cannot see why they should help a cause simply because it is one—not because their mother, sister, aunt, cousin, or friend could be a victim but because anyone can. Furthermore, not all survivors want to publicly share their stories, nor should they feel obligated to speak for the movement.
It saddens me that I feel like my contribution is sometimes minimized or even missed because I cannot share a sad story of my own victimization. I believe there is indeed a space for people who study abuse, academically and personally, and truly seek to understand and explain it. Allies in a cause should be welcomed if they are knowledgeable and willing.
I am thankful for the opportunity to share this perspective via The Good Men Project. I am thankful to Matthew Johnson for the opportunity. And I am hopeful that the commentary I have offered about domestic and dating violence has been helpful to someone.
Here are more ways to become a part of The Good Men Project community:
Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.
Click here to become a Premium Member of The Good Men Project Community. Have access to these benefits:
- Get access to an exclusive “Members Only” Group on Facebook
- Join our Social Interest Groups—weekly calls about topics of interest in today’s world
- View the website with no ads
- Get free access to classes, workshops, and exclusive events
- Be invited to an exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” with other Premium Members
- Commenting badge.
Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday. If you already have a final draft, then click below to send your post through our submission system.
If you are already working with an editor at GMP, please be sure to name that person. If you are not currently working with a GMP editor, one will be assigned to you.
Are you a first-time contributor to The Good Men Project? Submit here:
Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here:
Do you have previously published work that you would like to syndicate on The Good Men Project? Click here:
Join our exclusive weekly “Call with the Publisher” — where community members are encouraged to discuss the issues of the week, get story ideas, meet other members and get known for their ideas? To get the call-in information, either join as a member or wait until you get a post published with us. Here are some examples of what we talk about on the calls.
While you’re at it, get connected with our social media:
Shutterstock ID: 1285858291