Domestic violence is an ugly stain on humanity that has continued for generations. It crosses all cultures, all races, and all social economic statuses. It’s not just about the angry dad who got drunk and couldn’t control himself. Nor is it just about the mom who is completely overwhelmed with life and lashes out physically towards anyone one in her path. Those are the pictures so many think of when they hear the words domestic violence. The reality is, domestic violence can happen in anyone’s home at any time. It can happen for any number of reasons. And contrary to what many think, it doesn’t always come with a glaring warning. It can happen to both women and men as well as their children. Highly intelligent people are at risk too as it does not just strike those of us with average intelligence. It is a creature of pain, isolation, and humiliation that causes deep wounds inflicted by deeply wounded people.
Even though we live in a society that has more resources than ever before to help those in these situations, we still hear stories of those who didn’t make it out. A recent story about a former judge that killed his ex-wife tore at my soul. Knowing that this woman tried to move on yet ultimately lost her life reminds one of a tv movie but this is reality over and over again. It made me wonder, what happened in the mind of this man that caused him to become that way. Both families are now left behind to pick up the pieces and ask questions they may never really know any of the answers to. Irreparable harm is done and time after time, society asks why with no resolve.
National statistics on domestic violence say 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe domestic violence. What can we do about this? How can we teach our children more effective coping methods so they can grow up to be healthy functioning people? Where is that pivotal turning point that damages our once sweet children and turns them into wounded souls who could ultimately do the unthinkable to another? Who is there to blame? Is it a society that turns a blind eye to behavioral health issues until it’s too late? Is it families who are simply trying to survive so they miss the signs of distressed children? Is it a culture that says if you appear to be weaker you will get mistreated and people will say shout out the tired, and illogical statement “man up or woman up?” Is it the portrayal of control and command one must have that we see in our valiant heroes in movies and television shows who are pressed to let people know who the boss is?
The truth of the matter is that blaming won’t fix the problem. We must begin to recognize first there IS a problem and work in our own homes to resolve it. Are we having conversations with our children about effective ways to communicate, how to show love, how to be loved and how to handle rejection? Are we allowing our children to feel sadness from being rejected every now and then while we teach them skills in resilience to get through the issues? Are we looking at our children through a real-world lens and making sure the things that are concerning are dealt with early on or are we ignoring them because somehow something being wrong with OUR kid means there is something wrong with us? Are we teaching our children who are growing up in a world full of online fantasies that things won’t always go as planned in real life?
Fathers, brothers, uncles, and grandfathers alike can have a role in helping to curb domestic violence. How, you ask? Become the advocate against domestic violence in your own family. Pay attention to the interactions of the children in your family early on whether they are your children or those of other relatives. Help them resolve disputes and deal with hurt feelings by working through them instead of lashing out. Acknowledge the feelings. Help them put names to the feelings they are experiencing. Help them learn to mediate conflicts. Talk to the young teens in your family about how to manage relationships and when to walk away from escalating emotional situations. And most of all learn and teach resilience! Resilience is key. If there is a need for counseling, make it happen! There is no shame in the prevention of domestic voilence. Counseling is between the counselor and the person receiving counseling..not the whole world. Help others to become the best people they can be before they make choices that could impact them negatively for the rest of their lives.
To get more information on domestic violence prevention programs and find out how you can volunteer by contacting the National Domestic Violence program in your area.
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