“What do you mean domestic violence is a men’s issue?”
“Men are abused too.”
“Why doesn’t she just leave?”
“If she would just listen more, he wouldn’t have to ... .”
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“Men are supposed to be the leader and in charge.”
“She must have done something to ask for it.”
“How can it be domestic violence, he doesn’t hit her?”
Have you ever thought, said or heard any of the above statements? Chances are you have. These are comments that are, unfortunately, prevalent when there is a discussion related to domestic violence. I hope that by the end of this brief article you will see that these statements are really missing the bigger picture.
It is unfortunate that we have experienced a number of homicides in the last year related to domestic violence putting this in the forefront of many of our minds. This also brings the reality to us that, yes, domestic violence is still among us. Yes, it is in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces and even in the pews.
As a man, it was really hard at first for me to hear things like, domestic violence is a men’s issue or as long as we have a paternalistic-oriented, male-favored society, we will have domestic violence or as long as we have women’s football teams that are paid less and have to wear less clothes than men, we will have domestic violence.
Yes, it is true that we men do live as more privileged of the genders. As much as I want to believe this to not be true, I can’t get away from the fact that it is true. Women and girls are victims of violence at a much higher rate than we men. Women and girls are treated as objects and possessions. Just watch an evening of TV and you will see it reflected over and over again. It is sad that, as a generality, we as a society have accepted these as the norm.
I want to stand and shout that this is not fair or right! We need to develop a culture that respects and provides safety for all women and girls. We as men need to be a role model for appropriate attitudes and behaviors with women and girls. We need to support the teaching of these more appropriate values to boys from an early age.
Domestic violence is a complex issue for which there is no “one answer” as the solution. We all, however, can take some simple steps to begin to bring about change. Begin having conversations with friends and loved ones about relationships. The more we can make these conversations a part of our daily lives, the more likely those experiencing domestic violence or relationship issues will feel comfortable coming to us. When we have these conversations we need to be careful to not project judgment on the individual. We need to make sure that we are not blaming them for being the victim or tell them they are weak for not leaving an abusive situation. We all need to make sure our relationships are respectful of others and speak out against the imposition of power, control or violence over others.
We appreciate everyone who joins us in our efforts to end violence against women and girls. You can find more resources at our website: dvsbf.org or follow us on Facebook.
Daniel Aspiri, is the executive director for the Domestic Violence Services of Benton & Franklin Counties.