As I watched the recent RockScar Love video that featured intimate personal stories about scars, I though of another type of scar that plagues our society. This scar is silent and cloaked from public view by threats and shame – domestic violence. To help remove the cloak of secrecy, Dr. Phil McGraw has dedicated his 2012 weekly television program on domestic abuse. I’m enlightened by much of his work and feel it’s worthy of support.
Domestic Violence Awareness – Silent No More
Did you realize that an important awareness campaign, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, occurs each October? Many people know that October is a month in which we honor and recognize breast cancer survivors. But the Domestic Violence Awareness campaign provides an equally important message of awareness to the public. The campaign seeks to empower and increase the safety of women suffering from domestic abuse. These women often suffer silently in their homes, despairing and weeping alone.
Domestic violence affects women of all ages, education levels, and socioeconomic status. On average, three American women die each day and one in four women will experience domestic violence at some point in their life. I can’t imagine any other pervasive social ill that could cause such deep, long-term physical and emotional scars.
If you ever get to know or speak to someone (usually a woman) who has lived through a season of domestic abuse and escaped, you will likely want to embrace her as a survivor.
Understanding Domestic Abuse
Many people, who haven’t experienced domestic abuse, or have never known a person suffering under its iron hand, find it difficult to understand. Many victims of domestic abuse suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, crushed self-esteem, and a condition that approaches StockhoIm Syndrome (a condition in which a prisoner becomes deeply attached to his or her captor).
To truly understand the manifestations and complex dynamics of domestic violence, experts would need to examine each victim independently and then collectively.
Domestic Violence – Humanity’s Scar of Shame
Ultimately, the specter of domestic violence represents an invisible scar upon the already tattered body of humanity. Unchecked, it gets passed down through generations – a behavior learned by the innocent eyes of children who watch their mothers – their source of hope and protection – suffer at the hands of a domestic adult (overwhelmingly a male). Its time has passed – the day has come to STOP the cycle of domestic violence. Perpetrators, once wounded by witnessing domestic violence in their own homes, frequently carry on the dark lesson of control and power over others.
When you see the pictures of singer Rihanna, bruised and broken beyond recognition, you get a glimpse into the dark secret hidden away in many couples and families that appear ideal on the surface, but seethe with pain and despair on the inside.
So what can we, as a community, do the stop domestic violence? To end something we cannot see? I wish I had all the answers, but I don’t. Right now, my answer is for us to band together and say, “Enough! Save our children from this valley of tears and help them make a return to innocence.
Culture of Violence – Indecent Inheritance
American children, frequently even in functional homes, become exposed to a culture of violence and a warped picture of family life – thanks to pop culture and an irresponsible media industry. No child should have to witness his or her mother (or other primary female caregiver) suffer under the mantle of domestic abuse. Female child witnesses of domestic abuse often grow up to marry an abuser. They’ve accepted the only perception of men they know – they accept their mother’s cloak of despair. Male child witnesses, although horrified as children to see their mothers suffer, often grow up to treat women the way they learned from their male father figures.
Time to speak up and burn the cloak of secrecy. Heal our collective shame born out of our silence and stand up for victims of domestic abuse.
The graph illustrates a simplistic explanation of the cycle of violence.
Won’t you join me in building awareness and education about domestic violence this October and beyond? Help dry up this valley of tears and bring in the winds of hope.