Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Umbrella of Truth about Domestic Violence…

March 13, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( Domestic violence is the oldest offense affecting human kind. It has no boundaries when it comes to race, culture, religion, socio economic status and even gender. Each year nearly three million women are victims of domestic violence; about 10% of them actually die at the hands of their abusers.

Domestic violence is insidious and it is systemic. In this country, it is the number one public safety issue affecting women and girls. I’ve always held the belief that victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse are not born – they are raised, groomed and mentored at our kitchen tables and at our footstools.

To find the next generation of victims and perpetrators of domestic violence we have to look no further than our children who watch how we handle conflict, frustration, disappointment and the loss of control when it comes to our interpersonal relationships. When they see it, they are more inclined to “be it.” Whether it’s a young girl seeing her mom battered by the man in her life, or a young boy watching his father abuse his wife or intimate partner. Experts contend that violence and victimization are learned behaviors.

I think we go through cycles of consciousness-raising when it comes to domestic violence. In fact we are going through a cycle right now. It’s interesting to see how two high profile domestic violence cases are played out in the media and how they have awakened our consciousness from a deep slumber.

In Tehran, Iran, 24-year-old Ameneh Bahrami was a victim of an atrocious act of violence. Majid Movahed, a spurned suitor who had harassed and threaten her for two years, did the unthinkable when she flat out rejected his marriage proposal. While Ameneh was waiting at a bus stop after class, Majid threw acid in her eyes and mouth and ran away. She was permanently blinded and has undergone more than a dozen surgeries with more to come. Her attacker turned himself in and was convicted of the assault. Under Islamic law, attack victims could demand an eye-for-an-eye, literally, but most victims accept money in lieu of this kind of retaliatory punishment.

But not Ameneh. She wanted that eye-for-an-eye and the judges have sentenced her attacker to be blinded with drops of acid in each eye. That sentence will be carried out later this month. Human rights activists have criticized her for making this barbaric choice but she said, “I don’t want to blind him for revenge, I’m doing this to prevent it from happening to someone else.”

In Los Angeles, California an affidavit released by the Los Angeles Police Department revealed details of the assault that took place against pop singer Rihanna by her boyfriend, R&B singer Chris Brown during an argument. The affidavit contained a painful and savage account of the ordeal that has made its way around the internet and around the world.

The barrage of punches the 21-year-old starlet sustained to her eyes and face; the threats of violence; the biting of her ear; and the headlock she was placed in in an effort to make her lose consciousness were acts of violence that showed how dangerously out of control the 19-year-old Brown was. And the photo that was taken of Rihanna’s bruised, bloodied, and badly battered face after the alleged attack was shocking and disturbing.

Chris and Rihanna’s alleged reconciliation after the attack has shocked and outraged many people. But the way they are dealing with what happened is pretty much a text book response when it comes to the cycle of the domestic violence: first there is the tension building phase where there is arguing, yelling and threats; what happens next is physical abuse and/or sexual assault; and the cycle ends with what is called the “honeymoon phase” where they make up. The abuser feels guilty for their act of violence, the victim feels it was their fault, and both promise they will not let this ever happen again. But it does happen again and the intervals in the cycle become shorter and shorter. Why? Because violence is used as a way to gain control and force compliance when an individual doesn’t possess the skills and self-control to deal with conflict and mange their anger.

So in both corners of the world, outage is levied against these victims of domestic violence for the way they have chosen to deal with their abuse and abuser. It really is their choice, right or wrong.

But I think as a nation we are wrong because when it comes to the verity of domestic violence, our heads are in the sand. We forget that for every victim of violence there is perpetrator and those roles were unwittingly assumed long before the violence even occurred in their lives. It is behavior that must be unlearned. But who will teach them? It’s not a rhetorical question but a sobering one because in this country there is no eye-for-an-eye penalty to deter domestic abuse. This is an umbrella of truth we’ve got to step under.

Written By Veronica Hendrix

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