So, you arrive at your neighbor’s house with your wife, ready for a relaxing evening of good food, wine and light conversation. Your neighbor gets the ball rolling and before you know it, you guys are analyzing the weekend’s game. As you sit down for dinner, his wife pulls out the big guns and talks about the domestic violence that one of her colleagues was experiencing…
If only people were so open about speaking about domestic violence, but the truth of the matter is that it is a topic that is well left alone. It is a topic that is reserved for speculation and gossip. The problem is that it in most cases, it only comes to light when it is too late. Then we lament the victim, look back and say that we should have known and that the signs were right there in front of us.
Domestic violence is making headlines and it’s alarming
The thing is that domestic violence is a worldwide phenomenon and is always treated the same, kept away from the light and hidden in the shadows and under long sleeve shirts with sunglasses. On rare occasions, it reaches the spotlight and its hideous and unrelenting nature is illuminated and shiver at the sight of the pain that it inflicts.
Most of us then ask why she never left him, why couldn’t she just pack her stuff and leave? Then we tend to analyze our own relationships and gauge whether it is a healthy one or if there are signs of abuse.
We look at the people around us and wonder how healthy their relationships are. In the end we make a full circle and allow the abuse to cower away in the shadows of speculation.
Worldwide, a third of all woman will find themselves in an abusive relationship at one point or another. What’s worse is that the problem doesn’t just stay at home, it affects society as a whole. The medical and psychological costs run into the billions of dollars. This doesn’t even take into account the number of days employees need to take off work to recover from a beating.
It’s a lot more than just physical violence
Domestic violence isn’t confined to physical abuse alone. It includes physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse and the main purpose of the abuse is to gain and maintain control. The abuser wants control of the relationship and will go to any length to get the control. The ultimate result is the destruction of the abused’s self-worth and dignity.
The deceptive nature of domestic violence often plays into the hands of the abuser. Their public and private faces differ like day and night. At work and in public spaces, the abuser is often seen as an upstanding citizen. The abuser is often charismatic and may even hold a position of respect in the community. It then happens that people are reluctant to believe the victim’s claims if the abuse is brought to the light.
It still doesn’t answer the question about why the victim doesn’t just up and leave. The answer is rooted in a lie. The lie that the victim is useless or is the cause of the violence. The abuser will plant seeds of self-loathing and low self-esteem and keep the victim from realizing that it is all just a big lie. The victim on the other hand is blinded by the truth and believes the lie.
Domestic violence will probably never be an outspoken issue. For this reason, the onlookers need to be vigilant and on the lookout for the signs of abuse. We need to be the voice for the broken and speak up when the victim doesn’t have a voice. We need to open the eyes of the victim and ensure that they see themselves for who they really are and not for what the abuser has made them out to be. We need to be the support that the victim craves.