Saturday, December 21, 2013

Solemn Thoughts Near Christmas: Intimate Memories Part 3

As you are aware, I've often posted shocking and disturbing news articles about the treatment of women and children.  However, we need to maintain our awareness that abuse is a major problem right here in our own back yard.  And we need to stop shrugging our shoulders as if it isn't our problem.  Violence is everyone's problem. I knew the statistics were shocking, but I had no idea!

According to grab stats. com, on average, three women in the United States are killed at the hands of a spouse, former spouse, boyfriend or former boyfriend each and every day of the year.  It looks like grab stats' numbers are more than ten years old!

The following statistics are from the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
  • According to the U.S. Surgeon General, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States.
  • The American Medical Association estimates that their male partners assault 2 million American women each year.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women.
  • A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the United States. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Report to the nation on Crime and Justice. The Data. Washington DC Office of Justice Program, US Dept. of Justice. Oct 1983)
  • 35% of all emergency room calls are a result of domestic violence.
  • Of those who abuse their partner, well over 65% also physically and/or sexually abuse the children.
  • Each day .....4 women die as a result of abuse.
  • Each day .....3 children die as a result of abuse.
You get the picture.

What most people don't think about if they think about "domestic" violence at all was most saliently addressed in "A Grim Tally: Abusers, Guns, and the Women They Kill," by Andrea Grimes, at RH Reality Check:

The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that, on average, more than three women a day are killed by current or former intimate partners in the United States, and many of the should-haves and could-haves that pepper Smith’s relationship with her estranged husband are the same should-haves and could-haves thrown at the thousand or more women who are killed by their partners in this country each year: should have gone to a shelter, should have taken a lethality risk test, could have filed charges, could have testified against him.

The problem with that should-have, could-have conversation is the popular implication that the ability, and the responsibility, to change the behavior of abusive men lies not with the abusers, but with the partners they strike, strangle, and shoot.

It’s why the question “Why didn’t she leave?” is far more common than, “Why did he abuse her?”
But research shows us why she, whoever she might be, didn’t leave: she didn’t have the money, she didn’t want to take the kids out of school, she couldn’t find a shelter, there was no shelter, she was embarrassed, her pastor or her mother or her father or her sister told her a good wife doesn’t give up, her self-esteem was in shreds, she had literally nowhere to go, or she knew that, in leaving, she would put herself in more danger than if she stayed.

But if women can’t be blamed for inciting violence in their partners, or at least scolded for not bailing at the first red flag, the problem of why intimate partner violence happens in the first place, and what to do about it, becomes much more complicated than asking the broken-record question, “Why didn’t she leave?”

That's the discussion that is still not being seriously addressed in this country -- why men abuse the women and children they claim to love. 

Notice how the onus of the crime is put on the victim!  Despite the fact that we know why many women don't leave -- especially women of color.  It was my experience more than 30 years ago that the women who came into the DA's office to file complaints against abusive spouses and boyfriends were overwhelmingly Caucasian.  I don't imagine that's changed very much, despite statistics showing us that women of color are more likely to be victims of abuse.  There may be as many factors at work to explain a woman's reluctance to report the crime -- because abuse IS a crime -- as there are that work against a woman leaving her abuser.

No easy answers.  So, is there anything we can do?  I've a few ideas.


Knowledge is power.  We need to educate ourselves about the problem and the issues involved.

Talk about it!  There is such a reluctance in this country to talk about the abuse that is taking place all around us.  Why why why do we accept such a level of violence in our culture?  We need to speak up and speak out -- especially women, because the violence overwhelmingly affects US AND OUR CHILDREN! 

We need to become buttinskis.  If we suspect a woman or children we know are being abused, we need to ACT.  If you can't bring yourself to ask directly, call a local program to get some direction.  If you suspect children are being abused, call Child Protective Services and make a report right away.  Don't rationalize that someone else is bound to report suspected abuse so you don't have to!  Is it really better for a child or children to remain in an abusive situation?  BREAK THE TABOO THAT THIS IS NONE OF OUR BUSINESS. 

Can you get involved?  Volunteers are always needed at local advocate programs and women's support service groups.  If you have the time, maybe you can help out.  It doesn't have to be as an advocate.  I'll be frank -- it was a draining experience that time I put in as a Task Force advocate and I don't know that I would ever want to do it again.  But perhaps you can volunteer to do office or organizing work, or local fund-raising outreach if that is your forte.

If you can afford it, contribute money to battered women's groups and shelters.  There is not enough shelter space - ever - but particularly for women with children.  Even if an abused woman decides to leave her abuser, she is not going to leave her children behind!  Every little bit helps.  The women who run local programs to aid victims of domestic violence know how to stretch a penny! 

If you cannot afford to contribute money, inquire as to needs for other items.  Clothing is often needed, towels, washcloths, toiletries and the like are needed.  Beds, mattresses and bedding are needed.  Childrens' books and stuffed animals, pajamas, robes, slippers are often needed.  Maybe you have some of these things that you are not using and would consider donating to a local group.  Consider asking if you can help with painting and decorating a women's and children's shelter.

Could your church or benevolent organization to which you belong get involved in raising awareness and hold a fund-raiser a couple times a year?  Fund-raising can be a bake sale, a silent auction, a craft fair.  It doesn't have to be elaborate to be effective! 

These are some of my ideas.  Maybe you can think of more and better ones! 

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...