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What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Domestic Violence

September 12th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

When it comes to the discussion about domestic violence (or as they say in barbershops, “laying hands on a woman”), we’ve been doing it wrong.

We love to talk about it, but not until it becomes an actual thing in the news, when famous people are either the perpetrator or the victims of such an act. Then, the media goes out of its way to act like it cares. They say it’s a serious problem, start applying a whole bunch of statistics and try to say the celebrities involved are a reflection of an ongoing issue and we need to talk about it!

All of it is legit, because domestic violence is a legit issue and we must talk about it, we must educate people on it beyond the fact that it’s wrong, because we need it to go away. But domestic violence is never going away, and part of that has to do with our inability to really do any of those things I just mentioned.

I bring this up because as someone who witnessed it in their own home growing up, I get disgusted the way we cover it in celebrity news. I hate the way these discussions focus on individuals who we don’t know in any real way. We want to use them as props for a discussion that we should always have, but the reason we don’t, the reason it eventually goes away and lies dormant until the next celebrity thinks it’s a good idea to lay hands on their partner, is because to take it out of the celebrity context is to put the spotlight on us.

We want to talk about this issue, but we want to do it in the least personal way possible. I sort of get that, because you know, privacy and all, but domestic violence is deeply personal to many of us because we actually went through it or were affected by it. As a matter of fact, it’s because it’s happened to us in a real way that we want to say anything about it.

As far as I’m concerned, no one should be talking about the choices of a Chris Brown or Rihanna post-that-horrible-incident unless they’re willing to talk about why they actually care so much. You want to talk about Chad and Evelyn, but if you’re only talking about them as opposed to the deeper issues they’re dealing with, you’re basically recapping an episode of a reality television show that hasn’t aired yet.

Every single time I hear about a domestic violence case in the news, I get goosebumps, especially when I see ones that took place in front of children. When I read stories about a man who chose violence as a way to get his point across while the children were home, I think about those kids because I know what it’s like to be those kids.

But I don’t want to talk about it, not at length, nor in detail, and that’s a difficult thing to admit. It is absolutely wrong for a man to lay hands on a woman, that much has been clear for I don’t know how many years, what isn’t clear is why it still happens.

Love is a great equalizer because it makes all of us dumb. It makes us accept and tolerate things we probably wouldn’t if we were in our right mind. But love has nothing to do with our mind and everything to do with our hearts, we just don’t want to admit it. Common sense will tell you don’t stay with a man that you’re afraid is going to hit you again, but love is why you have faith that he won’t. Common sense will tell you to never hit a woman, but love will be the reason you won’t ever hit her again.

I get tired of people using their heads to talk about two people who are acting with their hearts. Get logic all the way outta here. This is the show we deserve folks because most of us know love makes us do the dumbest shit ever.

We need to talk about the issues with the men who have committed such an act and the women who either take them back or never push them away after it happens. Once we talk about that, then we might finally be getting somewhere. But in order to do so, we would have to start talking about our own experiences with it. We would have to admit that we’re no better than someone like Chris Brown or Rihanna, that even though we may not be #teambreezy on a matter of principle and political correctness, we know someone, (sorry, loved someone) who was just as flawed as him and committed similar crimes against the fairer sex. It’s easy for us to call Rihanna a fool because at times she looks and sounds like she would take the ex who beat her back swiftly, but we know someone or maybe we were that someone, who did the same, and that’s even more troubling.

The biggest lie we tell ourselves is we actually care about what Chris Brown or Rihanna does because they’re celebrities. But it’s like that section in US Weekly, we really care about them because this incident and the after-effects of it make them more like us than we care to admit. That’s why, when it comes to domestic violence, we talk about them more than we talk about us.

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  • Aymee Campbell

    Jozen –
    Thank you for blogging about this particular topic. As a person who writes about relationships on a regular basis I think this was a very valid topic. You are right, people…real people…don’t want to talk about it. Yet, I know probably 8 out of 10 of my friends have experienced domestic violence in some way. Whether it was witnessing it as a child or in a relationship as an adult.

    Admitting that you were exposed to it is not usually a comfortable step for most people. Then to tell someone else is even more uncomfortable. I grew up in a household where domestic violence was the norm. I didn’t know until I was an adult that what had been modeled for me was not “normal”. Heck, it’s taken me 10 years of being away from an abusive home environment, a lot of self improvement and some therapy in order for me to be able to recognize what a healthy relationship looks like.

    I also would like to point out that domestic violence can happen to anyone. Man on woman, woman on man, man on man, woman on woman, parent to child, etc. I also know that a big part of me breaking the cycle is to understand what I am feeling and be able to PROCESS it. Or in the very least, REMOVE myself from the situation until I can process the emotions that I need to deal with.

    – Aymee

  • MellMan

    “Love is a great equalizer because it makes all of us dumb. It makes us accept and tolerate things we probably wouldn’t if we were in our right mind. But love has nothing to do with our mind and everything to do with our hearts, we just don’t want to admit it.”

    Preach! I think we live in an increasingly violent culture. There are countless videos online of young girls and boys, older women and men fighting for real and for sport. These days the smallest perception of “disrespect” (a super nebulous concept, if you ask me) may get someone into a physical altercation. When it comes to light in the form of celebrity exposure, I think it looks like all the other celeb gossip. No in depth analysis or reflection on the terrible crime that took place, just a cliffhanger about what is he/she going to do next. It’s not taken seriously and still folks want to act all outraged like this is going to cause them to make a change in their life. A lot in our culture these days does not allow for real, unfiltered reflection. We need to take a look at the little ideas and assumptions that bring us to violence in our lives and highlight those things, because that is what will change the culture.

  • Rastaman

    I think we talk a lot more about domestic violence nowadays then we ever did. Primarily because perpetrators are more likely to get arrested nowadays than they ever were. Mostly gone are the days when law enforcement would chalk up an incident to just being a “domestic” and keep on moving even if someone was obviously assaulted. Nowadays in most states the police is forced to arrest someone if there is any evidence of violent activity. NFL HOF Jim Brown went to prison for destroying his own property, not hitting his wife or kids but damaging is own property in a fit of rage.
    On a human level I don’t think society has come to a consensus as to how we deal with domestic violence offenders. In far too many folks minds it comes down to whether the victim deserved to be assaulted or were they an instigator. Much of religion and culture still reinforces the idea that men have permission to physically enforce the rules at home. Whatever those rules may be.

  • Monica F. Brown

    Thanks for your reflections on this.

  • Angel

    Excellent piece! Let’s keep talking about this rising epidemic!! On average 24 people (women AND MEN) are victims of domestic violence. One in 3 women and one in four men have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. We are all at risk!!