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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

pink and purple

October is obviously breast cancer awareness month. You see it everywhere from the pink bats in baseball to pink shoes in football to increases in Susan Komen fundraising commercials and lots of Facebook posts. And I am glad that people are raising money and  awareness because cancer sucks. And I really hope someday there is a cure.

What you do not often hear about is that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month. And as someone who works in the field and has had it affect people I love, it is important to be aware of. Because domestic violence feeds and festers in darkness and silence.

So if you already know a ton about this, please discontinue reading. Many of my friends also work in the field. And if you do, please add to my commentary and/or correct anything I may say that is incorrect or not updated. I am going to try to keep this pretty simple.

Last week there was a huge domestic violence incident that made the news outside of Milwaukee. Where a man walked into the salon that his ex-wife worked at and shot her, some co-workers and eventually himself. She had an order of protection against him. This is a super tragic and extreme case. I pray for comfort and healing for all affected by this.

However this is the picture that most people have about domestic violence. These overtly psychotic acts. But it starts so much earlier. So much simpler. Depending on your source, the stats are that 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 women have experienced domestic violence in some form. Think about it. Look around at co-workers or moms in your neighborhood or family members. You know someone who has been in an abusive relationship of some kind. Whether you know about it or not. (and yes, men can be victims too. however a significant minority)

It usually starts with small things. Emotional or verbal abuse of somesort. Questioning. Needing to know whereabouts on a regular basis (like hourly). jealousy. manipulation. talking in circles. "king of the castle" mentality. making you feel guilty. it moves to put downs, humiliation, intimidation, threats, isolation. a victim feels like they are walking on eggshells and fears what to do or say next.  THere are so many examples. THis stuff can go on for years before it ever gets physical. A way of wearing someone down. When these tools no longer work, the ante goes up. Its all about controlling someone in a relationship. Rather than seeing your partner as your equal, they are subordinate, less than, which then makes the abuser feel more powerful.better about themselves. (and there is a psychology in the batterer. with some exceptions. I work with them. They are not "EVIL". But broken humans.Usually having grown up witnessing dv or some trauma)

The belief out there in the past (and sadly is still out there) has been that it is a private issue. A family issue. But it is not. It is a social issue. It is a legal issue. It is illegal to physically hurt or threaten another person in any way. Even if you are married to them. Its sad that there are people who do not know this.

it does not discriminate on race or socioeconomic status. rich and poor alike have domestic violence.

And when no one says "boo" about it or "its not my problem", in a way it says "its okay". Its like not standing up against racism. Not speaking up about persecution of gays or lesbians. And if hatred and violence in our world is "not your problem" then I would like to know what world you live in and plan on having your children grow up in. Because all things start at home and in ourselves. Peace. Hate. Love. War. If we cannot love ourselves, then we cannot love others. If we have violence at home, we will show violence in other ways in the world. Family is our first social system. What we learn there, we project onto the rest of the world and act upon it. i.e if home if not safe and trustworthy, than neither is anything else in the world.

My son will grow up in that world.

My hope is that he grows up in a world of people who are at peace with themselves. Who hate violence. Who stand up for what is right. A world where all people are seen as equal in importance and value, regardless of what gender they are or color they are or orientation they are.

I think about football. I would love to see those guys adorned in purple. socks, gloves, helmet straps. Standing up against domestic violence. I know that football is a very rough sport (and I admit that I love it). There is a "tough guy" image. So many pro-athletes we hear about getting involved in "domestic disputes" i.e. domestic violence. What if men and pro athletes told each other "hey man, that isn't cool" and kicked a guy off of a team for that.  Sending a message that violence at home is not acceptable, that treating your family, your partner with respect and dignity is one of the most important things that there is. More than money. fame. power. control.

I leave you with this. My favorite quote. Its hanging in our abuser group room, my office and is on my fb page. I work on this every day. Because I want a more peaceful world. And I know it begins with me.

"THE MORE I COME TO PEACE WITH MYSELF, THE LESS I ENGAGE IN WAR WITH OTHERS."

(if you think you are in an abusive relationship and need help or do not know where to start, please call the national domestic violence help line and start to talk through it with a professional. its free!  1−800−799−SAFE(7233)   )

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