Updated: Oct 11
Domestic Violence Through my Eyes 7 part series for Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Part 1: Prevention. Domestic Violence is a Family issue.
Hurt, fear, control, power, words, games, silence, degrading, red flags, embarrassment, isolation, financial, generational, alcohol, drugs, physical, emotional, psychological, guilt, shame, weapons, victim, bystander, blaming, and violence—those words, and more, are all connected to Domestic Violence.
Here are some interesting facts also connected to Domestic Violence:
9.4 billion dollars are lost annually to DV in business. (Absent, late, in hospital, in court, spouse/partner hid their keys, last minute child care changes, 47 texts from partner distracting from work, etc.).
Mass Shootings: Every Mass Shooting in the US (mass shooting is four people or more) is connected to Domestic Violence (they were raised in it, experienced it, or they are the perpetrators).
1 in 4 women is in an abusive relationship.
More than 15 million children in the United States live in homes in which domestic violence has happened at least once
Men on Men violence. More men commit violent crimes. They commit it against women, children, and other men. (To be clear, I am not referring to the less than 2% who are psychopaths). Not all men are perpetrators of violence, however, most perpetrators are men.
Why does violence happen?
As a Victor over Domestic Violence, I see something obvious. Domestic Violence is not a Woman issue. It’s not solely Man’s issue. It is a Family issue—the underlying factor of all of it, pain.
Where did the pain come from? Was it a trauma from a single event, exposure to traumatic events over an amount of time, or like the slow drip of acid rain, a combination of events that leave you feeling less than loved? That feeling of being without love causes this pain.
When you are in pain, physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual, your driving goal is to stop or get away from the problem. How is that done? You can numb it (with distractions or addictions), run from it (absent escape, but it always follows you), or try to control it with power.
Men who abuse, I have a question. What happened in your life growing up that caused you pain? Were you exposed to abuse (physical, emotional, psychological, verbal, financial, sexual)? Was it that bully, that uncle, that neighbor, that friend, your father, grandfather? What happened? Is it possible that it was a combination of many of these? It is possible.
Following the event, trauma, or years of exposure to any abuse, were you given a way to heal from it? Did you hide, numb, or run from it? Did your family or society culture teach you to suppress it?
Juan Cardoza-Oquendo, a graduate of the Men Stopping Violence Internship Program, says, “Males are taught early on not to cry and not to show weakness, especially fear. Often, men who do express their feelings are immediately labeled as ‘gay’ or ‘feminine.’ How can men begin to address their violence when they’re taught to keep their feelings to themselves?”
If this is the suppressing culture, then do you see how Domestic Violence is a Family Issue?
Domestic Violence is a Family Issue
Families, take a look at the boys, youth, and men in your family. Are we raising boys to become protectors and providers for the family, or hunters of the family? Protecting and providing is in the very nature of boys and men. Yet they are not robots or nonfeeling beings. They have emotions, heartache, fear, pain because they are human. Are the boys and men in your family able to share and express their thoughts and feelings? Are they valued?
Are they able to express themselves? I am not talking about male weakness or feminizing men. I want to know can boys cry, can they express it? Can they find a place to do this within your family? Men usually talk while they are in action: sports, gaming, business, playing hoops. Are they safe in their own family to examine their behaviors? Do they have friends? Do they have friends with truth-tellers (not just “buddies”)? Can they talk openly about their feelings without being made to feel weak, scared, or bullied into a stereotype?
Raising boys to become men takes positive male leadership, correction, boundary setting, and love. It is not perfection, but it is constant support, correction, and time to learn. No one can change by themselves, and it takes the support of many to help us shape our lives into having healthy relationships and communication.
Boys, youth, and men must be able to talk and express themselves. They need each other and a safe place to do this—meaning they need to be allowed to hurt and be vulnerable without being perceived and weak. Most boys, youth, and men find their boundaries in a community and hold each other accountable. Positive Male Leadership that comes from healthy families, communities, businesses, and religion makes a considerable impact. Check your local community, sports, scouting, and churches to see what helps and supports are available.
Women, what is your pain?
Women, what is your pain? Do you know you are loved? Do you know who you are? Do you know you have value and self-worth? Did you grow up in a family that praises perfection, performance, or pleasing behaviors? Did you do those things to feel loved, and someone took advantage of that? Do you feel like you are being chased by a negative voice or a shadow that never ends that self-hate speech? Any abuse can be violent. I have had words screamed at me that felt like a hot blade slicing open my skin, ripping clean through bone to my heart. For 12 years, if my brain recalled those words, It felt just as fresh as the day it was said.
There are ways to heal and overcome shame. It takes time, but many of us have overcome, and we can help. My healing journey is shared here in my book Out of Darkness.
Girls, youth, women, did you put our trust in someone, and they turned that trust against you by their words and actions? Did it happen from a family member, friend, or someone you are dating? When the event, abuse, or trauma occurred, did you have a safe place to turn to? Did you have someone you could talk to? Did you have faith to help? Did you know that it was not your fault? Did you know that you are not the event? You are still loved! You are not at fault. The perpetrator of the abuse ultimately chose to attack, abuse, and use you. They are at fault, not you!
Families, what is tolerated in your family?
Is negative degrading self-talk or negative degrading talk about others accepted in your family? Does anyone take a stand and cut it off right then and there? Words bleed lifelong wounds. Watch each other's words and speak light, not darkness. Is there passive-aggressiveness in the home? Is anyone quick to anger, and then, following the episode, is there any accountability and apologizing? Where is the boundary? Is there one side standing up and defending the other side? Is communication open? After fights happen, is there time for communication and forgiveness? Is there silence, resentment, or runaway behaviors? What is the culture in your family?
If any of these questions have made you concerned or made the hair on the back of your neck raise up, please take that as a warning sign and red flag! Get help immediately to start changing the culture in your family. It is up to you to set the family’s tone, and it should be love and light!
Families, if you are in trouble, are you brave enough to find help? There is help everywhere:
Check out our interview with Myra Gerst here.
Together we can UNITE in LIGHT and shine through the darkness of Domestic Violence.