We have to do better by the women we call mom, wife girlfriend, sister cousin. Too often, we hear stories about how they are being murdered or abused by a dad, husband, boyfriend, brother or cousin and powerless to do anything about it.
You will always hear about how the victim’s family noticed something that was wrong, or rushed in to take her to a hospital or a shelter.
But what about the abuser’s family. Do they not see the scars of the victim? Do they not see how their male relative wreaks havoc onto his wife and children?
Maybe a blind eye is turned only to come back later with tears and apologies because they did nothing more. Or perhaps, they just didn’t know the signs.
This past week I attended a Domestic Violence Symposium sponsored by the YWCA of Union County, NJ and was startled by some of the things I saw and heard.
One of four women are victims of Domestic Violence and every day, at least 3 women are murdered every day by a husband or boyfriend. So if I had to break this down to its smallest form, all I would have to do was think about a dinner party I attended that same night with the brothers that lived across the street from me. One of their wives’ could possibly be a victim of domestic violence.
How Does It Start.
First there was Joe. He was the oldest brother and we had known each other the longest, thirty years. He was an easy-going guy, the life of the party. His wife on the other hand was very outspoken almost to the point of being mean. How would domestic violence happen in this case? It would start out by verbal altercations that would lead to a slap or a punch. Physical abuse wouldn’t happen right away.
In fact, Denair Huggins, the keynote speaker, at this event explained that’s how her abuse started. If I had heard this was the case with my oldest friend, I would feel compelled to say something if for nothing else to keep him from killing someone and going to jail for the rest of his life. And what do you think he would say? Probably one of two things. He would admit to me, “This will never happen again.” Or tell me to get lost. With this confrontation, the episodes may die down, but without serious intervention or support the violence will only escalate.
I just need to keep my family together.
The I think about Jackson. He was the youngest brother, but he had been married the longest. He had two beautiful children by his wife Diane whom he had dated since college. Because there are children involved and I was their Godfather, it would take every fiber of my being to keep me from inflicting that same punishment he unleashed on his wife. But knowing her, she would not want that. Coming from a family where her parents have been married almost forty years, she would see this as a failure if her family fell apart.
That’s the same reason, Natalie Saveedra used in a recent article in the New York Times only to be stabbed in a murder-suicide by her husband that resulted in her children being raised by relatives instead of their loving home.
I have no Income, what am I going to do.
I finally think about Jameson who is now the sole income provider. 98% of domestic abuse cases also involve some sort of financial abuse. This type of abuse takes on 3 types.
- Economic Control where the abuser makes all the important decisions when it comes to finances.
- Employment Sabotage where the abuser makes it impossible for the victim to maintain employment because the abuser consistently makes a scene or several until she finally quits amidst embarrassment
- Economic exploitation where the victims credit gets destroyed because the abuser ruined it by taking out lines of credit in their name.
One of the scenarios may be impacting your family right now. We can’t sit by and watch our sister’s-in-law, mother’s-in-law fall prey the males we are closest to abuse their spouses.
We have to help our men to understand and admit their behavior is a problem. Not only for them, but for their families and our communities.
They must take responsibility for their actions and put the work in if they want to change their behavior. And just like we stand by the victim, we must also stand by the abuser and get them the help they need. Before it’s too late.