In our previous column, we discussed that domestic violence is a public health issue that affects us all. Some consider it an epidemic.
The men and adolescents who experience domestic violence are most likely to experience it at the hands of other men. But, as it stands, women are at the highest risk of and endure the majority of domestic violence.
Violence against women is shaped by a wide variety of factors at personal, social and situational levels.
This violence is more likely in situations where a man’s identity is defined by dominance or how his peers perceive him. There is a correlation between abiding by gender norms and abuse.
There are higher rates of domestic violence in cultures where violence is normalized (i.e. seen as a way to resolve conflicts). In these cultures, men often times feel entitled to power over women. Some examples of this control and display of dominance over women include the assumption that husband-wife relations are private and when women are kept socially isolated from resources such as friends, family, and community.
Drug abuse, alcoholism, socio-economic status and mental illness are other societal factors that play into domestic violence. Other social divisions such as race, class and sexuality also shape domestic violence.
Ending domestic violence is not just a women’s issue. Men play a crucial role in domestic violence awareness and the fight to end this violence against all persons, male or female. The people, men included, in our community who are our leaders and decision-makers, play a key role in stepping up and speaking out about domestic abuse.
It is a men’s issue because men have the option to speak out when their peers make a sexist joke or attack women. It is a men’s issue because there is a minority of men who treat women with disdain (or worse), and it is the majority’s responsibility to assist in creating a culture where this is unacceptable.
As Luke Wojciechowski, Seekhaven’s director of client services said, “a few bad apples spoil the bunch.”
Many folks, including men have chosen to remain silent.
Why should that failure to speak out scare us? It is because boys look to men in order to define what it means to be a man, and men look to other men to define what it means to be a man.
If a culture of silence persists, the cycle of abuse continues. When we are silent in the face of rape jokes and demeaning comments to and about women, or when we see assault in our workplaces, classrooms and parties, we interpret that silence as consent and acceptance of abuse.
A good goal is to challenge these comments and actions, acknowledge that they are wrong and speak up.
The statements in this article are not to be interpreted as collective guilt or blame. It would be better to interpret these words as an act of collective love for the men and women in our lives.
If this is a topic you are interested in and would like to share your thoughts and opinions, we will be having “Tea & a Topic” hosted by the Resiliency Hub at the CommuniTea garden, located at the corner of Walnut Lane and 100 West, on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m.