As we all know domestic violence is a very sensitive subject. There are people who experience violence, activist who truly are devoted to awareness and ending domestic violence, and there are those who just love to talk about what they truly do not know. I am sure it is easy to guess which one I have a zero tolerance for. I am extremely opened minded, and love to hear what people have to say. However, when it exudes ignorance, and contributes the misconceptions that exist about domestic violence, I feel the need to educate. I believe you should always respect others opinions, just as you wish yours to be respected. Which is the rule I live by. A healthy debate can never hurt either.
So today I came across an article on the web that absolutely floored me! Diane Dimond wrote the article. She defines herself as a “modern day journalist who defies a category.” She does a lot of investigate reporting. This particular article is entitled “Stopping Domestic Abuse Starts At Home.” The title intrigued me. So I clicked on it, and began reading the article. The information or views rather, that I found there were both upsetting and astounding. Diane Dimond, held no qualms in stating on several occasions in her article that the abuse was the woman’s fault. WHAT????!!!! I know I felt the same way. Instead of being fueled by emotion, I became inspired. The contents of this article displayed obvious lack of education on the topic. Therefore, I seized the opportunity. I left the following response to the article:
“Wow!!! Where do I even begin with this article? I mean you cannot be serious. To lead off by saying “There are some women caught up in the throes of domestic violence who are to blame. Domestic abuse occurs because they allow it.” IS SHAMEFUL!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s saddens my heart as both a woman and domestic violence advocate that someone could EVER say something so ignorant. I feel the need to educate you on many of the ignorant statements you made. You stated “They imagine they can’t possibly make it in life without their abusive mate.” as a reason for a battered woman to stay in an abusive relationship. When in reality, most cases are quite the opposite. You have no idea what has taken place in these women’s homes. The fear instilled in them. In fact, more often then not, women do not follow through in court for fear of harm or death. These perpetrators threaten to kill them and then follow up on that threat with beating the crap of them. Those who do obtain protective orders, which are the first step in utilizing the legal system often, have those violated. Repeatedly. I can agree in a “perfect world” that a woman should be able to file charges, follow through, and the abuser be put away. However this is not a perfect world. You also neglected to mention the astounding number women who do follow through, press charges, and go to court. Their abuser is sentenced to a mere slap on the wrist the first 3 times, statistically before a harsh sentence is imposed. Then that battered woman who “stood up” for herself is assaulted when the perpetrator is released, despite the fact that she has a protective order in place prohibiting contact. The “system” routinely fails these women! These are facts battered women often know and fear. This is FACT that very view people discuss, as it is so much easier to take you point of view on this topic. A sad truth. As far as your example of the Jeffrey Maxwell case, you cannot really think, if Martha had followed through that the other assaults would not have occurred. If so, again I would preach education is the key and is clearly lacking in this article. The true odds are even if Martha has followed through (which I agree was the right thing to do) Jeffrey would have still committed the other assaults. The issue is Jeffrey (and his violent ways), NOT Martha. It amazes me how people as so quick to say, “The woman has to help herself.” Trust me, she wants to. Leaving is just not as simple as everyone would like to think it is. If a woman is involved in an abusive relationship, she has to develop an exit strategy in order to escape safely. This is not as easy a people think. If someone has not personally experienced abuse it is really unfair for him or her to pass judgment on these women on what “they should do.” I am sure many would be surprised how their different their views would be if they experienced abuse and survived it. Also, you are misguided in believing or stating a battered woman stems from low self-esteem, bad childhood, abusive parents etc. All I can say is do your homework. The numbers are astounding for educated, smart, strong, independent women, who found themselves in an abusive relationship. There is nothing wrong with them, except they exercised bad judgment. Something we all have done. Your article strongly insinuates blaming the victim whether that is what you intended to do or not. I will end my response with although I do not agree with your angle in this article, I do respect it. It is you opinion, and differences of opinion make the world go round. Furthermore, it presents opportunities such as this for domestic violence to be discussed regularly as it should be. The only TRUE way to end domestic violence is through education, awareness and support, not judgment!
(Sorry for being so long winded. This is a topic that I am vey passionate about.)”
Unfortunately, many people have very skewed views on domestic violence. I don’t believe they even realize the contribution they give to making a bad situation worse. Deep down I believe (or hope) that Dimonds, intentions were good. The problem with they way she did it is this: If a battered person reads her article it will only confirm what the abuser has been manipulating their minds into believing. “This is all your fault.” Domestic Violence is complicated, and has a lot of intricate components. Society has to do a better job understanding domestic violence. It is not as simple as black and white! There is a whole lot of gray! Bottom line is if you don’t know or understand fully ASK! In the case of domestic violence, WORDS DO HURT!
Read the full article and information in Diane Dimond at:
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Hey Shaun... I TOTALLY agree with you in this context, however in a completely different context I also agree that some victims of domestic violence (almost always the women), DO bring it on themselves. Let me explain what I mean though...
There are some women (I had a close friend who did exactly this), who "feed" off the "drama" of the violence - contrition cycle and love the attention they get from it. They view what you and I would consider a "normal" and "healthy" relationship as "boring" - because it doesn't contain the emotional high's and lows" that they crave.
These women - knowing full well they have a partner with rage issues - will purposely push his buttons until he loses control and becomes physically abusive. This is actually easy to do because women are naturally more verbal than men, while some men have a problem "using their words" as they say. Often it IS those men that are less verbal who have "rage issues" precisely because they have never been taught communication, conflict resolution, skills. So, when their woman attacks them verbally (also a form of abuse, by the way), they get frustrated and lose control (I'm not talking about the kind of rage where they are frustrated at one thing, like work, and then come home looking for an excuse to take it out on their spouse).
In these cases, after the man loses his control and physically strikes out - then he is contrite, and goes into "apology" mode... showering her with love, affection, sometimes even gifts, to make up for hitting her (keep in mind I'm ONLY talking about the abusers that do it because of rage control issues - NOT the psychopaths that do it simply because they enjoy it or use it as a control mechanism - they are a whole other, ugly, can of worms).
These type of women are locked into a cycle that they ARE contributing to themselves. Perhaps they are unable to get their man's attention any other way, perhaps they enjoy the manipulation, or perhaps they think like my friend did... she actually said this and it blew my mind - "If he didn't love me so much, he wouldn't get so mad." ... Seriously?
Anyway... in this particular instance - the women involved ARE contributing to the situation. I don't like the word "blame" because it implies one party is innocent and the other is completely at fault. In these instances BOTH parties are at fault and both need to recognize where they are "broken" so they can fix it. But if you know a spouse has rage control issues - and if they refuse to get help, then it's probably a wise idea to not deliberately provoke them.
At the same time... those people with rage issues (men AND women)... many of them use it as a "cop-out" because you'll observe that they somehow manage to control themselves when they are in public, it's only when they are behind closed doors with their family that they seem to be unable to prevent themselves from losing it. But this can play to a spouses advantage.... reserve serious discussions for public (alcohol free) venues... like a public park or restaurant where they have a stronger motivation to control their actions.
Regardless of the causes though... violence is always wrong... and while some people are broken in ways that can be fixed... others are not. For those women though that seem to get into one abusive relationship after another - they do need to ask themselves... "what is the common denominator here?" There is a strong possibility that they themselves need some "fixing" to 1) know themselves better so that they can appreciate a "healthy" relationship and 2) become better at recognizing the "red flags" early on so that they avoid repeating this pattern.
Again though... this is a narrowly defined type of dynamic. Some abusers are impossible to spot until it is too late. I suspect these are the most dangerous ones too... as they are likely to be manipulative sociopaths who know how to "wear the mask." But some abusers are simply people who have a difficult time controlling anger. They feel legitimate remorse and shame that they cannot. These people CAN learn control mechanism's and change their patterns if they are motivated to do so - but it's a two way street in a relationship and I would imagine that it requires both parties to be willing to work on it together.
Thanks so much for your comment. Although, I have to respectfully disagree with some of your opinions, such as a woman pushing a "rage filled" man's button's as that is blame shifting, I can still appreciate them. However, I do certainly agree with many of your other points such as, there are some women who do seem to "love drama". On any accord, I do appreciate you reading my blog and expressing your opinion. At the end of the day, we are talking about the issue, which is why I do what I do. Thanks again!
PS: My friend also seemed to love the "drama" created by her and her boyfriends fights in this respect... as soon as they had one of their things and he hit her... she would be on the phone to all her friends and, of course, we would immediately rush to her. More attention for her of course. I finally got tired of it and told her that until she left him, she could no longer expect me to be sympathetic. They didn't have kids, she had a good job, and could easily move out (we'd all offered to let her move in with us). She finally did leave him for good... and that's when he finally got help, when it was too late. Sadly, she never did get help for her own issues... and married a super great guy who was kind, calm, a hard worker and loved her to death, but whom she described as "boring." They are divorced now and she is back to an endless stream of abusers and alcohol. I guess she's in her comfort zone.
In that case, sadly, it seems as though you are right Sue. In what you have described it seems like your friend was certainly lost in the cycle of abuse, and grew to know it as her her normalcy. Sad to hear, and I am sure even sadder for you guys as her friends to observe.
That I why I don't like the word "blame" ...it tries to shift responsibility to one side or the other where, sometimes, it is shared. As you point out... there are many "moving parts" in domestic violence situations. There are some where an abuser is completely at fault - others where both parties are contributing to the cycle and share responsibility for the dynamic. Lot's of shades of grey here.
Absolutely, indeed lots of gray! Thanks for all you interest and input! It is appreciated!