What does it take to stop domestic violence?
It takes a breaking point.
When someone finally leaves an abusive relationship, it is always because they reached their breaking point. This can be something small, like the straw that broke the camels back, that one final act that was just too much. Or, it can be something big. Sometimes, as with my sister’s story, what stops domestic violence is death – the ultimate final act of violence. Too many stories end this way… too many abusers take out not just their victims, but themselves and others as well.
What will stop societal domestic violence? It’s going to take a breaking point. When everybody says “no more”. We can only reach that point when people start listening to the stories told, when the voices get louder, when the ugly truth is made visible. When we say “I’m done with this.” and the answer is “We all are.”
What are some of the effects of domestic violence?
- It destroys psyche’s. The victim is made to feel less than human, undeserving of love and care, unimportant, invisible – or desiring to be.
- It creates mental illness. Trauma has been clearly shown to be the underlying cause of anxiety, depression, PTSD, homelessness, addiction, and more.
- It destroys lives. Victims who experience ongoing domestic violence are isolated. They aren’t allowed to live, to experience true relationship and community. A victim of violence is always wearing a mask. They are caught in a cycle of protecting, covering, and hiding their own reality.
- It creates more violence. There are many victims of domestic violence who turn against others, needing to feel strong, they become bullies at school or work. They become violent in an effort to protect themselves, or to protect others. Some become vigilantes protecting weaker victims, sacrificing to take the brunt of the violence on themselves. In a home environment, the abuse can be so compartmentalized that the victims don’t even realize they aren’t alone… or that the sacrifice they are making to protect a younger or weaker sibling is not working. Violence begets violence.
- It kills. Children who grow up experiencing domestic violence learn from a very young age that they aren’t worth protecting, or loving. This leaves children struggling to find an identity, a self-worth , which often leads to suicide. Today we’re seeing children as young as 10 committing suicide – we blame this on bullying at school, but imagine when bullying is happening at home? Imagine when there is no escape from it, anywhere.
- It murders. Statistics are showing that the majority of mass shootings have a relation to domestic violence, and misogyny. While access to guns plays a role, do some research, almost every mass shooter in the United States has been male, with a history of domestic violence, or documented stalking and/or hatred towards women. Some of these killers have convictions of domestic violence, and others “simply” have a history of it with girlfriends, wives, children, friends, etc. This is a pretty serious connection – if it doesn’t make us sit up and take notice, what will?
There are some who will diminish domestic violence because “it happened to me and I’m fine” … without recognizing the damage caused, or the underlying effects of it. They don’t see how it’s affected them, their relationships, or their internal messaging.
We must speak up. We must stop hiding the reality and effects of violence. We must stop denying the trauma it causes. Speaking up, however, is useless if no one is listening. It’s important to listen; to be willing to hear and understand, to stop diminishing the effects and triggers of domestic violence. I have sometimes experienced an odd reaction when I tell my story, my sister’s story, my family’s story… I have been accused of seeing domestic violence and abuse everywhere. I’ve been dismissed because I’m “too close” to the topic. If the people who have experience are dismissed because of that experience, then who has the authority to speak? Who will be listened to?
What will it take to say we’re done? What will it take for society to have enough of domestic violence, to stop hiding it, to stop denying it, to say “No More”? What story will be the final straw?