What does Domestic Violence mean to you? I recently had a talk that completely unnerved me. I was talking to a group of young adults about the dangers of domestic abuse and asked them what they felt was toxic behavior. The majority of these kids ages 15-25 stated that they did not think fighting with their girlfriend or boyfriend was abusive. ‘ Abuse is when somebody ends up in the hospital’, “It’s not as bad as all that. I mean people fight. If he hits me I’m going to hit him back. “; ” If a girl loves me enough to stalk me that’s funny.”; ” I don’t see a problem”; “If somebody jumps in my face I’m not going to just stand there.” These were all responses but not one person mentioned walking away. Not one person understood how bad DV really is. They were truly desensitized to the violence. They didn’t see a problem.
When did our youth become so blinded by this warped idea of love? How did they become so deluded into thinking that self-preservation was not as needed if you loved someone? How bad and how far does this go? Domestic abuse is a caustic wound that will only get worse, not better, over time. It is not something that will just simply phase its way out of existence. Turn on the TV any day of the week, and you will find some show on there where men and women are either fighting or they are emotionally battering each other. The only time it seems to generate any amount of reaction from the general public (especially our youth) is if the survivor/victim is a celebrity. That’s where things become a little weird for me because I would assume as a man or woman, you would be more concerned with the world outside your own door instead of those that you may never have the opportunity to meet or touch.
We all know bad or ridiculous behavior is glamorized by the media so much so that it is nearly ingrained in our culture. We know that most of our younger generations are more greatly influenced by this type of negativity more than ever. They are the generation of this new age of desensitization. But will it be the death of them? Culturally Americans of all races are becoming more angry. They are not as full of love and understanding as the youth of yesterday. They are not bad, only they lack the ability to empathize with others. They lack the ability to feel for themselves. It’s scary because it is true. What is also scary is that we are all guilty of that lack of feeling and empathy. Every time we turn on the TV and tune into violent programming or turn a blind eye to what we know is destructive behavior we are guilty. I started thinking and I could not come up with a solution because I am not that brilliant or have the credentials to even try. I did however come up with a few things that we need desperately to promote. Below are a few things that we can bring awareness to:
- Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and intimate partner violence(IPV), is a pattern of behavior which involves the abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation, dating or within the family. Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation. This was taken directly from Wikipedia and notice that it talks about STALKING. Any type of behavior where you have to follow or chase down your significant other is NOT love. That is STALKING! Going to someone’s job, place of business or school with the sole purpose of being seen and threatening is not love.
- OBSESSION IS NOT LOVE!!! Love can make you do some crazy things but those things should not be dangerous or ridiculous, meaning love can make you build the Taj Mahal but it should not make you lose yourself in the process. Loving someone is making them a part of you life not your whole life. You still need to be you. You still need to have a strong sense of self-preservation.
- LOVE DOES NOT HURT! I wish I could shout this from the top of the highest mountain. LOVE does not hurt. Emotional abuse is truly one of the most lasting kinds of torment. Being worn down in the name of love is not actually love. Someone using your emotions to establish control over you is not love and neither is having someone treating you as if you are not worth the dirt on the ground.
- A SMACK IS A SMACK. A punch is a punch… A shove is a shove. Anytime that a person puts their hands on you or you put yours on them it is not OK. It doesn’t matter if you only did it because you were caught up in anger. That is an excuse. The extreme is when a person has to involve the police or be placed in the hospital. If you keep telling yourself that it is not that bad, how will you know what extreme is?
- Domestic violence transcends generations and gender. If our youth, our children, our family and friends don’t see the occasional fight or emotionally battery around them as that bad now, how bad does it have to get before they do? Is the next phase going to be a rash of teenagers being killed by their boyfriends or girlfriends? This behavior is learned and it can be unlearned.
There are a ton of other points that we need to emphasize to the world around us but those are the ones pressing on my heart. I implore everyone to please talk to your kids today, not tomorrow. Talk to them about how they see domestic abuse. Find out what their threshold for bad really is before they get so wrapped up in their views that they begin to lose themselves. Talk to your daughters about the dangers of confusing love with obsession and possession. Talk to your sons about the dangers of assuming that just because he is a male , that does not mean he can not also be abused. DV is not just against women and it doesn’t always involve a fist. We need to open our eyes NOW to the dangers of this growing problem. We need action against it in the worst way. Here is a link to the National Domestic Violence hotline. If you need help, get it now. Contact them immediately and get safe. You are not alone. You are stronger than you think. http://www.thehotline.org/