Violence in families, particularly violence against women and children in families is all too common. I generally like to write about topics that are less heavy, but I’ve had a few friends experience terrible family violence over the last few weeks. I wish I had a simple solution; I wish I could just say leave, if you are in a violent relationship, it will fix your problems, but I’m not that naive.
In the situation that drives me to write today, the couple was supposedly meeting so that he could sign divorce papers. If ever there’s a woman who wants to leave an unhealthy relationship, it’s a woman who files for divorce. But this meeting resulted in her death. He apparently killed her and then killed himself. Social scientists like me know that one of the most vulnerable times for a woman is after she leaves a relationship. The loss of control that an abusive or mental unstable man experiences sends some men into a violent rage.
I can’t said exactly what happened in this terrible situation, but I know two people are gone because of one person’s violent act. One man’s loss of control.
We have to do better by our boys. We have to raise them to avoid solving problems with violence. We have to teach them that they do not own the women they date or marry–teach them that jealousy is an emotion that can be controlled, teach them the violence is not the way to resolve our conflicts. But at the most fundamental level, I think we need to socialize young men to see women as equals, not objects, not possessions.
I’m trying to do that with my little boys, but I can’t say I’m perfect. I’ve watched as their father bad mouthed me and insulted me, fortunately he was not violent, but he was irrationally angry. Angry that I decided to leave a situation that was not good for me or the children. I’ve told them over and over again to treat girls nicely. I’ve told them “bitch” is the worst cuss word. (Yeah, in our house, fuck isn’t as bad as bitch.). But there are so many places they are going to see women belittled, objectified, and abused–media, school, peers, and a host of other places.
I’m all for changing laws and structures too. In my state, the law required a year long separation before divorce. That was a very tense year for me. Getting a restraining order enforced can be a challenge in many states, and domestic violence shelters are overwhelmed. We don’t have good training for law enforcement. We don’t have adequate mental healthcare; family therapy costs an arm and a leg.
I know I’m not saying anything new, but if I can reach someone or inspire someone to work for social change, maybe it can save a few lives.
PS-If you are experiencing violence or abuse in your relationship, here is the URL for the National Domestic Hotline http://www.thehotline.org/ You can get help; there are ways out.