It’s October so there’s a big focus right now on Domestic Violence Awareness.
People who wouldn’t otherwise shout from the rooftops, carry signs, or even simply utter the terrifying and embarrassing words, domestic violence, find it’s easier to be vocal when the crowd is chanting like-wise.
Good. I get that not everyone can talk about it, and if dedicating a month to the campaign is what it takes to get a few more voices out shouting (or even just whispering), I’m totally ok with that. There are those of us who talk year-round, it’s something we can do, and I’m grateful to the added lung-power, even if it’s only for a month.
No doubt, domestic violence isn’t easy to talk about, and it isn’t easy to listen to. It’s every vile move, every backstabbing manipulation, every punch thrown, every knife stabbed, every gun shot, every dark hallway, every empty parking lot, every slick-speaking pretty boy landing hard down on the dark side from every Hollywood movie, Cable series, and TV show all wrapped up in one. Except it’s a real person and not someone paid to play a real person.
It happens every day all over the world and it seems to me the majority are still trying to convince themselves it isn’t happening, it doesn’t happen.
We didn’t used to talk about divorce so easily. We didn’t used to talk about cancer. We didn’t used to talk about alcoholism or drug addiction. We didn’t used to talk about homosexuality. We didn’t used to talk about depression, PTSD, or anxiety. These aren’t easy to talk about, but they are easier. How can we get to that point with domestic violence?
As it is, one of every four women and one of every seven men will suffer through domestic violence in their lifetime. Those are big numbers, but so are the flip side numbers. Three of every four women and six of every seven men will not suffer domestic violence. That’s a whole lot of people who don’t have experience to fall back on to grasp this real, social problem.
Anyone who is a victim or survivor will tell you it is easier to talk to people who’ve been there. We get it. It’s a product of experience. Two people who have both run a marathon can talk much more freely together than they can with someone who has never run, much less a marathon.
I’ve never run a marathon. Someone could try to explain to me what it’s like to hit a wall at the 16th mile, but without ever getting to a 16th mile, I can only imagine the fatigue, the pain, and the doubts a runner experiences. I have no real-life marathon in my memory bank to immediately understand the struggles and victories of going 26.2 miles on foot. But if I listen, actively, and engage and ask questions, I can understand eventually.
It’s the same with domestic violence. Someone who has never been punched in the face will not have a tangible experience to fall back on, but if we listen and engage in the conversation, we can understand the fatigue, the pain, and the doubts a victim experiences.
Society needs to get comfortable hearing domestic violence before it will listen, really listen. Even with all the talking and listening, domestic violence is still largely untalked about and unlistened to. We aren’t comfortable when someone talks about a problem we can’t understand from experience. We aren’t comfortable when someone talks about a problem we can’t solve. Domestic violence is a problem, people are problem solvers, and the lack of much of a solution makes it hard to talk about.
I do believe that the more we talk, in these little increments like we are, the more the general public will become used to hearing about it. The more accustomed they are to hearing about it, the less tolerant we will all be to it. The less tolerant we are, the more social change we will see.
No More has a circle. It’s like the ribbons everyone is already familiar with. It was introduced last year and is growing as the unified symbol for advocates, victims and survivors, and anyone seeking to spread the word.
This can be used to start conversations. The curious will ask. Getting it out there will get it in people’s minds. The more people see it and think about it, the more people will be comfortable with it and the more people are comfortable, the easier is it to talk and to listen.
Prior DVA Posts:
DVA 2013: Bringing Awareness, 2 October 2013
Knowing is one thing, Doing is another, 2 October 2012
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 1 October 2012
Domestic Violence Causes Cancer, 7 September 2012
Helping a Victim Escape is an Investment, 26 June 2012