Domestic violence is an epidemic. You may not hear the kind of hype about it as you did with the ebola virus or the false alarm of snowmagddeon weather predictions. Nor will you read headlines of it the way you do about ISIS. But the impact it carries in our culture is far deeper, and much more direct than either of these other real or imagined threats. Domestic violence is a form of terrorism created in the home by those who the victim often relies upon for their very survival. Yet there is no Department of Homeland Security to protect most victims of it, no debates in the halls of Congress designing a campaign of action to combat it, even though the numbers of people, mostly women, who have died from domestic abuse related incidents since 2001 are far greater than the deaths that happened during the terrorist attacks of September 11th, plus the US casualties from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. As you can see in this bone chilling yet meaningful ad everyone should watch titled No More, the nuances of this threat, as well as any chance of protection from police, are intricately woven in a psychological tapestry that often traps the person when they need help the most.
How do we change this? As the great psychologist Carl Jung once said: “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” It is through a growing awareness and ongoing social commitment to keep shining the light on this issue that will eventually bring about lasting positive change. The video No More is just one example of how focusing our awareness as a society on the disturbing blight of domestic violence can eventually heal this wound both for individuals and society at large . It is through education, awareness and empowerment that we can evolve our society to reduce and minimize the epidemic of domestic violence.
Educating yourself and others is the first step. If you still are unsure that this issue actually is an epidemic, begin the educational process by examining the facts as laid out in this article on the Huffington Post. Know as well that there are a number of positive programs aimed at educating how to prevent domestic violence before that deadly cycle ever begins. Tony Porter’s organization A Call To Men educates and empowers men, who may not necessarily see themselves as part of the problem of domestic violence, to get involved. Many urban areas also have outreach and educational programs aimed at ending domestic violence through education and early intervention. REACH Beyond Domestic Violence is a program in the greater Boston area that has trained over 5,000 youth and 5,000 adults on issues related to domestic violence and dating violence. Most urban areas have domestic violence resources that can be found with a simple Google search. And if you need, or know someone who needs help, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.
Increased awareness about the psychological dynamics of domestic abuse also helps to combat this epidemic. In many domestic violent situations the fear of getting help paralyzes those who are being beaten and violently abused from getting the care and protection they need. Also, it is important to recognize that the deeper issue is about power and control. Being subject to ongoing abuse and violence destroys a person’s self esteem, making it even harder for them to get free from this potentially deadly cycle. Domestic violence is not limited by race, gender, or sexual preference. It effects all aspects of society. If you think you, or someone you know, is in an abusive situation that involves, or might lead to, domestic violence, read this link at Helpguide.org about signs of abuse and abusive relationships.
Empowerment is the key. Some recent studies suggest that one avenue of recovery for survivors of domestic violence is being financially literate. Having the tools to support oneself empowers an individual to be able to leave relationships that are otherwise unhealthy and potentially dangerous. Here is more interesting information about this on President Obama’s WhiteHouse.gov website.
It may take many years for society to totally unravel the ingrained root causes of domestic violence, but there is hope. Many societal norms which caused citizens to be silent or look the other way in the past are now being challenged. Airing the video No More, during the 2015 Superbowl, bravely sends a wave of education, awareness and empowerment deeper into the American psyche about the need to bring an end to this dangerous and deadly epidemic.