Wednesday, October 22, 2008

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I've never been a victim of domestic violence.
I had one boyfriend who slapped me, and was immediately dead to me.

But, domestic violence isn't always physical...and contrary to popular belief, neither is it exclusively a woman's issue, although many people believe it to be.

This month, was brought round to the front of my face.
A few weeks ago, I was on my way to the parking lot when I heard arguing in another language. A man shouting, and a woman begging. I didn't know which house it was coming from, but I heard it. Then, just as I got to the gate, I heard a thud..a punch..fist to skin thud..that made me stop and turn. The begging stopped. I didn't know what to do.

Call 911?
I didn't even know which house it was coming from.
What happened? Who is she?
I don't know.

...and then, a few days ago, an older woman I employ casually came to my office asking for work. When I looked up it took a moment to register that the whole left side of her face was bruised, and the inside white of her left eye was bloody.
She had been putting up with "it" for 40 years, and enough was enough.
Now she's alone. Now she really needs work.

I work with shelter families, and not all women who are in shelters are physically abused.
Some just need to get out of their situation, and they don't have the means...but, most are.

What happens to women who are continuously abused is that they can, and often do, lose the ability to make decisions. They lose the confidence to do even the simplest things because they've been controlled for so long.
So, when people say..."oh, she should just leave"'s a simplistic thing to say.
Leaving, especially if you have children, is monumentally difficult....but, there's help out there for women who need it.

Which brings me to something else...and I know that perhaps I shouldn't put them in the same post, but it's domestic abuse as well.
Women physically attack, abuse and provoke as well.
...they do.
Not only that...women have been known to, and do manipulate.
You know why?
Because women can be just as nasty as any man can, and sometimes waaaaay more creatively than just slapping you around.

A false accusation can ruin a person's life.
You don't have to do the crime to have your life ruined...all you need to be is accused.

"The Globe editorialists' indignation suggests a certain naiveté about the prevalence of this practice. They would profit from spending a few days in family court, where, in the interest of tipping custody battles in their own interest, women's false allegations of domestic violence and sexual abuse of children against their former partners are so rife - and virtually never punished - that it is apparently the best-kept secret crime in the western world. Oh, perhaps these men are not beaten up with baseball bats, but they do lose their homes, their children, often their jobs and friends, spend time in jail, are rarely given the benefit of the doubt - and many of them kill themselves from despair."

I know that some people will perceive part of this post as "blaming the victim", because it's a popular defense that is supposed to immediately shut you up about questioning anything declared by a woman or child who claims abuse, as though neither have been known to ever allow an untruth pass through their lips.

People lie, and some will lie maliciously.

...and that's an atrocious thing to do when so many people struggle with the real thing.