8 Reasons Why Ending Domestic Violence Will Take More Than “8 Easy Steps”
By Kim Pentico, Director of Economic Justice and LySaundra Campbell, Development & Communications Intern
- It’s complicated.
If it wasn’t, we would have ended it by now. There are many “isms” (racism, sexism, classism, heteronormativism, etc.) that play a major part in perpetuating violence against women. Addressing these root causes takes significant social change and coordinated social action, in addition to ensuring that comprehensive, holistic services are available every single day to serve victims’ and survivors’ immediate short- and long-term needs.
- It’s deeply rooted in Patriarchy.
Patriarchy is a system that has existed for about 6,000+ years. Think about it this way: Smartphones have only existed for the last decade or so, yet many find it exceedingly difficult to leave our beloved devices at home, intentionally or accidentally, even for a single work day. If we can’t break away so easily from something that has been a part of our culture for less than 20 years, it becomes easier to understand how difficult it is to break thousands of years of patriarchy.
- Power is hard to give up or share.
Domestic violence is based on power and control. According to Piaget’s Stages of Development, by age 7, most people should be operating beyond the preoperational stage, which includes egocentrism – when thoughts and communication are focused on oneself and where one lacks the ability to see life from another’s point of view. However, talking about sharing power with a privileged adult is about as easy as trying to get a 3-year-old to share: “Mine, mine, mine!”
- It’s EVERYWHERE and yet we rarely see it, name it, or have a problem with it.
In a popular video game, players get points for having sex with and then kidnapping, beating, or killing prostitutes (as they’re identified in-game).. When women are killed by a current or former intimate partner, it’s often characterized as a crime of passion, not murder. Fairy tales have us believe that showing unconditional love and kindness to a violent beast will transform him into a kind hearted, handsome prince. Violence is deeply rooted in our culture and, from a young age, women are socialized to expect, accept, and mitigate it. Violence becomes a part of our daily lives, making perpetuations of violence in popular culture and the media seem like the norm.
- It’s under-funded.
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Three women are killed every day by a current or former partner. Yet, on a single day, there were more than 12,000 unmet requests for domestic violence services due to a lack of resources, leaving many victims of domestic violence in danger. Modest increased and sustained funding are beginning to address a portion of the gap in services, but increased investment in programs providing domestic violence services is crucial to meeting the demand for services.
- We make excuses for abusers and blame victims for abuse.
“Boys will be boys.” “She had it coming.” “He would never do something like that.” “But he’s an accomplished actor/swimmer/politician.” When the media highlights the accomplishments of perpetrators, we lose focus from the crime and start defending the abuser and inappropriately questioning the victim. The question, “Why didn’t the victim just leave?” persists, despite the fact that there often isn’t a “there” for victims to go. On a single day, there were nearly 8,000 requests for housing that couldn’t be met due to a lack of resources. In addition, leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim.
- Stereotypes persist……
While statistics show that the majority victims of domestic violence are women, a heteronormative/cisgender view of violence can keep victims from the LGBTQ community silenced. Advocating for a life free from abuse means taking a stand against the ways in which sexism harms men and those in the LGBTQ community. Safety and equality for women must extend to safety and equality for all.
- We can’t do it alone.
Real change takes everyone. Start today: talk to your family and friends. Ask your employer if they have domestic violence policies on the books. Distribute pamphlets to your library, house of worship, and doctor’s office. We need you to stand up and say, “No more.”
Originally posted at National Network to End Domestic Violence on June 13, 2016 at http://nnedv.org/
If you need help, call the Harbor House Hotline: 407-886-2856 or 800-500-1119