Speaking on Domestic Violence

My last long-term relationship showcased my worst qualities on a regular basis – my violent temper, a penchant for drowning my problems in alcohol, and an inability to address emotional issues before they become unavoidable roadblocks to my own happiness. It is true that violence begets violence and my abusive behavior directed towards my former beau sprang from the internalized messages learned during my own abusive childhood, but at some point we all become responsible for our actions and the abuse I suffered does not justify or excuse my abusive behavior. Thankfully, I am a female without much muscle mass or physical prowessness, so the amount of damage I caused was minimal and, more often than not, evoked laughter from my target instead of the intended fear response. Never the less, abuse is abuse & this type of behavior is not all that uncommon. A recent study on the subject suggest that men are battered by their partners more often than we might expect, given the relative invisibility of male victimization in American pop culture and the media’s one sided attention to battered females. In the United States, according to this study, men and women are equally as likely to report having hit their partners in the past 12 months, so the whole “Men are more aggressive” line is obviously a fallacy & should be dismissed as a stereotype.

While men might be victims of intimate partner violence as often as women & their experiences should not be discounted or ignored, the truth is women are more likely to be seriously injured, killed, and suffer greater consequences at the hands of their domestic partners than men are. When one considers the biological fact that most men are larger, stronger, and more capable of inflicting pain upon their partners than most women are, it is obvious why abuse against women is the central focus of most domestic violence activism. Injuries sustained by battered women are more likely to result in hospital visits than those of battered men. Of the people murdered by a domestic partner, 74% are women and according to FBI statistics, domestic violence claims the lives of more than four women everyday. The Bureau of Justice reports that 30% of women murdered are done in by their domestic partners, compared to 5% of murdered men being killed by their partners. Men are also more likely to be in an advantageous financial position than their female contemporaries, making escape from an abusive situation easier & more likely to be successful. Another statistic that should be acknowledged is the fact that most intimate partner violence against women occurs to those separated from their abuser. It is often cited that women attempting to leave an abusive situation are in the greatest danger, but it is worth repeating since blaming the victim in these situations is still very popular in some circles. Additionally, violence against women has been justified by various religious, social, and cultural norms in a way that violence against men has not. After all, the bible does not advocate violent disciplinary action against one’s husband and there hasn’t been legal guidelines on the books to regulate how much force a woman can use when beating her man. Until the women’s liberation movement of the 1970’s made the personal political, domestic violence wasn’t even considered a social issue in need of our attention, so the issue is far from exhausted & the recent Chris Brown / Rihanna incidence illustrates how the subject is still in need of some serious discussion. Ill Doctrine posted an interview on the topic with journalist Elizabeth Mendez Berry that addresses domestic violence within & without the hip hop community that raises some scary statistics (See below).

African American women, aged 20-24, are more likely to experience intimate partner violence than are similarly aged white women, and murder by their partners is the number one cause of death of black women in that age group. Damn. Reflect on that for a minute. Young black women are more likely to die at the hands of the person they love than they are to die from any other fatal situation. Why is this?

For more discussion on the subject see the following pages:

Elizabeth Mendez Berry’s article “Love Hurts” from Vibe magazine

Bitch Magazine talks about how we address the Chris Brown / Rihanna issue

Domestic Violence Way Up says Shakesville

A blurb about Wrigley's response to Chris Brown's behavior vs. the corporate sponsorship backlash against Michael Phelp's pot faux pas

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