Stop Domestic Violence
The Epidemic Continues
I have never struck a woman and a woman has never struck me, although a former wife once threw an Old Spice bottle at me in frustration and fortunately missed me after I had lost my job and I once gave a noogie to my wife, all in fun.
I have been angry, very angry at times as has my spouse but the thought of hitting her never crossed my mind even for a nano second and I am hopeful of the same from my spouse, thank you. I just can’t understand how or why a couple, even in the most heated rage, would resort to physical assault though I am quite aware, unfortunately, of how common it is.
About 25 percent of women and 10 percent of men have been victims of sexual violence, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner. The majority of the women first experienced those forms of violence when they were younger than 25, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
When things have gotten so bad between us and as with all couples, there have been difficult times, my response has always been to either yell back and try to drown out everything, and then to apologize for having yelled and trying to drown out everything or to just leave for a while because if I have learned one thing it is that arguments cannot necessarily be won by the right side and sometimes discretion is the better part of valor or retreat need not mean defeat but just changing a tactic for another battle. I know that people battle for many reasons, over territory, ego, disappointment but the only reason to engage in a heated discussion is to try to find an answer that both can live with and not necessarily for one to prevail over the other. I think it’s called communication. The violence may be prompted by substance abuse or post traumatic stress disorder or other psychological damage, it may be a result of a pattern of earlier domestic violence, it may be blamed on troublesome in-laws, or child-rearing difficulties or infidelity, and there may be a tendency to excuse it because it appears to be totally out of character, it may be a total lack of skill in how to express frustration but none of it is an acceptable reason for violence, none of it.
But to actually communicate with violence and to strike her is just unimaginable even though I know I could physically disable my spouse but to what end and what would be the ramifications. It is just as incomprehensible as hijacking a jetliner, just as inconceivable as climbing Mount Everest.
A couple makes a decision to marry because of what is thought to be love or in some cultures, because of arranged marriage. In any event, I assume that the wedding is a joyous event for most couples and to even begin to understand how a coupling could devolve and escalate into hatred and violence is beyond my grasp. In my world, if it ever got that bad, the only options would be counseling or separation.
I just don’t believe a couple can solve a disagreement through aggression and I don’t understand how a couple could ever stay together if one has been physically abused. In any event, you have to sleep sometime and the victim of the earlier physical assault might get even when you are in your dreams and they quickly become your nightmare.
If I ever got even close to the point of a physical confrontation I would hope that I would have the ability at the moment to simply walk away and realize that there is no way in hell that anything can be solved during the heat of passion. I have spoken with women who have been physically abused and I have asked why they have stayed with their husbands or spouses and the answers are always complicated, everything from guilt and blaming the victim to being kept hostage by a violent husband or spouse because of economic reasons. I know about the violent spouse who promises tearfully never to do it again and who gives every excuse imaginable from anger at losing a job to disappointment with one’s lot in life and then it happens again and again in a spiral of violence that too often ends tragically. I can see how verbal or emotional abuse can lead to violence and I can understand how incredibly difficult it would be to face the prospect of further violence, of increasing violence and to say no more and to leave, even if it means stepping into a void that you know will be challenging at best and possibly dangerous.
The tragic and criminal death of Gabby Petito brought these thoughts to mind. The 22-year-old woman vanished while on a cross-country trip in a converted camper van with her boyfriend and authorities say a body discovered Sunday, Sept. 19 in Wyoming, is believed to be Petito. To try to envision the moment of violence that took the young woman’s life is impossible, to even conjure up that second when someone used some kind of weapon to so violently snuff out the life out of the girl, forever, to watch as her life force vanished, in the most irrevocable act that one person can commit on another.
Amy Butcher is the author of “Mothertrucker,” a forthcoming book about the epidemic of intimate partner violence. She notes in a column in the N.Y. Times that the risk of violence is much greater for women of color. That amounts to around 56 percent of Native American or Native Alaskan women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner. More than 40 percent of Black women will suffer similar violence during their lifetime, and they are two and a half times as likely to be murdered by men as white women are.
Butcher also writes that the risks are higher for Americans who identify as L.G.B.T.Q.; 44 percent of lesbians and 61 percent of bisexual women report rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, compared with 35 percent of straight women, according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. More than half of transgender and nonbinary people responding to the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey reported that they had experienced intimate partner violence.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Women are most likely to be impacted with 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experiencing severe physical violence by an intimate partner. In fact, intimate partner violence makes up 15 percent of all violent crime and this does not include cases of emotional abuse or unreported physical abuse.
If you or a loved one are a victim of domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1–800–799–7233 for confidential assistance from trained advocates.