There are so many things that keep me up at night. Worries about the horrible things in the world and how helpless I am to change them. I think about the recent hurricanes devastating and destroying communities, but know that weather is far beyond my reach of influence. I think about peace in the Middle East, but frankly I don’t understand the situation and honestly no one is calling and asking for my assistance. I think about American Idol coming back for more seasons and can’t comprehend how to even start convincing the end of something that should have never began. I’m kept awake by these things, but not by preventing domestic violence.
Domestic violence can be prevented. It is a behavior of power and control that is a choice. Abusers are in control of what they do, they make the choice to act abusive. They may have learned it and it may have become normalized, but it isn’t an uncontrollable disease.
So, what do we do to prevent it from happening. Many people will tell you we need to work with offenders to change their behavior. Others will tell you that we need to speak with young people about healthy relationships. These are great steps that take trained preventionists to do the work. So, what about what each of us can do?
Yes, we can each individually be a part of preventing domestic violence. We can contribute to a Community of Support. Violence within relationships continues because we haven’t said as a society that we won’t stand for it. We haven’t said that our community is a place where violence is unacceptable, that victims will be believed and supported and abusers will be punished. How do we create a society like that? It begins with you. And, all you have to do is choose one thing to say and say it everyday to all those you know. Say, “Domestic violence is unacceptable in my community. There is nothing else to add” Does that feel like not doing enough? For change in our community, that statement is moving mountains.
Most of our community is arguing about whether the abuser could really be an abuser. Most of our community is trying to fix the victim and make them choose a different path, without creating the proper resources for a different path. Most of our community is tired of hearing the story. Few of us are saying it is unacceptable. Few of us are making that huge statement without adding caveats and blame. A community full of people saying domestic violence is unacceptable creates a community of support that victims can rely on.