Dr. Wood: Incidents of domestic violence are down, but problem is still too common–Dr. Rachael Wood– October is National Domestic Violence Prevention month. Although the rate of domestic violence has dropped a lot since the Violence Against Women Act (passed in 1994), it is still far too common in our society. In fact, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 7 men have experienced domestic violence in their lifetime. An even greater number—three out of every four Americans know someone who is, or has been, a victim of domestic violence, according to www.breakthecycle.org. .
Domestic ‘violence’ *IS* too common, but notice the NAME/TITLE of the act. It isn’t: the Violence Against PERSONS Act.DV is no stranger to any ethnic group. Men (particularly white men), we’re told, are presumptively oppressors. We’re told the state/cops should be called to intervene early because of the domino effect where one cross word or profanity will lead inexorably to the woman’s death/hospitalization. So why is it some women rarely/never get so much as a slap from their partner (despite multiple partners over time) while others rack up DV complaints like a collection of baseball cards? DV is no stranger to any ethnic group. While some DV altercations do indeed end in fatalities, more often the white woman, as it so happens, it’s the black male who more often ends pushing up daisies when the the woman belligerent is black. And no slight is too petty to prompt/invoke the Violence Against Women Act. The street savvy wear it like a cudgel. Let’s call the career Port Townsend fire fighter (circa 1990) ‘Frank’. He was well known in the town and liked by the deputies he often encountered in his job at the fire hall. His wife was a clerk in the Jefferson County Superior Courthouse, and knew the law well, far better than he. Their relationship and the state’s ham handed groping of it was as common as May flies. Frank looked agitated, but resigned, as the deputy sheriff removed his handcuffs inside the Jefferson County jail that Friday evening. The deputy looked embarrassed for both of them. “I’m sorry, Frank, but you’ll have to spend the night in custody. We can’t let you go until the morning.” As Frank settled into his jailhouse bunk for the night, he told the story. His wife, being a court clerk and all, normally got off work after 5:00pm. Frank’s schedule normally coincided with hers, but this Friday he arrived home early (~3:30pm) to an empty house. Their kids were grown. Frank’s wife didn’t like him drinking, but that hadn’t destroyed Frank’s taste for beer. He’d brought a 6-pack home with him and was parked on the recliner in front of the TV working on his 3rd beer and a bowl of popcorn when she came through the door. “What are you doing?’ she demanded. “You know I don’t like you drinking.” This went on for several minutes, but Frank was tired from a hard summer’s week and a bit irritable. “Shut the FUCK up!” he finally exploded. His wife bristled, turned, and stomped out of the house leaving Frank still in his chair nursing the beer and TV set. Perhaps 15 minutes later, Frank hears a knock on the front door. He slowly rises, lumbers toward and opens it. A deputy Frank knows well is standing on his porch. “Bill! What are you doing here? “Well, we got a call reporting a DV complaint,” Bill drawls. “Oh? Ya did, huh? And I suppose that means you HAVE to arrest somebody,” Frank deadpans. “Uh, well, yeah,” the deputy shuffles, staring at his shoelaces. “And I suppose that someone is ME?” Frank continues. “Well, yes,” the deputy apologizes. Frank turns and moves toward the beer he left by the recliner. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you do that, Frank,” Bill warns. “LOOK! This is MY Goddamn house and I’m going to finish MY beer,” Frank snaps angrily. Bill reconsiders and lets Frank finish his beer before handcuffing him. “So, what are you going to do when released?” I ask. “Isn’t returning home a bit like sleeping with the enemy?” Infidelity comes in many guises, not always wearing pants or a skirt. I can’t say what became of Frank or countless millions of other men indelibly labeled oppressors. They say it’s a man’s world, that our society is a suffocating patriarchy. Seriously?…a patriarchy in which bare assertions lodged against any white male (except the Pope?) are the new Gospel? In this dystopia, women never lie about such things and all men are beasts unless they can prove differently. Is this a great country, or what!? Women are victims–always. Men are perpetrators and DV is immutably embedded in their Y chromosome. Here are some signs you may be in an abusive relationship, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline according to AKIRA OLIVIA KUMAMOTO. . Domestic violence, sometimes called intimate partner violence, isn’t just physical abuse, and it isn’t always between couples. Domestic violence includes any effort by an individual to gain or maintain power or control over his or her current or former date, partner or family member. This behavior can include sexual, emotional, economic, or other abuse. The abuse can take other forms as well, such as stalking, cyberstalking, and threats. . When children witness domestic violence in the home, it has serious effects on their health and wellbeing, both during childhood and later in life. Childwefare.gov states that “children and youth who are exposed to domestic violence, experience emotional, mental, and social damage that can affect their developmental growth.” Locally, 18 percent of women and 11 percent of men witnessed this behavior as a child. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers a wide variety of resources for kids, parents, educators, and others looking for help in identifying, responding to, and recovering from abuse (https://bit.ly/2pCx2ty). . Luckily, there are some great ways to build protective influences around children and youth. Just eating meals as a family or doing activities together can make a difference. It’s also very important to build a support network in the community. In Thurston County there are great local resources that offer parent support. These include the Nurse-Family Partnership at Thurston County Public Health and Social Services, the Family Support Center, Family Education and Support Services, Community Youth Services, and many others. . For those who are concerned that their friend or family member may be in danger from a partner or ex, or for teens who aren’t sure if the behavior they’re experiencing is abusive, it’s important to watch for warning signs. Relationships change over time, and according to www.loveisrespect.org, relationships can move from healthy to unhealthy, and on to abusive in a variety of ways. A relationship might be going in the wrong direction if a partner: .
- Checks your cell phone or email without permission
- Constantly puts you down
- Shows extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Has an explosive temper
- Isolates you from family or friends
- Makes false accusations
- Has mood swings
- Physically hurts you in any way
- Shows extreme possessiveness
- Tells you what to do
- Pressures or forces you to have sex
- SafePlace, Olympia, WA. Office: (360) 786-8754, Crisis Line: (360) 754-6300
- Thurston County Family Justice Center – The Family Support Center, Olympia, WA. Office: (360) 754-9297
- Partners in Prevention Education, Olympia, WA (360) 357-4472