Wednesday

Domestic Violence - the time to be silent is over


When I was growing up, we lived on a tough block. Not a tough as some of the neighboring blocks, but it could hold its own. We lived next door to this family, mom, dad and a son who was a little younger than my brother, I feel there was an older sibling or two that didn’t live there. The boy, Noel, was a small kid but like lots of small kids he tried to be tough. He was able to hang with the older kids on the block. But my most vivid memory of Noel and his family came one warm Spring night.

Through the walls of our adjacent buildings, you could hear yelling and crying. And soon there was a ring of our doorbell. My mom answered the door, it was Noel and his mom. The dad had been drinking and had gotten mad and started hitting them. I remember being so scared and confused when they came in. Noel was crying. My mom turned off the lights of our apartment that faced outside the building and they went to the back of our apartment.

I heard the dad calling his wife’s name outside. Like most abusers he was usually a nice guy. I had never seen or heard him angry like this. I had never heard or seen anyone angry like that. As the evening went on, the yelling next door ended. Noel, who was no longer crying had found one of our baseball bats and said he was going to kill him. He was shaking as he said it. He didn’t want anyone to hit his mother. His mother calmed the boy down. I don’t remember if they stayed over, or went back home. But the fear in that boy’s eyes when he was holding that bat has never left me.


Domestic Violence in America: General Statistics and Facts
· Women ages 18 to 34 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
· More than 4 million women experience physical assault and rape by their partners.
· In 2 out of 3 female homicide cases, females are killed by a family member or intimate partner.
· 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

That was the first time I had ever encountered domestic violence. And thankfully I have never encountered it since. But it is a real problem in our world. If you heard the ESPN interview with NFL player Greg Hardy, claiming his innocence in the brutal beating of an ex-girlfriend. In once soundbite saying he never touched her. Then saying that in the Bible Belt where he is from that doesn’t happen. And eventually saying, he never said he didn’t do anything. Always an excuse with these guys. She made me mad. I had a bad day at work. I drank a little too much.

This picture from Deadspin.com is of Greg Hardy's ex-girlfriend who told police
“It doesn’t matter. Nothing is going to happen to him anyways.”

I was really pleased that his former teammate on the Carolina Panthers Steve Smith Sr. spoke out about it on twitter. He wondered aloud where the bruises came from. And said that his mother was a victim of domestic violence and he considers himself an advocate of domestic violence. Smith has broken the cycle. While Hardy just continues to feel he did nothing wrong. Hardy never faced any jail time, because the victim didn’t testify, after an out of court settlement, and the charges were dropped.

Hardy was suspended by the NFL and all of the other major sports leagues now have punishments inplace for their players who are accused of being violent to their wives, girlfirends, partners and chidlren.

I don’t know what ever happened to Noel. I hope he learned from that night, and probably other nights like that one, that it is wrong to brutalize a woman. And it is wrong to become a monster in front of your children. I hope he learned that. I hope he never puts his wife or children through what he and his mother endured. Or he was so damaged on the inside so much that he eventually convinces himself that is how you have to act and continues the cycle.

Domestic violence happens with the wealthy, the middle-class, and the poor it doesn’t discriminate. As men, it is our responsibility to never lay an unwanted finger on a woman. And as fathers, it is our responsibility to teach our sons that same lesson and to teach our daughters that that is never acceptable behavior.



SOME RESOURCES:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233 and or 1-800-787-3224 (TDD) and also offers a live chat through its website.

Information on local shelters is available at https://www.domesticshelters.org/.






No comments: