Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Violence against women and children: the horrific list goes on and on

I was going to go in a different direction in my latest Fatherhood Friday post (which I missed because now it's Saturday), but when I read this blog post titled When the Justice System Fails: The Case of Rihanna from a fellow Twitterer @writingroads, I had to stop and reflect.

A few months ago I read this little AP story: Dad killed son to avoid child support (and he was quoted as saying he would kill either his wife or his child before he paid child support).

How many of these stories have you read in your lifetime? How many of you have lived them? How many of you as children witnessed domestic violence in the home?

According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF):

  • Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend per year to three million women who are physically abused by their husband or boyfriend per year.
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.
  • Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives, according to a 1998 Commonwealth Fund survey.
  • Nearly 25 percent of American women report being raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some time in their lifetime, according to the National Violence Against Women Survey, conducted from November 1995 to May 1996.
  • Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.
  • In the year 2001, more than half a million American women (588,490 women) were victims of nonfatal violence committed by an intimate partner.
  • As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.
  • Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

And the horrific list goes on and on.

My birth father abused my mother for over 12 years. My sister and I would hide in my room while we listened to the violence play out like thunder and lightning crashing in our heads, impotent with fear, shame and self-blame. It took her 12 years to find the courage and strength to solicit enough help from family and friends to make the break. I remember how we used to plead with our mother, at first asking if there was anything we could do to help stop it, then begging her to take us all away from him.

Looking for immediate stability and shelter for our family, she jumped into another abusive relationship that jeopardized our lives as well. I was abused by that step-father and my sister suffered too. He even tried to poison my mother more than once. Fortunately that whole experience was less than three years, but time is relative with abuse; no matter how quick the violence or how slow and insidious, it's an eternity for the victims.

My mother then married the right man, the man whose name I took and call father, and I grew up abhorring violence of any kind (thankfully Pop was in law enforcement, a now retired police detective), but not really getting involved in any movement to help prevent.

Now that I have a baby daughter, I find myself moved to do something, anything, to help prevent violence against women. I can start here and support the Women's Crisis Support - Defensa de Mujeres, which I will do by participating in The Human Race in May.

It's unacceptable that there isn't more outrage about Rihanna or even the smallest of AP stories. Whether in America or in Darfur, it's unacceptable. No man will ever lay a hand on my daughter without reciprocal justice. No man.

Get you're proverbial shit together and be responsible for your actions.

Here are some more domestic violence resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)

Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF)

1 comment:

  1. Incredible post. I'm so sorry that you all went through what you went through - but I'm so heartened by the happy ending here and by the lesson learned. You know, violence is often passed down as learned behavior through the generations. I'm thrilled that you went the other way completely. (and thrilled to have found you and your blog.) Thank you for mentioning mine as well. In this case, there is certainly strength in numbers.