I remember sitting riveted watching Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom. It was the early 1970s, close to the height of domestic violence in our house.
I sat riveted while animal after animal killed one another. Not for sport or murderous intention, but because of hard-wired survival instincts to eat or to fend off being eaten.
I had a hard time reconciling then why a father would beat up a mother, just because.
Just because -- of a bad day, a good day, too much booze, not enough booze, a rainy day, a sunny day...
As far as modern biology and neuroscience can show us, the greater animal kingdom has no conscious design to kill for killing's sake or to rape for raping's sake.
But the great human race does.
It's equal-opportunity killing and raping. Granted, the news this week has highlighted this stories:
- US veterans say military fails in rape claim inquiries
- Lara Logan of CBS attacked by Egyptian mob in Cairo
- 5 Browns dad pleads guilty to sexually abusing daughters
Which primarily focus on women, but the forcing of oneself on another isn't relegated to women. However, statistically speaking, most of the time it is.
Random acts of violence and sexual assault aside, let's talk about intimate partner violence (courtesy of the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence):
In February of 2008, the CDC released the most comprehensive US survey regarding intimate partner violence.
- 23.6% of women and 11.5% of men reported at least one lifetime episode of intimate-partner violence.
- In households with incomes under $15,000 per year, 35.5% of women and 20.7% of men suffered violence from an intimate partner.
- 43% of women and 26% of men in multiracial non-Hispanic households suffered partner violence.
- 39% of women and 18.6% of men in American Indian/Alaska Native households suffered partner violence.
- 26.8% of women and 15.5% of men in white non-Hispanic households suffered partner violence.
- 29.2% of women and 23.3% of men in black non-Hispanic households suffered partner violence.
- 20.5% of women and 15.5% of men in Hispanic households suffered partner violence.
And this is just what's reported and tabulated.
"A study published in the November 2003 issue of Child Abuse & Neglect found that children exposed to abuse on their mothers -- but not mistreated themselves -- also display increased behavior problems. The research was compiled by the University of Washington-Seattle and the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center. The study surveyed 167 Seattle women, all of whom had children between 2- and 17 years old.
The results were stronger among the children who had been abused -- but those only exposed to their mothers' abuse were also affected -- they were 60 percent more likely to show externalizing behaviors. They were 40 percent more likely to test in the borderline to clinical range for total behavioral problems."
Because it's the last story -- 5 Browns dad pleads guilty to sexually abusing daughters -- that bothers me the most.
Because I have two daughters and would and could never harm a hair on their heads. My sister and I had to deal with enough harm of our own growing up.
You can't manage others' impulse control or the whipped fervor of destructive intention, but you can manage your own and teach your children to do the same.
Do me a favor and look at your children today. Take a long look at them and then hold them close and tell them how much you love them.
Don't do it for me, or even you.
Do it for them.