Domestic violence is one of the most serious issues in our society. An estimated 1.3 million women are the victims of domestic violence every year, although they are many more because most cases are not reported to police. The reason I talk about women and not men (although that is another tragedy) is because 85% of domestic violence victims are women.
In most cases of domestic violence, the abuser is a controlling, powerful person who uses emotional and physical abuse to break down their victim. The abuser uses put downs, insults, mind games, guilt, and treats the woman like a servant. Often times, the first thing that goes through the mind of an outsider is “why didn’t the woman just leave the situation?” Here’s the thing…they can’t. The abuser puts so much pressure and power over their victim that the person finds it nearly impossible to leave. Perhaps they are afraid something worse will happen, or maybe they have been so brainwashed that they think it’s their fault or that they are crazy. A victim of domestic violence feels isolated, anxious, terrified. They live every single day in complete fear of what will happen to them.
I see the way the kids at my school treat each other. Many of them come from backgrounds where emotional and physical abuse is part of daily life. Therefore, they think it’s normal and acceptable to be disrespectful. We try to shape them and teach them differently, but it’s so hard knowing that violence is such a part of their world outside of school. I had a chat with my girls in peer mediation about the ways boys treat them, and to never ever let anyone disrespect them or make them feel scared or uncomfortable. We talked about the Chris Brown/Rhi Rhi situation and I am happy to report that most of them felt Rihanna was a strong person and would have stopped listening to her music had she gone back to Chris Brown.
It came out yesterday that a former well known local news anchor was the victim of domestic violence. She attended Mercy High School, and when I was a senior she came to talk to us for career day. I remember admiring her for being a woman who made a difference (the motto of Mercy ). Yesterday, when I heard her heartbreaking interview on the radio, I was touched by her strength. She talked about how horrible the abuse was and the emotional torture she went through. She is using her experience to advocate for the education of domestic violence and to educate young girls. I am glad that she can serve as a role model for young women in Detroit.
It makes me sad that domestic violence is overlooked or turned into a joke. This issue is serious and devastating. I want every single one of my friends, family members, and students to know that they should never have to suffer to violence or abuse. YOU are beautiful and worth so much more, so don’t ever let anyone take that away from you or tear you down. Do not settle for less than what you deserve. In the words of Allison Iraheta, “Don’t waste the pretty on him!”. Let’s stand together.