I have a question for you.
Do you think it’s even possible to end violence against women and children?
I’m serious. Is it possible for everyone to have healthy relationships, or is violence against women inevitable?
This is a question I’ve taken to posing recently, because as I approach the end of my long career, I want to know.
Maybe people—you, me, the guy sitting next to you—don’t believe this is possible. When I actually ask people, “Is violence inevitable?” there’s often a long pause. Which is interesting.
Now granted, I’m three decades into doing this domestic violence victim advocacy work, so maybe I’m a little slow here, but it’s only now dawning on me that our current responses to violence in relationships are not getting the job done. Not for lack of trying. Not for lack of big-hearted and dedicated people. Not for lack of laws, money, programs, shelters, and jails. We’ve got all that. What we don’t have is resolve. I think maybe we don’t believe it’s possible.
But pretend, just for kicks, we do all believe we could have healthy relationships. I don’t mean perfect, I don’t mean we don’t argue and have hurt feelings. But relationships that are about love and respect.
Pretend we’re willing to think way outside of all the boxes (institutions) we’ve invented and dream up more effective social controls on sexism and abuse and common sense approaches to fostering health and happiness. Could we even agree on what those would be? And if we did all that, would we succeed?
2 thoughts on “Bare-naked question”
I think that a key to making a difference, is in offering copious and free parenting classes in every community. Raising children can test a person’s ability to deal with stress in new ways, “reprogramming corrupted hard drives”, if you will, because many of us were parented by unskilled parents. “Best practice” curricula can help parents raise children who are creative and curious, creating boundaries for unacceptable behaviors, without resorting to violence or angry outbursts. Most parents want to do better; they just need to have the tools and support to improve their responses. Those tools can also be support for a parent to let go of an abusive relationship, because she/he can see the detriment to the child as well as to the self.
Do I think it’s possible to end domestic violence against women and children? 100% eradicated? I would love to say yes, but honestly no.
Do I think it is possible for domestic violence to be a rare occurrence? The exception and not the norm? Absolutely!I believe in healthy relationships, that love and respect will win the day. I believe that the heart of our society – local, regionally, nationally, worldwide – can be changed to one where we lift each other up, esteem one another, and truly love and care for one another with compassion, mercy, and grace. I believe it can happen as we work together, practicing this, modeling this. One person at a time, one relationship at a time, one community at a time.
Methods will come and go. What works well in one place may not work well in another. Solutions will be created, modified, tweaked, and occasionally thrown out – BUT as long as we are meeting with people, empowering people, educating people, loving people – then there is change and there is hope.
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