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?