News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

California Now Has the Strongest Equal Pay Law in the Nation “All too often, women don’t know they’re being paid less than their male counterparts and lack access to the information they need to assert their right to receive equal pay for substantially similar work.”

Abuser and Survivor, Face to Face Banks ignores critics who say her program would be too traumatic for survivors. “These are people who have gotten up and lived through abuse every single day,” she says. “They’re strong.”

Judge Jails Domestic Violence Victim For Failing To Testify “I understand how frustrating it is…but the solution is never to threaten or bully the victim. She’s scared to testify. And that judge sealed the deal — she’s never calling 911 again…. If she dies, it’s on that judge’s watch.”

Yikes, you did what?!

I live in a really social neighborhood where I chat with lots of people who live around me. Recently, I was talking to one of my neighbors about relationships. It was a normal conversation about the challenges of dating, and sorting through the choices that we make. Then he told me that he was once convicted of domestic violence assault.

To be honest, I had a moment of panic. What was I going to say? As he talked about going through batterer’s intervention, how much he learned, and how different he is in his current relationship, I was thinking: Has this man really changed? Is his current girlfriend safe? Is he manipulating the story to glorify himself?

According to the etiquette of conversation, I had to say something after he stopped talking even though I had doubts, questions, and yes, even a bit of fear. I thanked him for the disclosure, acknowledged his journey, and continued to openly talk to him about relationships.

By virtue of my work, I know how to respond to people who disclose that they have been abused. But what I learned from this conversation is that I am uncomfortable with someone telling me they’ve been abusive. My first instinct was to question this man’s intentions and his behavior, but then I realized that I want to be able to talk with anyone about how to be in a good, loving, happy relationship.

I have decided to believe that my neighbor understands what he did and is making an effort to be a better person. After all, won’t he need a community of people who can support him in his present while knowing his past?