October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Here are some sobering facts about domestic violence from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
- 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.
When thinking of all the children and families you may come across in a mentoring program, these numbers become real.
They define domestic violence as the following:
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
Key words from that definition are power and control. Last week we hinted that beauty standards and domestic violence are linked. This is where that link exists–power and control.
An Australian Human Rights Blog, Right Now, discusses this link between Casual Sexism and Domestic Violence:
Human beings are stubborn, and it takes several generations to purge a society of old ideologies. And as there are many people alive today whose grandparents lived through the old system of controlling women, we have to understand that we are still a long way off from a being a misogyny-free society. Indeed, the traces of the old system are everywhere: children’s toy stores that divide boys and girls into workers and homemakers; pornography and other media which tell males that females are only valuable when they are a source of pleasure; and parents who teach girls to be submissive and boys to be dominant.
If we are still sending the message that women are submissive homemakers who are only valuable when they’re a source of pleasure, and that men are dominant workers who derive pleasure from women, are we really surprised that some men take advantage of this imbalance of power? We know that power brings out the cruel side of human beings, so why do we continue to support a social dynamic in which one group is given power over the other?
The blog points to the fact that these everyday acts and examples of sexism are creating a larger system of control and power over women. Back to last week’s post about beauty standards, we see the same thing. Society has deemed a woman as being only as valuable as the way she looks, and that others have control over that opinion.
The causes of Domestic Violence are so much larger what we think. We need to have an entire cultural shift. One that moves us away from women being submissive to men. So, before you knock someone for getting angry of “small” incidents, remember that these “small” incidents are connecting to a much bigger problem.