October is designated as domestic violence awareness month, did you know?

By R.D.

Beyond October: It was conceived out of a day of unity led by the National Collation Against Domestic Violence in October 1981 with purple as the official color.

This issue will not stop throughout the world as many domestic panthers will continue to abuse beyond this October as a few of us focus on raking falling leaves or checking windows and roofs in anticipation of winter or whatever routine tasks must be addressed.

For several years, I have participated in three miles of walk and other community events in support of victims of domestic violence with members of the law enforcement community, advocates, treatment providers, and other support groups.

During my annual walk, I usually think about the impoverished victims in poor and developing countries and especially the migrant communities globally with limited or no resources.

The questions this October: There are plenty of definitions of domestic violence regardless of the type of relationship.

Simply put, it is not about a single fight. If it feels wrong, it is. However, domestic violence abuse comes in the form of physical, mental, social, and economic abuse.

It is never the victim’s fault, whether forced sexual activities; intimidation, social isolation, economic, manipulation, deprivation such as blocking access to medical treatment.

Even more problematic than the re-victimization attitude by some, as if they had it coming.

Often in our society, conversations on these cases begin with the interrogation of the victim.

“She could have run out of the situation .”

What caused her to be abused?….. Why didn’t she leave?

But no one ever asked him in jail, at school, church, or in the community; Why he abused her?

Often many victims, and even who are tasked to help may deflect or minimize.

The Data:

Men are almost always portrayed as the perpetrator, when they too can be the victim. However, the National Collation Against Domestic Violence noticed; one woman is killed by a partner, ex-spouse, or some dating partner every 14 hours. And every 20 minutes an intimate partner abuses someone. In 70-80% of cases, men psychically abused the woman before the murder.

Young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old are 2.41 times as likely to experience physical violence. More than three million children witness domestic brutality in their homes every year. Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence equally suffer abuse or neglect at a more elevated rate as studies have shown.

Domestic violence cases comprise more than half of police response calls, more than robbery, motor vehicle theft, burglary as reported

Several academic international journals further state that domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women age 15-44. An estimated $4.1 to $5.8 billion resulted from victims who lose days of work alone, which is about 32,000 full-time jobs.

Additionally, one’s title or position does not exclude this type of behavior by a perpetration because power and control are still a form of violence against women.

Domestic violence is beyond a primary victim, it can transcend into child trafficking from the run-away child to escape a violent home. They have experienced exploitation and are forced into marriages. The UN also reported that about 15 million young girls are victims.

Beyond the COCID-19 Mask.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused anxiety, and perhaps frustration from the unknown; and though the economic and physiological impact is still being assessed, experts also noted that more domestic violence cases are reported from individuals who are unemployed from closed businesses with little support.

Regrettably, in some of these communities that share part of our roots, culture, and heritage, domestic violence remains taboo. Despite the breathtaking backdrop and wide-open fields, beautiful shorelines, and white sand, often not all victims recognize a secure place to go for help including perpetrators of domestic violence.

Domestic violence abuse tends to mask in silence in many of these communities. A beautiful sun-glass may hide the scars from a violent relationship that may be seen as a day heading to the beach, a corner shop, or church, but taking this walk with me for awareness could deliver a positive and lasting impact.

Photo by RODNAE

The ongoing shadow.

Experts observed despite a few groups’ interventions; classes tend to stay in the shadow. They lack proper staffing, often closed abruptly afterward, and offenders frequently require the cooperation of law enforcement to make sure they attend treatment programs.

When treatment programs are available, the dropout rates stay high and victims will use cultural reasons as an excuse. The lack of resources choked off by poverty sometimes can be difficult to connect families or victims to programs throughout many Latin American, African and Caribbean communities; including other poor and developing areas according to the experts.

Numerous victims still struggle to receive help and especially those who immigrated. A victim’s immigration status plays a crucial role in searching for help. The fear of losing purely financial support, being deported coupled with racial intolerance and social stratification; many victims stay silent navigating the cultural and legal complexities that cause more isolation.

The historic struggle and time to stop the ongoing shadow.

The challenge society faces in some regions; wrongdoers who carry that 16th-century mentality that perceive women’s role in society as property, and bearer of their children have equally contributed to the cycle of violence.

The masculinity that tied to colonialism where slavery’s tragic period cannot be ignored the dehumanization of black females who were relegated to the kitchen as scholars have noted. Today, despite more rights and an evolving shift towards gender equity, equality, those scars still linger for countless women.

Sadly, especially for victims who lack resources coupled with hopelessness, it can lead to pathologize reality where victims may refuse to escape a toxic environment from fear, seek appropriate intervention or medical help.

Furthermore, even upward mobility into leadership roles for women does not always result in more awareness. Simply admitting to being a victim could cut their power and status. As a result, some remain in the shadow.

A deeper Look beyond the light, camera and dance:

Before COVID-19, many cultural colors would have emerged in the summer for celebrations, dancing to the latest Soca, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Reggae, and Latin rhythms, African Beats or any other cultural events globally, but beneath many of these costumes, and one love vibes beats; someone is hurting from irrational decisions by the perpetrator of violence.

This October has provided another chance to look deeper beyond gender-stereotype, masculinity, and sexuality that can hinder self-observation.

Even though many are still suffering mentality from the colonial tragic past,  today’s domestic violence behavior cannot always be attributed to the mistreatment of women today from that slavery period and it must be debunked.

We must move from minimization order acknowledge and establish a more protected space for victims and also get abusers’ treatment with accountability

Looking back at the HIV/AIDS epidemic and although medical advances made it a manageable disease, it was through awareness that reduced the stigma in this community.

No, you do not have to be a member of the LGBTQ community or a victim to speak up and support these groups.

Domestic violence also takes place in same-sex relationships. Men are victims of nearly three million physical assaults each year according to experts.

No one is immune from violence:

Violence and death inside the LGBTQ community have increased since 2010 and continues today from ignorance and taboo; even by straight offenders who may have their struggles with homosexual tendencies, as studies have shown.

Today our society is becoming more accepting, and notwithstanding countless advocates pushing for equality, it has been an up until run and a high tide. Hostility remains in some social, religious, and political groups that see lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender relationships as a sin and morally wrong. This identity makes it rather difficult for a victim in these communities to look for and get help in an abusive relationship.

Let’s get real:

Though the church is important, a dear pastor’s sermon alone cannot resolve this issue. Many outdated laws throughout these regions; some dated back to a colonial period; especially in poor and developing countries need to represent a current approach. This will support victims to come forward if being abused. These communities must move from seeing only the symptoms, also the cause.

Domestic violence creates a pattern of a psychological barrier in overcoming traumatic experience that suffers long-term critical consequences.

The nonintervention mentality must stop simply because a victim may not have a visible scar. Many reports have shown that victims continue to use the health care system more than others do after the violence has stopped.

Whether the US, Canada, or the UK; or a gay person who lives under a bridge in the Caribbean, being victimized should not make a difference: It hurts anywhere.

Has your community done enough especially to highlight this issue? Or maybe political leaders should begin to wear victims of domestic violence on a campaign button.

I hope the next time walk or run in purple, or even standing under a banner for victims’ rights; image for every story being told how many are masked in silence; even unable to get a like on social media due to the lack of resources and awareness.

Searching for survival, creating awareness to change course, starts with you and your community. Please use your platform because it seems we are closer than before; but further apart in helping each other. Stay safe!

R.D.