I was surfing the net last night, following threads here and there until I happened across an interesting newspaper article written in September of 2012 in the Ottawa Sun. The story is about a woman, Heather Imming who had been violently assaulted and abused for years before being able to leave the relationship. Her husband has subsequently died and apparently this lovely lady is speaking out about Domestic Violence in an effort to educate and break the silence. Good for her! However, my interest in this article goes a little further. I began to read the comments from readers and all I can say is "wow".
Go and have a look at the story now, here's the link: http://www.ottawasun.com/2012/09/16/domestic-violence-survivor-husband-became-a-monster
What do you think? I'm telling you, this isn't the first time I have been surprised by comments left by people after reading about Domestic Violence, but these people seem particularly upset. Every time a woman comments and shares her own experience, someone is quick to poke holes in how she handled it. I was going to list and summarize what is said but frankly it is exhausting and discouraging to even go there.
Once again I see this idea about abuse against women pitted against abuse against men. This isn't a competition! Women get abused by women, women get abused by men - men get abused by men, men get abused by women---abuse is the problem, not who gets abused more. There seems to be this big red button that gets pushed when there is discussion about Domestic Violence, the button that can make every one defensive. How can we even begin to have open discussions about DV when we can't even seem to get very far before the gloves come off and suddenly someone is suggesting that someone else join the Taliban? Ridiculous as it seems, that is how heated the conversation gets.
A while ago there was a bit of a scandal in Toronto. Kiss FM, a local radio station, held some kind of contest (linked here) whereby a prize was awarded to the most convincing storyteller. Pardon me if I have the details wrong but that isn't what is important. The uproar ensued when it became known that the girl who had won did so by spinning a tale of domestic violence. The comments began flooding in and our own Jen (she who does such a lovely job of the calendar each month) waded into the mix with a comment of her own. We followed the comment thread for a while and it too got to that point where once again the gloves came off and tension was definitely evident.
Here's where I get to put my thoughts out there: could it be that the anger is fueled by misinformation and misunderstanding? Information about shelters (are there any for men/how often are they too full/is it easy to get into them/who can go/how do people get there), information about the police (what can they do when they come to the door/do they call child welfare/when should you call and when shouldn't you), information about abuse period (what constitutes abuse/when can someone get charged/what is criminal harassment/) . The list goes on and on. In this country we have not had the level of openness that is needed to begin to address all of these issues. There is mass confusion made worse by the fog of silence. How can we begin to shed light on a lot of these issues if there is such a lash back when someone is brave enough to speak up?