Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Domestic Violence Rages On

After hearing about Chris Brown and Rihanna last week, memories of the past bubbled to the surface. Most of us know someone who has been affected by domestic violence; some of us may even be survivors ourselves. I was forever changed when my 6th grade homeroom teacher and family friend was killed by her abusive husband. He violated a restraining order, beat her severely, and left her brain-dead. A week later, she died as a result of her injuries. Most of her family and friends were unaware of the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband. Last week’s incident made me shudder inwardly, because it is just another reminder that domestic violence still runs rampant in our society.

It wasn’t too long ago that people were told to keep quiet and so that they and everyone around them would remain in a state of denial. While there is increased awareness and many legal and cultural changes have been implemented to protect and support survivors, domestic violence is still a serious human crisis.

I have read enough on the subject (and watched enough “Oprah”) to know there are always warning signs before physical violence takes place. These include verbal abuse, and needing permission from their significant other to see family, friends, or to merely leave the house. Unfortunately, many people ignore chronic possessiveness, jealousy, and disrespectful behavior for various reasons. When physical abuse happens, many victims think that if they are patient and obliging, the violence will eventually stop. I know my family friend mistakenly thought so.

When I think about the Rihanna/Chris Brown incident, I have to wonder: is this the first time domestic violence has erupted between them? Are they both making excuses for each other without dealing with the issue head-on? After the incident, Rihanna’s father expressed hope that she will speak out against domestic violence. While it is entirely up to her what she will or will not do, we should be inspired to become (and remain) vocal about this issue. In cases like these, silence is the enemy.

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