October is back again, and with it comes Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is a month dedicated to raising awareness to the epidemic of violence suffered every day, every hour, every minute by people worldwide. The fact that domestic violence claims the lives of more than four women each day means we have so much more work to do.1
For those of us in the field, we eat, sleep and breathe domestic violence awareness on a daily basis. Whether we are advocating for those suffering at the hands of abusive partners, legislating for laws to protect victims of DV, or educating others in schools, social work agencies, courthouses and shelters; we’re working to make this a safer and more equal world with the goal of one day ending all forms of violence.
The U.S. Department of Justice calls domestic violence "a crime against women," where the majority of violent perpetrators are men. When almost 3 out of 4 of the murders committed by intimate partners have a female victim,2 we cannot ignore the connection between domestic violence and a male pattern of aggression, domination and patriarchy.
We know there’s a problem when men can treat women with an abhorrent lack of respect, and then receive props from their male counterparts. Such was the case with professional violinist Mia Matsumiya, who spent 10 years being harassed online by men to the point that she created a new Instagram account, @Perv_Magnet, with the explicit purpose of sharing the sick, twisted and perverse posts of these violent men. The intent is to call out such behavior as inappropriate, violent, and unwanted. No woman should ever have to feel objectified, dehumanized, or degraded because of immature and deranged online posts.3
This epidemic of violence can be seen on an institutional level as well, where political policies and procedures actively propagate anti-woman sentiments. We’ve seen this in recent months, where medical care specifically aimed at helping women receives legislative attention for major defunding (think Planned Parenthood).4 In this day and age, the fate of a female's body should be her choice and her choice alone. When a group of Rightwing politicians threaten to shutdown the entire government as a way to regulate women's bodies, it's safe to say there's a war on women.
And sadly, no place is immune to violence, as indicated by the recent spate of mass murders across the US and globe. According to USA Today, “The majority of mass killings—53 percent—are familial murders, and of those, 80 to 84 percent happen in the home.”5 These families and communities continue to be impacted by violence, while gun lobbyists and politicians pump millions of dollars into weapons development and deployment. Our leaders ignore comprehensive gun regulations that could prioritize our citizens’ safety, all the while attempting to regulate women's bodies and choices concerning contraception.
Until significant changes are made, more deaths will occur at the hands of these violence-prone individuals!
And it’s not just in the United States where women are put in harm’s way by men. There is a global epidemic of violence that needs to end. A recent situation of violence occurred in Vietnam this past summer (trigger warning), when women spending a day at the waterpark were groped, molested and assaulted by hordes of aggressive men and teenagers. These males completely disregarded the women’s safety and instead, inflicted an unimaginable assault upon them. What's worse, park operations staff later blamed the women for being assaulted, stating, “It’s the girls’ fault for not knowing how to protect themselves.”6
These are the challenges we face in this day and age. If so much violence is being perpetrated by men, then shouldn’t us well-intentioned men be outraged? Shouldn’t we strive to do anything in our power to stop the ongoing violence while raising the bar for other men to also change? How can men become better allies to women, children and other men?
My goal is to create a future in which we’ve eradicated violence. What is your goal this October?
1). Lawrence A. Greenfeld et al. (1998). Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends. Bureau of Justice Statistics Factbook. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice. NCJ #167237
2). Callie Marie Rennison (1101). Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim, 1993-1999. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice. NCJ #187635.