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Life and Religion

Put a stop to domestic violence
There’s no such thing as a good excuse
Published Thursday, March 13, 2014 7:17 am
by D. Bryant Simmons

Excuses for domestic violence vary but they all have one thing in common—allowing the abuse to continue. 

Both victims and perpetrators make excuses, albeit for different reasons. Perpetrators want to maintain control over their victims and protect their image so often times they will shift the blame.

A battered woman will often repeat the excuses told to her and convince herself that she believes them out of fear or desperation. She may be afraid of change—the prospect of building a new life apart from him might be more uncomfortable than the idea of staying. She might also be afraid of what he would do to her if she became confrontational. So, his excuses become her excuses.

We’ve all heard these excuses before, variations of “He didn’t mean to do it, he just got upset” or “He’s sorry, it won’t happen again.” Implying that now they can put this little hiccup in the past and go back to being the perfect couple.

If you know someone who has been abused once, twice, or every day for twenty years prepare yourself to have an uncomfortable conversation with her. 

Begin by telling her, in private, that no matter what she did or didn’t do, she doesn’t deserve to be treated in that way. She deserves to feel happy and safe in her home and every day of her life. Tell her that real love doesn’t leave scars and that’s what you wish for her.

In the best-case scenario, she agrees with you that she should leave. But even then, she may be unsure about how to leave.

Don’t be surprised if she denies the abuse or is not ready to leave. Take heart in knowing the time will come when she is ready. Remind her how much you care about her and confirm that you will always be there for her, no matter what.

If she makes excuses for the abuser, impress upon her how important her safety is, that she shouldn’t trade it for anything. Suggest that she speak with a counselor that specializes in domestic abuse. If she seems open to this have the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) with you and give it to her. If she’s concerned about legal matters or law enforcement, she needs to speak with an attorney that has experience in domestic abuse cases. There are many websites to help battered women located attorneys in their price range. For example, the website www.womenslaw.org has resources for every state in the US.

You don’t have to wait until you encounter a woman in abusive relationship to take a stand against domestic violence. Here are three ways you can make a difference today:

1. Find a girl, any girl, she doesn’t have to be related to you. Let her know that she matters, that her voice matters. Listen to her. Empathize with her. Encourage her to love herself just as she is and to express herself in whatever means are most comfortable for her. Empower her to expect the same kind of support from everyone who claims to love her. Teach her to set boundaries and resolve conflicts. And celebrate her when she does the right thing.

2. Find a boy or young man, who may or may not be related to you. Let him know it’s okay to feel every emotion on the spectrum and show him how to express them in a healthy way. Encourage him to help others even when it doesn’t benefit him and to speak out when he sees injustice. Help him to understand that his pride is no more important than anyone else’s, and celebrate him when he does the right thing.

3. Get active. Consider starting an educational and mentoring program or creating a documentary or short film about abuse. Start a petition to strengthen the domestic abuse laws in your state. Donate time, food, clothing, or money to local shelters. Bring someone else on this journey with you—child or adult. Tell the uncomfortable truth and most importantly never give up.

D. Bryant Simmons is the author of “How to Knock a Bravebird From her Perch.” She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and master’s in elementary education. Visit online at www.dbryantsimmons.com for more information.



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