The reality is that domestic abuse is far too common in society and that includes Canada. According to a Statistics Canada study 50 per cent of women in Canada have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. Think about that for a minute. Look around your office, your classroom, the street your walking on; statistically every second women you see will have suffered violence. And domestic violence is not just limited to people we don't know or people we don't see. Think about your friends and your family, your co-workers, and your classmates -- any of them could be victims of domestic violence.
This isn't Ray Rice's story of fame to public shame. It's the story of Janay Palmer, Anthea Mari and the many faceless women who have suffered through the same tale. Sadly, the NFL could have used better judgment from the moment the first video was released to the public. The original two-game suspension seems like after-school detention or a fleeting time-out in the corner, a small price to pay for what should be an incredibly adult crime.
To these women this isn't just the monster who kicked them down the stairs or told them they were worthless. He's also the man who romanced them and won their heart, the man they sleep next to, the man they make love to, the man who may be the father of their children, the man they build a life with together. To walk away from him is to walk away from the good moments, from the dream of that life. The possibility of what might have been, if only he could change and see the light. Abuse victims didn't "ask for it" or "like it" or "cause it." They are victims, and asking "why didn't they just walk away" -- whether unintentional or not -- blames those victims.
If you are a man and reading this, you might be thinking "But not all men would hurt women." That's true. Not all men would. But all women have been dehumanized by a man. That's what's forgotten in this conversation -- there's so much defensiveness from men. Please listen to what we have to say. We're telling you that this happens enough that every woman has a story. Not all men do this, but enough men do that the default is to be distrustful and wary around men. Elliot Rodger believed in the lies the Men's Rights Activist Movement told him.
"I like my violence like I like my beer: domestic" This was the recent Facebook status of popular east-end Montreal bar, Nacho Libre, whose social media manager somehow thought it completely appropriate to publish this cringe-inducing "joke." Isn't domestic abuse a riot? Sexist jokes are not funny -- they're hostile.
Teach your children well -- teach them about life and love and joy and sorrow. Teach them to be honest and kind. Teach them to be thoughtful and generous. Teach your children to care for others. Let your own life be the living textbook that your children read. May it be among the most inspiring books they ever open!
We've all seen the recent headlines with high profile allegations of domestic abuse. I can't count the number of times I've heard friends and family ask the same question of those stories: "why doesn't she just leave?" Too many people assume that if a woman is in an abusive relationship that she is making a choice to stay and that she has the power to end the abuse if she just leaves.
This week, I had a drink with a very good friend. He's currently in a relationship with a wonderful woman whose ex-husband, the father of her children also happens to be the man who raped and brutally sodomized her for the last four years of their nine-year marriage. No one believed the story of her ordeal. No one in her family. Not one of her friends. Disbelief is a cruel after-effect of rape. It's also the trump card of the rapist. The burden is all too often placed on the victim, not the perpetrator. And when it's a spouse, he knows how to make the victim feel so worthless, guilty and low, that she'll avoid doing what is necessary.
How does a woman who was abused by her father and addicted to drugs by her parents at that age ever get back on her feet? How does she grow up to become a functioning member of society? It can be hard enough for people with parents who care for them to succeed in life and find happiness, but with criminal acts perpetrated by family members this seems impossible.
My mother's life is why I am the feminist I am. From the moment I saw her crying, holding her just-hit face, looking into my four-year-old eyes in helplessness, I knew she was something and I would dedicate my life to making her believe it. I once spoke at an event in which I touched on my mother's story. Imagine my surprise when I was later informed, by a woman no less, that one man in the audience didn't like my saying that I was a feminist and said that those he was with felt the same way. She hoped it would be food for thought for me.