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Caring for our veterans, particularly those suffering from PTSD, is undoubtedly an important issue. However, a conversation around mental health shouldn't overshadow men's violence against women and children. More concerning, shifting the narrative towards mental health and further away from men's violence make it even more difficult to hold perpetrators of similar acts of violence accountable.
Last week, physicians in Ontario were stunned to hear that one of their colleagues, who by all accounts was a bright vivacious woman, had died, allegedly due to domestic abuse, or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) as it's now called. She leaves behind young children, and a legacy of kindness, health care advocacy and caring.
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Vincenzo Paduano used a cigarette lighter to set his ex-girlfriend's face on fire after dousing her with alcohol.
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The positive effects of having supportive people around when someone decides to share their experiences cannot be underestimated. Not only does it open up the possibility of sharing at all, it encourages survivors to seek counselling and other supports, reducing levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD, and lessening the likelihood of experiencing abuse again. If someone chooses to disclose to you, the best thing you can do is believe them, avoid judgement, put their needs first and understand that everyone reacts differently to trauma. So, why is there still a public debate on whether we can believe women who share their stories of violence?
Abuse is always the responsibility of the abuser. Always. If we want to significantly change attitudes and feel optimistic about progress then we need to hear people saying loudly that there is no action or choice by a victim that can ever justify abuse. Not if she cheats on him, if she's a bad cook, if she nags, if she hates his mother, if she is passive, if she has different priorities, if she's stressed out, if she doesn't feel like sex, if she likes to spend, if she's a poor communicator, if she hates mopping the floor or if she forgets his birthday.