A Progressive Understanding of Domestic Violence

"Many other survivors still choose to stay silent, and I don’t blame them. But at the very least, if they’ve read the news this year, they’ll realize they aren’t alone." - Ann Friedman

You are or aren’t. You stay or leave. You do or don’t. You can or can’t.

We don’t give “I’m unsure” enough space to breathe. And why not? It’s clear that domestic violence is too complex to fit in our righteous, binary structure.

I’m not so different than the majority of society. Before I was in an abusive marriage, I couldn’t have imagined staying with a man who hit me. One and done. I said things like, “If he ever hits me, I’ll [insert parting action here].” But then I lived it, and I found out a hard truth: I had lied to myself.

Fortunately, I think society is wiser than me. When we say things like “you don’t understand because you’ve never been there”, we do empathy a disservice. You don’t have to catch a cold to know that congestion makes breathing difficult. You don’t have to touch a flame to know that fire is hot. And you don’t have to experience domestic violence to know that abuse is multi-layered.

So, my New Year’s Resolution (if I can even call it that) is to convince the world that domestic violence is an issue that we would be better off understanding. I’m going to share my story, open up about more details, write, hope, and take action. I’m going to affirm the experience of survivors.

We have to learn the language; every person must be fluent in domestic violence. Terms such as “batterer” and “predominant aggressor” should be commonly understood. We need to teach the Power and Control Wheel. We must have a progressive understanding of trauma. And we need to identify domestic violence as a Public Health crisis.

If you think 2014 was a banner year for domestic violence then hold on to your seat; 2015 is here.