1 in 3 Women; 1 in 4 Men
I believe domestic violence, whether verbal, physical or both, starts the moment the abuser stops seeing their victim as a human being deserving of kindness, empathy and compassion. Abuse can look like something else in the early stages -- perhaps laughed off, minimized or explained away because who wants to believe that anyone in our circle of friends, family, or colleagues has abusive tendencies? But, domestic violence knows no boundaries and coercion, intimidation, manipulation, isolation, or the use of privilege to force submissive behavior in other people are all techniques abusers use that have absolutely nothing to do with love, protection, safety or leadership.
It is important we learn the early signs of verbal or physical intimidation and abuse and say "no" to this behavior before it gets out of hand. It is not normal. It is not okay.
We must find ways to better support those who have fallen victim to domestic abuse and educate those who are perpetrators to change and channel their behaviors in more productive ways. As one of my favorite artists, Eileen Agar, wrote in her autobiography, A Look At My Life, "...when decay sets in, every member of the body social is affected, no one remains untouched." (Agar, 1988; p. 63). Here, she was talking about her future husband's experiences as a soldier and war correspondent (1915 to about 1923), but I think it equally applies to those who, one hundred years later, in 2017, are suffering violence within their own homes, work places and communities.
I have seen varying statistics (hard to get precise numbers because some kinds of abuse go unreported), but in the United States, it is estimated that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will become victims of some form of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner in their life time. That is nearly 20 people per minute. That is simply too many.
The statistics can be broken down in many ways--beyond the scope of this blog post--so I provided some resources (below) to help you learn more about how domestic violence may be affecting your community. This is by no means a complete list.
- Getting Free: You can End Abuse and Take Back Your Life by Ginny NiCarthy
- Safety Planning with Battered Women by Jill M. Davies
- Helping Her Get Free: A Guide for Families and Friends of Abused Women by Susan Brewster
- In Love and in Danger: A Teen's Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships by Barrie Levy
- The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond by Patricia Evans
- Keeping the Faith: Guidance for Christian Women Facing Abuse by Marie M. Fortune
- The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help by Jackson Katz
Be safe. Be kind. Educate yourself. Speak up when you can. Help each other out.
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