Victims of domestic abuse include men and women, husbands and wives, grandparents, children, the elderly, employers and employees, wealthy and poor, and more.
Even if you are not the one abused, the atmosphere of abuse and violence impacts your life, sometimes forever.
Lately much has been reported and debated by everyone via social media, newsprint, and TV surrounding recent incidences of domestic abuse by professional athletes, entertainers, and ordinary human beings against girlfriends, wives, children. Those who end up labelled victims.
However, most coverage focuses on the perpetrator of the abuse and rarely on the abused, the victim. It makes one question whether anyone is taking notice.
Because I grew up in an abusive environment, I am interested in the subject. My abuse was invisible because it was usually emotion or verbal, and sometimes physical. My mother inflicted the abuse. No one outside our family likely knew what went on at home. Mama was very careful when in society to show the loving mother, loving child scenario.
What I find so hurtful now is why no one in our family spoke up. Of course, many of them did not know either, but I’m certain some did.
Could they so easily turn a blind eye to demeaning and degrading language thrown like garbage at a child?
Could they also close their eyes to adult hands hitting a small child, belt buckles used as instruments of punishment, or hearing a child told to go and pick the switch and strip its leaves so it would hurt more?
Do you have the courage when you see bruises on a friend while having coffee to ask her about them? Or ask him about the gash on his arm from a kitchen knife?
As co-workers could we see harassment, another form of abuse, happening around us and close our minds to it? Would it be so hard to mention to your own supervisor it is disturbing to you?
Like witnesses to car accidents or burglaries, people do not want to get involved. And I understand the fear of revenge. Try, however, to fathom the fear that resides in the mind and heart of the abused.
If you knew your neighbor’s family was dysfunctional and there was abuse in the home, whether it was the children, the husband or the wife abused, would you be willing to say something to the authorities? Would you get involved?
If you were visiting a nursing home or rehabilitation facility and saw or heard an elderly patient being abused, would you speak up?
If you were walking down the street passed a homeless man or woman and by chance saw someone kicking at them to move their feet or to get off the sidewalk, would you look for the nearest law enforcement officer?
If we are not the ones who speak up for our fellow human beings, who will speak up for us when this insidious behavior strikes our own?
As members of today’s society, we must reconsider the thought process of “not getting involved.” Being involved is what we should be about. Reaching out to another by whatever means–contacting law enforcement or social services offices, helping to find shelter or food, becoming foster parents, and anything else which lifts up the victims–is what we need to once again began caring for one another.
It is not too late.