Sadly, of late, yet another instance of domestic violence has captured the headlines. Former Baltimore Ravens football professional Ray Rice was recently released from his team and suspended from the NFL after a video surfaced of him beating his now wife in an elevator at a casino back in February 2014. The video was disgusting and disturbing and that is all I shall say about that.
What I shall speak on is the debate which seems to have again reared its ugly head about domestic violence, particularly the lesser informed sides with questions and comments of “why would a woman stay”, “who hit whom first”, “what did she do to provoke that”, or my all-time least favorite “I bet she stayed for the money”. Listen people, and hear me well, all of that makes not a bit of difference when it comes to life and death. Domestic violence is about life and death. It’s not a “cultural” thing. It’s not a “racial” thing. It’s not a “regional” thing. It’s not a “demographically based” thing. It’s not a “certain socioeconomic status” thing. It’s not an “athletes, stars, and politicians only” thing. It’s not a “my daddy did it to my mama so I’ll do it too” thing. It’s not a “she’s feisty so she deserves it” thing. It’s not a “she should have known he was like that” thing. It’s not a “let’s sweep this under the rug or turn on the blind eye” thing. It’s about life and death, be it physical death, emotional death or spiritual death. The ONLY debate about domestic violence should be who offers the services quicker, closer, more completely and in more confidence to help a woman or any human who has experienced this horrible, horrible dehumanizing act. That is it! Nothing else matters. Point. Blank. Period.
The fact that social media has created an outlet for opinions which can sometimes be based on lack of knowledge, also known as ignorance, frightens me. Having never experienced domestic violence personally I am grateful that that path was not a part of my story, but it is for women I know, love or with whom I have come in contact. Working at Birmingham, Alabama’s YWCA Central Alabama everyday encountering women or hearing stories of women who have narrowly escaped their lives, and some who did not moves me to act. Won’t you join me?
Instead of posting the video of another human at her lowest point of humiliation post some resources, encouraging words and personal testimonies. Instead of debating about what caused it talk about what can fix it. Instead of pointing the finger at the woman know the warning signs and the cycle of violence, get to know her, build a relationship and help her get the heck out of harm’s way. Instead of sitting idly by until the next time something like this captures our attention for a fleeting moment, and it will, partner with agencies like the YWCA Central Alabama or whatever domestic violence services agency exists in your state or country and give money for more resources, advocate for more laws and services, spend time volunteering, donate needed items to shelters and share your own story if there is one to share. If you are a man (or woman) with issues within yourself that you cowardly take out on others, stop it, get help, heal and move on. Call Iyanla if you have to but STOP! If you are a woman (or man) who is the victim of another person’s self-hatred and find yourself in a domestic violence situation know that you are loved, important, necessary, strong, supported and worth help. Leave with your life in tact and trust us all who care to handle the rest on your behalf.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. There is so much to be done that month and in all the months to come to save lives. The good news is, we don’t have to wait until October. Let’s start today by all stopping just talking about it, debating about it, and wondering about it. Let’s stop domestic violence now. Our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends will hopefully live to thank us.