October 3, 2007

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

When I was growing up, the only "special" month I remember was "Black History Month." The celebration originally known as "Negro History Week" expanded to a month long event. My teachers told me February (the shortest month) was chosen by founder Dr. Carter G. Woodson because Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass were believed to have birthdays during that month.

Now we have all kinds of special months and I can't keep up with most of them. Actually, I don't feel an interest or need for keeping up with them. This month, however, is one I feel needs more meaningful attention.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Too many of us have had the experience of interacting with a family member, ex-spouse, or "friend" who feels it is OK to yell, shout, verbally threaten/intimidate, or strike a woman. I had a conversation recently in which I shared my experience with someone I thought would understand. Her responses were completely focused on what I said or did that would "irritate" the man we were discussing. During a nearly thirty minute conversation, I could not bring her to the understanding that it is never OK to threaten someone because they do not say or do what you want them to say or do.

During this month, we will probably see or hear some type of information giving guidelines for identifying violence-prone individuals. Some of this information will be timely and useful. We have been exposed (for years) to guidelines on how to "get out" of dangerous relationships. We have been given suggestions for identifying those persons with a tendency toward violence ( e.g. personality traits, family history, tendency toward jealousy of women).

Having this knowledge may not prepare you for the biggest surprise of all: someone (possibly someone you think will help or appreciate your situation) may tell you that it's your fault. You did something wrong. You said something wrong. You didn't speak in an appropriately respectful tone. You used too many big words and frustrated him. You should have just backed off. Just let it go. After all, "you know how he is."

Yes, you do. You know that it is impossible to make peace with someone who doesn't want peace unless they get everything they want all of the time. You know that one person can never solve a relationship issue without their partner's cooperation. You know that people still think "if you mention the problem, you're the problem." You know that if your success and happiness make someone else angry, they'll always find a reason to pick a fight. You know. You know. You know.

So, the next time someone tells you it's your fault, just remember what you already know. Then, take some meaningful action towards a safe physical and emotional space.

Commonly observed characteristics of persons who may be or become batterers:

Common Characteristics of a Batterer

1. Was abused as a child or saw father abuse his mother.

2. Has a low opinion of women.

3. Has love/hate relationship with his mother.

4. Is jealous and possessive.

5. Drinks or uses drugs excessively at times.

6. Is demanding of mate's time and attention.

7. Is "macho" acting.

8. Is critical and difficult to please.

9. Treats mate like a possession.

10. Has quick, explosive temper.

11. Is overly suspicious and accusing.

12. Blames others.

13. Is unreasonable and inflexible at times.

14. Is easily annoyed or threatened.

15. Encourages mate's dependence.

16. Is preoccupied with violence, guns, knives, etc.

17. Is boastful and arrogant.

18. Feels no one understands him.

19. Is impulsive.

20. Uses aggressive sex to demonstrate superiority and control.

21. Is loving and kind at times.

22. Is remorseful after violence.

23. Is a good provider.

24. Is a "YES" guy outside the home and on the job, is socially charming.

--From the website of the Community Crisis Center (847-697-2380). This phone is answered 24/7.

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