October was Domestic Violence Awareness month. When does it end? How does it end? I was talking with a friend who was coming out of a very bad relationship with an abusive man. She said to me “men are just born that way.” That statement shook me up because not only did I at one time believe that to be true (I grew up in a violent household) but in that moment I realized my part in the problem. My view of men was skewed by my experience as a child because in my family that statement was true, abusive men were the norm. But as an adult and a mother of three sons I knew that was not true. Children come into this world completely open to love whether they are boy or girl. My sons were sweet and gentle and kind. They cried when scared or hurt just like my daughter. They loved to cuddle and be held close just like my daughter. They were curious and full of wonder just like my daughter. I was blessed with three sons to show me that men are not just born that way. Having them changed my perspective and it changed my world.
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So how do we change our attitudes about domestic violence? By discussing it openly without judgement.
What can we ask of ourselves and each other that will support improving a system that isn’t working to end violence?
Why do we as a society give credibility to the excuses that men use to justify beating a woman?
Why are we so quick to blame a woman who is beaten?
Why do men beat women? What is the true source of the rage? What triggers it and why? Where can men go to learn to treat women better? What can a man do to be a better man? What kind of support does he need?
Why is it so difficult for a woman to leave a man that beats her? What is she afraid of? What can be done to make it easier for her to leave? What kind of support does she need?
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If we really want to end domestic violence then it’s up to each and everyone one of us to make that happen. Support systems, mentors, guides and whatever is needed by each individual to heal and grow has to be made available. It’s time we, men and women work together to end domestic violence. I look forward to the time that domestic violence awareness month is not necessary.
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