It’s impossible to escape the endless reports of drug and gang related street killings. Those random shots fired into playgrounds missing the intended target, taking the life of innocent children, have sadly become a common occurrence. We watch in horror as citizens exercising their right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech get maced and struck with nightsticks. Ongoing talks of past wars and threats of new ones dominate the news. Violent movies, television programs and video games are as visible and accessible to young children as milk in the local supermarket. Many suggest that these outside influences are responsible for the sharp rise in all the violence we see today, but is it really?
Why is there so much violence taking place behind closed doors between couples whose relationships began on bright, loving high notes, then slowly or suddenly became dark and profoundly ugly? Angry words escalate to physical blows and far too often the use of lethal weapons cause tragic, unnecessary deaths.
We know the recent economic plunge is partly to blame — still, there is way more behind the rise in domestic violence than that obvious issue. Yes, young delicate children bear witness to their parents’ behavior, form their own opinions about how to interact with others when they grow up, and perpetuate the cycle. That is one additional cause.
Most of the time, there is no middle ground for them, no foundation for understanding how to communicate their own inner conflicts, or rationally accept another person’s point of view without becoming violent. Coupled with the fact that in the majority of cases the children themselves are brutalized by at least one parent in this type of environment, you can imagine that this passing down of abuse is the main source of violence in the home, leading to violence in other spheres of life.
But we must question whether these children are merely mimicking their parents as adults, or if something more difficult is simmering in our collective soul.
I believe that domestic violence is more linked to personal demons rising up to highjack self control, but these demons run deeper than just personal experience. I believe that the violence inflicted upon that spouse is inner rage brewing to a boil. The bottom line is: hurt people hurt other people. The truth is that violence, up close and personal, has been a part of American culture since Africans were brought here enslaved.
From the mutilation and emasculation of the black man whose shackles prevented him from being able to protect his wife from being raped by the plantation master, to today’s children who are beaten and sodomized by the people who are charged with their protection, violence has continually been part of the fabric of our country.
The psychological and emotional pain and the physical trauma from all of these circumstances is a part of our DNA. It gets passed down in many forms of violence, the deep wounds being inflicted again and again, generation after generation. Domestic violence is but one of the forms this passing down of abuse takes. This month, being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we must focus on this collective shackle and how to break it.