I have been reminded lately, in the shadow of the high-profile murder-suicide perpetuated by Kansas City Chiefs football player Jovan Belcher, that our society has a very hard time acknowledging domestic violence when it sees it. And it’s not just tragic high-profile incidents like this, it is happening every day in ordinary households across America. I hear so many clients minimize their experiences by calling their abusers “crazy”, “unstable”, “wacked”, “bipolar”, “jealous”, “insecure”. And every time I hear this I gently remind them that in fact, no, this is abuse. It’s domestic violence.
One would hope that with a nationwide media platform therein lies an opportunity for the facts about the lethality of domestic violence could become a topic for healthy public learning and education. Instead I have heard almost nothing acknowledging that this is domestic violence. Instead I hear a lot about suicide, the unbelievably huge loss for the families, the projected fears about the pain a little girl may face in light of these killings. But nothing about domestic violence.
And that, to me, doubles the tragedy for not just those directly affected by the incident, but for all of us.
When will we realize that pretending domestic violence doesn’t exist is the problem? We must start talking about it openly, putting a face to it, a situation to it, understanding that it is in our neighbors homes and maybe even in our own homes. To ignore it only fuels it, gives it power to grow. We must be brave enough to face it and discuss it and deal with the truth of it, not the mythology or the fear.