Friday, February 27, 2009

Why Domestic Abuse is No Laughing Matter

The recent incident involving popular singers Rihanna and Chris Brown has brought attention to an issue largely ignored by the general public -- domestic violence. Although no one knows what exactly happened between Brown and Rihanna but themselves, it is evident that he physically assaulted her.

This matter of domestic abuse seems to quickly get forgotten within days days of high-profile cases. Another example would be the assault on evangelist Juanita Bynum by ex-husband and self-proclaimed "man of God" Thomas Weeks less than two years ago. Though often given a lot of attention by the mainstream media when celebrities are involved, domestic violence rarely garners much attention when it involves the average citizen.

According to the American Bar Association, at least 25% of women and close to 8% of men will be victims of a physical assault or rape by a spouse or dating aquaintance. Often this matter is used as a punchline for bad jokes or, even worse, victims are blamed. Lauren Williams (a writer for the Black Voices blog) had this to say about how this type of violence affects the black community, in particular:

"As much as Chris Brown's reputation has been ruined as a result of these allegations, Rihanna -- the one with bruised and bloodied face -- has been dragged through the mud as well. Consider this hypothetical scenario: Chris Brown exits a club after a night of drinking, encounters a cop and insults him. The cop tries to arrest him, but he resists. The policeman beats him to a bloody pulp. Let's imagine the reaction in the black community. Technically, he would have "started it", but I strongly doubt anyone would say he deserved what he got. Marches would be organized in his honor. Al Sharpton would hold a press conference! Barack Obama would be pressured into making a comment.
As a community, we will almost always take the side of the black man over the police. We stand up against police brutality. Why don't we stand up for our women? As insidious and rampant as police brutality and racial profiling is, violence against women is just as, if not more, rampant and insidious. It's a global epidemic as old as time.In the United States, the leading cause of death for black women ages 15-34 is murder by a former or current intimate partner. African American women experience domestic violence at a rate that's 35 percent higher than that of white women.
This is not a joke. If we were smarter, we would take this situation and turn it into a chance for us to grow as a community. If we cared more about violence against our women, we would use this an example of how domestic violence can affect anyone, anywhere, at any time. Instead, we make jokes. We excuse alleged bad behavior and blame the one who is bloody and bruised. We say "if he did it, he must have had a good reason."
Unfortunately, the physical abuse of women has somehow found its way into popular culture. The term "wife beater" has become a popular term for a form-fitting white tank top. How this has become an accepted term for any respectable person is beyond me. It is this kind of casual attitude that contributes to the acceptance of assaults on women. Men that abuse women should not be excused or given a wink from others. They should be punished and then rehabilitated.

The reality is that if one out of four women suffer violence at the hands of a partner, then this is a serious issue that should not be tolerated or used for joke material. In fact, I just received an e-mail recently from a Christian woman that found herself in an abusive marriage and wasn't sure where to turn. If you or someone you love is the victim of domestic abuse, I'd encourage you to read this article and seek out the help of someone near you that can assist you in escaping this reality.

No comments: