Domestic Violence not a Domestic Problem

image of purple ribbon

The purple ribbon project advocates an end to interpersonal violence.

Love. Everyone — women, men, children — needs it. We don’t necessarily expect to experience it, in its various forms of acceptance and understanding, support and encouragement, affirmation and affection, “out there” “in the world” of school, work, or public life. In fact, we are often encouraged to think public life is supposed to be a realm of merciless competition, casual unconcern for the welfare of others, and predictable violence. We are encouraged to turn for love and care to “personal relationships” — where many of us experience its most devastating betrayals.

Domestic violence is one of those. The controlling and demanding masculinities we cultivate in our entertainments, reward in our board rooms and recruit for our work and war rooms don’t stay “out” all the time. When they go home, they bring a pattern of violent and coercive behavior with them, into 28% or more of intimate relationships.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The Women’s Center has been receiving messages from colleagues involved in educating faith communities about the problems associated with domestic violence, and encouraging churches, synagogues and mosques to respond to it with the healing resources they uniquely possess.

The Faith Trust Institute has links to resources, including a bulletin insert that can help call congregational attention to the problem. Presbyterians Against Domestic Violence have a downloadable congregational packet that includes educational and worship resources that can help a congregation raise awareness and energy for mobilizing against the domestic violence.

Our friends at Menswork are observing the month by conducting a special free training on MW PGR Training FlyerPromoting Gender Respect, a program designed to engage men and boys in the prevention of bullying, sexual harrassment, sexual assault, and dating violence. The program recognizes the need to counteract those culturally prevalent messages that equate violence with “real” masculinity, and to energize a different, more positive script. The training takes place October 12, 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m., at Family Scholar House, 403 Reg Smith Circle, Louisville.

All these resources acknowledge something we already know, or ought to: domestic violence is far from an isolated personal problem. It is a problem for and with communal life, which plays itself out in intimate contexts. Its solution calls for communal action.

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