16 October 2014

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.

The issue has received a lot of publicity because of Ray Rice.  The running back's contract with the Baltimore Ravens was suspended by the team not long after the National Football League suspended him for beating his then-fiancée (now wife) into unconsciousness. 

Of course, it took a lot of public outcry and pressure from sponsors to get Roger Gooddell, the NFL commissioner, to act on his case.  He claimed not to have known about the video on which Rice uses his spouse-to-be as a punching bag in an Atlantic City casino elevator at the time TMZ posted it online, in March.

Still, Rice's case got more attention than most other incidents of domestic violence, in part because of his celebrity.  Too many other incidents of such abuse are never reported, and too many others are simply not taken seriously when they are reported. Or, they are mis-handled by law enforcement authorities.

One reason for these problems has to do with perceptions and attitudes about domestic violence. For the most part, there are still many people--including, incredibly, women--who think that the woman/girl must have done something to "provoke" the man/boy.  Such provocation can include simply not pleasing him, whether sexually or in some other way. 

Another reason why domestic violence isn't dealt with appropriately is that it's still seen as a man-on-woman problem.  To be sure, the vast majority of such cases involve males abusing females in one way or another.  But new research has found that there's LGBT partners beat and otherwise abuse each other at roughly the same rate as heterosexual couples.   Sometimes law enforcement officials don't take their complaints seriously or at all; even when a conscientious police officer tries to help and records the complaint, little more can be done because the couple's union isn't legally recognized.

And, I can tell you from personal experience that some policemen (and -women) simply think trans people are not worth helping because, they believe, we're all sex workers (or sexual predators) and that our status somehow gives our partners the right to abuse us.  Finally, too many in law enforcement--and even in the so-called helping and healing professions--still think that if it's not physical, it's not abuse.  It took me three visits to my local precinct before anyone would hear my ordeal of having endured over 11,000 text messages, as well as "anonymous" false complaints to my former employer and the city, and e-mails falsely accusing me of sexual crimes, from Dominick.

Of course, he will never think of himself as an abuser.  It's because of people like him that we need anything that will raise awareness of what Domestic (i.e., Intimate Partner) Violence (i.e., abuse) actually is.

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