As I was making my way through a small parking lot this afternoon, there was a man and a woman who were rowing over a parking spot. As the man stormed off, the woman followed in the same direction and yelled, "...Go home and beat your wife!" I was infuriated and couldn't believe my ears.
I believe she was making a cultural reference to the man, so her statement was doubly troublesome. I know she doesn't actually wish for him to harm his wife--or at least I hope she doesn't--but to even be able to let those words come out of her mouth, I can't even imagine what kind of person would be okay saying something like that, even if there's no true intent behind the words other than to be used as fighting words. I only caught that tail end of their row, and it seemed like the man went out of his way to tell her she took his parking spot, but still...I don't think that woman realized how much weight those words she nonchalantly vomited carry.
This incident further illustrates the great need for not just conversation, but action in our society to educate ourselves on the seriousness of relationship violence. Hearing those words come out of her mouth felt like knives being thrown past me. If 1 in 3 women will experience abuse by an intimate partner in her lifetime, then statistically speaking, I could not have been the only person in that very open and public parking lot to feel the way I felt when I heard those words shoot out of her mouth. Her display of ignorance and tactlessness supports the fact that our society still does not understand how serious and COMMON relationship violence is. I say "relationship violence" instead of "domestic violence," because abuse in a relationship can happen in the same fashion even if you're not living with your partner. As in my last post, it seems like the general public is still very unaware and detached from the fact that 1 in 3 women will experience abuse by an intimate partner in her lifetime. Do you have a sister? A mother? Grandmother? Female friends? Female teachers, coaches, etc.? Count how many women are in your life and do the math.
This statistic is not a joke, and it's not a number made up to scare you. It's a real statistic. An active and existing problem that affects millions of women across the globe, regardless of race, background, religion, education, social or economic status. I realize it can be hard to fully grasp and understand this until someone you love is affected. I didn't have a clue, and was probably just as ignorant as this woman in the parking lot is until 5 years ago when I found myself physically and psychologically beaten, not realizing just how close to losing my own life I was.
How do we get others to realize that words meaningless to them, may mean someone's life to another? This is where I've been stuck lately. Through my own experience, some of my friends and family are now more aware of the true affects and cost of an abusive relationship, and that it can actually happen to one of us; but there are still others who choose to look the other way, because it's too uncomfortable to face. It can be difficult enough reaching people who know and love us, so what of those to whom relationship violence is an intangible concept? How do we reach them?
It makes my blood boil when I hear about girls, or any children, thousands of miles away from where I am, in a world that feels much different than my own, being prevented from obtaining an education. Why should anyone be able to take that basic human right away from them? So, how do we get people who feel thousands of miles and worlds away from relationship violence, to stand with us for the intolerance of abusing love? Even if no one they know has been in an abusive relationship, how do we get them to realize 1 in 3 could be their mother, their sister, their best friend, or even themselves? Moreover, this doesn't just affect women. 1 in 6 men will have been abused by an intimate partner in his lifetime. Thus, it's an issue that affects all of us in so many more ways than we realize, and both men and women have to be a part of the conversation, we have to be a part of saying NO MORE to abusing love.
The other troublesome part about that woman's statement though, was what seemed to me like a cultural reference. It's true, some cultures are known for commonly mistreating their women. However, common doesn't mean okay. Common, in this context, means the issue is even more serious and merits even more cause for action. And it's common to hear people joke, or even "half-joke," about particular cultures and their domestic customs. That is a large part of the problem, because that goes to show that there is a serious issue that exists in our society being seriously overlooked and/or far undervalued. People say we should be able to make fun of ourselves and of our troubles. However, I cannot understand how it is ever okay to joke about beating your wife. It is simply not funny.
I hope that those of you who take the time to read my posts, take time to value each other (or at least your loved ones!), and remember to be not just kind to one another, but to truly be excellent to each other. We are all human, imperfect in words and behavior, but it can make all the difference if we at least try to realize that in the age of globalization our community covers the globe, not just our zip code, so we must try to remember the value each of us adds to our global community. This may sound a bit overdramatic, but if one man gets away with hitting his partner, then he gets away with hitting all of us. It's like today in the parking lot--when that woman threw knives at the man, I could feel the sharpness of the wind on my cheek from the daggers flying past me. Relationship violence may happen in our personal lives, but it is by far not a personal matter--it is a matter of the community.
BIG LOVE & HUGS