I’m going to shift gears for a bit. I want to talk about Domestic Violence. Yes, I’m a African-American male, and yes I want discuss why this happens, and why aren’t there enough discussions about it. This past weekend, my home church hosted a two day event called “Love Is – Healthy Relationships” in Milwaukee. In which also had a subject discussion about Domestic Violence. Now don’t be surprised that my commentary of Domestic Violence centers around Women. But guess what, even Men can be victims of Domestic Violence as well. More on that later.

The first day of the event, was a Healthy Relationships Workshop. The CEO and Founder of Asha Family Services, Antonia Vann led a discussion about the multi-uses of Domestic Violence. By the way, Antonia is a blood relative of mine, just a FYI. In the discussion she first laid out four important issues:

1) Domestic Violence is a Crime!

2) Domestic Violence is one of the most COMPLEX issue on the planet;

3) DV is no respecter of persons! – it doesn’t matter if you are black, white, latino, straight, LGBT, poor, rich, or struggling in the Middle Class. It effects everyone!

4) There is help available!  – The US Department of Justice reports that women and girls comprise the largest group of victims at 87%, with males comprising the largest group of perpetrators whether the victim is female or male.

In the workshop, what I have also realized that it’s not only about patterns of abusive behaviors, it’s really about two things: POWER and CONTROL!

Where does it come from? How does it happen? It usually starts with learned behaviors through family origins. Such as, when a young male commits a DV Crime, and the question of others ask where does he get this attitude from? It’s usually starts with a parent like a father, or an uncle, or a grandparent. Another could be through observation, the culture, reinforcement, community and many other elements. Health issues like stress, genetics, illness, or relationship issues can also contribute to Domestic Violence. According to the State of Wisconsin, Domestic Violence is defined as this: “The international infliction of or threat to inflict physical pain, physical injury, illness, impairment of physical condition, sexual contact or sexual intercourse without consent.”

And the three main factors from abusers: Physical, Emotional and Sexual.

Physical:  in sense of using weapons, bear hugging, Slapping, biting, Rape and making threats of killing you or a loved one.

Emotional: Forces you to sit in his presence. (or to paraphrase) or her presence. , Mindgames, Attacking verbally, calls or texts you repeatably all day, Insults your values, beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class, refuses to socialize with you and your family and friends, refuses to pay the bills or having their loved one or partner to pay the bills in a demanding fashion, tantrums like throwing things, drop papers or clothing. Plus manipulation.

Sexual: Rape, angrily jealous, gets angry if the partner or loved one in the relationship doesn’t want to have sex when he (or she) wants it, call you names like whore, b*tch, extorting unwanted sexual acts, insists of unwanting touching, and having multiple affairs.

Now many are asking what does this all mean? Many of you probably reading this, thinks it’s all smoke. Guess what, when there’s smoke there’s fire. Antonia herself was a victim of Domestic Violence back the 80’s when I was in Elementary School. No joke. Her presentation was not just for all show and tell. It was really about educating ourselves that is becoming an awakening. Many that showed up was kind of low. Some might said it was depressing. But that depressing thing can be a warning to look out for.

Now what about the rest of the weekend? My church had two guests of Dr. Pamela J. Lucas who was a AM Speaker from Alverno College. Her message about “Love Is” was in sync with the uses of being loved by yourself, and by others. She expressed that Love is not selfish, not full of pride, does not think evil, and most of all the word Agape was mentioned in which it ‘s a different kind of love, and it’s kind. Plus also during the afternoon service, the men had a representative of Shawn Muhammad, a devout Muslim, (yes he is a Muslim) but his message about Domestic Violence was on a intellectual level. He also expressed that the church should be attractive to young people, the mothers are the first nurses, teachers and queens, and most of all, examining God to use the oppressed to create something new. He also lectured that you don’t have to go outside of your circle just to get help from others who might not know the knowledge of helping Milwaukee. But those in Milwaukee, should be able to express answers.

Now why I should I say, that church folks should start talking Domestic Violence? It’s a community issue. No, it’s a humanity concern. It’s both a local and national concern. Many of you reading this blog probably knew someone that was abused domestically in a relationship. Even in the church! Black Churches especially! I also want to comment that the this is should be one of the top priorities with dealing with this issue. Just don’t throw it in the trash. Just a couple of years ago, the United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Men Groups forged a historic coalition in advocating Domestic Violence. It stated back in 2006 according to the council of bishops:

We proclaim…that violence against women exists in all communities, including our
own, and is morally, spiritually and universally intolerable.
We commit ourselves to working toward
the day when all women will be safe and abuse
will be no more.
Yes, even though that the partnership is a few years old, but it’s really a wakeup call for those who want to get mobilized. So if you know someone who is going through the storm of this issue, tell them don’t wait another couple of years. Tell them to report it NOW! No matter who you are. I did say earlier that even though Women are centered with Domestic Violence, but also Men who are in Same-Sex relationships could be targets as well. So Domestic Violence can swing both ways like a double edged sword. And the one thing in common in both these similarities, Men are usually the aggressor in this angle.
Finally, the story of this should not be ignored nor pushed aside. It is a humanity concern that needs to be addressed and addressed THOROUGHLY! Just like with AIDS, Health Concerns of Cancer, Diabetes, MS, and other sort of human concerns.
For more information about Domestic Violence in the Milwaukee/Wisconsin Areas there are many resources available:
Community Information Line: 211
Faith Institute – A website that all faiths can get information in regarding Religion and Domestic Violence. Plus another website, enditnow.org
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