No Longer Just a Family Issue

by SHANNON GLEBA, Copy Editor

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. When I was younger, domestic violence was not an issue that occupied much of my thinking. However, the relevance of domestic violence as both an issue for women, as well as general public health, has been made clear.

Over the past year, the Me Too movement has gained traction as more women have bravely revealed their stories of sexual assault. Rape and sexual assault have long been issues that people have been subject to at work, by strangers and at all walks of life. However, what happens when the perpetrator of sexual violence is not a stranger, but rather an intimate partner? These situations rarely get exposed in the media despite the statistics revealing that “more than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner” (National Center for Disease Control and Prevention).  Unfortunately, these reports go ignored and brushed off as “family issues”.

Since an experience that occurred three years ago to someone I am close to, I can truthfully say that domestic violence is not a family issue, and should no longer be described as one. Intimate partner violence can affect an entire community, and must be approached as any other public health problem would be, seriously and without hesitation.

Domestic violence is an epidemic that intersects with many other controversial issues in the United States, such as gun control. While tackling these issues all at once will be difficult, it is time to make steps towards protecting those in abusive relationships. Whether that means the passage of new legislature that does not classify marital rape any differently than other rape, police taking those who report domestic violence more seriously, or reforming gun and restraining order laws, it must be done.

It is time to stop joking about NFL athletes hitting their girlfriends. It is time to stop reminding Rihanna of the terror she experienced at the hands of Chris Brown. It is time to stop defending those who control and manipulate their significant others in the name of being too afraid to be alone. It is time to believe survivors, and to not worry about the reputation of the abusers.

Abuse does not have to be physical, and a lot of the time, it is not. Abusers can use many types of manipulation to get power over their victims, including emotional abuse and financial abuse. So, talk to your friends and family members who seem to be struggling within their relationship. Do not question why your friend did not leave their abuser earlier, but rather what you can do to help. There are many resources available online, in shelters, and at local police departments.

If your friend’s significant other, or your own, is displaying any of the following warning signs developed by the Mayo Clinic, please reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE):

Calls you names, insults you or puts you down

Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school or seeing family members or friends

Tries to control how you spend money, where you go, what medicines you take or what you wear

Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful

Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs

Threatens you with violence or a weapon

Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets

Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will

Blames you for his or her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it.

By breaking the cycle of intimate partner violence, we can create a world where significant others feel safe in the arms of the one they love, and one in which those who do not will not hesitate to reach out for help.

Whether or not it seems to be, domestic violence is an issue that affects the health of all people and it’s time we all take a stand in making it no longer just a “family issue.”

Editor’s Note: Shannon Gleba is a Copy Editor of The Quadrangle and a sophomore. The views expressed in this article are hers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manhattan College, The Quadrangle or its Editorial Board.