By Ashika Raval – firstname.lastname@example.org – Sports Editor | Oct. 1, 2014 |
As National Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins Oct. 1, it is necessary we not only place importance and give recognition to the high-profile cases of domestic violence, but also alert ourselves to the violence going on behind closed doors.
The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as abusive behavior in any relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.
Unfortunately, often victims don’t recognize their abuse deserves attention. When they do attempt to open up to others, either intentionally or unintentionally, they dismiss the issue.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, only 40 out of 100 rapes and sexual assaults get reported each year and according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey, there is an average of 237,868 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year.
Who is to blame for the overwhelming number of unreported domestic violence and sexual assault cases? Is it the victim’s fault for being in fear of not only what others will think, but also in fear of putting themselves at risk of furthering violence from the perpetrator? Is it the fault of those loved ones who hear about these problematic situations? These are all issues that stem from one central root in our society. Our need to place rigid definitions on everything.
As human beings, we like to have structure in our society. We need guidelines, rules and handbooks — basically anything that will give us something on which to follow and base our life decisions. Unfortunately, when it comes to situations involving sexual, emotional or physical violence we cannot make things black and white. There shouldn’t be a level of pain that needs to be felt or quota incident occurrences before taken seriously and rightly considered.
Confusion is the first feeling someone faces after falling victim to some form of violence or abuse. They don’t know why or how something like this happened to them and when they can’t find an explanation, the first steps taken are either self-blame or denying that the incident ever occurred. This solves nothing.
Society as a whole is responsible for this and we need to stop. When you are victim to some form of abuse you shouldn’t be required to ask yourself a hundred questions in an attempt to justify what happened to you. If you are in a situation where someone close to you reveals a personal violent situation, the first questions shouldn’t be an attempt to label and categorize the incident. Why are the first questions so commonly, ‘Well, are you sure it actually happened? Was it rape or an assault? Isn’t he your boyfriend, don’t you guys always have sex?’
We need to understand that it isn’t necessary for there to always be a specific label and category, and as a community we need to act as a support system for one another. I do agree that when conducting a police report having the specific details will allow for the prosecution to fight for the victim. But that doesn’t mean we need to use these details to try and place a level of importance or a real value on an incident.
Everything isn’t so clear and it doesn’t always have to be clear in order for us to try and comprehend these situations. We need to stop seeking labels and stop comparing one situation to another. By doing this we are only further perpetuating the number of unreported cases.