Tragically, one in four women are victims of domestic violence. In the recent weeks, our community has been directly impacted by domestic violence the killing of a Riverbank teenager while at a party and a man in West Modesto shot by his wife. As reported nationally, a Kansas City Chiefs linebacker killed his girlfriend only to turn the gun on himself.
As we read these articles, "jealous" and "possessive" are some of the words used to describe these men, but what we found most disturbing was the majority of the focus was on what the women did "she was dancing with another man who was not the father of her baby" and "she went to a concert and stayed out late."
Victim-blaming is common in domestic violence, only to justify someone else's incomprehensible actions.
Physical battering is just one method used to assume power and control, but what many people don't realize is that economic, sexual, emotional and religious intimidation; isolation; using the children; and threats are all forms of domestic violence. Many, if not all, are used prior to the physical abuse.
Domestic violence affects everyone. It doesn't just happen to "those people." It doesn't matter how much money you make, how educated you are, what religion or ethnicity you identify with, DV is an equal- opportunity destroyer. One of the most useful tools we can offer to assist victims is the understanding that love is not control. Out-of-balance relationships are not normal.
As a community we need to take a stand and show our children and others that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. There are services in our community that can assist you, a friend or a family member who may be trapped in a violent relationship.
Our message is really quite simple. Learn how to identify an abusive personality type and how to survive if you find yourself in a relationship; anyone can become a victim. Some common characteristics that an abuser will exhibit are: isolation from family and friends; humiliation; jealousy; blaming others for their problems; and intimidation.
Please, let's work together as a community to minimize family violence so that we won't continue to read articles like these in our local and national papers.
CINDY SCHNEIDERand the VOICES Committeeof Stanislaus County
The authors are associated with Stanislaus Family Justice Center, at 1625 I St., which offers confidential services to victims of domestic violence. The phone number is (209) 525-5130. Haven Women's Center 24-hour confidential crisis line is (888) 454-2836.