Thursday, April 12, 2012

Let’s all commit to stop domestic abuse

I truly appreciate the chance to write about family history topics. Usually it’s fun stuff. But domestic abuse is the dark side of family life, the skeleton in too many closets.
Approximately three times a day in Nampa, people—usually women and children—are hurt by family violence.  Typically, one case will be reported to police and two will not. Certainly, additional cases occur in other parts of Canyon County.
Since men are usually the perpetrators, the Nampa Family Justice Center recently sponsored a leadership forum to encourage men to help stop abuse.
After attending, my husband shared the deep feelings it stirred in him about the need for men to truly value the women and children in their lives.
Guest Lecturer Ted Bunch shared the following “Ten Things Men Can Do”:
1)           Acknowledge and understand how male dominance and aspects of unhealthy manhood are at the foundation of domestic and sexual violence.
2)           Examine and challenge our individual beliefs and the role we play in supporting men who are abusive.
3)           Recognize and stop colluding [conspiring] with other men by getting out of your socially defined roles, and take a stance to prevent domestic and sexual violence.
4)           Remember that our silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out against domestic and sexual violence, we are supporting it.
5)           Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in preventing domestic and sexual violence.
6)           “Break out of the man box” – Challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand in domestic and sexual violence prevention.
7)           Accept and own our responsibility that domestic and sexual violence will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence and discrimination against women and girls.
8)           Stop supporting the notion that domestic and sexual violence is due to mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc. Domestic and sexual violence is rooted in male dominance and the socialization of men.
9)           Take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective ways to educate and raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence prevention.
10)      Create responsible and accountable men’s initiatives in your community to support domestic and sexual violence prevention.
Sometimes we see abuse in our families and our own lives, and wonder if there’s hope for one who has been abused. In the documentary movie, “Buck,” Buck Brannaman’s father abused him. While in foster care, Buck took solace from horses and saw in them the fear and hostility he had experienced. He became a wise, gentle horse trainer who wrote, "Abused horses are like abused children. They trust no one and expect the worst. But patience, leadership, compassion and firmness can help them overcome their pasts.” 
I hope all Canyon County families will join with the Nampa Family Justice Center and other religious and counseling initiatives to provide patience, leadership, compassion and firmness to our local victims of abuse. 
Bring the skeletons out of the closets and let the healing begin.