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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Domestic and Family Violence: Get the Picture

I am doing a 2nd edition on my book, "Breaking Free, Starting Over: Parenting in the Aftermath of Family Violence." To the untrained eye, domestic violence and child abuse are hard to picture. We are not there to capture the screams, the blood and the tears shed. But with the recent attention the NFL has received on domestic violence and child abuse, people appear outraged. My question is what do  people think domestic violence and family violence look like? I was unsurprised by Ray Rice's actions because the video is EXACTLY what domestic violence looks like.  And Adrian Peterson's switch-yeilding beating is PRECISELY what child abuse happens. Now that we get the picture let's apply it to everyone who suffers with abuse and become intolerant. Let's stay on this bandwagon and shift our paradigm. No excuse for abuse!

People with abusive tendencies are often charismatic, good looking and successful. Unhealthy people don't always look like hunchback monsters and they live in every socioeconomic group. They are everyday people who have had violence role modeled to them as not only acceptable but effective in getting their needs met. Their actions, whether wittingly or unwittingly, are learned as children and passed down through the generations. In order to stop abuse however we need to start looking for solutions. I have worked for 30 years with people who have abused their families and most welcome healthy tools to make their lives different. To make the abuse stop however we have to be intolerant of excuses and expect healthier role modeling from those who are in positions to change society's views on battering. Athletes, for example, do not spit on referees because it's not tolerated and there are consequences that matter to them. Instead of focusing on the problem let's use preexisting methods that work to generate solutions like clear consequences and firm expectations. Zero tolerance. Maybe more importantly, telling people what you want from them rather than what you don't want, often motivates change. Give them tools to do it right. Power and control over your life is what everyone wants. When you don't have power and control that is when you want to use power and control over others. Providing tools that assist with managing life successfully, and well, naturally attrits the violent behaviors.

Our most precious commodity is our children and they are witnessing violence and learning to use it as a means to getting what they want. Everyone deserves to be heard and to get their needs met appropriately so if we listen and regard our families with respect and honor, kids will learn compassion, patience and peace. They can get what they want without anyone else being hurt. We need to reexamine what we think domestic and family abuse look like and then take actions to stop the violence