As a result of discussions with my sister and reading about domestic violence, I have noticed that a commonly recurring theme is, as one of my friends has put it “Hurt people, hurt people”, and although it is easier for one to understand that the abused person is a “victim”, it seems that the notion that the abuser is/was also a “victim” is not readily appreciated.
I have further noticed that victimization is mainly viewed from a couple of perspectives, one of which points the finger of blame at the abused person, who may be a battered wife, a woman who was raped, a person of color, or one who is economically disadvantaged. The other perspective is that men are by and large responsible for violence, whether they are soldiers on the battlefield, politicians in government, or husbands/boyfriends in domestic violence.
While it is easy to lay blame and point the finger, which is not always an unreasonable or unfair thing to do, I believe that the movement that is dedicated to resolving domestic violence and the attendant suffering can only be successful when it finds a way to explain in plain language the complex relationship between the diverse and complementary roles of the abuser and abused when violence occurs. In other words, the abused, abuser, and I daresay the bystander, must come to understand the how, when, where, and why of domestic violence, in order that both abused and abuser can be healed, and the bystander can know how to respond and contribute positively toward resolving the problem.
It is by no means an easy task to resolve domestic violence, and it becomes more difficult when those who truly wish to positively contribute to the war against it, make honest efforts to understand the underlying causes, but are accused of “blaming the victim”. A common example of this is where one might question whether the behaviour of the abused either caused or contributed to the violent event, and for the person who is not merely a blogger but who hides behind his or her computer and makes shallow and uninformed comments, the answers to such questions are important as they can help to formulate ways to assist abused people to avoid violent situations.
Throughout my career as an insurance adjuster, I have seen people from various strata of society at their worst, best, and in between, and it is evident that a culture of victimization has developed over the years. That culture has resulted in people’s unwillingness to assume responsibility for their own actions. In fact, despite choices they have consciously made, people readily blame others when they suffer injury. Alcoholics often blame their great-grandfathers who were alcoholics, chronic smokers blame the tobacco company for their lung cancer, and the john blames the prostitute for their STD. In several fairly recent court cases the so called “victims” were awarded significant financial damages, and this tends to encourage the victimization culture.
As well, movements that have arisen due to the culture of victimization, appear on the surface to be strong advocates, and are quite vocal in their advocacy for the “victim”. However, in reality, they often fail to address the pain and injury in practical ways, and it is apparent that they have no real desire to eradicate the underlying problems, for in doing so their movements and the financial benefits derived by the top organizers would cease to exist.
I hold the view that human beings are neither born violent nor as victims; therefore victimization must have developed within the context of relationships and a certain culture, and while it is wrong to “blame the victim”, I believe that empowerment is one, if not the most effective, of the weapons that can be used in the war against domestic violence.
When I was a boy, I was victimized, but with the help of people who loved, cared, and encouraged me, I resolved that I would not be a “victim” and although it took many years (in fact, I am still a work in progress) I have come to know that one can become empowered by educating oneself and seeking help in the right places. It is of utmost importance to understand the dynamics of violence and the role that one assumes therein.
Given my unequivocal support of war against domestic violence (it strikes me that “war”, which connotes “violence”, must be waged in the “fight” against domestic “violence”) I truly believe that rather than feeding the culture of victimization and playing the blame-game, educating the players (abused, abuser, and bystander) about the issues will provide the empowerment needed to end it. Is it an easy war? No. However, if we really believe in the proposition that all humans are born equal, have a right of personal security, that they have the freedom to choose, and that they have an inalienable right to pursue happiness, that war is one that right thinking persons are obliged to wage? Yet, the war will not be waged by physical violence, but by education and meaningful support of the players.
Ennufff is committed to facilitating an ongoing dialogue (where all sides and views are represented) to achieve incremental and lasting change particularly around the issues of sexual and domestic violence. We welcome guests on the show and invite each of them to submit a written piece that is representative of their perspective. This piece was written by today’s male guest. We thank him for sharing so candidly.