Clyde Davis: Local Columnist
This is the month of imagined horrors. Goblins, vampires, witches and ghosts occupy our yards, our TV screens, our neighborhoods and our school classrooms. Most of it is done in fun, and we like to scare ourselves.
Ironically, October is also domestic violence month, which moves us from the realm of imagined horrors into the place where real horrors lurk. Domestic violence month, which reminds us that some, particularly women and children, live in a world where threat and fear are daily companions.
Let us take a typical family, the one in which I live. My wife is about 3 inches shorter than I, and probably 40 pounds lighter. My grandson weighs less than a quarter of my weight. What would it say if I, as an adult male, asserted myself using physical violence?
No excuses. It would say that I am thoroughly gutless, that I have to get some satisfaction by pushing those smaller than myself. It would say that I am not enough of a man to deal with my problems or get help, that I feel small and powerless in the face of life and that I don’t have the strength to be a real man. Flat-out statement: Abusers are weaklings and cowards.
People die from domestic violence. The horror stories are there, such as the repeat offender sentenced by the Albuquerque court three times, to six months probation. The victim of this monster is now in the cemetery.
Here are more thoughts on domestic violence:
n Violence escalates. If you are in a verbal battle and in danger of losing your cool, leave the area. Go chill out. Hurt feelings are better than hurt faces.
n Stiffer and enforced penalties. No parole, no probation, no slap on the wrist and “Be a good boy..” Lobby for tougher laws; you act in violence, you do some time. There is no such thing as a little, or a justifiable, beating. Why should they be out on bond, to return and hurt the victim?
n Change society’s perception in the backwaters where it hasn’t yet. Violence toward women and children is not a cartoon, it is no laughing matter, it is not for jokes, and it is never okay. The same, of course, is true in the less usual cases where the victim is a man.
n Blow the whistle. As a teacher and clergy member, I am legally bound to report any situation of abuse. You, nonetheless, are morally bound. I don’t care if it’s your brother, your dad, your best friend. Ignoring it will not make it go away.
n There is no justification. None. The arguments that are sometimes heard are worse than ridiculous; they are pathetic attempts to justify brute force, both harmful and evil.
n Yes, there is certainly emotional and psychological and spiritual abuse, and these are damaging and painful and frightening. Why not address them? To be honest, so we don’t lose focus, nor get distracted?
We all owe it to ourselves, our society, our future, to make sure that those subhumans who would do violence are not given the opportunity. After it happens — it’s too late.