All too often we hear about domestic violence, and when a photo is shown of the perpetrator, it often depicts a person who we believe looks like a person who would inflict violence on a person. The photo shows a man (typically) who looks dirty and is wearing a “wife beater t-shirt.” I often wonder if that sends the wrong message. It’s like warning small children to be leery of “Stranger Danger.” More children are hurt by actual family members than Stranger Danger. If you really want to protect your children, you need to tell them that no one, even family members, coaches, school teachers and the clergy they come into contact with are someone that they should trust unequivocally.
Domestic violence is a lot like that. You are more likely to be abused by someone you know and love, than by a complete stranger. Family is who you need to be careful around.
I read an article today about the NFL jump starting a campaign that lets people know that they are not condoning domestic violence. The article goes on to say that the people we should be most afraid of in this area is actually the police. The article said,
“In families of police officers, domestic violence is two-to-four times more likely than in the general population — from stalking and harassment to sexual assault and even homicide. As the National Center for Women and Policing notes, two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10% of families in the general population.”
It’s an interesting read. The National Center For Women and Policing posts statistics for police brutality. One of the more interesting parts of the article addresses how victims abused by police officers have a “unique vulnerability.” Domestic violence is always a terrible crime, but victims of a police officer are particularly vulnerable because the officer who is abusing them has a gun, knows the location of the battered women’s shelters, and knows how to manipulate the system to avoid reprimand. In some cases, how to shift the blame to the victim. When the victim calls the police, they also know that the person handling the call is someone they know, and could be a colleague or friend of the abuser. Victims of police family violence typically fear that the responding officers will side with their abuser and fail to properly investigate or document the crime.
We as a society shouldn’t be condoning domestic violence by anyone. It shouldn’t matter that the abuser is famous, or is a professional athlete, or is a police officer. It’s wrong. Perhaps there should be more photos in the paper of the police officers inflicting domestic violence. Of the politician, of the dentist, of the regular person you see all the time. Not just a person in a white wife beater shirt who lives in an undesirable part of town. Domestic violence is everyone, and done by people from all wakes of life. I think it’s a disservice to people to depict only one type of person, and make this problem seem so isolated. We need to make the perpetrators accountable, and not just the ones who look like a beater. No one should be getting a pass. If left up to me, perpetrators who manipulate the system to avoid detection should be punished more severely.