In 1998, the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Project adopted the theme “Domestic violence: It is your business.”
As BYU’s Department of Women’s Services and Resources concludes its “Open Your Eyes to Abuse” conference today, we urge members of the BYU community to follow their advice and remember that domestic violence is everyone’s business.
According to the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence, more than 50 percent of all women will experience violence from intimate partners, and wife beating results in more injuries requiring medical treatment than rape, auto accidents and muggings combined. Additionally, 30 percent of women murdered in the United States are murdered by boyfriends, husbands or ex-husbands.
And although we don’t hear as much about cases in which women abuse men, the problem nonetheless exists on both sides.
On paper, the statistics appear shocking. As residents of Happy Valley, however, it is easy to dismiss them with the conviction that we are immune — too easy, unfortunately.
We so often remain unaware of the prevalence of the problem because the majority of domestic violence cases are not reported. The men and women that are victims of abuse are afraid, and understandably so. Their fears, to name a few, include increased violence, single parenting and condemnation by friends or family members.
Although national and local organizations are making progress toward promoting awareness, such violence cannot end until we recognize the problem and take responsibility for the solution. It is an issue that needs to be discussed and addressed openly, because until we open the doors to expose the crime, the unseen and unheard abuse will continue.
Domestic violence is an atrocious and brutal crime, and it occurs everywhere — even in our own community. It is particularly horrifying because it causes not only physical harm, but also emotional damage that is sometimes irreparable. Abuse by family members in positions of trust can send victims into an emotional tailspin.
We cannot afford to shirk responsibility with the justification that it just does not happen, because there is a high probability that we each know a victim who is suffering in silence.
We need to put an end to this abuse, and recognizing the problem is the first step.
So open your eyes, BYU. Even though we don’t always see or hear about it, domestic violence is still our problem.