I hate the Domestic Violence cases.
I never know what I’m walking into. Sometimes a neighbor hears a couple in the midst of a heated argument and calls us out of concern. Good for them. Better to be safe than sorry.
Sometimes a report is made in bad faith by a former boyfriend or girlfriend who’s not too happy about the current love interest of the child’s parent. But only a callous soul would purposely call in a false report to get back at someone.
But the true DV cases are heartbreaking. I once listened to a preschooler tell me about seeing his mama’s boyfriend knock mama to the floor and kick her repeatedly in the stomach. A school-age kid told me that when her parents start fighting, she grabs her younger siblings and takes them to the bedroom, locks the door, then distracts the kids to keep them safe. A teen told me of intervening when one parent pointed a loaded gun at the other.
If a child is actually making disclosures, I know I’m facing a volatile situation. These are the children who are sworn to secrecy. These kids do NOT talk about what’s going on in their home.
Children of DV homes often tell their stories in a matter-of-fact way. They’re so used to the violence that it’s normal for them. And if it’s normal now, it most likely will be normal when they’re adults beating or being beaten by the one they love.
As painful as all that is, that’s not the reason why I hate these cases. I hate these cases because of that nagging question in the back of my head: If it’s so bad, why doesn’t she leave?
That is an unfair question, I know. It blames the victim for her circumstances. Instead, I need to focus on the the person responsible for the violence and hold him accountable.
It’s a hard fight. Society is hard-wired to blame the victim. She had him arrested, then dropped the charges. She dropped the restraining order. She took him back over and over again. Yes, she did, but she did so because she felt that was her best option. There are shelters, but they stay full. She has no money because he’s controlled it for years, and not allowed her to work. He’s isolated her from family and friends, so there’s no one to take her in. He’s brainwashed her into believing she’s nothing without him. If she leaves him, she leaves everything while he gives up nothing. So she holds out hope that THIS time he means it when he says he will change.
It’s frustrating to be sitting across from her yet again. You were free from him, but you went back. WHY did you go back? But that’s MY frustration, and it has no place in the conversation. What I have to focus on is her and her children. I have to make sure her children stay safe.
So maybe he beats the shit out of her, but he never touches the kids. Why should I intervene? Just because there are no physical scars, it doesn’t mean these aren’t scarred children. These are the kids that will bully other kids. They get hooked on drugs and create havoc living that lifestyle. They will abuse animals. And why not? They are numb inside, yet incredibly angry, and what have they learned to do when they’re angry? You hurt someone.
Too many times we hear of angry men who go off the deep end and kill ex-wives, her family, her children. His children. Just to show her who has the control. We wonder how it got to that point, when, in reality, there were warning signs for years that were overlooked.
Blaming the victim ensures yet another generation of violence-filled households. Take your focus off of the victim. Point the finger at the perpetrator. Hold him accountable.