Social Justice Challenge, Month 3: Domestic Violence and Child Abuse

This month’s topic for the Social Justice Challenge (as I have belatedly discovered) is Domestic Violence and Child Abuse. To start off, let’s think about the questions posed for this month:

  • What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of domestic violence and child abuse?

    That’s actually quite a tough question. What comes to mind for me, I think, is the problem inherent in the social definition of the subject. Many people regard domestic violence/abuse as primarily physical: that is, that it is about one person using or threatening to use physical violence to inflict injury on another. Alternatively, and particularly with children, it involves unwanted sexual contact that violates the child’s trust and rights. What we are less inclined to view as abuse, and what is consequently more difficult to quantify and to combat, is the emotional head-games that can be equally as damaging. When I think of domestic violence and child abuse, I think of someone who needs to control others and is abusing their position of power and/or trust to do so. Whether this be by physical, sexual or emotional means does not make it any less abusive or any less dangerous and damaging to those being abused.
  • What does domestic violence mean to you, personally?Beyond what I said above, this month’s topic has a special significance for me personally because domestic abuse is rife in my family. Both of my parents were abused in different ways by their parents, and to some extent those patterns of behaviour have passed on to them. I guess you could say I have experienced firsthand some of the fallout that comes from sexual and emotional abuse, and how it can affect people’s lives long after the events themselves are over.
  • What is your current knowledge of domestic violence and child abuse?
  • I know that it is much more common than people realize. I know that it is not just perpetrated by men against women, although that is the most prevalent, and that female-on-male violence carries with it an unfair stigma. I know that rape within marriage is still not considered legitimate rape by a disturbing number of people. I know that it can be difficult for survivors to leave abusive relationships and/or speak out against abuse, and that they need all the support they can get. I also know, as my mother once told me after discussing what happened to her as a child: “It’s something that happened to you: it doesn’t make you a certain kind of person.”

  • Are you aware of the resources available for men, women and children who find themselves in domestic violence and child abuse situations? Yes, but for the benefit of those who don’t who may happen to stumble across this page, and to give some specifically New Zealand resources, let me list some:Lifeline
    Youthline
    Shine*
    Police
    National Network of Stopping Violence
    Women’s Refuge
    Are You OK?
  • Have you chosen a book or resource to read for this month?There are so many to choose from! I’ve been interested in reading The Colour Purple for a while now, and The Woman Who Walked into Doors also sounds very good. I also know of some local examples too: Alan Duff’s Once Were Warriors series (I think it’s a series) is a particularly famous example, and the book I read in January, A Dangerous Vine, deals with some aspects of domestic abuse (emotional abuse and neglect) as well. Those of you who like a musical accompaniment may also enjoy this song Luka sung by Suzanne Vega:If memory serves, there is a brilliant young adults book about a boy who was abused by his father I read a few years back…I can’t remember the title, unfortunately, but I’ll go and search it out, because it was fantastically written and should definitely be more widely known.

I hope that this month is as edifying and enlightening as the others have been. I’m looking forward to blogging about the books I’ve selected and exploring this disturbing topic.

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  1. I would be interested in knowing that book title if you find it. Thanks.

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