ike a moth to the flame, I return to “Dear Abby” every day. I like to learn but often I end up annoyed. There was a letter from a women “Taken Aback Out West” who wrote that her boyfriend of three years slapped her in the face a few nights ago. This was a first in their relationship. I will give Abby credit that she did acknowledge that violence often escalates to more severe aggression. She also pointed out the perpetrator of abuse often blames the victim. The female writer said that the guy who hit her did it because “she taunted and belittled me.”
Abby once again felt short and I was concerned because at the time of the letter, there were probably thousands of women out there who had been hit for the first time in the past week or two. Abby, missed the boat, and put many in further harm’s way. Her counsel falls way, way short when she finishes her response with “…consider this incident an unfortunate, one-time experience!” Now think if this women/girl is your daughter. Should she even tolerate domestic violence once! I say no way Jose! I worked in the largest junior high school here in the Imperial Valley for decades, and my counsel was “if he hits you once, leave and never look back.” Why would you want to risk it? Abby sets the bar way too low. One reason is that our culture is very tolerant of abuse against women, although we do have “domestic violence prevention month every year.” There is a lot of support for women to “take the back of a hand” both out west, in the east, north or south.
In a relationship, if we want a behavior to stop, there needs to be some type of intervention. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. The abuser often feels remorse and promises to never do it again, but when the stress and anger rise like water levels in a storm, the levee breaks, and so does her face. People need to take responsibility for their poor conduct. Abby didn’t say anything about calling the police, getting counseling or seeking anger management services. All communities now have services to prevent and intervene on violence in families.
When my children were growing up, and they misbehaved, I would send them to their room and leave them there until they did a simple writing assignment. It was three parts and had to be a certain length, depending upon their level of academic maturity. Basically, they had to respond to three questions: 1) What did they do that got them in trouble? 2) How did the offended party (me) feel as a result of their behavior and finally 3) What will they do in the future in a similar situation? Perpetrators of abuse, people who break the law, and violators of moral codes need consequences, because the goal is to not repeat the conduct. When it comes to domestic violence, sometimes it has lethal consequences, and could be the second incident in a relationship.
I am writing to hopefully right a wrong (Dream on Jim!), but also that one of you readers may have just been hurt for the first time in a loving relationship. Again, I say run, or at least, call our local domestic violence agency hotline, (The Center for Family Solutions) 760-353-8530. Help is available and nonviolence can return to the home. Tolerating violence, is absurd, and so is some of Abby’s advice!