The silence surrounding domestic violence is worse than how we treat sex in our culture. Indeed it is a reflection of how we treat sex in our culture because a lot of domestic violence includes sexual violence that is so common in so many families that it is no wonder that sexual violence persists in so many other spaces we live in. Actually the same could be said about violence in general, what we grow up with, how we are treated as children and how we witness other adults treated in early formative years defines us for decades, sometimes for lifetimes.
Over 54 million Americans admit to being a victim of domestic violence which is roughly 22% of our population. What this means is that 1 out of 3 women you know and 1 out of 7 men that you know have experienced violent abuse in their own homes. 32 Million, or 13 % of our population report being sexually assaulted – or roughly one in five women that you know. What is even more disturbing about these facts is the way that we look away from the problems that surround us.
Even though most of us (80%) would say that domestic violence is a problem, only 15% of us say that it is a problem among our own friends. It is a topic that gets no airtime, even with our closest friends. Two thirds of Americans never discuss domestic violence with their friends. Parents don’t talk about this with their kids either. Over 75% admitted to never having a conversation about this problem with their kids.
Like sex, what we don’t talk about, what we suppress becomes more perverse. It swallows up relationships whole and leaves everyone feeling out of control and helpless. The shame of being violent begets more violence, the shame of being victim to violence creates a downward spiral of mental illness that forms a family.
We have all heard the weak refrains that surround this type of insidious illness that makes love and forgiveness feel like a fairytale. He said he was sorry… she asked for it…We look away, we don’t bear witness and hold our neighbors, our relatives, accountable. We all know when something violent is happening.
This month the No More campaign launches. For the next 36 months we will see over 50 celebrities participate in television, print and web PSAs to raise the awareness of the disease gripping our culture of domestic violence and sexual assault. The prescription is in our hands. No more silent bystanders, no more looking away, no more not listening for the truth in our friends and family members. It might be the most important cultural revolution we will witness in our lifetimes. Participate.