“It’s none of my business.”
“That’s a family matter.”
“They will work it out eventually.”
Those are just some of the statements I continue to hear about domestic violence. Addressing domestic violence with care and empathy is important, and intervening safely is critical. But oftentimes, it can be hard to know what to do or how to do it.
A few days before our wedding, my ex-husband physically assaulted me in an airport parking lot, with at least 20 witnesses standing nearby. Not one of them helped me. No one asked if I was okay. No one dialed 9-1-1. I called out for help, but nobody came running. I felt alone and scared, in a space filled with people. Everyone looked away or stared in silence until the assault was over.
Why? I believe it’s because we continue to see domestic violence as a private issue – one that is inherently personal, and therefore not our concern. We walk faster when a man is yelling at his partner on the street. We turn up our televisions when a neighbor begins to throw things at her partner. We do whatever it takes to absolve ourselves of the responsibility to address the issue of domestic violence in our own neighborhoods, families, and workplaces.
But not all of it is intentional; a lot of us just don’t know how to react. We know domestic violence is happening, but the issue seems big and difficult and impossible to take on. So, we can allow that difficulty to create inaction, or we can acknowledge that domestic violence is a community issue and work together to prevent it.
What are some ways you can address domestic violence? Learn about healthy relationships, and educate others. Start young – teach children about boundaries, respect and conflict resolution. Take a firm stand against domestic violence, and be vocal about it. If you witness domestic violence, call for help and ask the victim if he/she is okay. Learn how to safely intervene.
I believe in the power of community. I believe there is a strength within us as a collective. I #SeeDV as a community issue. It’s about all of us. We all have to sacrifice. And I know we will win.
Bev Gooden is an award-winning social activist, speaker, women’s health advocate, content creator, and originator of a viral Twitter movement. #WhyIStayed was named by TIME as one of the Top 10 Hashtags That Started a Conversation and is one of 8 Hashtags That Changed The World according to CNN affiliate, HLN. Learn more about her work and upcoming events at beverlygooden.com.