"I was at a restaurant and I noticed the waitress had a black eye... so I ordered really slowly because she obviously doesn't listen"
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And people say I don't have a sense of humour! But, that wasn't the joke I was promising in the title...the joke? That someone would think that was funny.
I'm serious, how is this funny? If I remember correctly a joke is something that makes you laugh because it holds humour. That's not humorous. It's rather disgusting actually.
You know what is a joke? That someone, anyone, thinks it's funny to laugh at the fact that the waitress has been assaulted. That someone, anyone, thinks it's funny to laugh at the fact that the waitress has likely been assaulted by someone who she knows, loves and trusts. That's not funny. That's sick.
Domestic violence is rife in our society, it is widely accepted as a normal thing and furthermore it ranks as one of the most taboo subjects we can write about alongside miscarriage, birth trauma and menstrual cycles. No one wants to talk about it - everyone wants to joke about it. But it's not funny. It's not funny that 28 women in Australia have been killed in domestic violence incidents in the last three months (1 Jan 2015- 31 March 2015). It's not funny that the most prominent reason women and children are homeless is due to domestic violence (Australian Salvation Army). It's not funny that nearly all female murder victims are killed by men - most of which are a domestic partner.
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Domestic violence is a epidemic. There is a misconception that it just isn't that common anymore. That women are equal, more empowered, have more support, that the feminist movement has allowed them special considerations and privileges that they then can and do abuse. Women are not equal to men. Women are still the primary victims of domestic violence. Domestic violence still kills women. Women are still severely affected by domestic violence even after the relationship ends. Women continue to be abused by their partners long after their relationship ends. Domestic violence has an ever-lasting effect on us.
Let's get the usual out of the way ... not all men. YES WE KNOW! Not all men are abusive. That's great, it's a great step in the right direction. We are eternally grateful for the good men out there. I finally found a man that would never abuse me. Key word though - finally. In my personal experience I saw my mother in at least two domestic violence relationships, both physically violent as well as violent in other way; in my personal love life I have been in two domestic violence relationships, neither physical, but both almost killed me. Two of my sisters have been the victim of domestic violence. My step-mother was before she met my father. I don't think I have a female friend who has not been the victim of domestic violence. Do you see what I am getting at here? My mother is now with a man who doesn't abuse her, so are my two sisters, my friends, my step-mum. In fact, they are all with good men at the moment - as am I - so we KNOW that not all men abuse. But we all know, first hand, that enough do to make domestic violence a MASSIVE problem in our society.
Secondly ... sigh... she didn't leave for a number of reasons. If you still believe that a woman should just leave, please look up the #whyIstayed - it will show you there are many reasons she stays. But, let me break it down a little and give you a few examples of why she stays. There is this thing called the cycle of abuse and in this cycle the vast majority of time the abuser is a nice person, great fun to be around and someone who dotes on you. For a very short amount of time in this cycle are they bad. Immediately after they will apologize, make every promise under the sun and reassure you that it will never ever happen again. And you, the victim, believe them. Because we like to believe the people we love and trust. And we, deep down, know that this person is capable of being all we need from them, they are a good person, they just need our help to see that.
Another reason the victim will stay is because she isn't even aware she's in an abusive relationship (See: Sometimes, I wish he had hit me). She doesn't know that there is different, that there is better and this person has broken her. Then there are the kids, the marriage vows. We are told again and again that relationships take hard work, that children need both their parents. We are told that we should work hard to make our marriage work because that's what they did in the good ol' days when less people got divorced. In fact, what they did was say it was OK for a man to abuse, to cheat and attach stigma to the victim rather than the offender. We still do.
The riskiest time for a women in a domestic violence relationship is directly after the relationships ends, in the few weeks and months after they part ways - that is when she is most likely to be killed. Leaving your abusive partner is terrifying. This person has taken the time to convince you that you cannot survive without them and most likely has told you exactly what they will do if you do leave. Graphically told you. Maybe you would take the lesser of two evils too.
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Then there is the idea that women can use the system to oppress men and cry abuse when the woman is the manipulative one. In my personal life, I know of one case of this happening. ONE. Unfortunately I know a lot of single parents, and when I was dating I met several single fathers. I can tell you of one case where the woman used the children as pawns in their game. I can tell you that most single mums will attest to the fact that their abusive partner used their children as pawns in the break-up whilst she tried to ensure that the children and the father could have a great relationship despite the fact that he treated her so badly. There is only one guy I know who is a victim of this "feminist movement [that] has allowed them special considerations and privileges that they then abuse" and even he recognises that it's just the kind of person she is, not some "privilege"she may have. In my personal experience, my child's father used our child as a pawn in his game where I tried my damned hardest to facilitate a great relationship between them.
What am I trying to say here? Primarily, domestic violence is not funny. But also I want to show you that domestic violence is still very much a problem in our society. It's not about men hating when we place all this emphasis on helping women in domestic violence. It's about the women who suffer when they needn't. It's also about our male allies. We need you good men to not laugh at these jokes, to tell your work colleague that it isn't OK to talk about his girlfriend that way, to vow to never subject a woman to domestic violence, to shun any male who thinks it's OK to subject a women to domestic violence, to help us women in one of the best ways you can. We are you daughters, sisters, mothers, lovers and friends. We deserve your respect and your support. Please don't laugh at these jokes.