Monday, July 1, 2013

Violencia domestica

Home is supposed to be a safe space: a haven from the uncertainties of the outside world. A place where we can relax and be ourselves be naked, as it were. That’s not the case for many of us though, especially women. Many women live in homes where domestic violence makes home everything but a place to feel safe.

I have seen it manifest in many forms, violence usually perpetrated by men and not always physical. One of my favorite movies, The Beautiful Thing, had a lead character that was abused by his father. It was a motherless house and Stee would have anxieties as he prepared the meal for his father and brother, if it went wrong there was hell to pay.

A violent home can wreck a person’s life, fear becomes their point of departure and this can inhibit their growth and stifle their dreams and potential.

In my recent travels to Guatemala I encountered a person who lived under those circumstances. Violencia domestica she said ended her marriage and did untold damage to the education of one of her children, yes it also affects children.

The victim is afraid to go home: afraid that the unguarded misstep may trigger the rage of the perpetrator. That is real for many women. I know women are not the only victims of domestic violence but there is a reason they get the attention. We grow up thinking that men are stronger and that women need men for security, financial and otherwise and that keeps them in situations that are less than ideal.

I know not all relationships are dysfunctional in this way. There are many great men out there who don’t wield their power around in this way. I also know of many happy homes. As a friend says though the noisy wheel gets the grease.

My heart goes out to women and children in homes where they don’t feel safe from someone they share the home with, where violencia domestica makes the haven that is home a place to escape. It takes different forms, verbal is as effective as physical in maiming an individual. We’re not made the same and the person who can argue if there is a drop of water on the floor or a speck of dust can have the power to destabilize the person who is not made to withstand the attack.

I don’t have the solution but I do feel for the many who live in homes that are not what they are supposed to be, homes that like the streets leave us vulnerable and at the mercy of the elements that know no reason.

I can't present all sides of the argument, there is alcoholism among men, there is the stereotype that men resolve issues through violence and there is more. Women can be provocative, they can make men feel morally and otherwise inferior but these are not excuses. The home is a sacred space in some regards and it should be a place we can all experience peace and love given that there is no guarantee that those exist in the work place or on the streets: cars can careen off the road and end our lives, dangerous dogs can lunge at us mauling us leaving us disfigured or dead. When we share a home, though, we don't expect such things and while it may not always be so dire broken dreams and lives lived in fear can be just as bad.

For those in Trinidad and Tobago living in violent situations help can be found through the Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

There is also The Shelter which provides a refuge for women and children who are victims of abuse.

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