Recall that for the month of June, a group of bloggers are trying to draw attention to the horror of violence against women and girls across the globe. Along this theme, I could write about sex tourism in Mombasa (a direct result of increased regulations in Cambodia) or the conversations about legalising sex work so that sex workers can organize , or a continuation of the discussion on mass rapes in Liberia, or the case of a waitress in China who, in self-defense, stabbed a man who, prosaically, “was trying to force himself on her”. (What the hell does that mean, anyway? Talk about euphemism.)
But instead, I opened up the homepage of my local newspaper, the Journal & Courier, and typed “domestic violence” into the search box. Here’s what came up:
- A June 13 story about how a woman in Indianapolis was beaten to death with a hammer; her ex-husband has been charged. The June 14 angle of the story is how she used to live in Lafayette.
- A June 11 story about a YWCA Domestic Violence workshop which had a focus on military families. The name of the workshop, unfortunately, was “Leaving the Violence Abroad: Domestic Violence among Military Families” – but domestic violence is a particular kind of violence perhaps different from what people were paid to do in service.
- A story on May 28 (in the archive) also about domestic violence in military families
- A story on April 17 (also in the archive) about a local grant program to help people who have been abused in domestic violence buy new furniture and organize housing.
As I read these stories, I think about how entirely insufficient the term “domestic violence” is. It sounds like “domesticated” – like cows. Tame violence. Not-real violence, like how domestic work isn’t real work. (This is sarcasm, in case it isn’t obvious.)
Instead of diminishing this sort of violence with what we name it, I think we need a more descriptive term for the kind of terror someone feels when the people they trust suddenly start attacking them – physically, emotionally, verbally, however. Maybe we should call it “Traitorous partner violence” or “Domestic terrorism”.
In my hometown, I found out only a couple of years ago that there was a women’s shelter on a street near my house. I didn’t know where it was, and it is the nature of such women’s shelters that they don’t exactly advertise in the phonebook. So how do women learn about such shelters? Through whispered conversations with friends, I think, or perhaps from the police… maybe the YWCA… I don’t know if there is such a shelter in my new town. I bet there are lots of places that don’t have one. So where can people go?
Jo(e) posted earlier this spring on being witness to domestic violence first hand. You should go over and read her post. And search your own local newspaper website. What do you find? What stories do you know of that never make it into the newspaper?