How We Heal: DAP Reflections on Orlando, Stanford, and Domestic Violence

Posted by on Jun 14, 2016 in Blog | 0 comments

For the past several weeks, bad news has flooded in. The Orlando shooting. The Stanford rape case. Multiple domestic violence murders in Minnesota. Again, and again, we are torn apart by the hate and violence in our society.

At Domestic Abuse Project we’ve been wrestling with the meaning these tragic events have for our work. These events affect us both personally and professionally. Rape culture is intricately linked to the misogyny that makes domestic violence okay. The Orlando shooter allegedly had a history of domestic violence that went unchecked. We worry when we don’t hear from our clients for a week or two – will they be the next homicide victim in Minnesota?

Through our work at Domestic Abuse Project we have an intimate look into the lives of families struggling with domestic violence. We see that these families don’t have peace in their homes, and how that radiates out – children learn abusive behavior is okay, weapons get bought and sold, individuals struggle with mental illness. People in pain can express this pain by hurting other people. And the downward spiral goes on. Without peace in our homes, how can we expect peace on our streets, in our communities, and in our world?

In times like these it is easy to make villains out of the other – whoever that is. In domestic violence cases that’s often the perpetrator. It is easy to see the abuser as a bad guy with no redeeming qualities. But in our therapy programs we can’t do that. If we see the abuser as a solely bad guy, we aren’t able to relate to our clients. The women who love their partners clearly love them for a reason. If we can’t see that, we aren’t providing therapy from a place of compassion and understanding. While not an excuse for abuse, the men who come to our programs often have a history of family trauma and abuse that taught them how to act. If we can’t see that, we can’t help men identify their own patterns of abuse and change them. We can’t really heal any of our clients if we demonize – perpetuating more pain – rather than seeking to understand, no matter how hard that can be.

During these terrible days, perhaps this is a lesson for all of us – we need to find some understanding of the other. This doesn’t make abusive or violent actions okay (we don’t ever condone abuse), but it does bring a little more healing into the world, rather than hate.

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