Across the nation March is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which got me thinking about some recent news stories. First, a teacher in Oregon recently petitioned to be permitted to carry her gun to school because she was afraid of her crazy ex-husband. She’s trying to get the gun ban in schools overturned.
What bothers me in this case isn’t actually the issue of the gun. Israeli teachers carry guns to deter terrorism, and it seems to work. To me, here’s the bigger problem: this teacher has an ex-husband whom she thinks may attack her at her workplace, which happens to be an elementary school. I feel for this woman. But if my child were in her class, I’d be demanding a transfer, because realistically the justice system can’t do anything. Until a crime is actually committed, everyone’s hands are tied.
In another episode, last summer Victoria witnessed a multiple murder-suicide. The guy killed his wife, her parents, and their son, and then killed himself. In this case, as in so many others, the courts had issued a restraining order. But what does that really get you when he arrives on your doorstep with a gun and demands to be let in? The police rushed to the scene, but by the time they gained entry there were already five dead bodies.
We need to start taking control of our own defense, because nobody else is going to do it. And the best way to prevent violence is to stay away from violent people. In other words, get smart when it comes to relationships.
If all young women would just band together and refuse to date violent, jealous, or easily provoked males, then perhaps we’d have fewer of them around. Sure, more women might be alone, but it’s better to be alone than to be in fear of your life. We women have to grow up and realize that having a guy is not the most important thing. Being safe and happy with yourself is far more important. And when you treat yourself with that kind of respect, you’re more likely to attract the kind of person who will also treat you with respect.
Many women say, though, that they didn’t know he was violent until it was too late. And it is true that much violence doesn’t manifest itself until a relationship is well under way. The signs, though, are still there. You may not have a black eye, but does he respect you? Does he care about what you think? Does he ask you your opinion, or does he just want to talk about himself?
But ending violence isn’t only about our own romantic choices. It also involves all of us teaching young people to respect themselves, so they won’t become involved with those who don’t. When I hear my daughters’ pre-teen friends going on about how great Paris Hilton is, I speak up. She is not someone you want to emulate. When I hear kids listening to violent music, I tell them that’s ridiculous and to turn it off. And when I hear kids talking about having a girlfriend at age 10, I tell them to smarten up. Your life is not worthless if you are without a partner.
And to you men who aren’t involved in your children’s lives, you need to stand up and be a real man. You are letting your kids down and you are abandoning the rest of us, too. You’re being selfish, and you need to go back and be a dad. That’s the right thing to do. You are integral to their development of healthy self-respect, so they need you.
Let’s all speak up and stop this insanity. Don’t let men you love walk out on their kids and leave those kids insecure and easy prey. Don’t let kids get wrapped up in a culture that says that defines their worth by the number of people they sleep with. Don’t let kids think they’re worthless if they’re by themselves. We may not be able to stop all violence, but we can steer kids in a better direction. Be picky about who say yes to, because violence affects us all.