By Cheryl Bowdridge
Special to The PREVIEW
Domestic violence is portrayed as a crime of lessor offense. Many times the question is asked, “How did the victim provoke the attack?”
Perpetrators are sometimes described as gentle, hardworking even charismatic, yet the incident occurred and added to statistics. Approximately 127 million people are physically abused, raped or stalked by their partners each year. That is approximately the population of New York and Los Angeles combined. This is a devastating 24 people per minute.
Some media portrays an image that, to be in love, you have to have a relationship with an extreme intensity of highs and lows. This is portrayed in movies, sitcoms and even cartoons. Take the “Twilight Saga” for instance. Edward and Bella were destined to be together — their love is so consuming that they would sacrifice anything to be together — their friends, their families, all of whom are in constant danger in order for Edward and Bella to have their relationship. Is this normal? If you think about the type of relationships we see in the media, then the answer is probably “yes.” We are constantly barraged with this type of intense love. If a celebrity couple is merely going about their business in love and not creating chaos, we may not ever hear about or see them much. It’s those in turmoil who get the media attention and spotlight. What’s (literally) wrong with this picture?
Yet, as the portrayal of these relationships consume our media, it then starts to take on a sense of normalcy. If this type of intense love is what we see most often, one might be more likely to be involved in a relationship of this type of controlling and extreme nature. Then, to add to the mix, when children are raised in a home where domestic violence exists, they are more conditioned to believe in this destructive love, being truly unaware that it is not a normal nor healthy relationship.
Another way that domestic violence is portrayed is that the victims or the perpetrators are alcoholics or drug addicts. A lot of times, they are portrayed as poor or uneducated. This is not always the typical domestic violence case. More and more we are being made aware of professional athletes, doctors, lawyers, celebrities and teachers, all of whom are either educated, wealthy or both, who are involved in domestic violence situations.
Domestic violence does not know socio-economics, profession, education or race. Domestic violence is not biased. Domestic violence is real. It is all around and chances are that, since one in four women are victimized by domestic violence in their lifetimes, then you or someone you know has been affected. Media does not always portray domestic violence as wrong. But the messages are still strong and readily available. Our awareness of them is the first step to not becoming immune and accepting those ways of relating to others.
Archuleta County Victims Assistance provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving over 400 victims each year. ACVAP also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential, including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs.
Visit www.acvap.org for more information or call 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today. Or, if you want to be part of the team to help those involved, volunteers for advocacy are aways needed and welcomed.