October – Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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This year’s theme raises a question “What will it take to end violence?”  I believe the first step is exactly what is stated above: AWARENESS.  So many examples are highlighted in the media today ~ both local and global.  Have we become immune to the myriad statistics and depictions of women being raped, emotionally, physically and verbally abused in film and on TV or are they also teachable moments? Does it desensitize us or move us to greater awareness as we become more alert to the signs perhaps evident within our families, friends, students, co workers, peers? Some social media provides multiple avenues that exhibit abusive pictures of women and young girls through pornography.  An ongoing debate/discussion exists related to parental guidance and presence.

While a professor at a Catholic institution a young man protested the quote I used from the U.S. Bishops on Culture of Violence (1994). His question:  “Why would they include pornography? Everyone’s into it.” The devaluation of women’s person, body, intelligence, contributions are legion.  Statistics abound. I encourage you to go to ISSUES – Women- Society for specifics on this web site.

What about the institutions in our lives? Are women safe, recognized as equals, seen as competent at home, in the office, on the streets (Poverty is Violence), within ministries? If you are a woman reading this, how do you feel valued and affirmed in your life? If you are a man reading this how do you treat the women in your life? Do you affirm their presence? their contributions ?

As our awareness grows related to the abuse and devaluation of women so, too, will we become more alert to our own behavior. All of us need to know the contents of the Violence vs. Women Act and be alert to its enforcement.

Finally, it’s our everyday relationships which indicate where we stand.  Gender affects our relationships as do race and class. As the saying goes ~ they’re all of one piece. . .