Violence is a learned behavior. If that is the case, when and where did we learn it? Was it at home, in the streets, does music make you violent? Are the gangs, drugs, the economy, or lack of employment what causes violence? The real answer is most violent people learned their behavior while inside their mother’s womb or at home. Everything else just plays a role in how we manifest violence in the future.
In a household survey cited in “Battering and Pregnancy” (Midwifery Today 19: 1998), it was found that a pregnant woman is 60.6 percent more likely to be beaten than a woman who is not. Her unborn child experiences the same violence she does. As the child grows, he/ she witnesses every violent act, every slap, hit, kick, rape; they feel it emotionally, sometimes physically and always mentally. They may seem unaffected, but the child is storing the data and emotions, in much the same way a child stores memory of positive action.
There is a wide range of violent and abusive behavior that affects everyone in some manner; these include mental, verbal, emotional, sexual abuse, and physical violence. Many victims report more than one type of abuse. Violence and abuse can be minor or more serious and gets increasingly worse and more frightening over time. In some cases, it may ultimately lead to murder/suicide.
How does violence affect us? Each person manifests violence learned and experienced differently. Some have healthy, positive relationships. Others try to bring as little attention to themselves as possible. They want to be invisible. Some become violent; engaging in acts of crime like dating and domestic violence, rape and robbery. Some are unable to process life normally, which leads to a life of abuse.
Many victims will continue to be abused in their adult relationships and are at a higher risk for dropping out of school, substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, suicide, or they become the abuser and victimize others, most likely their loved ones and children. This is the face of violence which destroys families, homes, school and communities.
Currently, there is no way to predict or determine how each person will be affected. That beautiful baby may be the next mass murderer. The child with the bright eyes may be the next bank robber. The little boy and girl from the “good” family will go to school and bully their classmates. The bullied child will kill another student. The handsome boy next door has been raping children or seniors. The cute little girl will have four children, by four different men, each one more abusive than the next. One day she or her child will kill her abuser. What ties them all together however, is the fact that they are victims and each one is trying to find the love, attention and respect they never had as a child.
Ninety-four percent of all men, women and children in prison have been involved in some form of domestic or dating violence, according to recent statistics. On death row, it is a hundred percent.
Most of them state they were abused or saw abuse as a child and never felt loved or respected. Once locked up, they experience another form of abuse. Being isolated from family and friends, forced to live in small, overcrowded quarters. Fighting for their lives, for dominance, status, fighting to live another day without being victimized by another inmate or possibly by someone in authority, who has taken a rogue stance…
What can we do to eradicate violence? It starts with communication, education, love and respect, learning to communicate in a non-violent, non-accusatory manner. It is about educating men and women to respect and love themselves and their children, educating on healthy positive relationships, accepting personal responsibility, and violence prevention (the signs, the triggers, and conflict resolution).
It means never turning a blind eye to the problem of any form of abuse and enacting the most comprehensive and aggressive laws and penalties for abusers (no matter who they are) and providing medical and legal assistance to everyone. These are the steps to eliminating violence.
We can no longer place the entire blame on the police, sheriff or probation officers, or for that matter our teachers, doctors or judges, for the violent actions of a few. We can no longer place the blame on an entire city, government agencies or on their leader. We must be accountable and responsible for our own actions, and those of our children. We must look at ourselves first. Violence in most cases did begin at home.
Does anyone remember these three words and what they mean; Integrity, Morals and Ethics. We have to put them back into our homes, schools and community at large. We must learn to love without pain and hurt. Hug your child. Tell them you love them and mean it. Put your computer, wine or martini glass, or whatever it is keeping you from looking your child in the eye down and listen to what they are saying and what they are not, as well.
Kandee Lewis, Executive Director, The Positive Results Corporation
References, Research and Data:
Center for Disease Control
National Center for Victims of Crime
U.S. Department of Justice
“Battering and Pregnancy” (Midwifery Today 19: 1998)
J.G. Silverman, PhD., et Al, “Dating Violence against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy and Suicidality Journal of the American Medical Association