Domestic violence: A burden to share

My niece Sura is only one-year-old, and has already seen more violence in her lifetime than most children will ever see. When Sura was born, my sister was enduring an abusive relationship. On a day that was mistakenly pleasant, my nine month old niece witnessed her father beat her mother unconsciousness.

Sura’s eyes were open when her mother awakened in the middle of the attack, immediately snatched her and ran to the nearest neighbor’s house for shelter. Sura’s eyes where still open when the ambulance came and rescued her mother.

It is sad to say that this type of violence is common in the land of liberty and justice. Sura is not the only child who will have to piece together fragments of domestic violence and wonder why God would allow such a crime to happen.

According to domesticviolencestatistics.com, up to 10 million children in the U.S. witness some type of domestic abuse annually, and 3 million of those children witness abuse in their homes.

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Every nine seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten. Every nine seconds someone’s mother, sister, niece, aunt or cousin is assaulted.

These facts and many more are startling and hard to get away from, unless people choose to turn a blind eye to it. This is the common response to domestic violence. When people see bruises on a woman, they do not know they tend to become bystanders. Neighbors will listen to a skull get beat against a wall and not call the police because they are trying to mind their business.

Domestic abuse is an issue that is difficult to form laws around and consequences for because most laws depend on the testimony and cooperation of the victim. Domestic violence is a crime that goes unreported, mainly because of the victim’s fear of speaking out. Some fear the horror of having to live through the crime again by retelling every detail to lawyers, judges and legal aides.

The cycle begins when the victim presses charges against the abuser, then the abuser will get in contact with the victim and work his persuasion and finally the victim will drop the charges. This is the problem that legislators come across when trying to form laws against domestic violence. Unfortunately, in a number of cases, something concrete is done when it is too late. Every day in the U.S. more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

Though the issue of domestic violence is difficult to discuss and its details are uncomfortable to hear, it is the only way to inform the public and encourage victims to share their stories. Domestic violence is not just the victim’s burden, but it is a community burden. When one woman is being beaten, we all are. The community suffers when we do not reach out our hands and open our mouths to take on the pain of the one who is not strong enough to carry it.

A way to help children who share Sura’s story is to craft an environment that is welcoming and safe for their moms to share their stories. Through their stories, legislators can pass effective laws, women who are experiencing the same abuse can receive help and children do not have to live in a toxic environment.