Two weeks ago in Grand Rapids, we watched one man turn our city upside down during a killing spree where he took the lives of seven people, including his wife and child, and then he took his own. His actions left many people asking a lot of questions – among them: what could have caused this? Why would someone do something like this?
Our media has responded with mixed messages. For some, the motive will remain a mystery. For others, mental illness or substance abuse became the answer. But for the thousands of women in our county who are living with fear of their husband or boyfriend every day, another motive is perfectly clear: it was an act of domestic violence, and it happens more than we want to admit.
On average in the United States, three women a day are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. In her lifetime, 1 in 4 women in the U.S. (and 1 in 3 women globally) will experience violent abuse by her boyfriend or husband. In that context, we can begin to see domestic abuse is an appalling human rights violation of epidemic proportion. And yet it remains one of the most underreported and unrecognized of crimes.
So what do we do? How do we respond? As neighbors, friends, families, co-workers, and churches, we can make a powerful statement against domestic abuse if we choose to do so.
Don’t let domestic violence remain a private family matter.
Learn to recognize signs of abuse.
Speak out and name it when it happens.
Recognize that it is a crime; report it like any other.
Hold the abuser accountable; a victim never asks to be abused.
Learn about the best way to help a victim.
Learn where you can refer victims for help.
Here in Grand Rapids, MI, we are fortunate to have two agencies that help victims of domestic abuse. Is there an organization in your area that is serving the needs of abused women and children? Take five minutes to find out. Learn more. You may help save and change the life of someone you know.