After sitting on the jury of a murder trial, I know one thing for sure.
It starts with words.
Listening to hours and hours of testimony in a murder trial where there was a history violence brought it all home to me . . .
Don't be grandiose and think that commercials talking about domestic violence and targeting a certain demographic are going to stop domestic violence.
EVERY SINGLE ADULT THAT TOUCHES A CHILD'S LIFE is where the focus needs to be because violence is not confined to one demographic-- some factions have easier access to defense tactics or silence-keeping, but violence crosses all cultural and economic barriers; and we all know it.
Anyone who has read this blog knows that I love New Zealand and her people with all of my heart, but one thing I have noted is a culture where children curse more freely in a mainstream way than anywhere else I've been.
And children swearing is widely accepted.
How about this?
How about the schools and the parents and the entire culture take a zero tolerance stand to children cursing?
How about they expect, no, demand, a culture of respect: using please, thank you, pardon me and have consequences for swearing or hurtful words.
Violent language is still violence. And by opening the gate a crack, so that a young child thinks it is the norm to say damn, shit, hell and fuck, the pathway is painted to call someone a "fukka" or c*nt or dumba$$.
And we all know that happens. (and if in doubt, read my previous post HERE)
If violence spewing out of mouths of babes is acceptable, then it is no surprise it leads to a culture of physical violence--especially with the addition of drugs and/or alcohol (although it happens aplenty without those special ingredients).
First things first: adults need to check their own language and model respectful interaction.
The most powerful method of teaching is modelling words and behaviours.
The words and deeds of the people in a child's world teach them more than any commercial or safety officer could ever dream possible.
Adults calling a child or each other STUPID, or DUMBASS or telling them to SHUT THE FUCK UP, and the like, are planting and fertilising the seed of violence in their children.
I was a parent educator and a therapist and I was aware enough not to call my children names and to try to encourage and role-model an atmosphere of mutual respect and coached my kids to be the one that stood up for others being mistreated.
But I was far from perfect as a parent, because that is what is in the fine print: WE ARE ALL IMPERFECT PARENTS. I let "damns" and "sh*ts" fly enough out of exasperation that my first born once told me that for her birthday, "all I want is a mom that doesn't cuss." (hanging head in shame)
So yes, sign me imperfect and certainly not wanting to come across as holier than thou.
But also sign me as KNOWING that if we use violent words it WILL be easier to USE PHYSICAL VIOLENCE.
AND VIOLENT WORDS CAN BE JUST AS HURTFUL AS BEING BEAT UP.
You can also sign me as a survivor of severe emotional abuse as a child.
Until we all do our part to end domestic violence and bullying and violence in general-- WE ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.
Our part can actually be quite simple: use respectful language-- no put downs, name calling and excessive swearing; use your own manners-- pleases, thank you, pardon me; use words effectively-- that was lovely or I'm not really comfortable with that . . . You get the gist.
The movie Once Were Warriors is a well known, well done New Zealand movie touted for highlighting and descriptively examining domestic abuse.
It is important to remember that abuse doesn't discriminate. Every culture is fertile ground for violence and it thrives in each and every one. There is no pointing the finger at another demographic and placing blame while absolving yourself and "your people."
Violence doesn't discriminate.
Abusers don't have to be gutter-drunks.
Abusers can have charisma and charm.
Abusers can be leaders in our community in trusted positions.
But the one thing we have in our power is to take steps toward prevention.
One step at a time . . .
All over the world: use your voice as the first step toward ending violence.
while scenes like this have always been difficult for me, I will never view them quite the same again