Domestic Abuse: A Malignancy on the Soul of a Community


My wife and I stopped at the local grocery recently. A tall, muscular young man ran past us in the parking lot. He was outraged and out of control. He screamed profanities at a young woman in a car. He kicked the car’s door, pulled it open, and dragged the terrified woman to the pavement. My wife called 911.

The man got into the car and accelerated, tires squealing, past us. The woman walked away. He circled around and caught up to her, got out of the car, and ordered her to get in and drive away.

The August 23, 2007 Star Tribune reported that at least a half-dozen people witnessed a rape in St. Paul. One tried to help. None of the others intervened or called the police. The lack of intervention in this case is similar to one in Minneapolis 10 years ago when a woman’s face was slashed down to the bone at a bus stop in the bustling Uptown area. No one stopped to help or called the police.

Also on August 23, 2007, Mike McFeely, sports columnist for The Forum, wrote about the uproar about professional football player Michael Vick who pleaded guilty to committing violence against dogs and the outrage about his despicable acts. He also wrote about the lack of outrage about 40 instances of alleged violence against women by professional football players since 2000 (animal abuse and child, spousal, or elder abuse often go together).

Experts believe violent incidents against women are vastly underreported: for every assault where police are called, at least three or four go unreported. Estimates range from 960,000 to three million women annually who are physically abused by an intimate partner. Emotional abuse magnifies these numbers.

The verbal and physical abuse of women (and children) by men is a dark and dirty underbelly of a community. Many of us live in denial. Others are afraid to speak up. Many lawyers enable abusive men in exchange for money. Reputable companies profit from dehumanizing women. Some judges are ignorant of the dynamics of abuse. Some celebrities demonize women. All bear a share of responsibility for domestic violence. Deep down many in our community still blame the victims of domestic violence—maybe because many men see a little of themselves in the abusers.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel wrote, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”

No man has the right to harm the body or spirit of women and children—never, ever.

Women and children are not responsible for men’s violence—never, ever.

Men, along with women, need to stand up and support their wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters against the cowardly monsters in our community. The police, judges, lawyers, teachers, and other good people who collude with this malignancy on our civic soul because they are afraid to stand up to it, feel overwhelmed by the sickness, are confused by the distorted thinking, or fear losing something need to find their courage, enlighten their ignorance, and do their jobs.

Our greatest mistake is to refuse to look this dark behavior in the face—to not confront evil is to enable it and give up our freedom.