Guest Column: Domestic violence is a community tragedy, not a private problem
By Bethany Larsen
Victim Witness Services, Grand Canyon
Domestic Violence occurs in all communities and across all genders, races, and economic classes. Coconino County is no exception.
When battered individuals gather enough courage to make attempts to get to safety, they often fall short because many institutions, systems, and people don’t recognize the symptoms or the risks, understand what can be done, or know how to help. Since we all encounter battered individuals daily, we should feel empowered to have a role in the movement to end domestic violence.
There are no specific profiles of an ‘abuser’. Domestic violence is about power and control.
Abuse is considered a learned behavior; it is not caused by anger, mental problems, drugs or alcohol, or other common excuses (stress, inadequate communication skills, etc.). These issues may be associated with the battering of individuals, but they do not cause it. Removing these factors will not stop the violence, it will only make for more polite abusers.
Stopping violence will, in part, require recognition, education, and shifting responsibility away from victim blaming and helping abusers take accountability for their beliefs related to and about power and control.
Fear, isolation, and creating a dependency on the abuser are all tools abusers use to obtain power and control. Rural communities can be inviting to abusers due to the perceived lack of resources for victims and because living in a small community can be a function of local employment and therefore foster dependency. Eventually, the victim is left totally alone and without the internal and external resources to change their life.
We hope to empower the community to think creatively about ways to work to end domestic violence and help victims hear that they are not alone.