A Shout-Out Against Domestic Violence – by Terry Howard

There’s been so much in the news lately about gender, women in particular, specifically about the plight of women globally, how they’re faring in the sciences and on corporate boards, the abduction of the girls in Nigeria, the national fixation on Hillary …and it goes on and on and on. However, when it comes to gender, for me there’s no greater gift than my 4-year-old granddaughter, Nadia Lucille Howard.  You see, Nadia owns me, plain and simple. And she knows it.

All she has to do is to flash that smile and I immediately become weak kneed, helpless, completely at her beck and call. If Nadia tells me to jump, I answer, “how far?”  There are few things more gratifying and heart-warming than holding that cuddly ebony face between my palms. Here’s a recent example of her power over me.

“Nadia, stop eating that chocolate chip cookie before dinner,” I said.

She looked up at me with a smile and responded, “I love you grandpa!” I immediately became discombobulated, fumbled for words, reached for a cookie myself, lost in the sheer ecstasy of grandpa land.  Yep, Nadia’s got a hold on me.

And that’s why I felt so compelled to angle this article, not on any of the legitimate topics called out above, but rather on domestic violence presented to you in the form of a gift to my readers… male readers in particular.  Now if the truth be told, I cannot fathom the very thought of my Nadia falling victim to such violence.

Nor can I include anything printable on this page about what I would do if I found out that….bring on the handcuffs, fit me with a pin-striped suit – horizontal stripes, that is… okay, I’d best leave it at that. You get my drift.

For additional context, let’s turn to a recent column by The New York Times’ talented Charles Blow in which he wrote, “The statistics on violence and discrimination against women are just staggering. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women reported that:

■ According to a 2013 global review of available data, 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced intimate-partner violence or non-partner sexual violence. However, some national violence studies show that up to 70 percent of women have at some point experienced violence from an intimate partner.

■ In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, violence by intimate partners accounts for between 40 percent and 70 percent of all murders of women.

■ In Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, violence by intimate partners accounts for between 40 percent and 70 percent of all murders of women.

■ In the US, 83% of girls 12 to 16 have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public schools.

Concludes Blow, “Men around the world, in general, do not have to worry as much, if at all, about being the subjects of such physical and psychological violence. They have the luxury of not being forced to fully engage and confront the scale and scope of the problem — and that is the very definition of privilege.”

Empathy is not particularly elusive, he purports. “It only requires an earnest quest to understand and act on that understanding. The problems women face in this world require the engagement of the entire world’s people. It’s very important for everyone to be a feminist. Yes all men.  Yes, we should all be feminists, but too often we believe that the plight of the oppressed is solely the business of the oppressed, and that the society in which that oppression is born and grows and the role of the oppressors and beneficiaries are all somehow subordinate.”

Let me end with the following questions – and plea – particularly to the men out there: Push back from your terminal or TV. Put down the Bud. Reflect and ask yourself, “Who’s my Nadia?” – Wife? Daughter? Granddaughter? Niece? Mother? Aunt? Co-worker?  Am I willing to shout out loud enough is enough…I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore?

And after all the shouting is done, am I willing to make the following pledge taken from a local campaign with concrete with actions?

  1. I will never commit an act of violence against women.
  2. I will hold abusive men accountable for their heinous actions and help them seek counseling.
  3. I will speak out against domestic violence and promote domestic violence awareness.
  4. I will teach my daughters, nieces and granddaughters that they never have to accept violence in a relationship, and teach my sons, nephews and grandsons that violence is an unacceptable way to express anger or displeasure.

So c’mon and join the fight my brothers worldwide. Don’t run, don’t hide, don’t delete! It all starts with the man in the mirror.  In the words of author William Faulkner, “You move a mountain one stone at a time!”  And you reverse those disturbing statistics above “one action a time!”

Terry Howard

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