It's time to stop domestic violence


POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and last week community members joined together in honor of the 15th anniversary of the Men's March Against Violence, sponsored by Catholic Charities Hawaii, the Domestic Violence Action Center and Kapiolani Community College.

The march was part of a larger state and national effort to educate communities about bringing an end to domestic violence, and this year's theme was: “;It's About Time.”; However, as I think about the five adults murdered in domestic violence-related attacks here this year, the theme seems too indulgent.

IT'S TIME, period. For too many years our police department has sent its officers to “;family disturbance”; calls only to find a traumatized, wounded and/or murdered victim. For too many years, our keiki have hovered in corners watching their fathers beat their mothers and siblings, frozen by fear and their inability to protect themselves or their family members. For too many years, our keiki have grown up shamed by the very adult that was supposed to protect them. For too many years, women have walked on eggshells wondering: “;Is this the night he will beat me?”;

For too many years we have marched around the state Capitol courtyard mourning the deaths of women, children and other men—and then, that evening, run to the Blaisdell Center to watch mixed-martial arts, where we scream and shout with excitement as adults pulverize one another.

For too many years we've talked ourselves into believing that domestic violence is not my business. But domestic violence is everyone's business.

It's time we stop and take a good look at what we are teaching our keiki.

It's time we begin being honest about how we are treating those whom we say we love.

It's time our legislators and court systems get serious about domestic abuse, especially the consequences of breaking a temporary restraining order.

It's time our schools, government and religious institutions educate and lead efforts of nonviolence.

It's time we implement prevention efforts in our schools, churches, temples and workplaces, and build intervention programs where batterers don't just call into a number once a month to check in.

It's time to challenge our parents to spend time with our keiki, to be role models for them.

It's time to hold men accountable for our behavior and it's time we hold ourselves accountable as a community for our indifference.

It's time for each of us to understand that violence in our homes, schools and communities is our business.

By this time tomorrow around the United States, 192 more women will have been beaten by their husband, partner or ex. About 833 children will have witnessed or directly experienced domestic violence.

Hospital emergency rooms will have treated 23 more women and children for abuse, and one more woman will have died as a result of domestic violence.

Tomorrow's headlines will recall what we did today, and then move on to other news. The ERs will have a new shift of medical and social workers, and child witnesses of domestic violence will sit in classrooms, expected to “;behave.”;

For someone out there, tomorrow will simply be too late.

Show your courage to stop domestic violence by joining other men, women and children to simply say ... It's time!

Joseph R. Bloom is a licensed clinical social worker and assistant director of therapeutic services for Catholic Charities Hawaii. He is a director of the Hawaii State Coalition Against Violence, and is co-founder of Honolulu's annual Men's March Against Violence. He also teaches at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, Graduate School of Social Work.