Over the past month, shock waves have rippled across the entertainment and political landscape as story after story has surfaced of powerful men abusing women, children and men. More women and men than ever before are speaking out about the sexual violence that they suffered at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, members of Congress and others. This has been an important moment in history, and one that we hope will create lasting change in our society.
Yet one topic that has remained in the shadows is domestic violence. We know that nearly twenty people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States, which equates to more than 10 million women and men in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2003 to 2014, 55% of all female homicide victims in the U.S. were killed by an intimate partner. Other types of domestic violence, such as emotional abuse, psychological and reproductive coercion, are also prevalent in the U.S. In a study that looked at victims of domestic violence between 1994 and 2010, the majority of victims (4 out of 5) were women.
Hollywood has its share of famous alleged abusers, such as Sean Penn, Chris Brown, Johnny Depp, Columbus Short, Mike Tyson, Charlie Sheen, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee, Wesley Snipes, Josh Brolin, Michael Fassbender, Dr. Dre, and Eminem. There is also no shortage of athletes accused of domestic violence, from Ray Rice to James Harrison to Floyd Mayweather to Jose Reyes. And of course, there have been a number of political figures who have been accused of domestic violence, including former Representative Alan Grayson, Bill O’Reilly and Steve Bannon. Many of these men are celebrated athletes, artists, politicians and commentators, and have suffered little to no effect from their actions (many of which are public knowledge, and some of which they have admitted).
In these respects — the prevalence of domestic violence and the sheer number of famous men who are abusers — domestic violence is ripe for a movement, just like the recent #MeToo movement that exposed perpetrators of sexual violence. While we don’t expect anyone to say #MeToo, we believe that just as speaking up about sexual violence can have a massive impact on how our society views these crimes, so can taking a stand against domestic violence. We must stop giving abusers a “pass” for their behavior, and start supporting victims.
It is time to hold perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their actions, and to take the crime of intimate partner violence seriously. Too often, domestic violence is excused as something that happens between partners — a private matter. The reality is that domestic violence impacts us all, and it’s on all of us to work together to say no more. As demonstrated by the recent mass shooting in a Texas church, committed by a man with a lengthy history of domestic violence and allegedly sparked by another incidence of domestic violence, this is a crime that affects everyone.
We ask you to join Blackburn Center in our mission to end violence of all types — and in this moment, to speak out against domestic violence. Don’t laugh at jokes that make light of domestic violence, or support the work of people who you know to be abusers. Demand accountability, and help us change our culture for the better.