October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

BY ESA · OCTOBER 1, 2014

The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) infographicby Kristyn Komarnicki

Each October, we are asked to be aware of the problem of domestic violence in our communities. PSAs on the radio and television tell us that the violence must stop but warn that it won’t stop by itself. This is truer than ever.

In 2010 the Center for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey reported that nearly 1 in 5 US women has been raped, 1 in 6 has been stalked, and approximately 1 in 4 has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.

The report concluded that “estimates for sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence were alarmingly high for adult Americans, with intimate partner violence (IPV) alone affecting more than 12 million people each year. Women are disproportionately impacted.” Chronic disease and symptoms of post-traumatic stress are much higher among victims of IPV. The report found that because most rape and IPV is first experienced before age 24, it is of the utmost importance to prevent “this violence before it occurs to ensure that all people can live life to their fullest potential.”

Does society’s increasing tolerance of sexual violence in popular media contribute to these “alarmingly high” rates?

In 2009, Parents Television Council published Women in Peril, in which they compared data compiled in 2004 with data from 2009. They found that while depictions of overall violence increased only 2%, violence against women increased 120%. They also found a 400% increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims. Violence against women/girls was most prevalent in the form of beating (29%), followed by credible threats of violence (18%), shooting (11%), rape (8%), stabbing (6%), and torture (2%). Violence against women resulted in death 19% of the time. They also found an 81% increase in incidences of intimate partner violence on television.

So with increasing amounts of violence against females equated with entertainment, are we really equipped to confront domestic violence? Do a Google search for the words “rape porn” and you’ll get over 100 million results. Yes, 100+ million. Much of what passes for “mainstream porn” today is nothing more than sexualized violence (including degradation, humiliation, and torture).

We all know how many song lyrics and music videos glorify objectification and domination of women’s bodies, but the shamelessness with which this is flaunted can be truly breathtaking. The wildly popular Robin Thicke song, “Blurred Lines,” contains this blatant endorsement of violence:

[I’m] Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that…
Not many women can refuse this pimpin’
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty…

And to understand just how normalized sexual violence has become we need look no further than the way millions of women—even Christian women—have embraced the sadomasochistic “romance” depicted in the 50 Shades of Grey book series. The film version is scheduled for release on Valentine’s Day 2015. Are whips and pain contemporary society’s idea of chocolate and roses?

When record numbers of citizens, including Christians, invite sexual violence into our homes in the form of pornography and other degrading forms of popular culture, why are we so surprised when our most intimate relationships are threatened? Why are we shocked when real violence emerges in our communities? Some blame it on a sluggish economy. But surely our dizzying tolerance for physical and sexual violence, the tidal wave of images that assault us from fashion magazines and billboards, play a much bigger role—and take a much bigger toll on our psyches—than a bad economy, except that with rising unemployment and financial struggles, people have more time on their hands and more desire than ever to anesthetize themselves.

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