October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year we hardly need to be reminded about the urgency of this ongoing issue. It was just a month ago that, in a leaked elevator security video, Baltimore Raven Ray Rice publicly exposed the ugly brutality of domestic violence, triggering a national conversation about this dangerous problem, its unsettling prevalence among professional athletes, and the insidious way it continues to thrive in millions of American homes.
Within days of the breaking scandal, I interviewed domestic violence expert Dr. Jill Murray, who talked about the self-deception (or as she called it, “silly-woman-thinking”), that often lies at the heart of domestic violence. Her comments were eye-opening.
“Feelings of love can be anything,” she said, “depending on what you want them to be. But if you think about love as a behavior, then you cannot stay in an abusive relationship. You can't say, 'He cheats on me, therefore he loves me. He hits me, therefore he loves me. He calls me names, therefore he loves me.' Just look at his behavior, and that will tell you what love is."
Although the Rice story has begun to fade from the news, the dialogue about domestic violence needs to continue. That’s the most important thing about any kind of activism -- it can’t be held hostage to the 24-hour news cycle. So this week on “Mondays With Marlo,” I spoke with Brian Martin, the founder of Children of Domestic Violence and author of Invincible: The 10 Lies You Learn Growing Up with Domestic Violence, and the Truths to Set You Free. A survivor of childhood household violence himself, Brian reveals the often secret world of domestically abused children (more than 15 million in this country), and explains how many of them grow up to be ongoing victims -- or even perpetrators -- of adult domestic violence. The interview is both heartbreaking and hopeful, and I hope you’ll watch it.
When the Rice scandal first broke, I was concerned that attention was focusing more on his fame as a football hero and the responsibilities of the NFL than on the issue itself, and, in the process, turning a blind eye to the far greater number of ordinary households that suffer from domestic violence. But celebrity exposure can also be used as a productive tool, shining a spotlight on the darker corners of life many of us don’t like to talk about.
So in recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I’ve assembled this slide show (below) of some familiar faces who have experienced their own encounters with violence in the home -- including, among others, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and Tina Turner. I hope their stories will serve as inspiration for women who are suffering at this moment with such a crisis in their lives -- and as motivation for all of us to address this problem head-on.
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National Domestic Violence Hotline
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