Intimate Partner Violence: How Can Men Make a Difference?

Intimate partner violence ( also known as domestic violence) is intrinsically connected to the societal oppression of women and other marginalized groups.  At it’s core it is about not just violence, but violence used systematically and repeatedly in the service of having power and control over another.

Intimate partner violence is everywhere, in every segment of the population. In my career I’ve worked to raise awareness of domestic violence in LGBT communities, for example.  The media doesn’t always cover it as such.   Stories  are often framed in ways that describe it as an assault in general or even worse,  hold the victim of violence accountable.  Assault, mutual fighting, these can be terms used that serve to help keep intimate partner violence invisible. Yesterday a bit of lyric on the radio prompted my pondering these issues anew:

“Chris Brown should get his ass kicked”

That certainly got my attention!  A Chicago radio station giving this air play? I am usually out of the loop in terms of celebrity news, but even I was well aware of the alleged intimate partner violence Rihanna experienced at the hands of Chris Brown.  I’ve seen the usual mixed and disappointing coverage of the issue, the victim blaming,  the minimizing.  Youth, who are especially attuned to media messages, are also exposed to dating/intimate partner violence at an alarming rate: 1 in 4 adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional,or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year. So is it any surprise that youth continue to buy into victim blaming messages?

Nearly half of the 200 Boston teenagers interviewed for an informal poll said pop star Rihanna was responsible for the beating she allegedly took at the hands of her boyfriend, fellow music star Chris Brown, in February.

What exactly is the message being conveyed by the  lyrics “Chris Brown should get his ass kicked”? Is it about responding to violence with violence, or a more general statement about holding intimate partner violence perpetrators accountable for their actions?

In no way do I see violence as the solution to violence.  As Ghandi said, “an eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind”.  As a trauma therapist I am keenly aware that prior exposure to violence, either as a victim or witness is often in the history of those who become perpetrators of violence as adults.

I did a bit more research regarding this musical response to intimate partner violence.  Reading all the lyrics and a bit of an interview of one of the group suggest that this is a message of accountability,  not vigilante justice.  According to the Jump Smokers’ website,  a portion of the proceeds from the sales of “My Flow So Tight” will benefit three organizations for battered women.

Jump Smokers: My Flow So Tight

My flow so tight and the beats so sick
my flow so tight and the beats so sick
my flow so tight and the beats so sick
Chris brown should get his ass kicked
Chris brown should get his ass kicked kicked kicked
my flow so tight and the beats so sick
Chris Brown should get his ass kicked

Ass kicked [5x]

My flow so tight and the beats so sick
Chris brown should get his ass kicked

Boy hits girl, boy should be taken down
No matter who’s around
The more I search yo the more I found
That there’s a curse to this last name Brown
Dude can dance, hey yo dude gets loose
Dude should come clean and tell the truth
All the money in the world but it’s no excuse
Career suicide yo here’s the noose

“I was really upset with the way a lot of celebrities and people were handling the situation. Not enough people were speaking out against Chris Brown,” one of the group’s members, C.W. Griz, told the AP about Chris Brown, who is scheduled to be arraigned Monday. “What he [allegedly] did was a thousand percent wrong. We’re not trying to take advantage of a horrible situation. We want to take a positive stance.”

I think it is really crucial that men speak out about domestic violence and hold each other accountable.  I’ve posted previously about an organization,  A Call to Men, working towards just this vision, a vision of men working to end violence against women.

Hopefully, this incident provides us with an opportunity to engage in a broader discussion about violence against women.  For more information about what men can do to end violence against women,  see the following:

The Seven Steps For Ending Violence Against Women and Girls by Kevin Powell

Ten Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence by Jason Katz

Men Stopping Violence

Resources for those experiencing Dating/Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence:

Kathleen Young, Psy.D.

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6 Responses to Intimate Partner Violence: How Can Men Make a Difference?

  1. leon says:

    Wow! what happened to innocent until proven guilty? Would you pile on top of a relative in this situation? Have you read the actual police report for yourself or relied on media and blog accounts of what happened that night? You poor thing! Above are yes or no questions by the way. Mr. griz (not his real name) suggest that under no circumstances should a man strike a woman, If you believe that you might be an idiot!!

    • kyoungpsyd says:

      I am approving this comment because I think it well illustrates problematic reactions to potential DV situations. In general, attacking and verbally abusive response will not be approved for posting.

      Yes, I have read the official statement/warrant issued by the police. It is public record and viewable here: http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/05/brown.warrant.pdf

      **Warning: the details of violence are graphic and may be triggering.

      Holding those who perpetrate violence accountable is not a “pile on” but rather part of the work necessary to stop the cycle of violence.

      Yes, I do firmly believe that it is never acceptable for anyone to physically abuse another person, regardless of gender. That you think such a belief or vision makes one an idiot is a sad commentary on how accepted violence is in our culture!

  2. KHW says:

    DV, whether it is verbal, emotional or physical, has consequences that last for years. Unless a person has been a victim of DV, he/she cannot begin to understand the devastating consequences which result from the abuse. Definitely the victim and children are mentally tormented for life. I am trying to recover from a total nervous breakdown with a diagnosis of PTSD, and this after 14 years of breaking free from my abuser but also having many years of being stalked by him after the divorce. Consequently, my children have been affected horribly by the same man who is their Father. They also both suffer from PTSD. My son attempted to end his life. The nightmares, the fear, the memories, the triggers-they are all traumatic. However, for all the 3 of us have went through & are going through, we are physically distanced from this man. We have alot of mental health issues that we are working hard to address and resolve, and we will always have this problem. It is much easier to think you can hold on to the relationship, stay in the relationship, because the victimizer places you in this small cave of no friends, no family, nobody to turn to. That keeps him in control and that is what he wants. It makes one lose themselves and lose the capacity to think for themselves. Like I said, don’t judge unless you have been in the situation. And for the doubters, never underestimate how many people YOU know who may be an abuser or a victim. Believe me when I say that it CAN be hidden well.

  3. Pingback: Domestic Violence and Claims of Change: Is It Possible? « Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Chicago

  4. Pingback: Domestic Violence: It Can Happen To Anyone « Dr. Kathleen Young: Treating Trauma in Chicago

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