My first day at CSW, I went to an event called “Empowering Girls and Women Facing Violence in Family Settings”. It focused on domestic abuse. The way it works at CSW is that it’s a panel discussion and each person in the panel does their presentation, and then there are questions at the end. For this event, one of the panelists was a woman who was exploring how violence against women intersected with other issues, especially with family issues. What she found is that there are other members of a family, especially children, who are affected by domestic violence. This is obviously true in a number of ways. Domestic violence creates a Catch-22 of sorts if the perpetrator and the victim have a family together, because, for a woman to get out from under that situation, it involves members of a family going their separate ways, which is never an ideal situation for families. We know that families have the best results if they stay together, and that can’t happen if a husband is beating his wife or vice versa.
The other option women facing domestic abuse have is staying with their abuser, which is also a terrible idea. It does no good for a family to stay together if their stay together is a violent, uncomfortable one. Another problem with abuse is that a child could see it, which would be a traumatic experience. My parents yelled loudly at each other once and that still plays over and over in my brain, just from it happening once. And that was just yelling. I can’t imagine what anything physical would do to someone. The third point I took away from this panelist was just that I was happy that someone was speaking for children and for families. Far too often in the world, anything considered involves one person as the basis for that consideration. This whole idea was very interesting, of looking at domestic abuse as a crime with more than one victim. Is that the key to stopping it, highlighting secondary victims? That is a very interesting question raised by this panel that I greatly appreciated.