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Do We Know Domestic Violence When We See It?

Mar 15, 2007 — Categories: ,

Sadly, last week was a busy week for nationally publicized domestic violence fatalities. Sensational headlines informed us about a plane intentionally crashed into a house and another school shooting. But did we really understand that these deaths were domestic violence?

Sadly, last week was a busy week for nationally publicized domestic violence fatalities. Sensational headlines informed us about a plane intentionally crashed into a house and another school shooting. But did we really understand that these deaths were domestic violence?

Tuesday it was Indiana where, according to the Associated Press, Eric Johnson loaded his 8-year-old daughter into a single engine plane and then flew the plane into his mother-in-law’s house. Johnson and his daughter were killed. Reportedly, Johnson’s statement to his ex-wife, the child’s mother, was, “I’ve got her, and you’re not going to get her.”

Wednesday it was Michigan where, also according to the AP, an unnamed 17-year-old gunman shot and seriously injured his ex-girlfriend outside her high school. He then shot and killed himself.

Neither AP article mentioned the words “domestic violence” or “dating violence” in their reports. But let’s be clear: both of these stories are about exactly that. When we read about homicides and suicides involving family members or former partners, we need to understand that this is most likely the tragic final result of a history of domestic violence. These incidents don’t just arise out of thin air.

It is not unusual that children will be the pawns in the continued harassment and abuse of an ex-wife. It is not unusual that a teenaged boyfriend will continue to harass a former girlfriend. And sadly, it is not all that unusual that these situations can end in deadly violence.

Particularly for any of us who would like to believe that such things don’t happen in our families, neighborhoods, and places of worship, think again. As the fuller stories of these individuals emerge, I predict we will learn that they were pretty ordinary people from pretty ordinary families and probably attended church or synagogue. But these deaths are acts of domestic violence.

Domestic violence doesn’t just happen to other people and it’s not about losing one’s temper. There is always the possibility that it will end in death for one or more people. This is why ending domestic violence is everyone’s business. If you are in danger and need help, call the National Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). If you want to get involved, check out www.faithtrustinstitute.org or www.endabuse.org.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute
www.faithtrustinstitute.org

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