Marcia Roth: Changing the Conversation on Domestic Violence


The Mary Byron Project, fostering innovations and strategies to end domestic violence, needs your help.  We can only accomplish our lofty goal if we change society’s view of victims of domestic violence as the ones responsible for ending the abuse on their own, or of needing to prove that they didn’t ‘cause’ the violence to happen.

Each day I receive stories of horrific violence in our community and throughout the country.  I wonder why this continues—seemingly unabated—and then I read the articles.  Time after time, the reporter quotes the bystanders and family members who state that they are shocked by what happened, that they seemed so happy, that the couple may have had a tempestuous relationship but that things like this don’t happen on the street where they live.  Time after time, I read headlines like “Man accused of killing wife and 3 kids in a domestic dispute” and I wonder how, in anyone’s classification table, this can be called merely a ‘dispute.’ 

When can we change the conversation?  When can we ask why we need to make excuses for perpetrators of violence, abuse, and yes, many times torture, when the object of their abuse is someone they at one time professed to love.  When will our courts treat abusers in the home in the same way they would treat a person who threatened or inflicted harm in a non-domestic situation? Is there a time that we can stop blaming the victim for not leaving…  even though we know of all the reasons she is unable to leave? 

It is incumbent on all of us to try to change that conversation.  Prevention begins with small steps, and not becoming party to a conversation that is victim blaming or dismissive would be a great start.

If you would like to know more about us or the work we do, please visit our web site or follow us on twitter.