While researching domestic violence, I encountered two articles on Wikipedia. One, about the pro-feminist, ‘original’ White Ribbon Campaign against domestic violence; and the second, about an ‘imposter’ campaign, initiated by an anti-feminist group called A Voice for Men. I was, quite frankly, stunned that an issue like domestic violence / abuse would become so politicized. On the surface, the ‘imposter’ campaign seemed to make a valid point, in that domestic abuse does not just happen to women or children. This is something I have seen in the past – even as a kid, I knew parents from other children where the mother was very openly abusive, not just toward children but the father as well. But, because this has apparently become so politicized, I am honestly reluctant to support either campaign.
What started me on the path to researching this was, as I walked home the other day, I happened to notice an elderly woman sitting outside. She had been crying, and was in the process of trying to cover up what looked like cigar burns starting on the palms of her hands, working their way upward, on arms that already showed heavy scarring. I don’t think it mattered much to her whether or not she or her husband subscribed to feminism. When I asked her if there was something I could do to help, after asking her a couple of times because she had difficulty communicating in German, I saw a sadness and despair in her eyes that is understandable in any language. I think she must have also seen the sadness and frustration in my eyes as she emphatically told me that she needed no help, while getting up and walking away from me. Since she was someone I didn’t know, I was reluctant to start talking to her about calling the police … it’s been my experience before that this approach puts a lot of pressure on the abused, and with a stranger who has already refused help, there seemed not much I could do.
So I decided to start researching procedures and organizations in my local area that might be able to help, should I see something like this again in the future. In the end, taking this kind of measure doesn’t require a ribbon of any color; and I would encourage others reading this to also look into local laws, procedures and organizations that are dedicated to the prevention and ending of domestic violence – regardless of the gender dynamics involved.