When a life is lost due to domestic violence, why is our first instinct to focus on the actions a victim did not take?
Following these tragedies, there is typically a barrage of questions analyzing the victim. “Why didn’t they just leave?” “Why didn’t they reach out for services?” “Why didn’t they tell someone what was happening at home?”
However, we never seem to ask the most important question: Why didn’t the person using abuse make another choice? Why did they continue to yell, scream, and threaten their partner. Why did they choose to control their partner’s actions? Why are they restricting their partner’s life decisions? And why are they physically harming them?
When domestic violence becomes fatal, we typically don’t ask why the person using abuse didn’t leave the relationship, we don’t ask why they didn’t reach out for help to stop abusing their partner, and we don’t wonder why they didn’t tell anyone about what was truly happening at home.
In fact, many are resigned to believe that only the victim could have changed the outcome of this scenario. They don’t believe the person using abuse is capable of change and think that victim services are the only effective recourse.
While connecting victims with services is essential, we cannot prevent domestic violence without first acknowledging the responsibility that lies with the person using abuse. The decision to commit homicide doesn’t come out of nowhere. There is a pattern of behaviors that lead a person to that point. But they can choose to make another choice and JBWS’ Jersey Center for Non-Violence (JCNV) can help them do exactly that.
JCNV offers three group counseling programs for men, women, and teenaged boys who have used abuse in their relationships. These groups follow a curriculum that outlines what abusive behavior looks like, their thought processes that lead them to use abuse, the impact of abuse on their family, how to manage intense emotions, and accountability planning for when they feel like they need to use power and control.
Research shows that these types of abuse intervention programs result in partners and children being safer but true change takes dedication. People may use abuse in their relationships because it’s worked for them in the past, it was their example growing up, or they learned it’s better to control than be controlled.
To prevent the devastating impacts of domestic violence, we need to shift the discourse to include those who use abuse in their relationships. Without addressing the source of this issue, we will never be able to stop these tragedies.
If you are using abuse in your relationship, you can make another choice. There is help available to you. Please reach out to JCNV today at https://jbws.org/jcnv or 973.539.7801
President & CEO of JBWS