June 26, 2014

Does This Look Like Love to You?
Domestic violence victim posts selfies, issues challenge

I've had this story in my log for a while now, but I never seemed able to find a way to address it that was satisfactory. I still don't know that I've found it, but hey, we'll have a go anyway.

Think of the last time that you saw a domestic violence victim portrayed on TV or in the movies. Consider Julianna Hough's character in Safe Haven, for instance. What comes to mind? Does it look like this?

When I "imagine" a domestic violence victim, the injuries are nowhere near as severe as these selfies posted by Angela Bower on her Facebook page.

On one, she issued a challenge: Does this look like love to ANY OF YOU?

No, no, it doesn't.

The problem with our sanitized experience with domestic violence is that limiting it to a few bumps and bruises downplays the true severity of the issue. Domestic violence is brutal. It is ugly. It is debilitating.

Earlier this week I touched on how 43 states and the District have no protections for victims of domestic violence to prevent them being fired as a result of the abuse. Ms. Bowers is a victim who perfectly illustrates this--her injuries, which required surgery to reconstruct her eye socket, will require her to take two to three months off of work.

Domestic violence is very real, and real people are affected by it daily. Our sanitized experiences with it in the media just don't do it justice.

And I have to ask myself: Are we hurting kids by presenting sanitized domestic violence? If they encounter the Julianna Hough characters and the PSA characters, with bumps and bruises and tears, do they really comprehend how much damage can be done to your body by another person? Do they realize that someone strong enough to hit you with the force of a boxer can wreck your face and cause injuries that require incredible effort to fix?

We're not doing ourselves any favors by putting the actual real effects of domestic violence at a distance. No favors at all.

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