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February 19, 2013

BEAM: Breaking the cycle of abuse

Just last week on Valentine’s Day, thousands of women took to the streets of more than 200 countries in a show of solidarity against violence toward females. The new movement is called One Billion Rising, a name which reflects that approximately one in three women worldwide will be beaten or sexually assaulted in their lifetime. 

How did they stand up to this type of widespread brutality? Those gathering performed the most peaceful of protests, the very antithesis of what they strove to end. They danced.

Change takes a while to happen, especially when this type of aggression has become so commonplace in our society. Women, children, and yes, men, continue to be beaten and abused even while anti-violence slogans are shouted and signs denouncing the acts are carried down busy roads. On the very same day that droves of women took a stand against such abuse, Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius was arrested in South Africa for allegedly murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

It’s easy to think this type of behavior is confined to one part of the world, to a particular social class of the economically downtrodden. It’s not. Domestic abuse occurs in both grand mansions and one room shanties; among day laborers in Asia as well as with businessmen and women here in America.

Not even Southern Indiana has been spared. Only recently, Edward “Dale” Bagshaw was convicted in a Clark County courtroom for the stabbing death of his estranged wife. And as I write this column, an alert from WDRB News has flashed across my phone. It reports a Clarksville woman has been shot and killed, presumably, it said, by an ex-boyfriend. 

Of course, not all cases of this type of abuse are so easily reported by the news. It’s a secret crime, perpetuated in the quiet confines of millions of homes daily. The difficulty lies in knowing the true number. Either from fear, shame or sometimes even a misplaced love, many victims decide not to come forward to report the abuse.

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