Newsflash (not really): I have opinions. I know, I know. It’s a shock. I’m so reserved about them. But here’s the thing when it comes to me and my opinions. I recognize that not everyone sees their world in the same way. We’ve all had experiences that have shaped what we see and how we see it. Even though my brothers and I were brought up in the same household with the same values, we don’t necessarily have the same opinions about everything. But the difference is that we’re not douchebags about it.
This is why, as a friend and I were discussing her social work class, I was getting rather het up (both with and on behalf of my friend). In her class they were discussing IPV (intimate partner violence) and whether social workers should pay attention to the perpetrators of IPV. Our conversation this morning started because my friend was telling me about how there’s so much attention paid to the victim (which is right), but how none is paid to the aggressors. Her take, mine also, is that attention should be paid to helping the perpetrators get beyond whatever is causing them to be abusers in the first place.
Many of my friend’s classmates, and her professor, were ardently against that idea. We’ll leave behind my disgust that people who are studying to save the world and/or are already certified to save the world are so closed minded that they are willing and able to say, “The perpetrators are always in the wrong. To the point no attention should be paid to their needs or issues.”
To be completely unambiguous – if you are beating on your partner or another person, you’re in the wrong. The beaten should absolutely be a priority. Getting them to a safe place, getting them out of the situation they’re in to the extent that they are willing and able to be out of the place they’re in. However, IPV isn’t just about the beaten. It’s about the beater. What is the beater’s reason for their actions? Were they a victim of abuse as a kid? In another relationship? Are they perpetuating the cycle because they don’t know any different? Because they’ve never been taught how to deal with their feelings?
We’ll leave behind – for this post – that my friend’s professional peers were also adamant that it’s “always” the woman who’s the victim. Never mind that that’s just flatout not true. I’ve known women who’ve been the abuser, I’ve known men who’ve been the abused. I also know many a homosexual committed couple. How do the opinions of my friend’s classmates vary according to the sexuality of a couple? Do they presume that if it’s a lesbian couple that IPV never happens? Who’s at fault if it’s a couple comprised of two men?
If we, as a community as a society, don’t ever address those issues we’re never going to stop the cycle of violence that exists in far too many homes across the country, across the world. The old adage is that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If we don’t try and get the perpetrators of IPV past the point they feel beating their partner is their best option then the perpetrators of IPV are never going to feel beating their partner isn’t their best option.