To the Editor:
Though this is not yet absolute reality, much of what we have heard from our national leadership with respect to women and women’s rights has been demeaning, condescending and misogynist. There is substantial reason to believe that funding of The Violence Against Women Act, which supports programs to counter domestic and family abuse – including Next Step, located in Ellsworth, and its sister organizations across Maine –
will be severely cut in the current administration.
Doing so will worsen statistics that are already deplorable and underreported. A piece in The Huffington Post in 2014 by Alanna Vagianos compiled various statistics. Only a few are repeated here.
Three women are murdered every day in America by current or former male partners. A total of 38,028,000 women have experienced physical violence during their lifetimes from intimate partners. Approximately 4.7 million women in America experience physical violence by an intimate partner every year. Twenty people are victims of intimate partner violence every minute of every day. An astounding one in four women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, and one in seven men also will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.
Though women are far more often the victims of domestic violence, men, too, can be victims. Perpetrators, though, are overwhelmingly male – 85 percent.
What does an abuser look like? Look around you. The gentleman standing next to you could be an abuser. The woman with whom you spoke on the telephone this morning could be abused. Though drug and alcohol abuse may heighten domestic abuse, they are not a cause of it. Neither educational level nor income level have anything to do with whom an abuser might be; neither does religious righteousness.
Abuse does not always take the form of physical violence, either. Abuse can be psychological, economic or emotional as well.
My own observation is that, as Americans, we do not seem to relish facing truths about our history or about our behaviors. Valentine’s Day is lauded in American song. It has come and gone. But let us ensure that important services for women (and men) do not get trampled in what I, myself, would describe as the fractious, deceitful, mean-spiritedness that appears to be descending upon our society. Either we are all human beings together, or we are, well, not much of anything.