Damned if you do, damned if you don’t in domestic violence

This whole Stephen A. Smith/Ray Rice saga has my wheels turning. It actually goes back to an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience where Bill Burr (one of my favorite comedians) was a guest.

They were talking about domestic violence and how they do not condone it, but they wondered what happened in the car prior to Chris Brown beating down Rihanna and how it is a fair question. Did she ask him what he wanted for dinner or did she tell him that he had a small dick and she just fucked all his friends?

What brings a person to the tipping point?

The problem with this dialogue is that it’s really hard to have without it sounding like you are blaming the victim, even when you are not and explicitly reject the notion that domestic violence of any form is a viable resolution.

Do we have a duty to protect ourselves in these situations? To a point, we do. And I’m looking at this from the human point of view, completely impartial to the sex of victims in all violent situations.

Let me give an example. I used to hang out with a guy who got into fights almost every time we went out. I mean every single time. In one of these altercations, I got in the middle and tried putting an end to the situation, thinking, “If I’m in front of him, no way this guy throws a punch.” I was wrong. He did throw a punch and I’m the one who’s face it landed on.

I don’t know if he meant to hit me or was aiming for my then friend and missed. In retrospect I was just as guilty as my friend that day for what happened. I had no business getting in the middle of that fight and while that guy should not have thrown a punch knowing that a female (or really a human!) was in front of him, I should have known better.

Why? Because you don’t know what someone’s trigger is. You don’t know what the tipping point of their temper is. You don’t know what happened to a person in their life and in their day leading up to the point where they snap and violence becomes their reaction to stimuli.

I mean this as a warning to men and women both. You don’t know how far a person will go, and sometimes the perpetrator themself has not yet come to realize the limits of their anger. Maybe they’re just an inherently violent and horrible person. Maybe life has been kicking them in the balls for weeks or months or years and it is all culminating to this moment when they just lose it on the first person that pushes their buttons, completely indiscriminate to that person’s sex. Maybe they suffer from some sort of mental illness.

So do I think, especially as a survivor of domestic abuse, that people need to be aware during altercations of what they are doing? Yes. They do. Men and women alike in any and all situations. You have to protect yourself and we all have had that moment where something came flying out of our mouth in a fight and we knew immediately that we went to far.

That does NOT mean that a man has a right to lay his hands on a woman. That is NEVER EVER the solution and if you come to that point you’re a piece of shit and you should be locked up. (But instead, we forgive and forget as long as a person is pumping out hit records, throwing touchdowns, or blocking shots on the ice. It’s a disgrace.)

Domestic violence is NOT the victim’s fault, no matter what. You are not the problem. You do not deserve to be beaten by another person. You are not in the wrong.

But that does not mean that we have no responsibility to not escalate situations to where they get out of control because you simply do not know if the other person will fight back with words or with punches. Everyone knows when they are just pushing someone’s hot button relentlessly until the moment they explode.

I reflect very hard on my history as a victim of violence and constantly seek a reason. I look at each individual incident and wonder where it went wrong. What brought another person to lay his hands on me and do unspeakable things? In my particular situation, I didn’t bring it to that point with words. He was truly just that fucked up of a person that shit was completely random and was mostly the product of extreme paranoia and low self-esteem. I was an easy target and the most readily available.

But I think we’ve all seen fights in public where you recognize where something needs to end and the people need to shut up and walk away, but instead someone has to get in the last word and go for the proverbial knock out punch and end up landing themselves a literal punch.

Some people lack self control or just fucking snap. Every single person out there has a responsibility to do what they can to prevent all situations from turning violent. You cannot always prevent this, but you can try by keeping your own composure.

If it turns violent, get help and know that regardless, it is not your fault. But we still need to take the higher road and not escalating situations so that they become worse. I do not find this to be unreasonable.

Ray Rice’s wife is the victim. Plain and simple. He is a piece of shit and should be in jail,  not on the football field. However, Rice’s wife has a duty to protect herself, especially knowing that he will not hestitate to beat her until she is unconscious. That does not mean that she is “asking for it.” It just means that like two strangers in a bar, she has to be smart and do all she can to diffuse situations before they get to the point of no return. She is well aware of who she married and what he is capable of. If she is going to go in for the long hull, she needs to do everything she can to protect her body from harm.

Whether you are a man or a woman, strangers, friends, or in a commited relationship, you are the only person y0u can always count on to protect yourself. Violence is NEVER EVER EVER the answer in ANY situtation, at any time and in any place.

But no person is without responsibility for their personal safety. But that doesn’t mean that we are blaming victims of violence. There is simply a need to always consider your safety in all situations, most especially when you are dealing with someone who has a history of violence. It could mean your life.

If you are the victim of abuse, you do not have to stand for it. Get out. Get help. Stand strong and know that there are others out there who care and understand and will be there for you.

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