On the Today show yesterday morning Tamron Hall was talking about domestic violence. A very hard subject for many to talk about or even listen to. However, I feel, as do many, that this is a very important subject to talk about. According to the Today show's website "approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year and three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day."
Tamron sat with a group of women and asked them to share their stories, then she asked a very valid question "What can we do to save a life?" The response that seemed to resonate with me the most was when one woman pointed out that while we are sitting down our children to have the sex talk, we also need to be discussing what domestic violence looks like. We need to tell our children what is the correct way to be treated by a partner and what that looks like. We need to make sure that they know that just one 'slip', 'mistake', 'accident' is not okay. "No one when they start dating you is going to say I'm gong to slap you in six months." The abuse usually does not come until you love the person and/or depend on the person. It is a very rare occasion when a woman get's hit one time and leaves immediately. It is usually something that is brushed off as 'the first time, it will never happen again' or 'their temper flared up and they didn't mean it' or 'I can't leave someone I love because of one accident'. One accident leads to another, and another, and another.
Even as someone who has witnessed domestic violence, I never thought to myself that I needed to outright teach my child the correct way to be treated by a partner. I did not gave it enough thought, I see that now. I guess I figured she would just learn through the relationships she encountered throughout her life. However, now that I am thinking about it, the conversation about abuse does not usually happen until it is too late. When do you discuss abuse with your children, family, or friends? The answer is, usually when you think it is already happening and most likely, if you suspect it is already happening then it has probably been happening for a while.
So, what can we do to save a life? We can talk to our children. We can teach them what is the correct way to be treated and the correct way to treat a person. We can start early and show our children that no matter what, we need to have open communication. We need to teach our children that even if it is a scary subject to talk about, they can come to us and that they can be comfortable doing so. No matter how old they are.
Luckily, as our little one is only three years old, we have a few years before we have to have this conversation. Nonetheless, after seeing this segment and hearing those women's stories, I know that when the time comes to discuss intimate relationships with my daughter we will also be discussing what a respectful and healthy relationship looks like. As well as the signs or 'red flags' of things going wrong. I'm hoping that this sheds a little more light on domestic abuse and how we can teach our children to not be a part of it.