That was the focus of Mediation Training tonight, domestic violence and how prevalent it is in our society. Some of the statistics were staggering, but the gist of the presentation was that it happens in 25% of “couple” relationships, whether they are gay or straight. Some of the material was so disturbing that I felt tears in my eyes for most of the evening. It’ll be a long time before I get over the things I heard and saw. My heart breaks for these people, but I still can’t wrap my head around the most obvious of questions:
Why don’t they just leave?
I once had a boyfriend that threw me against a wall and my arm slammed on the outside corner of the wall. It hurt, but it was a wake up call. The next day, that guy was no longer my boyfriend. There are just some things I won’t put up with and physical violence is one of those things.
There are many programs for people in this situation to turn to, but sadly most don’t have adequate funding to offer full-time services. In fact, in my state only one of 12 crisis centers has the funds available to run 24/7. The rest are only open during regular business hours.
This brings me to one of my favorite pet peeves that I like to jump on my soap box about: why are American citizens always so quick to rush to the aid of human beings around the world, but we are stingy when it comes to helping our fellow Americans? We do this as a country. We send military forces around the world to aid the governments' of other countries. We do this as households. We send a check to help the poor in other nations, but when was the last time we sent a check to the local homeless or crisis center?
I’m a big fan of helping the underdog and I feel inspired to do something. I don’t know how or when, but it is my goal to do something to help this population. Whether it’s getting the training necessary to work on a crisis hotline or actually donating time in a center on a regular basis, I will do something. And now that I’ve blogged about it, there’s no backing down. It’s a goal that I put in writing and I will stick to it. I’ve blogged before about not being thrilled with the touchy feely aspect of mediation, but maybe I was meant to take this training to open my eyes to other issues…
The end result of tonight’s training was that mediators need to screen for domestic violence and if they feel that there is something going on, mediation is likely not a good way for this couple to work through a divorce. An abuser exerts control over the victim, and the victim may want to just give everything up to the abuser just to be free of the relationship. The point of mediation is to come to an equitable solution between two parties. Nothing’s equitable if one is giving up everything and the other is intimidating the victim to do just that. Then there’s the impartiality issue. As a mediator, how do you remain unbiased, knowing that one has been abusive towards the other?
Certainly a disturbing, eye-opening evening. I was lucky to have my parents take care of the girls and all went well. Of course I was greeted with further Girl Scout drama when I walked in the door. It doesn't feel right to include that vent on this post, so that will be blogged about tomorrow. Yes, that's right, more Girl Scout bullshit that I know you don't really want to hear. Suck it up Cupcakes! It's coming your way!