In college, I befriended an industrious young man named John* who I admired because of his entrepreneurial spirit. By the age of 22, he had already started several businesses and was paying his tuition with the profits. John was popular on campus, not only because he employed several students, but also because he was affable and fun to be around.
John hired me as a writer for one of his publications. Since I also worked for the campus newspaper, I became his source for trends that appealed to college students. We spent several hours together in his makeshift office writing, editing, and selecting graphics for the magazine. It was during these late night working sessions that I discovered John’s darker side.
John had a girlfriend, Jane*, who worked at the school paper with me. Jane was quiet, meek, and kept to herself. I was actually a little surprised when I found out that she was dating John, a guy with a huge personality and ego to match. John often stopped by the newspaper’s office and greeted Jane with an affectionate kiss. They seemed like such a happy couple. But it was all a facade.
One day, I noticed that Jane’s face was bruised. I didn’t think much of it at first, but I started to connect the dots as I spent more time with John. He would periodically ask me about the guys at paper and wanted to know if Jane was talking to or interacting with any of them. I’d also overhear their arguments that grew increasingly loud during the time I worked with John.
Jane finally admitted to some of the female reporters that John was abusing her. At first I was shocked, but then it all started to make sense.
I was so angry with John. I felt that he betrayed me. My own history with domestic violence only fueled my anger. I wanted to give him a taste of the pain he had inflicted on Jane, but I knew that violence was not the answer. Instead, I did nothing.
John continued to be big man on campus, but I lost all respect for him and slowly disassociated with him.
I realize that I was a coward for not directly confronting John. Now that I’m a father, I’ve decided never to be silent about domestic violence again.
Domestic Violence Statistics
There are thousands of girls just like Jane who feel trapped in abusive relationships. A NSPCC research report, published September 2009 revealed these startling statistics:
- A quarter of girls and 18 per cent of boys reported some form of physical partner violence.
- Nearly three-quarters of girls and half of boys reported some form of emotional partner violence.
- One in nine girls and 4 per cent of boys reported severe physical violence.
- One in three girls and 16 per cent of boys reported some form of sexual partner violence.
A Challenge to All Parents
These statistics illustrate the importance of parental involvement in our children’s lives. If you’re worried that your child may be in an abusive relationship, here are the top 10 warning signs to look out for:
- If your child stops hanging out with their friends
- Overly jealous children sometimes try to control their boyfriends or girlfriends by not letting them see close friends and even family
- Receiving frequent phone calls/texts
- Getting into trouble at school
- Wearing the same clothes day after day or changes in their clothing, such as wearing long sleeves when they normally wear short sleeves
- Acting depressed, or more quiet than usual
- Becoming angry if you ask how they are
- Trying to hide scratches or bruises
- Making excuses for a boyfriend or girlfriend
- Becoming secretive or moody
I challenge all parents, especially fathers, to do your part to end domestic violence. Talk to your children, get to know their boyfriends/girlfriends, build up their confidence and model healthy relationships in the home.
Many times we fail to prevent tragic situations, even when we see the warning signs, because we’re afraid to interfere in other people’s relationships. But if we remain silent, people like John will continue to abuse people like Jane.
Comments for a cause: Each year I donate money to organizations that help domestic violence victims. In addition to my regular donation, I will add an extra $0.50 for each comment I receive on Mocha Dad during the month of October. I will also add another $0.10 for each tweet with the hashtag #stopdomesticviolence. Last year, your comments and tweets earned an additional $124.00 for domestic violence victims.