One in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
One. In. Four.
That is three of your closest friends and yourself. Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims are women. It has been just over 20 years since the Violence Against Women Act was passed. Domestic Violence remains a chronically underreported crime. For some, 20 years cannot erase the pain and memories of domestic violence survivors.
Forgetting, in my opinion, is impossible. You cannot be hurt so cruelly by another human being and expect to forget it. It is not something that you can take a shower, the steam seeping into your lungs and pores, and forget. It is not something that you can forget from one day, to six months to 35 years after getting up every day and moving on with your life. Everybody’s coping mechanism is different. A person cannot forget feeling that they are about to take their last breath when their significant other, partner, loved one or anyone else hits 120 mph on the highway because they’re angry with you. No one can forget being slammed into a windshield mid-argument because you didn’t put your seatbelt on in time. No one can forget the first slap, the first cuss or the first blow to your cheekbone. Grown men and women are haunted by their past almost every day of their lives.
Some of us have recently seen a surprising Instagram photo about a couple’s Halloween “get up.” In the instaphoto, we see a female with a bruise on her eye, covering her face, and the male frozen in time with his fist in the air. Unfortunately, for these two FSU students, though the instaphoto may have been taken down, for some, it is imprinted in their minds. The photograph represents a joke about domestic violence.
I personally find it incredibly insensitive and disturbing. Some survivors could find this to be a trigger, sending their minds into a recent or distant memory of pure, dark fear. Most go throughout their lives without having to experience dark fear that causes your stomach to clench, your mouth to dry and your palms to sweat. At least that is my idea of what dark fear is – when you are truly scared for your life. My question is why would a photo and Halloween costume like that ever be a joke – especially in this culture we are in now, where sexual assaults, rape and domestic violence have received more media coverage and attention than ever before.
I would like to ask where these young students’ minds were. I don’t know their pasts. I don’t want to call them names and be hateful. That is not my point. I would like students, parents, faculty, anyone and everyone to think about their actions and words before they act – to think about their comments in defense of an offensive insensitive photo, and to think about their words, comments and actions around others.