By Claudine Goeddeke
Turning Point is working with our community to imagine a world free of domestic and sexual violence. Can you imagine it? One high school student participating in Turning Point’s prevention program asked, “Why does everyone keep talking about how not to get raped, instead of how not to rape?” What a wise question. Teaching how not to get raped doesn’t stop rape.
This means that teaching girls the warning signs of an abusive relationship is not prevention. Telling women to check the back seat of their car before getting in is not prevention. These are avoidance techniques. The problem with teaching avoidance techniques is they give us a false sense of security. And they prevent us from seeing the reality of domestic and sexual violence. Not what we are trying to do, right? The consequence about confusing avoidance techniques with prevention is that it puts the undue and impossible burden of stopping the crime on the potential victim of the crime. This sets us up to blame the victim. Perpetrators often use these beliefs to silence the victim. This is why so many survivors of domestic and sexual violence choose not to tell.
When we really understand what it means to prevent domestic and dating violence, we are saying that no matter what the victim did or didn’t do they did nothing to cause what happened; that anyone could become a victim. Some of us are at greater risk because of our age, gender, sexual orientation, or lack of power. As scary as this is, it is reality!
Turning Point’s evaluation results show the need to educate males on healthy relationships. Before participating in the prevention program, significantly more males than females did not understand that dating violence was rooted in power and control, or that gender stereotypes can contribute to unhealthy relationships. Prevention means stopping the perpetration of violence by teaching skills to be non-violent. Using abusive tactics and violence is a choice. Violence is not biologically predestined or caused by mental illness, or substance abuse, or the victim’s fault. It is these myths that all of us need to unlearn. Until we recognize that the only way to truly prevent, or stop, domestic and sexual violence is to stop people from committing violence in the first place, perpetrators will continue to make abusive choices.
There are many things that we can do in our own communities, families and relationships to promote equality and respect. Check out these resources for more information:
Preventing domestic and sexual violence is attainable when we as individuals and communities decide that it is a priority. So think, and then rethink! Educate yourself on the reality instead of hiding behind a false curtain of security. Turning Point offers prevention education to our community, including a seven session prevention program for boys to prevent the perpetration of dating violence. For more information go to http://www.turningpointmacomb.org/tp/programs-services/get-educated/