Wednesday, September 8, 2010
It’s not OK to hit. Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2010.
“The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.” ~ Chinese Proverb
One of the earliest lessons we learn in life is that it’s not OK to hit. It’s not OK to hit mommy, or your big brother, or the dog.
But many of us learn another lesson at the same time – it’s OK to BE hit by someone bigger than you.
Confusing? I think so. Much as I don’t want to turn my blog into a soap box against spanking children, I just can’t ignore the connection I see between being hit in childhood and growing up to either hit others or accept being hit by them.
Certainly, it doesn’t happen all the time. Most people who smoke don’t get cancer; most people who drive without seatbelts don’t die in a wreck; most people who grew up with lead paint in their home don’t develop brain damage. It’s the “I grew up … and I turned out OK” argument.
But a significant subset of people who grew up being physically “disciplined” become men or women who either batter or are battered. Once hitting is justified, I believe, it becomes a slippery slope. Moreover, it’s unnecessary. It’s very possible to raise loving, thoughtful, well-behaved children without hitting them; it just takes a little more thought.
Someone I care about very much has been hurt badly by someone who claimed to love them. It doesn’t really matter whether my friend is male or female. Statistics actually show that women in relationships batter their partners at about the same frequency that men do; the difference is that men are larger and stronger, and tend to cause more severe injuries. And there is domestic violence in homosexual and lesbian relationships as well.
It doesn’t really matter whether my friend or married or single; a battered partner can feel (or actually be) trapped and unable to end a relationship for any of a number of reasons, whether or not there is a marriage certificate. The question “Why don’t you just leave?” can have very complex answers. And the most dangerous time in any relationship is when the abused person separates from his or her abuser.
It doesn’t really matter whether my friend “did something” to “cause” the abuse. Beating someone is never justified. We can argue about what constitutes “emotional” or “verbal” abuse, but once fist meets flesh, all of that is moot. It’s not OK to hit someone. Does someone provoke you? Walk away.
The Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review notes a strong correlation between domestic violence and suicide. Not only are abuse victims more likely to commit suicide than the average person, but so are abusers. Most tragically, the abusers often take their partner and children out with them when they go.
I hope my friend can find safety from the person who has hurt them. And I hope that person realizes that it’s not OK to hit. Maybe that person learned in childhood; I don’t know. But someone who abuses someone I care about abuses me as well.