A Democratic Representative from Minnesota, Keith Ellison’s, name has now been added to the long list of actors, authors, CEOs, athletes, and politicians accused of intimate partner violence (IPV).
One thing this confirms: domestic violence isn’t something that only happens to the poor or uneducated. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate.
When stories like this rise to the top of the newsfeed, we at SafeHaven often get a slew of questions. Is she telling the truth? What was her role in the relationship’s violence – what part is she responsible for? Is it possible she’s just a disgruntled ex?
We get it – most relationships we have, and certainly the ‘default’ relationship, are ones that are equitable. Ones where, when there is a disagreement, both parties have a role. Everyone has a part to play and thus everyone is responsible for the outcome.
The difference is that relationships marred by intimate partner violence aren’t equitable. They aren’t starting from the same baseline, the same equal footing, as healthy relationships do. These relationships are based in power and control, where one person has power over the other person and they use that power to control their partner. When we start with that understanding, that IPV relationships are all about power and control, we don’t have to ask the standard questions. We don’t ask about the victim’s honesty in recounting the abuse because we understand the offenders hold on the victim. We don’t ask what the victim’s role was in the abuse because we know the victim didn’t have a role other than being a victim.
Victims are scared to speak out primarily because they are first and foremost concerned about their own safety. But another reason victims stay silent is because our culture doesn’t believe them. We immediately respond with questions rooted in skepticism. We are doubters, cynics, disbelievers. Especially when we dislike the victim, then it is even easier to blame the offender response on the victim’s unbecoming behavior. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how likable the victim is. No one deserves to be controlled. No one deserves to live in fear.
If someone has confided in you, someone has made an outcry to you, and you’re not sure how to respond, start by believing. If you have questions, give us a call on our hotline (877.701.7233). If you think it may help, please give the hotline number out. When SafeHaven answers the phone, we will believe.