Credit: Contributed

October is the month highlighting the volatile issue of domestic violence in relationships between men and women, as it continues to be a problem. Imagine a woman who is a single mother and in a relationship. She goes to an event on domestic violence. A poet, a survivor of domestic abuse, stands up and recites a poem about abuse. The woman listening hugs the lady in front of her and cries. The woman says to the lady, “I’m not going to be a victim anymore.”

This incident happened at an event hosted by Rosalyn McIntosh’s organization, Sisters Building Sisters. This group aims to empower women and young girls in all aspects of their lives. That hug is an experience she will never forget.

“She received a message that day, it was so profound,” said McIntosh.

The reality of domestic abuse is that one in three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence from a significant other, according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Understanding why domestic violence happens can be difficult, but grasping generational problems might be the start of understanding.

“Many times we see that it is generational,” said Jeffery Gardere, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine and a physiologist of 30 years. “People come from domestic violence situations where they witness a parent or relative acting out against another parent or against the children. This is what they come to know in regards of expressing their frustration, emotional issues, poverty or stress from trying to maintain some level of success. A lot of that may be ingrained because at some point in life, early in life, they were surrounded by it or they were victims of it themselves.”

Organizations such as Sisters Building Sisters provide ways to inform the community of domestic violence. The organization hosted a design your own T-shirt night, a creative spin on the issue.

“We had that night to bring the women and the girls and families because domestic violence affects everyone,” said McIntosh. “We could have something fun, something creative but also inform the community of the awareness and severity of domestic violence. What it is, how it starts, what it looks like from the very beginning stages to the severe stages of it.”

Shocked is how McIntosh felt when she realized children could comprehend the problem as well as adults.

“It was amazing and shocking that the young children knew what domestic violence was and they knew how to articulate it,” said McIntosh. “We asked them do anyone know what domestic violence is and the response we got were overwhelmingly surprising.”

A misconception of domestic abuse is believing that it comes in one form.

“Another misconception is that verbal abuse is not as bad as physical abuse, which is not as bad as sexual abuse,” said Gardere. “It’s all bad. Domestic violence comes in all sorts of different forms.”

McIntosh saw the danger of that misconception when she helped a young woman. That woman was dealing with determining if she was in a domestic abuse situation. McIntosh provided resources and told her the symptoms of how domestic abuse begins.

“Within that two days, she experienced the physical abuse, and thank God that she had started going through the research and started to figure out what domestic abuse was,” said McIntosh. “She said, ‘Rosalyn, I kept asking you and saying I’m not getting it. I don’t know if he is abusing me or not, because he’s not doing anything physical to me.’ She told me that he snatched her from the bathroom. She had a baby in her stomach and a baby in her arms. He snatched her by her hair and threw her down in the bathroom and kicked her and bust her lip. She said the only thing she could think of at this moment was ‘This is domestic violence. This is it.’”

In domestic cases there isn’t just one victim.

“In some ways they are the second in line as far as victims,” said Gardere. “The true victims of course are the ones that’s been emotionally, physically and sexually abused. In many ways we see the aggressor having severe psychological issues that often may come from their own childhood. They may not have gotten the therapy they needed and therefore they continue to carry those battle scars, and then act them out in their own relationships.”

Apparently, love and education can be the trajectory for men and women coming together in the right relationship.

“I would love if more people would get educated on domestic violence and where it comes from,” said McIntosh. “Learn the triggers of domestic violence. Learn all the areas the intimate, intimidation, physical assault, battery and sexual assault. To learn some of the statistics on domestic violence, one in three women and one in four men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. As for as the victim, it’s not your fault and as for as the abuser, we love you. You are a person, too, but we do say get counseling.”

For people dealing with domestic violence finding resource is important, says McIntosh, adding that anyone dealing with domestic violence can reach out to Sisters Building Sisters at sbsinbkly@google.com.