Engaging African American men in discussing domestic violence

BeMore SquareIt’s no secret that in 2014 domestic violence was a hot topic. This is unusual and goes against the norm. However, since multiple professional football players were guilty of domestic violence, it has become a “water cooler” topic.

Unfortunately, most people do not talk about domestic violence beyond what the professional players have done. I believe it is hard to talk about domestic violence because it’s painful and it reveals a serious truth about the society that we live in.

Especially when it comes to men talking about it, the subject almost becomes taboo. It is no secret that the society we live in is violent. This is something we must be honest about.

We use violence to entertain, maintain, release emotions, and cope with stress. It serves a purpose in our society. It might not be the most constructive purpose, but it is something we crave as a people.

One of the largest television events year in and year out is the Super Bowl. Football may be one of the most vicious sports we have today. Nevertheless, most of the United States is tuned into the big game. We love it!

However, we do not like to talk about domestic violence at all. In order to help end domestic violence, we must make it common culture for men to address the issue, especially Black men. Not only is domestic violence harmful to the victims, but also to the perpetrator and children (if there are any) involved. Many Black men who are perpetrators of domestic violence have experienced domestic violence as children.

The BeMore Project is a local program aiming to facilitate and cultivate a culture where Black males are willing to discuss how harmful domestic violence is. The mantra of “Hurt people hurt people” is something the BeMore Project uses to fuel their focus.

They understand that the people causing the pain are responding directly or indirectly from being hurt themselves. This hurt these men feel can be from previous or current experiences. Either way, it’s an unhealthy way to respond to the pain.

Therefore, how must we move forward to improve the communication amongst Black men addressing domestic violence? First, Black men must have the fortitude to expose the truth about themselves and their friends, family members and neighbors. Men must be able to talk to each other about the traumatic effects of domestic violence and become able to know what is not right.

This works best with the men we engage with on a day-to-day basis. We can no longer say, “It’s not my business.” We must look at this as a prevalent concern in our community.

Violence is so ingrained into American culture that it may not ever end. However, it does not have to be in your relationship or home if you do not want it there. If we, as a community, want to have relationships that are vibrant and healthy, we must start them in our own lives.

We must engage the ones closest to us. We must have the difficult conversations with the ones we love most. In order for our community to have wellness, the relationships must be built on a strong foundation.

Violence tears away at the foundation of a community. Domestic violence tears away at the fabric of the family. Without healthy relationships, we do not have healthy families. Without healthy families we do not have healthy communities.

All it may take is one conversation to create a legacy of healing. Let’s talk!

 

This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-CY-AX-K008 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. The authors welcome reader questions or comments to SSimmons@thefamilypartnership.org.

Brandon Jones M.A. is a mental health practitioner. He welcomes reader responses toopeneyesopenmind@ymail.com or follow him on twitter @UniversalJones.