Carmen Pitre, president and CEO of Sojourner, reflects on the connection between intimate partner violence and public safety.
Seventeen in Florida, 26 in Texas, 49 in Orlando, 20 in Newtown. Mass shootings in America often start at home and seep out to every corner of our lives.
These numbers represent our sisters, mothers, children, friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers. These are some of the numbers that have broken our hearts open. We are no longer safe at school, at church, at concerts, at movies or at public gatherings.
It’s time that we stop ignoring the link between intimate partner violence and public safety. It is time for us to integrate what we know about violence into every single strategy for improving our community. This necessitates that we dive into the connection between violence in our homes and its connection to poor outcomes in education, well being, public safety, economic development and the growth of our cities.
We know, and research has proven, that there is an inherent and consistent link between intimate partner violence and violence in our communities. Yet, despite this knowledge, we have yet to find a way to adequately address the impact of this violence on our children and ourselves. We have left our children in a toxic culture that glorifies violence and teaches youth that violence is an effective strategy for solving problems.
We know that violence in our homes and in our relationships is a teaching ground for young children. It is an “academy” where children learn how to repeat abusive behavior. Is this the life we want for our children? Is this the legacy we want to leave? If it isn’t, we must get busy healing ourselves and each other.
Violence is a learned behavior that has a lifelong impact. This is the hard truth that we must face. We must face it head-on and honor the lives of people lost by showing up with courage. We need to heal the wound that violence leaves in people long before we have to intervene or punish someone who has repeated this inevitable cycle.
At Sojourner Family Peace Center, we often say that no one is born with the urge to hurt another person. We know that this is a behavior that is passed down from generation to generation. We also know that this behavior can be unlearned.
Mending the heart is hard, important and urgent work. We need to ask what it might mean to love ourselves out of this problem. What would love be able to accomplish here? What would it mean if we showed up for healing with commitment and passion?
What if we ask each other, “Where does it hurt and how can I help?” and we actually mean it?