The more we know about domestic violence, the more we learn about how it hurts people, communities, and businesses. The good news is, we can prevent domestic violence and we all have a role.
Most of the time when we think of preventing domestic violence, we think about how to intervene when it is already happening. That is important. Services for victims, intervention for people who are abusive, and treatment for children who may be witnessing violence are all critical and have been discussed in previous pages of this web site.
But, we can also stop domestic violence before it starts. We call that primary prevention – a fancy term for a simple idea, that we should keep domestic violence from happening in the first place.
How can we prevent domestic violence?
- We can tell young people what a healthy relationship looks like (or listen when they tell us!).
- We can ask young people what their relationships are like and if that feels good to them. We can share our thoughts about healthy, respectful and equal relationships.
- We can expect relationships to be safe and respectful and say something when we see one that is not.
- It’s never too early to start talking with children:
- We can talk with boys about what it means to be a non-violent man and how to handle anger or frustration in a non-violent way
- We can listen to boys when they talk about how hard it is to be a boy that may be different than the stereotype.
- We can talk with girls about what they want in a relationship and how to have one without giving up who they are
- We can listen to girls when they talk about how hard it is to be a girl that may be different than the stereotype.
- As adults, we can be models for our young people, showing respect and support in our own family relationships
- If we are watching television or a movie with our children and there is a violent or unhealthy relationship depicted, we can ask our kids what they think of it. We can talk about not victim blaming and making sure that we see the abuser as responsible for the abuse. Take advantage of teachable moments.
Of course, there are many, many more activities that support prevention. The most important is to live every day knowing that our actions can move us one step closer to ending domestic violence.