Our Opinion: Help break the cycle of domestic violence

Using power responsibly is at the core of breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

“Power” was a word cited in two opposing contexts by professionals at the Rape and Abuse Crisis Service (RACS).

Regarding the problem, Pam Otto, RACS volunteer and outreach coordinator, surveyed the staff and wrote: “Domestic violence is all about power and control.”

In discussing solutions, she wrote: “Each of us has within us that power to choose how we react.”

How can people act and react in a way that provides a positive example and helps discourage domestic violence?

“At RACS we feel that the basic answer lies with our children and how we raise and educate them,” Otto wrote.

One lesson is to minimize gender differences.

“If we maintain an atmosphere of male privilege and devaluation of females,” Otto wrote, “domestic violence will continue to thrive.”

A second lesson is to teach compromise instead of confrontation. “We can teach them the art of compromise,” Otto wrote, “and show them that’s a better way to settle differences than with raised voices and fists.”

Otto also points out abuse is a learned behavior, not something outside a person’s control.

“Abuse is not a result of alcoholism or drug abuse or a short temper,” she wrote. “There are many people who have those issues who make the choice to not abuse.”

All of us have the ability and power to choose and control our behavior. No one can make us lose control or lash out.

Because abuse is a learned behavior, when people choose to become violent or abusive, they perpetuate loss of control.

Domestic violence may be an attempt to exert power and control but in reality it shows a lack of self-control.

To help break the cycle of domestic violence, each of us can choose, teach and exemplify respectful behavior — for ourselves, for our families and in our community.

Next: Sharing awareness and understanding.

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