I don’t really know how to start this one….on Friday, August 19 I passed through the visitation for an old classmate who had tragically died the week before. It was surreal–one day I’m chatting and trading Farmville items on Facebook with her, and the next her cousin is asking me if I’d heard the tragic news. She was found strangled to death by one of her children. Worse is that the suspected killer, her husband, was found dead in a hotel room in another state–a suspected suicide. I have since been thinking a lot about the nature of relationship violence, the roles anger and depression play in these cases, and whether or not counseling and compassion or zero tolerance is the best solution for handling things.
There are two related subjects I had saved to blog–the controversy and aftermath of the Chris Brown/Rihanna relationship, and the sad case of a mother in my area killing her three young daughters and then herself (I’ll broach the latter in a follow-up blog). I have definitive opinions on the subject of what is termed domestic violence, and they don’t always line up with what others say I’m supposed to think. In the matter of Chris Brown v. Rihanna, I agree that whatever happened, Chris should not have lost his temper to the point of striking or striking back at a woman. I disagree, however, on my understanding of his justification–there’s never a reason for someone to hit someone else, but I feel that if you are bold enough to lay the first hand you should not be surprised if there is an in-kind response. I also feel that both parties have an equal share of blame and responsibility to manage their negative impulses through counseling and self-control. The youth especially have this quick-reactive mentality but with proper education and due diligence on their part, attitudes and mindsets can be changed.
But then I see the cases where women (and often their friends and family members) are tortured mercilessly by the men who supposedly love them–shot, smothered, suffocated…I even read about a case where the woman’s mother went to throw the boyfriend out and got beaten, had a garbage bag tied around her head and was set on fire. These animals are beyond help and deserve the harshest punishment imaginable–but does this mean that NO abuser is capable of change?
I don’t suppose that it helps that in Chris Brown’s case, he reminds me a great deal of my nephew–they are about the same age and seem to have similar personalities, and both were raised by strong, single mothers. To my knowledge the influence (and fear) of my sister seems to have molded my nephew into a respectful young man despite any peer influences…or maybe he just found the right set of peers. I truly hope and believe that Chris Brown can find a similar positive force in his life to counter any anger issues and relationship misconceptions that may be the leading influences on how he currently lives his life.
But it is tragedies like my friend’s death that make me wonder if I should be so compassionate. While I don’t know all of the stressors that may have existed in that home either, this was just senseless. I have a fiery and not so pretty temper of my own, and even that has never driven any of my former boyfriends or my husband to fatal or near-fatal violence. So I can’t even imagine anything she could have said or done to have brought this about. Blind rage and unconscious actions are too common of excuses for “bad behavior,” and few face up to their guilt, either by denying they did anything wrong, blaming their partner or taking the coward’s way out by ending their own lives. I see both sides of the issue and know that there are valid points and flawed arguments on both sides; how can I know where to stand?
At present, it will have to be in front of that stark white coffin, wondering what could have been done….