The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


The Color of Purple

October is breast cancer awareness month, and rightly so; in the U.S. this cancer affects 250,000 women every year.  To increase screening and raise money for a cure there are pink ribbons and wristbands to wear, pink products to buy, and pink races to run.  But you may not know that is October is also domestic violence awareness month and purple is the color representing the 1.5 million women victimized every year. 

Purple, like a bruise.

For me, all this pink highlights the absence of purple.  Domestic violence gets very little public recognition and I want to know why? 

It is certainly an epidemic of grave proportion. It weakens the fabric of society. Not only does it kill, wound, and demoralize, but also it teaches children that violence is normal and that angry words and hurtful actions bring power.  The cost is also born in sick days; the need for more police, social workers, and jail cells; and higher costs of health insurance.  We are all paying in one-way or another.  As violence begets violence, we collectively give birth to the next generation of batterers, ensuring the perpetuation of the cycle of violence.

So why can we talk so freely about breast cancer, while domestic violence generates innuendo and hushed conversations?

Is it because domestic violence is ugly and scary?

Well, so is breast cancer, but because of hundred of thousands of women who have walked and advocated we have become became aware.  And when they were silenced by their cancer the voices of their families and friends continued, screaming to ALL who would listen, “Get screened!” So breast cancer survivors have been empowered, and in turn have empowered us all.

How has society empowered victims of domestic violence?

After years of demoralization many victims cannot see the danger or have simply resigned themselves to their fate because they simply can no longer visualize a different life.  Some are financially dependent on their batters and children make a complete separation almost impossible.  Many more simply have nowhere to go.   But all are afraid to leave.  Holes in the wall serve as a potent punctuation to what might await those who try.

Our attitude towards domestic violence is not just a crime of omission.  If we were to really hold up the mirror we would also see that we assign blame to the victim, sometimes subtle and other times not so much.  “Why can’t she just leave?” “Didn’t she know?” or “She went back to him, again?”

If we heard that someone we loved had breast cancer we would probably say, “I am so sorry, are you OK?”  “Can I help you in anyway?”  We might also silently offer a prayer, both for her and for ourselves, and then quickly book our own long overdue mammogram.  We would never ask our friend how her gene malfunctioned, why she didn’t get screened sooner, or if she likes a drink or two.

So who will start this empowerment? Who among us will break the silence and chip away at the cycle of violence? Does domestic violence only happen to other people?

We must remember few victims are able to raise the standard, to speak up and be heard.  Never mind shouldering the sordid societal connotations, but victims, past and current, are afraid to speak out, because of what that attention might bring.  It is hard to do a 5k while you are looking over your shoulder.

We remind our sisters, mothers, daughters, and friends to get their mammograms.  Can we not turn that same light on their relationships?  Can we not routinely ask, “Are you safe?” “You seen stressed, tell me about things at home,” or “I am concerned how your were spoken to.”

This weekend I was amazed and empowered by the wall of pink at the grocery store.  On Monday I booked my overdue mammogram.  But it also made me cry, because I wondered if there had been a sea of purple when I needed it if I would have left sooner?

By Jennifer Gunter

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excellent,thank you

Powerful blog. Thank you for saying what needs to be said.

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