Soapbox

Men must be accountable on domestic violence

Jenny Vo helps customers at My Sister’s Cafe, which is a program of My Sister’s House that provides work training opportunities for victims of domestic violence.
Jenny Vo helps customers at My Sister’s Cafe, which is a program of My Sister’s House that provides work training opportunities for victims of domestic violence. Sacramento Bee file

June is the month we celebrate fathers. But in the past few weeks, there have been several high-profile incidents that all illustrate that fathers, brothers and sons everywhere need to be talking and holding each other accountable on how to treat women.

Sacramento Kings point guard Darren Collison was charged with domestic violence. So was Assemblyman Roger Hernández. Ex-Stanford student athlete Brock Turner was found guilty of sexual assault.

Acts of violence against women should never be tolerated. It doesn’t matter whether the victims or the abusers speak another language or are of color. It doesn’t matter if either or both people are gay or straight. Nor does it matter if the perpetrators are elected officials, famous people or young men with a “promising future.”

Violence tolerated only breeds more violence. Regardless of socioeconomic background, perpetrators must accept responsibility for their actions. Before that can happen, the judicial and law enforcement systems need to ensure that the punishment fits the crime.

It wasn’t just the Stanford student’s fault that he received only a six-month jail term. Also involved was the judge, the probation officer who gave the sentencing recommendation, his parents who raised him and any people who didn’t teach him how to respect others, particularly women.

When that accountability doesn’t occur at home, in the school, or in our community, the violence continues and innocent lives are lost. Everytown for Gun Safety identified more than 110 mass shootings – those with at least four killed – between January 2009 and July 2014 and almost 60 percent were related to domestic or family violence. Worldwide, men who were exposed to domestic violence as children are three to four times more likely to abuse their partners as adults.

We need to be more believing of women who say their partners have been abusive. We should not be blaming them, but thanking them for warning the community about their partner’s propensity toward violence. We should be protecting women and their children. This means individuals, community and government need to invest in a system that allows for healing and rebuilding lives and dreams.

We should teach and reteach our daughters and sons the signs of a healthy relationship and of an unhealthy one. They ought to know where to go for help if they experience trouble.

There have been many women who come to My Sister’s House, having waited for their children to grow up, trying to ensure that two-parent household, only to suffer from years of abuse. Many times these women are told by relatives “to be a good wife” and not bring shame to the family.

This logic is unwise. Staying in abusive relationships does not strengthen a culture or community, and rarely does it help the family economically.

There is a Chinese proverb that translates as “Unless we change direction, we are likely to wind up where we are headed.” Let us change our direction and ensure that all women, men and children are safe from physical, sexual, emotional, mental, financial or spiritual abuse.

Darrell Woo is board chairman of My Sister’s House, a domestic violence shelter for Asian/Pacific Islander women in Sacramento, and can be contacted at darrelmsh@gmail.com. Nilda Guanzon Valmores is executive director and can be contacted at nildamsh@gmail.com.

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