Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva Are Not UnusualJuly 23, 2010
Domestic violence is headline news right now, thanks to Oscar-winning actor Mel Gibson and his former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, who are battling for custody of their baby. Grigorieva is also charging Gibson with domestic abuse.
The tape recordings, allegedly of him threatening her and blaming her for his violence, are horrible and make me feel fearful for Grigorieva, their baby, and any person Gibson encounters. He appears to have no problem spewing sexist, racist, and overall hateful comments or using violence.
After reading a few articles about the domestic abuse claims, I noticed that there’s no context for the story. The reality is that one in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime, and women account for 85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence. While one may think from reading news articles that Gibson and Grigorieva are the exception, in fact, they are not unusual.
Why is this information being left out? Perhaps because as a society we don’t want to acknowledge the commonality of domestic abuse, and we don’t want to be reminded about how it’s touched our own lives. Also, watching movies and following celebrity gossip are ways many people escape real life, but domestic violence is very much a part of real life. If we have to acknowledge that Gibson is like other domestic violence perpetrators, then real life uncomfortably merges with the land of escape.
Also missing in the news stories I’ve read is any information about what to do if you are a victim of domestic violence or how to work to end the social problem. Because millions of people are keeping tabs on the Gibson-Grigorieva saga, it could be a prime opportunity to reach people who need help and to encourage others to do something about it. Regrettably, it’s a missed opportunity.
While millions of people don’t read this blog, for those who do and may need help or want to know what they can do about domestic abuse, here are three resources:
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: This national organization allows you to find a coalition or shelter near you and provides many resources and tips for people who need help.
Pixel Project: A Web 2.0 project, Pixel Project focuses on raising global awareness about violence against women and raises money to fund relevant initiatives. On Twitter, Pixel Project has a team of volunteers around the world who tweet local domestic violence resources. If you’re on Twitter, retweet them to your followers; you never know who may need help.
Bell Bajao (Ring the Bell): Through TV, radio, and print ads, mobile video vans, and online initiatives, this multimedia campaign in India encourages people to stop being silent witnesses to domestic violence and do something — even if it’s just ringing the doorbell to your neighbor’s house when you hear domestic abuse occurring. The campaign has been very successful. I’d love to see a similar one in the United States.