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article imageDid MSNBC Miss an Opportunity to Educate the U.S. on Domestic Violence?

By Nikki Weingartner     Jul 30, 2008 in Lifestyle
Recently, Christian Bale was in the news for a domestic violence incident. A bit run on the Today Show sparked some discussion by the National Domestic Violence Helpline over concerns that the aired story was not balanced. Did MSNBC miss an opportunity?
Domestic violence is an epidemic that continues to spread across the globe. In the United States alone, statistics show that "1 in 5" adults admit to being a victim of domestic violence where "6 out of 10" adults say they know someone who has been a victim. Although the difference between the two is huge, at 40 per cent more people knowing victims than those who actually admit to being victims, it is a problem that clearly needs national and global attention.
A recent story about actor, Christian Bale, who was reportedly charged with verbal assault after losing his temper with his mother in a London hotel room just prior to the premier of his movie The Dark Knight has set into motion some very important information regarding domestic violence.
As in the alleged case of Bale, those who have a temper can create quite a problem for the loved ones around them. In a FOX News story from last week, Bale was said to have been defending his wife's honour to his mother and apparently lost it:
"Christian's attitude is that this was his mother's fault because she became very provocative in an argument they were having, the source said. "Things got out of control and he now says he wishes he just left the room. Christian was stressed, but he didn’t lay a finger on anyone. Instead, he flew off the handle and cussed his mother. He just got very loud because his mother was saying some very outrageous things about him, and his wife.
"He has stresses in his marriage," the source [also] said. "He can have a terrible temper. Instead of lashing out at his wife, he sometimes lashes out at people around him."
Then again on July 22nd, MSNBC's the Today Show ran a spot on the incident. However, the televised clip appeared to be more about diverting any possibility of abuse and focused on minimizing the verbal abuse accusation. There was even a clip from a fan stating that this was likely just parental jealousy!
Domestic violence doesn't know jealousy in that manner. It doesn't know socioeconomic status or educational backgrounds. It isn't only bruises or choking. It is the projecting of one's temper onto another individual, blaming someone else for their violent outburst. And Domestic Violence isn't just a private matter. It is the responsibility of those around to shed light on its ugliness. With "2.6 Million" injuries and 1,200 deaths every year in the United States due to this preventable problem, when a news story has an opportunity to educate the nation on the basic information associated with domestic violence and does not, isn't is a missed opportunity to help in its prevention?
Watch the video clip and decide if a balanced representation was given. Decide on your own. If you want, let them know how you feel by emailing them at today@nbc.com.
What is Domestic Violence? Here are a few warning signs:
Does your partner ever:
Embarrass you with put-downs?
Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?
Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
Make all of the decisions?
Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
Prevent you from working or attending school?
Act like the abuse is no big deal, it’s your fault, or even deny doing it?
Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?
Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
Force you to try and drop charges?
Threaten to commit suicide?
Threaten to kill you?
Then you could be in a violent relationship.
Verbal abuse can indicate domestic violence as well. Not all verbally abusive relationships are physically abusive but it isn't uncommon for the verbally abusive relationship to escalate to one that becomes physically abusive. Sometimes this takes a few years, maybe 5 to 7 years for the verbal abuse to become the punch leaving a giant hole in the wall or the smashing of the lamp. Then its the slap and the excuse that it was the victim's fault: "if you just hadn't said that...". Then the punch, the beatings and eventually, the burial. In the book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Patricia Evans lists the characteristics of a verbally abusive relationship to include a pattern of:
Withholding intimacy
Judging
Trivializing a partner's actions or feelings
Name calling
Accusing
Mean comments disguised as jokes
Right now, there is a campaign sweeping the nation that is hoping to make connections where some fail the victims of domestic violence. The Million Voices Campaign to End Domestic Violence in America is absolutely free and allows those who join to use their own resources and power to spread the word that domestic violence is intolerable.
When others drop the ball, pick it up and share the news that domestic violence isn't just beating someone with punches. It is the exertion of power and control, a pattern of abusive behaviour that for many proves fatal even when they try to get away. Together, we are one giant voice against the big bad monster.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
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