“One in four women in the U.S. has experienced serious physical violence by an intimate partner. Most of this violence is committed by men.” says Liz Roberts, deputy CEO of Safe Horizon, the nation’s leading victim assistance organization. Too often, these same men also abuse the children of their female victims.
I should know, it happened to me.
In 1983, my mother was murdered when I was just 15 years old. In my documentary “Mourning Son,” stories unfold surrounding that tragedy. There was one particular event I had kept quiet about for most of my life.
My mother’s ex-boyfriend had threatened me with a gun and handcuffed me, leaving me terrified and helpless as I heard yelling and physical commotion downstairs between my mother and him. The crippling fear I felt as a child during this moment is unforgettable. That type of trauma is something no child should ever experience. The sad reality is that more than 3 million children in the U.S. witness domestic violence in the home every year. Most are powerless to do anything about it. As was I.
We have to be their voice. The burden should not be put on children to either come forward or suffer in silence. As adults, we need to create safe spaces for kids and teens to talk openly about domestic violence so a child who may be experiencing or witnessing abuse can speak freely and get the help they desperately need.
This October, for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I am painting my left ring fingernail purple (the color for domestic violence awareness), as part of Safe Horizon’s #PutTheNailinIt campaign. This simple action signifies my vow to end domestic violence and the silence surrounding it.
If we remain silent, the insidious and rampant disease of domestic violence thrives. We all must be part of the conversation and work for a solution to end it.