“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Sometimes we watch it with pain in our hearts and wish the discomfort of seeing if it would somehow slip into some other world. At other times we walk up upon it unexpectedly as if it were something we truly did not want to encounter and soon the minor inconvenience will dissipate. Its common name is Domestic Violence. Its all too common result is death.
Do we avoid these memories because they are painful or is there a tipping point where the extinguishing of life becomes tolerable, bearable, easily explained away? There is a terrible plague of violence that sometimes exists in our homes, neighborhoods, families, or friendships, and we choose conveniently to explain it away or rationalize it into a neat comfortable place in our mind; but in our soul in the depth of the spirit where God resides we choose to avoid that place because it is his judgment that is feared, and it is his son’s sacrifice that we choose to take for granted.
Down through the millennia it has worn many names. Many women and far too many children have been permanently scarred and it has often -- far too often -- taken from them a mother who gave them life, a sister who loved them, a grandmother who was now a cold still memory lying in a coffin, or sometimes an aunt who after years of abuse succumbed to the anger, to the threats, to the terrible unmistakable signs which have brutalized her during her married life. In all these cases, they share a common element: the giving of the next chance. You see, these women gave the abuser another chance to threaten, be forgiven, and threaten -- and eventually murder them. These men were given the option of the next chance. All of these women wore the wounds and suffered death as the ultimate indefensible consequences of domestic violence last chance option.
With the annual Domestic Violence Month beginning in October, I am still haunted by a young Michigan woman’s death five years ago. On June 9, 2004, Paulette Litzan of Sterling Heights had all of her dreams, all of her expectations of life, all of the abuse she had endured from her ex-boyfriend Harry D. Stanley come to an end with a single shot to her head. What news accounts don’t record is the terror Paulette and thousands of women like her around the nation and the world endure as they crouch half-hidden behind bathroom doors, kneeling behind bedroom doors, partially exposed underneath kitchen tables…. waiting, just waiting, for the full burst of fatal rage, his explosive blows, a gunshot, and for their life to end.
I am reminded of my father’s words over forty years ago. He taught my brothers and me that the Bible teaches us respect and honor for women, i.e., “do not even entertain the faintest notion of hitting your sister or any other female.” My father took those words very seriously. His father, my grandfather, was a minister for over 75 years and he said the words spoken by Jesus would guide our lives.
He taught us that we are often called to stand against the wind of convenience because we might be embarrassed to say the truth and therefore would be afraid to stand for the truth. Jesus, he said, shall give us a choice on the last day, the Day of Judgment. He used Matthew 25:40:And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. “
He swore my brothers and me to it and stressed why it was up to us to learn how to be real men as defined by the Bible. He told us to stand and help the least of us who might be defenseless and unable to protect themselves. He warned us to not be cajoled into complacency but to dosomething to fight against evil.
Our society likes to overlook the reality of Domestic Violence in our world. Satan has made ground in disguising evil and allowing a pleasant face to be put on something evil to make it more palatable – to get his foot in the door. For example, comedian/talk show host Jay Leno recently tried to get actor Tom Cruise to admit he had visited strip bars, because the inference would be “all men do it.” Well kudos for Tom Cruise for admitting that he had not ever visited a strip joint; it made Jay Leno’s tasteless jab backfire.
See, in Leno’s pointless jab is an undercurrent of acceptance that frequenting a strip club where men, and some women, gather in what they call with tragic humor “business meetings” or their “office” yet it is in reality an accepted devaluation of women.
To his credit, Tom Cruise was not buying into it. So, was Jay Leno’s choice of that question an admission to society that it is OK or accepted to objectify women in strip clubs and that making off-color remarks is normal? Because if objectifying women is OK, then minimalizing women is OK, and if minimalizing women is OK, then maiming them is OK as well... Do you see the connection?
Both types of men -- the marginalizer and the maimer – can, in far too many cases, come together and become the murderer. Both types of conditions -- a tragedy in the making and the other one fatal -- are inextricably bound to each other like two sides of the same coin. Both sides were forged in childhood; both behaviors were learned and reinforced by fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and brothers who also learned the same behavior.
It is time for men to take a stand and stop and break this endless cycle of violence. Their sons, their nephews, their brothers, their grandsons must grow up to be respectful men, responsible men…in other words: Real Men.
The practice of objectifying women or forcing women to cower, to run, or to evade blows whether it is physical blows or heartlessly damaging verbal or psychological blows is flat out wrong! It is still perpetuating male domination, discrimination, and -- for women like Paulette Litzan -- murder-by-rage, by objectification, and by minimization.
I keep wondering what would happen if these men could maybe ask themselves one simple question: “What would Jesus do?”
A few years ago I spoke with Rev. Rodney Parnell, a Detroit area minister. He told me that those negative behaviors only exist because those men never learned their biblical responsibilities. “These same men would never have their daughter or wife up on a stage half naked. In the Bible, Proverbschapter 23: verse 7 it says “as a man thinketh in his heart so he is.” As these men in these strip bars feed their spirit with these things then they begin to devalue a woman.”
Ron Brown, President of Michigan Fathers Helping Fathers, agreed and offered his insight. “The women these men are watching on stage become the women in their household and suddenly they represent a piece of property and all of her other intrinsic qualities are devalued until none remain in their mind.”
So I ask men to start this day and agree to be truly moved by the word and spirit of God that sanctions respect for women and life and disavows senseless, purposeless, cowardly actions that take your wife, girl friend, or significant other’s life and in some cases the life of your children or loved ones.
And women, just in case you need a little help on the way and for the sake of your children and your own life, below are two places you can turn to. Don’t take a chance on sacrificing your children’s life by giving the domestic abuser another chance. Do something the FIRST time you are hit or threatened.
Look at the popular singers Chris Brown and Rhianna who had a very “loving” relationship – until Chris beat Rhianna until she needed hospitalization. Rhianna has rejected Chris’ pleas of “I’m sorry” and “I made a mistake” and “I’ll never do it again” She didn’t give him another opportunity to do it again; That was his LAST chance. Good for her!
Don’t offer another chance, don’t explain away his mood or temper, don’t blame yourself; just get away from him now and forever. No matter how wonderful a guy he is or could be at other times or how “sorry” he says he is. The line has to be drawn in the sand or he will endanger you or your children, or inflict his rage on another woman because he’s allowed to continue his behavior unchecked. Remember sometimes the next chance is the next chance he needs to kill.
Paulette Litzan, as well as countless other women like her, thought she had given her boyfriend another chance but unfortunately on June 10th of 2004 her chances ran out. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, do something when you recognize the signs of Domestic Violence in your own life or in that of others. This evil must not continue. It must not be allowed to strike again. Real Men must answer the challenge not only during October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month but every month. It’s the adult thing to do.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: http://www.ndvh.org/1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY)
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Kevin Fobbs is founder and president of a policy organization called National Urban Policy Action Council (NuPac), www.nupac.info that supports conservative colorblind solutions to universal issues and domestic policies that impact urban America. Fobbs served as director of government and civic affairs for Soul Source, a Christian news magazine, and host of The Kevin Fobbs Showwww.kevinfobbs.com.
Fobbs is predominantly known for his conservative views and values including his support for life and for championing Terri’s Day to honor Terri Schiavo with a day of national remembrance. Kevin has written his Community Concerns column for the Detroit News. He also discusses issues of faith, family and freedom in his columns for various conservative groups or websites, including Renew America (Alan Keyes' website), Commentary Today, Free Republic, and Liberty Post