Does domestic violence discriminate?

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by Ju’lia Samuels
For New Pittsburgh Courier

(NNPA)—Television reporters and newspaper writers were busy recently after boisterous Miami Dolphins player, Chad Johnson, was arrested and booked on charges of battery assault and domestic violence. In the “hood,” many people made immediate comparisons to another couple that had experienced the same drama—Rihanna and Chris Brown. With these and other less-reported incidents, it’s tough to say if domestic violence is exclusive to any one race or economic group. However, most experts say that domestic violence is an “equal opportunity” culprit impacting people from all walks of live, economic backgrounds and ethnic groups.

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HAPPIER TIMES—This March 7, 2011 photo shows NFL Football player and reality television star Chad Johnson and Evelyn Lozada attending Cosmopolitan Magazine’s Fun Fearless Males of 2011 event in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)

According to police reports, Johnson head-butted his wife, Evelyn Lozada, following a verbal confrontation regarding a receipt for condoms that she found. Reportedly, Johnson struck her as the two were discussing their marriage. She then ran to a neighbor’s home to call the police. Johnson was jailed overnight, posted bond and was released. But more problems were to follow: he was cut from the Dolphins and the confirmed VH1 show that the couple was slated to star in was also scrapped.

For quite some time domestic violence appeared to be synonymous with lower income households. But the recent arrests of some of pop culture’s most iconic figures has pushed an important question to the forefront of discussion: “Who is the most likely victim of domestic violence?”

Sergeant Sabrina Murray in the Domestic Violence Department of the Miami-Dade County Police Department says that she has noticed the non-discriminatory nature of domestic violence.

“I have not seen that domestic violence has been confined to a specific economic background,” Murray said. “We receive cases involving different ethnic backgrounds, religions, creeds and professions. Keep in mind that many victims choose not to report their incidents, and unfortunately, domestic violence occurs in the poor, middle class and upper class households.”

Jonathan Spikes, 42, is the founder of a self-actualization organization that is dedicated to helping individuals recognize their own potential through written words. Spikes recalls being in an abusive relationship when he was 24-years-old. He said that the principal silencer of his abuse was embarrassment not his actual abuser.

“I was working in law enforcement and there I was in an abusive situation,” Spikes said. “I was embarrassed and I stayed because I was embarrassed and because I thought I was in love.”

It is important to remember that domestic violence is not confined to a simple textbook definition.

“The abuse can be emotional, verbal, sexual, financial or physical,” said Jeannette Garofalo, president of Safe Space, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing safety and support for victims of domestic violence.

For Spikes it was as simple as finally deciding that he had enough.

“The best advice that I can give is to accept that the person is not going to change,” Spikes said. “The situation is not going to get better. So for your safety and well being, you have to leave.”

As important as acceptance is, awareness is probably more important.

“The best way to stop all of this is through awareness,” Garofalo said. “You have to tell someone or seek counseling and make a plan to leave the situation.”

(Special to the NNPA from the Miami Times.)

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