Stand up, speak up for abuse vic­tims

The Commercial Appeal - - Viewpoint - Your Turn

You see her walk in. You say hello to her, and as you do she im­me­di­ately averts her eyes while say­ing a muf­fled “hello” in re­sponse.

As she tries to breeze past you as quickly as pos­si­ble, you can’t help but no­tice the bruises on her arms, or the slight dis­col­oration around her eye.

Con­cerned, you take her aside and ask if she is OK. She replies that she is, that it was just her nephew who ac­ci­den­tally hit her with a toy, or that she tripped and fell, or any num­ber of other plau­si­ble ex­pla­na­tions.

The prob­lem, how­ever, is that you are acutely aware that she is cov­er­ing up the fact that some­one close to her – an adult, usu­ally a spouse or sig­nif­i­cant other – has abused her. Such abuse is ex­tremely com­mon.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Coali­tion Against Do­mes­tic Vi­o­lence, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence is one of the most chron­i­cally un­der-re­ported crimes. Only 25 per­cent of all phys­i­cal as­saults, 20 per­cent of rapes, and 50 per­cent of stalk­ing cases per­pe­trated against fe­males by their part­ners are re­ported to the po­lice.

Vic­tims who ac­tu­ally do re­port do so af­ter they have been as­saulted by her part­ner (or ex-part­ner) an av­er­age of 35 times. Thirty-five times. Think about that.

The rea­sons for not re­port­ing are wide and var­ied. It could be be­cause the vic­tims are em­bar­rassed, or they could be deathly afraid of re­tal­i­a­tion, or per­haps be­cause of eco­nomic de­pen­dency.

No mat­ter the rea­son, this must change and society must em­brace the fact that a lot more of this goes on than we may want to ad­mit, and it can­not be swept un­der the rug.

As the owner of two mu­sic venues and restau­rants in Mem­phis, I have known nu­mer­ous peo­ple who have been vic­tims of this type of abuse. It is al­ways a cy­cle.

The ones who will open up and talk to you about it about it tend to go back to the same abu­sive per­son, be­cause in part there isn’t enough sup­port around them to en­able them to break the cy­cle.

Un­for­tu­nately, over the past five years, I’ve come to know cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees both who have been vic­tims of abuse. Some of them trag­i­cally lost their lives, and it is heart­break­ing.

Re­cently I found out about an im­por­tant or­ga­ni­za­tion in Mem­phis called the Fam­ily Safety Cen­ter of Mem­phis and Shelby County (fam­ilysafe­ty­cen­ter.org). Its mission is to pro­vide as­sis­tance to the vic­tims of do­mes­tic abuse by help­ing them find and ac­cess the many civil, crim­i­nal, health and so­cial ser­vices for vic­tims of vi­o­lence. It’s a mission we all should sup­port. We can­not sit back and ig­nore this prob­lem and pre­tend it does not ex­ist. We have to let vic­tims know there are peo­ple who truly care about them and want to help, and there are re­sources avail­able to help pro­tect them and pro­vide ser­vices they need.

And re­mem­ber, if you need help now, please call the FSC 24-hour Cri­sis Line at 901-249-7611.

The first “Rockin’ for Hope” event will be Dec. 8 at Rock­House Live Mem­phis, 5709 Raleigh LaGrange. Pro­ceeds from ticket sales will go di­rectly to the Fam­ily Safety Cen­ter of Mem­phis and Shelby County. For more in­for­ma­tion visit rock­house­live.com.

Zach Bair is owner of both Rock­House Live lo­ca­tions in Mem­phis, and the CEO & Chair­man of VNUE, Inc., a mu­sic tech­nol­ogy com­pany based in New York.

Zach Bair Guest colum­nist

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