Nearly 11 years ago, my next door neighbor, and dear friend, was murdered. A murder that remains unsolved to this day. My neighborhood, much like your quiet street, was rocked to the core with daily speculation — did he (her husband) kill her, did he have her killed, he is the prime suspect, he is the only suspect.
As a neighbor and friend, I couldn’t believe (nor did I want to believe) that someone I knew could be capable of such an awful crime. Yet, as the director of a domestic violence program, how could I ignore the statistic that in nearly one-third of all female homicides, the killer is an intimate partner. Time and time again, we have all read the stories where next door neighbors and coworkers tell the media how “Mr. X was one of the nicest guys ever, friendly and helpful.” Everyone is shocked that such violence could happen right next door.
While we contemplate if he did it, we need to remind ourselves that statistically we do know a batterer. When one in four women experience domestic violence — we have batterers in our lives. They are our family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, spiritual leaders, teachers, business owners, bankers, attorneys, police officers. He is the fun guy on the bowling league, the quiet guy at the grocery store. Besides working hard to control his intimate partner, his other job is to keep the rest of us out of “his personal business.”
But when we know about the abuse, we can’t remain silent. When we hear the violence, when we see the fear, when we see the physical injuries, when we notice the isolation; we must act. We must support her efforts to be safe and we must stand firm on a “no tolerance for abuse stance” with the abuser.
Ending intimate partner violence is the responsibility of all. And a first good step is to drag the conversation out from behind closed doors and into the light. If my friends’ murder remains unsolved and if Ms. Bashara’s murderer remains unknown, the least we can do is use their tragedies to talk about the horrific violence that occurs behind closed doors on streets throughout our community.
By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO, Courtesy of HAVEN.