What Is Going On at Home Today?
WHAT is the most violent place in your area? Would it shock you to think that “home” may claim that sorry distinction?
“Family fights,” said the Los Angeles Times, “have become one of the most common and most dangerous expressions of violence in the country today. In virtually every block, in every borough, town and suburb, couples are kicking, elbowing, slapping and punching. . . . Violence in the streets may be more visible, but the violence that takes place in the home is more widespread—and just as lethal.”
Millions in the Orient, Europe, South America—yes, everywhere—must sadly agree: Their home is a violent battleground. But others, based on their own experience or somewhat on wishful thinking, may express sentiments as old as Cicero’s: “There is no place more delightful than home.” Or they may agree with the German poet Goethe, who said: “He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home.”
Yet how many today actually do find peace at home? Do you? Do most of your neighbors? Do your workmates or school companions? The fact is that home violence is a pressing problem that we cannot ignore, as these reports show:
Japan’s newspapers heralded the opening of a haven for brutalized wives, saying, “Battered wives no longer have to suffer in silence.” Having seen women with broken bones and huge bruises—including one whose alcoholic husband beat her with a baseball bat almost nightly—the director of that center in Tokyo said: “The number of fights in Japanese homes has increased greatly since World War II.”
From England comes similar news about the situation there and in Europe. A House of Commons committee reported: “Home is for many a very violent place.” Proof of that can be seen in the streaming of British women to newly established shelters. For example, there is Sheila. Still in her twenties, she arrived with a broken nose, and with most of her teeth and much of her hair missing. Also, her husband had so often thrown her son across the room for crying that at three years of age he was too afraid to speak.
Are these isolated examples? Sad to say, they are not. American Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski pointed out that a quarter of all killings in the United States occur within the family, half of these being husband or wife murders. A coauthor of Wife Beating: The Silent Crisis estimated that 28 million American wives are physically abused by their mates.
Can any of us say that we are entirely untouched by the tentacles of this “cancer,” home violence? Certainly the millions of families where wife-beating, child abuse or husband-battering occurs know that they are affected. So are we, if some dear friend or relative of ours is battered at home. What if we employ or work with someone who comes to the job bruised and distraught? Does it not affect us, perhaps even economically? Also, what is home violence doing to the quality of police and hospital emergency-room service that we get? Did you know that in some places more police die in the course of handling domestic violence than in any other avenue of their duty? Responding to family-fight calls eats up a major share of the policeman’s time, time that otherwise could be used protecting the rest of us from public crime and violence.
What are the causes of so much violence in the home? Is divorce, with the resulting broken home, the basic answer? If the “cancer” of violence has erupted in your home—or you detect any tendencies in that direction—what can you do about it? Since the Bible’s counsel has been effective in dealing with many others of life’s problems, what help does it give us with this one? The following articles will discuss these matters. Let us consider home violence with the encouraging conviction that something can be done about it.
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“Family violence is as American as the flag or apple pie. Beating your wife is as American a pastime as baseball. Violence appears in roughly 60 per cent of all American homes.”—“The Oregonian,” June 14, 1977.
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“Physical violence occurs between family members more often than it occurs between any other individuals or in any other setting except for wars and riots.”—National Institute of Mental Health.