Tuesday, March 10, 2009

It Hurts, Baby

Violence hurts. It's not love. But something has gone missing in the recent chatter about domestic violence or intimate violence, a fundamental distinction which should be there. Or so I think, even though I'm hesitant to write about it should I be wrong.

But in my mind there's a difference between violence used as a slave collar around someone's neck and the kind of violence that two people might get into in a furious, drunken fight. They are not necessarily always two different things and the latter is not necessarily a healthier sprout in the garden of emotional problems but the two really are not quite the same. For instance, it's possible for a person to stop using physical violence in a warped relationship and to simply substitute something else for that slave collar, to continue the almost-total control of another human being in other ways.

I think the distinction used to be made in the past? At least I recall reading about the controlling behavior and the way violence was used to make someone's power total over another person. But the most recent takes appear to treat all physical violence on the same terms. Sometimes yelling and screaming are seen as physical violence, too, or the phenomenon is talked about without any attention to degrees of violence and so on.

What I'm wondering if this is the best way to get at the first type of violent behavior I depicted, the kind which ultimately paralizes the victim and makes her (or perhaps him) unable to escape. It's not the beating per se that does this. Or is it? I believe it's the overall setting of extending total control over someone. Physical violence is a tool in that but not the ultimate disease that we should address. The ultimate disease is the desire to be the total master of another person or persons.

So if we tell young people that violence in an intimate relationship is wrong, are we telling them enough?