I wasn’t in Dallas last Saturday, but wish I had been. Nearly 5,000 people rallied to end domestic violence…5,000! Dallas has experienced an overall decline in crimes, except domestic violence. Dallas’ domestic homicides, men killing their partners, increased from 10 murders in 2011 to 26 in 2012. So Mayor Mike Rawlings and other leaders are waging a community-wide campaign to end intimate partner violence.

My thoughts?

§  Five thousand people showing up to support that ending domestic violence is a priority. Wow! I’m impressed.

§  The focus was on the actions of the abusers, not on judging the victims. It’s too easy to just say, “Why didn’t the victim leave?”  Clearly victims need services to gain safety, recover, heal and begin a new life as survivors, not victims. But focusing on victims isn’t the solution; eliminating abusive behaviors is. This rally was about straight talk to men about not committing acts of abuse. Mayor Rawlings addressed the crowd saying, “I want to talk to the men now. This violence is our fault.”

§  And that’s where the conversation makes me uncomfortable. As soon as we frame domestic violence as men abusing women, we’ve made it a women’s issue. Yes, it’s true that intimate partner violence disproportionality affects women (the National Coalition against Domestic Violence estimates 85% of victims are women). But there are women who abuse men, and men who abuse men, and women who abuse their female partners.  Let’s take that call to action one step further… let’s talk to everyone about ending abusive actions.

§  All-in-all, I give Mayor Rawlings high praise for his leadership in addressing domestic violence and in bringing so many people together to take action. Five thousand people is a good start to a movement… may it be just the first steps.