WASHINGTON WATCH: Confronting The Epidemic Of Domestic Violence (VIDEO) | Roland Martin Reports

WASHINGTON WATCH: Confronting The Epidemic Of Domestic Violence (VIDEO)

Every day, at least three women are assaulted or murdered by their spouse or boyfriend. There’s a second part to that that I didn’t share. In 70 to 80 percent of the cases that end in murder, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.

There’s an epidemic of domestic violence is this country that needs to be addressed. Here to talk about it is Sil Lai Abrams, author of No More Drama and founder of Truthinreality.org, a grassroots media advocacy organization committed to reducing the rates of intimate partner abuse in our communities by changing the way women and interpersonal violence are portrayed on reality television.

MR. MARTIN:  Welcome back.

I gave you a sobering stat earlier in the show.  Every day, at least three women are assaulted or murdered by their spouse or boyfriend.  There’s a second part to that that I didn’t share.  In 70 to 80 percent of the cases that end in murder, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.

There’s an epidemic of domestic violence is this country that needs to be addressed.  Here to talk about it is Sil Lai Abrams, author of No More Drama and founder of Truthinreality.org, a grassroots media advocacy organization committed to reducing the rates of intimate partner abuse in our communities by changing the way women and interpersonal violence are portrayed on reality television.

Sil Lai, welcome.

MS. SIL LAI ABRAMS:  Well, thank you.

MR. MARTIN:  So, when we talk about domestic violence, I mean if people really want to be honest, it’s in many of our families.  We’ve had mothers, we’ve had sisters and cousins and aunts who’ve been victims of this.  And so, really, whose responsibility is it to begin to address this; to begin to confront it and say, “This is where it has to end”?

MS. ABRAMS:  It has to begin with the individuals, first and foremost.  We have to recognize that interpersonal violence, emotional violence, physical violence, sexual violence – none of these are acceptable ways of resolving conflict or handling your emotions.  And so outside of the individuals, we have to look towards government to actually enforce the laws that exist to protect victims of violence, as well as institutions to educate and create new structures that will ultimately help people to understand exactly what domestic violence is and how they can change their own behaviors.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, you also have a case where – I mean, look, laws are also important.  That is, who gets to, actually, can you still have a weapon in your home if you’ve actually been convicted of domestic violence.  But also, you have the funding for social services centers as well:  women’s abuse shelters – things along those lines.

But one of the things that I was emphasizing after the Chris Brown-Rihanna incident took place in L.A. is that every time I saw a domestic violence conversation on television, it was largely women having a conversation about it.  And I said, “You can’t talk about domestic violence and not have discussions with men about the issue as well.”

MS. ABRAMS:  Um-hum, yes.  And it’s a taboo subject.  When you think about domestic violence, the majority of perpetrators are going to be men.  Now, that is something that’s been backed up by statistical data, though people love to get up in arms and say, “No, women beat men, too!”  But the reality is … that women are, by and large, the victims of this crime.

So, in having a conversation with men, you have to realize that in any room that you’re going to be standing in, a percentage of these men will themselves be batterers.  So, you’re coming up against people – lawmakers who themselves are perpetrators of abuse who refuse to acknowledge their own behavior, or even to redefine it.

MR. MARTIN:  But, see, the reason I say we have to deal with that as well is … you have to also get to the root cause, and that is – I remember watching the Chris Brown interview where he talked about what he witnessed in terms of his father and his mother.  You hear those examples as well, and oftentimes so much of the attention is on counseling for women in terms of getting them to break those generational curses; whereas, the young men are sort of just left there.  And I’m saying, “Wait a minute.  They’re also impacted by what they also see.”

MS. ABRAMS:  They are impacted by what they see, and absolutely one of the greatest predictors of whether or not someone will become a batterer – or a victim of [a]buse is growing up in a family in which they witness it.

But it’s interesting, because within the battered women’s movement, or the violence against women movement, there’s been a shift away from intervention and treatment programs for the batterers themselves and looking at intervention models for young men.  So, those that are risk really –

MR. MARTIN:  Conflict resolution, anger management –

MS. ABRAMS:  — absolutely.

MR. MARTIN:  — all those things.

MS. ABRAMS:  Absolutely.  And healthy relationship skills.  I mean this is something that really needs to be a part of our educational system.  This is destroying our communities.

MR. MARTIN:  You are also trying to combat – about 30 seconds or so left – trying to deal with what you see as violence these women in reality television and how that’s impacting the generation who’s watching it.

MS. ABRAMS:  Absolutely.  And I mean there is no doubt that the media – particularly reality television – is changing the way that we interact with each other, and it is our belief at Truth in Reality that, by creating more responsible reality TV programming, that ultimately that will –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MS. ABRAMS:  — influence our culture overall.  And to that end, we’re taking action steps.  Instead of just talking about, “Okay, this show stinks,” “Okay, that’s influencing our girls in a negative way,” we’re prepared, and we are currently educating folks, through our Media Advocacy Toolkit and through other programs.

MR. MARTIN:  All right.  Well, it’s a critically important issue, and certainly we hope that we can spur the conversation and get people in their families to say, “Look, don’t just keep it quiet.  You don’t want your sons and daughters to know.”

The fact of the matter is I do believe in breaking generational curses.  This is one of those, and you can actually live a much different life than what you may have experienced from your mother, or from your father, from your grandmother or grandfather.

Sil Lai, we –

MS. ABRAMS:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — appreciate it.  Thanks a lot.

MS. ABRAMS:  — thank you.