A Reflection on IPV

By Sam Engel

Disclaimer: This is not going to be a listicle. I want to convey just how much learning about this topic has impacted me on a personal level, and a listicle just wouldn’t do that justice for me.

Interpersonal Violence (IPV) is something that I knew that existed, but I never knew any statistics or facts about it, or what it really entails, and it’s something that I had never experienced. It’s a very tragic subject matter, and it’s something that society finds uncomfortable discussing.  However, the material that we discussed in lecture for the past week, along with reading Dragonslippers, has singlehandedly caused me to reflect on how I’m perceived by society.

Here’s some things I learned this week that struck me:

  • 1 in every 3 women will be abused at some point in their lifetime (Lecture, 2/9/16)
  • 85% of abuse victims are female (Lecture, 2/9/16)
  • 1 out of every 3 adolescent girls is a victim of abuse from a dating partner (Lecture, 2/9/16)

That alone made me ashamed. The fact that so many women are going to be abused is absolutely disgusting. This gives me a privilege that I don’t want, and for the rest of the week my mind could not stop thinking about how I can change that statistic. I’m ashamed of the men in the society that I grew up in, and I feel obligated to take some sort of action to prevent further incidents from occurring. However, on second thought, it will be quite difficult for me to advocate or make any sort of meaningful change because I am male, and I’m automatically forced into the same category as the majority of abusers. This will cause my actions to lose a certain level of legitimacy, and they won’t be as effective.

However, I think that the way I can make a difference in levels of IPV is by being an example for the men of society by confronting those that feel the need to abuse, and to give them the resources they need to stop.

To the women who might be reading this:

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you might be abused. I’m sorry that you might be broken again and again and again and again and again, only to pick up the pieces of your existence just because some guy thinks it’s ok to abuse you, to cope with (most likely) the abuse that he received when he was younger instead of getting help from a mental health professional. I’m sorry that you’ll be caught up in the vicious cycle of abuse, and that it’s going to take you more strength than you could have ever imagined to break the cycle. I’m sorry that there’s so many systemic barriers in your way to receiving help, and I’m sorry that there’s nothing you can do about that.

Learning about IPV was extremely humbling, and it made me feel uncomfortable and guilty. I suppose that is a good thing, because I now feel somewhat empowered to use my male privilege to educate society about IPV and to try and tear down the systemic barriers that are in place to keep women from reaching out for the help that they need.

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