A Survivor’s Perspective: Domestic Violence Jokes Are Never Funny
I recently came across the comments section of a public post on Facebook and it didn't just rub me the wrong way, it infuriated me.
You may already be familiar with the Facebook page, EvansvilleWatch but if you're not, it's a Facebook page run by a group of people in the Evansville area who monitor the local police scanners and then post Facebook status updates about what they hear. Sometimes, the incidents being reported are funny. Sometimes, the way that they are phrased is a little tongue-in-cheek, making them funny.
But the post that has me fired up enough to write about it wasn't funny or amusingly phrased, yet the comment section turned into a comedic outlet for people who should probably leave the joke-telling to the professionals. The Facebook post from EvansvilleWatch reads,
BOL/ Suspicious Circumstances- NB Hwy 41 from Henderson. Caller states a white female is covered in blood and driving a white cargo van. There is also a male in the passenger seat with his hands covering his face.
Is it an unusual circumstance? Certainly. Is it a little crazy? Sure. Is it funny? Not really. But again, it wasn't the post itself that bothers me. It's the direction that grown adults took the comment section and the disgusting number of domestic violence jokes that filled - from both men and women - that has me bothered.
I bet next time she asks if that dress makes her but look big he won’t answer
Or this one:
What do you tell a man with two black eyes?
Nothing, you done told him twice.
And the one where they make the joke and then circle back with concern:
Should have gotten her the necklace instead of a vacuum, in all seriousness I hope everyone is ok.
And then there was this gem:
She wanted something that went 0to60 in 2 seconds so he bought her a bathroom scales
Now, some might be rolling their eyes right now calling me a 'snowflake' and justifying these comments with a "relax... it was just a joke" but it isn't funny. Domestic abuse is never funny. It isn't a joke.
As someone who is a survivor of domestic abuse, I promise you these kinds of jokes are always, always in poor taste and never, ever funny, cute, charming, or humourous - no matter how many times you add phrases like "just kidding," or "but seriously" at the end of them. They are abhorrent and vile. Not only were there a number of comments but the laugh and like reactions on condoning those comments were staggering.
These kinds of jokes are more harmful than anything else - even for men. Statistically, "1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime," according to the CDC. The CDC also shared:
- About 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of IPV-related impact.
- Over 43 million women and 38 million men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Comments like the ones above are toxic and hurtful. They diminish the fact that domestic violence and intimate partner violence are very real - for women and for men - right here in our own community. I can tell you from first-hand experience that there was a lot of shame that I felt after what I went through and I didn't want to tell anyone and I didn't want to reach out for help - because I was embarrassed and I was ashamed and I didn't want to be the butt of anyone's jokes. The truth is, it wasn't my shame to carry - I had done nothing myself, to be ashamed of but I can also tell you that jokes like the ones above, making light of something so serious and devastating, those kinds of jokes add to that sense of shame and fear. And while I'd venture to bet that none of the people who made those comments have ever been a victim of domestic abuse, I would be willing to bet that someone close to them has been and they just don't know it. With statistics like 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men, there's no way they don't have someone close to them that is a survivor.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse or intimate partner violence, please know that you are not alone and there are resources available:
Locally through Albion Fellows Bacon Center - Albion serves 11 counties in Indiana including Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, Gibson, Pike, Dubois, Spencer, Orange, Crawford, Perry, and Harrison. You can reach them at 1-800-339-7752.
If you are outside of the 11 Indiana counties mentioned above, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) or visit them online at TheHotline.org.
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