Not long ago, someone very close to me witnessed domestic abuse. It was rattling. Police were called, threats were issued to her by one of the abusers, and she was thoroughly depressed by the experience. This has hit me close to home for it has affected one about whom I care deeply. Being of a sympathetic and caring nature she was very wounded by the experience, and she was very sorrowful on behalf of humanity.
Where is the love in a relationship like that? I was once asked by my partner, “What is love?” Love is the kind of friendship that is the most mature. It’s where the relationship isn’t about a personal or mutual gain, but the relationship is about the other person. You care more deeply about their happiness and suffering than your own. That is love. To which she replied, “Say that again. That was beautiful, and I want to remember it.”
When you tell someone you love them do you really mean it? Are you willing to sacrifice for them? Are you willing to put their needs before your own? Because that is love, and I’m seeing it far too sparsely. We have a problem of people void of love abusing those with whom they are in a relationship.
A few facts on domestic violence:
• Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
• Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
• Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
• Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
• Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
• Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
• Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
• Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
• Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
• The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
• Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
To anyone who cares about suffering, these figures are troubling. I truly believe these figures are a result of a lack of love, a failure to care sufficiently for your fellow human.
It isn’t any secret that this is a problem in the U.S., and it isn’t any secret that the primary perpetrators are those who grew up abused, those who observed abuse and religious fundamentalists.
Spousal abuse is a global problem caused by a lack of love and inequality. Official figures from India’s National Crime Records Bureau reveal that 8,233 young women, many of them new brides, were killed in so-called ‘dowry deaths’ in 2012. The Dowry System has led to the deaths of many women who are married for material gain. Not only does it often lead to the murder and abuse of women who could not supply a sufficient dowry or did not satisfy their husbands, but dowry creates poverty for parents of daughters reducing the female population since they are unwanted. Many infant girls are murdered by their parents for this reason. The “It’s a Girl” documentary is enlightening on this issue.
I’d be shocked if I had to inform you of the abuses against women in the Middle East. When painting your nails, exposing your hair, exposing too much skin, sex out-of-wedlock and other victimless crimes can lead to the most brutal punishment or death, you do not live in a society friendly to women.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali   has been an advocate for women’s rights, and she considers Islam and aspects of the current culture in the Islamic world to be diametrically opposed to the prosperity, equality and happiness of women (and men by that same token). In her book Infidel she wrote, “Most unmarried Somali girls who got pregnant committed suicide. I knew of one girl in Mogadishu who poured a can of gasoline over herself in the living room, with everyone there, and burned herself alive. Of course, if she hadn’t done this, her father and brothers would probably have killed her anyway.” She also writes, “The Quran mandates these punishments. It gives a legitimate basis for abuse, so that the perpetrators feel no shame and are not hounded by their conscience of their community. I wanted my art exhibit to make it difficult for people to look away from this problem. I wanted secular, non-Muslim people to stop kidding themselves that ‘Islam is peace and tolerance.’”
The United States faces problems as well. Things aren’t as terrible here as where women are murdered or tormented regularly due to arranged marriages for dowry or where they are the right-less property of their father until they are the property of their husbands, but this is no excuse for treating our problems with a lesser degree of seriousness.
Complementarianism is an evil directly opposed to the equality of women, and it provides biblical warrant for the unequal and even harsh treatment of women. There are men who consider themselves the head of the household only in a linguistic or symbolic sense. I still think it’s ridiculous, but at least some only perceive it in that manner.
However, it’s disgusting that the idiocy of actually considering yourself superior and in charge can be present in modern-day America. Complementarianism holds that men and women have complimentary predefined roles, and the dominance of the husband, the head of the household, is ordained by god. Not only does this often foster abusive relationships between partners, it teaches sheltered and brainwashed children to do it as well. An article written by a woman who deserted complementarianism with her husband attests that equality dramatically improved their marriage.
I can’t claim to really know the solution to all of these problems, but I suspect it is rooted in love. Men, if you really love your spouse or partner you won’t make her submit to you through brainwashing or force. If you really love her, you will esteem her as your equal. Fathers, your daughter and her virginity are not your property. If you truly love her, you can recognize that her thoughts and her body are hers. They do not belong to you or her future partner. And if you REALLY love someone you could never intentionally hurt them.