Who Has the Power to Stop Family Violence? We Do!

Leyla Welkin, Ph.D. in Cross-Cultural Psychology specializing in trauma treatment, in a recent blog describes training regarding family violence which she and two others presented in Canakkale, Turkey.  The training was for representatives from the police, lawyers, family court judges, social workers and a few NGO and local organizations. The focus was preventing family violence through coordination of services, and the things that get in the way of communication and collaboration between agencies.  On the third day a panel discussion was planned that would be open to the public.  Over a hundred people showed up – and despite the vast expertise present in the room — – the most powerful comment of the day came from one of the women who came to the “open to the public” event.  Here is an excerpt from Leyla’s blog that tells the story:

The discussion however, kept getting caught again and again on the reefs of our law professor’s love of the sound of his own voice.  At one point when the drag of that tide had me exchanging glances of frustration with some of the women in the front row of the audience, a woman halfway back jumped up.  She was probably in her fifties or sixties, though age is hard to judge through a full scarf and overcoat.  She called out, not waiting for the microphone to find it’s way to her.

“Excuse me for interrupting you sir but I have something I have to say!”  She was emphatic, the apology was completely pro forma.  “This family violence is happening in our neighborhoods!  These victims are our neighbors.  Who is being beat?  It is your next door neighbor.  And what do we say?  We say ‘She had it coming to her.  Look what she did; she deserved it!’  We make excuses for the beatings and we don’t stand with these neighbors of ours.  Am I right?  Is this the way it goes?  You know it is.  Until we stop making excuses for these men.  Until we have some solidarity with other women and expect an end to this violence, it will continue!  This is the problem.  Excuse me mister law professor.  But the problem is not the law, it is us.  We have to change.”

The room burst into applause.  I could have hugged her.  She put her finger right on the pulse of the issue and everyone knew it.

To read the blog post in its entirety click on this link:

http://culture.blogs.com/gender_understudy/2011/10/training-in-%C3%A7anakkale.html

This is the power of a single voice!  And this is leadership!  The applause indicates how many others in that room knew the truth she spoke.  Her courage to speak it allowed them to express their opinions as well.

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