Does domestic violence discriminate?

caines | 8/16/2012, 5:30 a.m.

Abuse knows no bounds

Television reporters and newspaper writers were busy this past weekend after the boisterous Miami Dolphins player, Chad Johnson, was arrested and booked on charges of battery assault and domestic violence. In the hood, many people made immediate comparisons to another couple that had experienced the same drama Rihanna and Chris Brown. With these and other less-reported incidents, its tough to say if domestic violence is exclusive to any one race or economic group. However, most experts say that domestic violence is an equal opportunity culprit impacting people from all walks of life, economic backgrounds and ethnic groups.

The incident

According to police reports, Johnson head-butted his wife, Evelyn Lozada, following a verbal confrontation regarding a receipt for condoms that she found. Reportedly, Johnson struck her as the two were discussing their marriage. She then ran to a neighbors home to call the police. Johnson was jailed overnight, posted bond and was released. But more problems were to follow: he was cut from the Dolphins football team and the confirmed VH1 show that the couple was slated to star in was also scrapped.

For rich or for poor

For quite some time domestic violence appeared to be synonymous with lower income households. But the recent arrests of some of pop cultures most iconic figures has pushed an important question to the forefront of discussion: Who is the most likely victim of domestic violence? Sergeant Sabrina Murray in the Domestic Violence Department of the Miami-Dade County Police Department says that she has noticed the non-discriminatory nature of domestic violence. I have not seen that domestic violence has been confined to a specific economic background, Murray said. We receive cases involving different ethnic backgrounds, religions, creeds and professions. Keep in mind that many victims choose not to report their incidents, and unfortunately, domestic violence occurs in the poor, middle class, and upper class households. Jonathan Spikes, 42, is the founder of a self-actualization organization that is dedicated to helping individuals recognize their own potential through written words. Spikes recalls being in an abusive relationship when he was 24-years-old. He said that the principal silencer of his abuse was embarrassment not his actual abuser. I was working in law enforcement and there I was in an abusive situation, Spikes said. I was embarrassed and I stayed because I was embarrassed and because I thought I was in love.

There are no limits with abuse

According to a report from the Miami-Dade County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, in 2010 there were a total of 30 deaths related to domestic violence. A more alarming numeric breakdown from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement states that every nine minutes one aggravated assault takes place. Every five minutes a violent crime occurs and almost every two hours a forcible rape takes place. In 2011, there were a total of 12,188 arrests made related to aggravated assault. It is important to remember that domestic violence is not confined to a simple textbook definition. The abuse can be emotional, verbal, sexual, financial or physical, said Jeannette Garofalo, president of Safe Space, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing safety and support for victims of domestic violence. The earlier reported numbers did not include the number of forcible sex offenses, which totaled up to 721 arrests.

Finding solutions for the illness

For Spikes it was as simple as finally deciding that he had enough. The best advice that I can give is to accept that the person is not going to change, Spikes said. The situation is not going to get better. So for your safety and well being, you have to leave. As important as acceptance is, awareness is probably more important. The best way to stop all of this is through awareness, Garofalo said. You have to tell someone or seek counseling and make a plan to leave the situation. Safe Space organizes a walk every year for domestic violence victims and to increase awareness. This years walk will take place on October 6th at the Gwen Margolis Amphitheater, 16501 NE 16th Ave., North Miami Beach. For more information about domestic violence and Safe Space please visit www.safespace.org.By Julia Samuelsjsamuels@miamitimesonline.com