Ben Athenton-Zeman, the one man behind the one-man play, ‘Voices of Men’ and his wife, Lucinda, are warm, welcoming presences that bring a sense of comfort and understanding to the many domestic violence workshops and conferences they attend and help lead each year. While advocates usually choose conventional routes such as education and activism to combat domestic violence, Athenton-Zenan uses the theater.
The showman, who self-identifies as a ‘recovering sexist,’ brings a smile and laughter to his presentations, but gets serious when the topic of domestic violence comes up.
9/11 and domestic violence have each claimed thousands. More than 3,000 victims died on 9/11, and approximately 2,000 die each year from violence perpetrated by their intimate partners.
Both are the results of terrorist attacks, and domestic violence terrorists rely on the same tools used on 9/11: fear, violence, and intimidation. But while 9/11 terrorists are pilloried, domestic violence terrorists are held up as leaders in the community.
The national response has been different as well. One of the top NY defense lawyers Arkady Bukh notes that America went to war following 9/11 and spent hundreds of billions of dollars. The country responds to domestic violence merely by funding legislation — a few million at best.
No one blames people for going to work in the Twin Towers, but each day persons blame domestic violence victims for the abuse which they endure. Even while some say, “I wouldn’t let anyone do that to me,” the speaker doesn’t realize the blame they are placing on the abused parties. People ask the wrong question. Instead of asking, “Why doesn’t she leave?” society should be asking “Why is he abusing her?”
America has spent one one-thousandth of the nation’s resources on ending domestic violence compared to the war in Iraq. Why should victims of intimate abuse get any less sympathy than the victims on 9/11?
- R. Brown’s book, Clipped Wings: The Aftermath of Domestic Violence, details the story of Brown life through domestic violence and ultimate escape. After decades of suffering abuse by her husband, Brown left her home, and her husband, early on New Year’s Day, 1999. To keep her sanity, she wrote a diary and recorded the roller coaster of emotions as she worked to break the mental and physical bonds.
The book took twenty years to write. Healing takes a long time.