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Domestic Violence: It Can Happen to Anyone

22-Jan-2016

Domestic violence is in the news again, with two high-profile families dealing with a domestic violence-related arrest. 

Don McLean, the 70-year-old singer of the 1972 hit "American Pie," was arrested early this week on a misdemeanor complaint of domestic violence assault in Camden, Maine. He was briefly jailed before posting $10,000 bond.

Also arrested this week was Track Palin, the 26-year-old son of 2008 Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Track Palin was arrested in Wasilla, Alaska, on misdemeanor complaints of assault, misconduct with a weapon (for possession of a firearm while intoxicated), and interfering with a report of domestic violence. 

One thing these two cases show is that domestic violence is not confined to a type of person or family. It can happen anywhere, to anyone, and people who would never expect to find themselves under arrest for harming a loved one can quickly become involved in just such a situation.

McLean asked his fans for understaning, saying that he was "heartbroken" by the situation. "This last year and especially now have been hard emotional times for my wife, my children and me. What is occurring is the very painful breakdown of an almost 30 year relationship."

Sarah Palin attempted to explain away her son's behavior, saying that he was dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as an Iraq veteran, and that our nation's policies are depriving veterans with PTSD of the services needed to provide help, emotional support, and mental health treatment to men and women dealing with PTSD.

The politician has received tremendous criticism for apparently shifting the blame for domestic violence from the person who committed it--her son--to outside forces: his PTSD and the administration she says failed to support returning veterans. Even veterans' groups are after Palin, with Brandon Friedman, former digital media director for the Department of Veterans Affairs, tweeting, "If battering his girlfriend and his reported suicide threat are related to PTSD, then it’s probably not helpful to use as a campaign prop."

And another Twitter user purporting to be a veteran tweeted, "He could very well have PTSD. Don't discount that possibility. BUT IT IN NO WAY EXCUSES INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE. Period, full stop."

Let's put politics aside for a moment and agree that emotionally stressful situations, mental health issues, and PTSD do not excuse domestic violence. But often, they may explain it. People often react much differently in emotionally charged situations than they do in a calm environment. Stress--often a form of fear--triggers a "fight or flight" response. Without adequate coping tools, or when stress and fear are exacerbated by anger, the "fight" response often takes over, and a tense situation becomes a violent one. 

For those involved in an abusive relationship, the status quo is not okay. Regardless of the root of the anger, a violent response is not acceptable--there is no excuse. A victim of domestic abuse should get help leaving the volatile situation by calling 9-1-1 for immediate help or the Oklahoma Safeline at (800) 522-7233 (SAFE) in non-emergency situations. A person who finds himself or herself unable to respond to stressful situations without resorting to anger and violence should also seek help with anger management and mental health treatment. Both victims and a busive partners can find help through National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 (SAFE).

 

 



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