There are now many projects entitled “End Abuse.” For Domestic Violence, Teen Crime Victims, People with Disabilities, Child Abuse, Elder Abuse, Sexual Assault, etc. Really? End violence. End violence NOW. These are all the headlines, mottos, project titles.
Yet, I think, when I was a child reading the bible, it talked about the kids of Eve and Adam, and one killing the other. If this is true, violence has been around since then. Frankly, such talk just turns me off. Why? Because I like stuff that I believe is possible. I suppose many people think it IS possible, but I do not. I prefer less lofty goals, ones that I know I can wrap my head around, and feel that I can make a difference toward achieving a goal.
So last year, I received an email that said, “We know how to end abuse!” Wow, that’s fantastic, I thought. I immediately responded to the email and asked if they could complete the task by Thursday, please. Surprisingly, there was no response…well, not from the author of the email, but someone else who saw my response (uh-oh, it was sent to a public forum) who said, something supportive like “go girl, you crack me up.” This gave me a clue that she did not believe the author’s statement. Was it a lie? Was it hyperbole? Was it political correctness in some fashion? To me, it is either a lie or the truth. After a couple months of no response to the sender, I again responded, saying that there had just been violence in my city, and I can’t understand since he had proclaimed it is now known how to erase violence from the planet….and when was he going to go right ahead and take care of the matter.
Sadly, he did respond but said that it was true that they were DISCUSSING the matter. I said, well, you said you know how to end violence. Please share with me your knowledge. Turned out, he does not know how. He just said it. It was a lie.
I think that “ending violence” is similar to “ending fungus” or some other thing that has been around since the beginning of time.
That is why, many years ago…about 20 or so, I had begun using the term “risk reduction” as to practical steps that could be taken to reduce the risk of abuse. In about 10 years, the term caught on. I like honesty. I really do. I like to say what I mean and mean what I say. And, I also like realistic goals. I don’t like lying. It makes no sense to me. I do not argue with people, though, who say they wish violence did not exist. Me too! But I cannot sign up for something that I feel is impossible. Some say that they truly believe it is possible. Great!
So, in my lifetime, I have enjoyed seeing the fruits of my labors in clients or students or readers, who have used information provided to them, to take practical and realistic steps to reduce the risk of abuse or the impact of abuse for themselves or their loved ones. We know that there is a risk of abuse and violence. Why not make a practical plan for what to do if this should occur? No reason not to! And, those who have used my very practical approach have had good results. Some avoided abuse that may well have happened without a plan. Some were victims of violence, but survived it much better than they would have, without a plan in advance. They all fared better because of the risk reduction planning and effort. And this is something I can believe in.
If you are like me, and want a down to earth and practical, realistic approach to the problem of abuse of people with disabilities, then I recommend you read my book: A Risk Reduction Workbook for Parents and Service Providers.
You can find information about it at www.disabilityandabuse.org/books
Please let me know your thoughts about hyperbole and realism.