Details are unclear in the most recently publicized celebrity domestic violence incident. Unfortunately this tends to be the case in such situations.
What is clear, however, is that this specific incident represents another step forward in a current trend of victims speaking out. Porn star Christy Mack took to Twitter from her hospital bed on Monday to speak out about her alleged beating my MMA fighter boyfriend Jon "War Machine" Koppenhaver. In a statement and a series of graphic photos she details the brutal attack and injuries sustained.
Koppenhaver, who was arrested in 2009 on felony domestic violence charges, responded with his own series of tweets, denying responsibility and claiming a third party was present, before disappearing from the public eye.
Before jumping to conclusions, we must remember that it is not our job to decide who is guilty. Thankfully law enforcement agencies now offer domestic violence intervention and investigation courses which instruct officers in how to effectively interview victims, gather evidence, and determine probable cause in these delicate situations. That's their job, and we can rest assured that they take domestic violence cases as seriously as any other violent crime.
Our job is to listen.
In an article for TIME, Ruth Glenn, head of the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), said the following of the rising trend in victims and survivors speaking out about their experiences on social media:
"For centuries violence has been perpetrated against women, and it hasn’t been necessarily visible to the general public. So the public is getting an opportunity now to see what does happen behind closed doors."
The key is listening to these stories in a nonjudgmental way. We can't decree prison sentences for the perpetrators. That's for the justice system. And victim-blaming only gets us back where we started - black eyes and tight lips. So for now let's lend a supportive ear and a retweet whenever we can. Awareness and education are the building blocks of progress after all.