Published May 15, 2009 @ 02:00PM PT
In a period of 52 days in April and May, the swine flu epidemic hit. As of May 15, it has killed 4 people. During that same 52 days, the domestic violence epidemic which has been spreading for years killed 68 people, including 20 children and 7 police officers. As a woman, it seems pretty obvious which epidemic is the most potentially deadly for me.
I think if 4 deaths in 52 days counts as an epidemic, 68 deaths in 52 days certainly does. And yet, while there were 2 people at my Metro stop in Washington, DC handing out face masks, there was no one handing out safety planning information. There was no one offering help to women and families who were frightened of their partners and parents. There was, for the most part, no one talking about this silent epidemic.
And it's not like the domestic violence flu doesn't make a powerful news story. We heard about Robert Stewart, who shot and killed eight people at Pinelake Health and Rehab Center in Robbins, North Carolina, when he originally show up to kill only his wife. But there was little coverage of James Harrison, who methodically shot his five young children after his wife told him she was leaving him. And there are still more victims who aren't counted among the 68 murdered because the crimes against them were not defined as "domestic violence." While the victims in these bloody 52 days were diverse, all of the killers were men.
Like human trafficking, domestic violence is a hidden crime which is often misunderstood and miscategorized. And like human trafficking, it is an epidemic. The swine flu methodically attacks and kills young people with weak immune systems and other problems. In this country, men too often methodically attack and kill their wives, girlfriends, partners, and children. And right now, in terms of lethality, the men are beating the swine flu.
Now that is a true epidemic.