How well do you see?

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How well do you see?  I don’t mean, how well do you see an eye chart? I mean, how well do you see what goes on around you?

If you saw the movie, “The Butler,” you watched how America was blind to the injustice and brutality that black America endured until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. (Not that it was smooth sailing for black America after the act was passed).  News clips from the 60s show us how dogs, fire hoses, guns and batons were used to beat back the call for civil rights. Much of white America didn’t see the inequality or injustice that existed, but it was there nonetheless.

Our inability to see social wrongs continues. The NFL just produced a public service announcement about domestic abuse. It’s beautiful in its simplicity. A woman calls 911. Fearful that her abuser is within earshot, she masks her plea for help by ordering a pizza.  After asking a few questions, the confused 911 operator realizes the woman is speaking in code—and in fear—and dispatches a police officer. Before the operator can do much else, the woman hangs up, leaving the audience with a chill.

Domestic violence isn’t a new phenomenon, but we didn’t see it until recently. Oh, those problems next door were just loud marital spats. You’re not supposed to get involved.  Mind your own business.  Don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong.  We either couldn’t see the problem or, worse yet, chose not to.

Sometimes money got in the way, as it did with the NFL. No franchise owner wants to suspend a star player. That’s a revenue killer and, after all, we’re talking about the player’s personal life.  What does his personal life have to do with the business of football? The answer is, the violence we tolerate says much about who we are.

Here are some disturbing statistics from the American Bar Association about domestic violence:

  • Approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted annually by an intimate partner in the United States.
  • Intimate partner violence made up 20% of all nonfatal violent crime experienced by women in 2001.
  • In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims.
  • Of females killed with a firearm, almost two-thirds were killed by their intimate partners. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002.

We didn’t see domestic until, I suppose, few bold women had the courage to speak up and make the rest of see what was going on. It took years.

But there’s more. Only now are we starting to see that human trafficking exists and that women who sell themselves on the street aren’t making a career choice. These woman are subjugated.  Through a combination of fear, violence, drugs and manipulation, prostitutes are trapped in a horrific life where they have no control.

And the horror isn’t limited to adults. Some 200,000 kids between 10 and 17 are victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The Ohio Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Commission reports that 2000 school age kids in Ohio are at risk. Any by the way, even girls from “nice homes” fall prey to traffickers.

Think about how you look at what goes on around you. Do you look at the world with your eyes wide open, or are they wide shut?


Jack D’Aurora writes for


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  1. Dixie Lauer  February 3, 2015

    As a survivor of domestic violence, I had seen the ad before the Super Bowl. I too know the desperation of the caller and it has taken years to be able to speak of it. It does not only affect women and heterosexual couples. 25 percent of intimate couples face this situation. It was heartwarming to see this public exposure of a well hidden issue at such a visible time.

    •  February 4, 2015

      It took a lot of courage to come forward. Good for you. By the way, in case you don’t remember, we know each from St. John’s.


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