Tony Rizzo KC Star: Stop the cycle of domestic violence


Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] A Human Rights Issue-Custodial Justice.



Tony Rizzo commentary: Stop the cycle of domestic violence

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I have yet to meet him. I hope I never do.

Because he is one of the biggest fears I have, being the father of four daughters.

He is jealousy, possessiveness and violence, masked by the smiling face of a young suitor interested in one of my girls.

For far too many girls and women, he is a frightening reality, hidden from family and friends. I pray none of my daughters ever has to confront that ugly visage of domestic violence.

The case of Keighley Ann Alyea demonstrates all too grimly what can happen.

Though prosecutors in Johnson County have not revealed the motive behind the murder of the 18-year-old Overland Park woman, police said publicly before her body was found in rural Cass County that she had been involved in a previous domestic violence incident.

And some of Alyea’s friends have said that she dated one of the three men now charged with her murder, describing the relationship as volatile.

Whether or not it proves to have played a role in Alyea’s killing, domestic violence is a pervasive crime that has left millions of people with both emotional and physical scars.

I’ve always had a hard time understanding the attitude of the abuser who seeks to control his victim through intimidation and fear. It’s as if just because someone chooses to date you, even for a short time, it somehow gives you ownership rights over them for perpetuity.

Sure it hurts when someone who previously loved you decides they no longer do. But that is that person’s right, and nobody has the right to use force, or the threat of it, to stop the breakup.

Of course, that is rational thinking, and domestic violence is by definition an irrational act, fed by the insecurity and raging inadequacy of the perpetrator.

It’s also a learned behavior, passed from one generation to the next.

A person I interviewed for a story last year described how as a small child he witnessed his mother being assaulted by her boyfriend and how she continued to stay with him afterward.

His older brothers routinely got physically abusive with women, and then one day, he said, during a heated argument he “smacked” his girlfriend.

“It’s all I knew,” he said.

Another man, in prison for killing his estranged wife, said he was raised believing that sometimes people who loved each other just engaged in physical violence.

Those men are responsible for their own actions, but they also are victims of the adults in their lives who failed them as they were growing up.

It’s the responsibility of all of us, both potential perpetrators and potential victims, to prevent that cycle from continuing.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it’s time for parents to get educated.

Find the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at mocadsv.org. The National Network to End Domestic Violence is: nnedv.org.

The Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence has set up a Web site: HelpChangeKansas.com. That site offers 10 things that you can do about domestic violence and is worth taking the time to read.

We owe it to our sons and daughters.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send e-mail to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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