Feb 13, 2015

Domestic Violence is Not a Mistake

Listening to the news while I work, I hear Ray Rice (who has been let off the suspension hook) say that he is very sorry, he made ” a horrible mistake” and he will never do it again.  We’ve got a lot of work to do on the issues of domestic and intimate partner violence, and one of them is to call it what it is:  a willful act taken by someone intended to do physical or emotional harm to another human being. A deliberate act of violence.  It is NOT a “mistake.”

Mistake is defined as “ an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.” Given that definition, in common usage, a mistake is considered to be the result of insufficient knowledge.  Ray Rice had plenty of knowledge of what he did.  Even done in anger, Ray Rice knew exactly what he was doing.

It took Mother’s Against Drunk Driving years to get the word “accident” changed to “crash” in the case of drunk driving.  It is not a semantic difference.  It is a profoundly important difference.  It is a different, accurate definition.  It does not let the drunk driver off the hook.

Both drunk driving and domestic violence are dirty little secrets of our society.  The perpetrators, in both cases,have been allowed to hide behind words like “accident” and “mistake.”  Now, a drunk driving crash can result in a manslaughter charge.  It is  high time that we change our language regarding domestic violence in the way that MADD changed our language and corrected our thinking about what drunk driving actually is, and what its consequences are.

Leave a comment

Gloria. Circa 1955.



Gloria. Circa 2012.




Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.