I am predicting the tag I will use the most on this blog during the next four years will be GOPfail.

The expired Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is back in the news cycle. The objections around VAWA are as political and idiotic as the defeat of the UN disability treaty back in December.

Seems the Senate hopes to get greater House support now that they removed the provision to protect illegal-immigrant women suffering from domestic violence or sexual abuse by granting them additional visas. However, Republicans also object to including language that prohibits discrimination against LGBT folks.

I am continually disappointed that laws and protections designed to normalize treatment of all humans in the US are routinely undermined. I fail to see how condemning domestic violence in the LGBT community can be perceived as supporting or encouraging “the gay agenda.” Then again I fail to understand a lot of the GOP platform.

I am re-posting an experience I had with a black eye last year. It speaks to many of the issues that come up in these “There but for the grace of God” moments.

12 March 2012 – Black Eye

I have a black eye.

I woke up the other morning with a shiner like I caught a softball with my nose. No trauma, no injury, no logical explanation. I went to see an internist who had no idea what it was, who sent me to an ophthalmologist who had no idea what it was.

After extensive questioning they could tell me what it wasn’t – it wasn’t a sinus infection, an “allergy shiner”, or related to vision, optic nerve or glaucoma. Nor was it related to any vitamins or medicine I take. They also asked if there was any domestic violence in my home. There is no violence in my home and I told them so, but I also said I appreciated that they asked.

This has been an odd experience for me, and hard on my husband to know that strangers think he hit me. Even though he doesn’t know them, and isn’t with me every moment, he knows the world has judged him. Reactions have been interesting. Some women glance at my face and look away. Some stare fixedly. Some see the black eye and then give me a dismissive once over. People seem to be creating a story about how I got a black eye, yet no one asked me how I got it.

Why wouldn’t anyone say anything? I bet the majority of look-away-quickly people assumed my husband hit me. And maybe the long stares wanted to to see if I “had work done”. The once-over folks felt judgmental – like I must be someone who “allows themselves to be hit”.

While the assumption makes me uncomfortable, I would have been amazed if any stranger (or acquaintances like women at my gym) had asked about my eye or even said “I hope you are OK.” But so far there has been four days of silence.

I remember when my one sister was living with her (physically and mentally) abusive husband. I talked to people at the local domestic violence shelter and found out what to say and how to say it. “You do not deserve this. It is not your fault. He does not have the right to hurt you or make you feel bad. I will help you if you chose to leave.”

It took almost fifteen years for her to separate from him as she left and went back to him a dozen times.

I started to wonder what I would say if I saw someone with a black eye. Today. In my current crunchy, suburban life where things like that aren’t supposed to happen. But they do. We know women (and some men) are physically and emotionally abused everyday. The statistics are awful – One in four women and one in nine men are physically abused by an intimate partner during their lives.

We need to ask ourselves tough questions. ‘What would I say and how would I say it?’ And ‘When is it my responsibility to say something?’ Or more importantly, why isn’t it everyone’s business to end domestic violence?