Monday, October 11, 2010

October IS

Domestic or Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Month

I know this because I have spent most of today looking into the matter of IPV for a class discussion that I am going to lead a week from today. The course I am taking is not about any particular health problem - it is about involving communities in identifying and solving problems - or Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR). The readings for the week in question regard deconstructing a problem and finding hidden transcripts and capacity. Yes capacity. Researchers often come in seeing only what is wrong. Identifying what is right is empowering. CBPR always includes acknowledging disparities with regard to race, gender and socioeconomic status when they exist.

My class activity is going to be deconstructing a music video. The song came out in July of this year and had a pretty big impact on me. Since I did my research today, the impact is even more intense. The song is Love the Way You Lie. It was written by the white rapper Eminem. I was familiar with him, his history and his work prior to that video and prior to today. I do NOT dislike the man or his music. In this song, the chorus is sung by pop star Rihanna. She is younger than Eminem, from Barbados, and in my opinion, very beautiful with an angelic voice. Eminem has experienced violence in his childhood and in his previous marriage. Rihanna was the victim of a very public incident of violence between she and her equally famous boyfriend. The couple who are in the video are also celebrities.

Both stars deny any connection between this song and real life events. The lyrics are available on line as is the video. I downloaded both today for my class, but I have heard the song many times and seen glimpses of the video. Today I bought the video and watched it with complete attention. It upset me greatly.

It is really difficult to have a clear picture of domestic violence in this country. Our numbers are subject to disclosure - whether or not someone wishes to disclose. We have what is reported to police or gleaned from ER records. The CDC does a telephone survey as well. It is expected that the numbers are higher than our statistics show. I have been all over the WEB today - tracking down legitimate sources and trying to find current numbers. DV/IPV is not my area of expertise. I did find from the CDC, the National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics - the following: 4.3 per 1000 females and .8 per 1000 men are victims of partner violence each year. Females are the victims of 70% of fatal assaults. It is reported that the incidence is down significantly from its peak- likely due to attention and programing. However, there is again room for error. The current expectation is 1.3 million females and 835,000 men are victims each year. With regard to race, there is a big difference between whites and American Indian/Alaskan Natives and some difference between whites and blacks.

I was curious about age differences due to the song. More violence occurs in the 16-24 age group in general, but more deaths occur in the 35-49 age group. There are 20 cases per 1000 white women and 29 per 1000 black in the 20-24 age group. Rihanna is 22 years old.

The reason this got my attention at all is because the song has broken all kinds of chart records. It has been number one for most of the 15 weeks that it has been out. It has been number one on pop lists, rap lists and lists in many other countries. It is the top digital download and the top ring tone. It broke a You Tube video record.

WHY?! It is going to be very important for us to know WHY these young persons identify with this song so very much. For my class activity, I am going to have us as I said, deconstruct this video - and we are going to have to look at what the "community" is seeing as positive here. That is a scary but necessary challenge.

Here is the official website link to view the video - add yourself to the over 150 million views! Note to new rap listeners - the video and song start after a commercial that sounds like a song... :) The lyrics are available on this webpage - they are explicit - meaning - hard language that may offend you - of course, DV should offend you, but expression is important and telling - so let us not censor it. (make sure your pop up blockers are on when you visit the lyrics site :))

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