Your neighbor, your mother, you or me?

6 Dec

You know the type, the perfect couple. Good jobs, active citizens, nice kids, beautiful home. Jasper and Friederike van A. were such a family, that could have walked straight out of a commercial. She: fitness instructor and marriage registrar, he: director of a football stadium.
“Kind, friendly and successful”, friends of the family described him. The ideal husband. And yet, that same Jasper van A. called the police last week, telling them he killed his wife. Last week of all weeks, the Week Against Violence, Friederike van A. died, a few hours after being severely abused by her husband. Their three daughters were at home when it happened.
Your neighbor, your mother, you or me: one out of four women is confronted with violence. Still, there is a taboo on discussing violence behind the front door. As a result, only one out of five victims goes to the police.
Once upon a time, I was one of those victims, who kept her mouth shut out of shame. “Hit my head against the door” I explained my black eye. Came up with endless excuses. He didn’t mean it that way, it was the alcohol, he’s going through some hard times at work, he’ll change.
The neighbors, they looked the other way. They must have heard us fighting, see me walking hiding behind my sunglasses. But we were the perfect couple, too. And besides, why butt in? What happens behind doors is nobody else’s business, right?
When nobody opened their door when I needed help, I promised myself I would never turn a blind eye to domestic violence. Cause let’s be honest: it could happen to all of us. Even to that perfect couple.
(this column appeared in AD 6 December 2011)

One Response to “Your neighbor, your mother, you or me?”

  1. liset1978isette December 6, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    What amazes me is that I heard something about how foreigners think we live to ‘open’. In the evening we don’t always close our curtains so people can peek in to our households. And yet, this kind of domesic violence stays behind closed doors? I wonder if anyone who walks his or her dog and peeks through windows, never sees something that should be reported…

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