Sunday’s Grammys are being applauded for highlighting domestic violence. President Obama delivered a PSA on sexual and domestic violence, and the White House’s “It’s On Us” campaign. Then activist Brooke Axtell performed spoken word about her experience as a survivor of sex trafficking and domestic violence. And finally Katy Perry sang a song, “By the Grace of God,” which may be about domestic abuse as well. The Grammys are getting criticized, however, for undercutting their anti-domestic violence messaging by having nominated Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to assaulting his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, in 2009. And R Kelly married an underage Alliyah, when she was 15 and he was was 27, and was indicted on charges of making child pornography after a video surfaced in which he is seen having sex with and urinating on a 14-year old girl. He was ultimately acquitted but has settled several cases of sexual assault out of court.
Great news! 98% of people who witness domestic abuse won’t do jack shit about it! This is what we learned from Sweden’s STHLM Panda, a collective dedicated to “doing social experiments, joking with people and documenting the society we live in.” The collective put a hidden camera in an elevator to see how people would respond to the site of a man abusing his female partner over the course of two days. According to STHLM Panda’s Konrad Ydhage, “We made this video to test domestic violence and violence in close relations and to see if people react when they really need to.” Ydhage said they expected, “that about 50% would intervene. I was prepared to take a hit by the bigger lads who entered the lift.”
But, it turns out, way less than 50% intervened. And no lads, big or small, did anything thing about it.
People are justifiably outraged by Ray Rice’s treatment of his then-fiancee Janay Palmer. But what’s even scarier is that one out of five men admit that they’ve committed domestic violence against a partner or spouse. A new nationally-representative study by the University of Michigan asked 500 men the following question:
Over the course of your relationship, how often have you ever done any of these things (pushed, grabbed, or shoved; threw something; slapped or hit; kicked, bit, or hit with a fist; beat up; choked; burned or scalded; threatened with a knife or gun) to your current spouse/partner?
Nineteen percent, or one out of five men, admitted to doing so at least once. And, of course, these were just the men who were willing to report it to the researchers, which means that the phenomenon is likely ever more common. The lead author of the study, Vijay Singh, explains, “If men could enter responses in a private way, (the percentage) could have been even higher.” The rate would also go up if it included other kinds of abuse: “It did not ask about emotional abuse. It did not ask about sexual abuse,” Singh said.