As I read the tragic story surrounding Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, I could not fight the urge to hold my son close to me and say a prayer for all children. The Joseph Patterson, the individual who has been accused of causing the life ending injuries to the child, is not new to charges of domestic violence. It has been reported that prior to this incident, he was charged with domestic violence against his own child and the child’s mother.
As a parent, my heart goes out to the families who are dealing with this senseless loss. What is also senseless is the amount of blame I have read being hurled around from outsiders. I have heard everything from the mother was irresponsible to Peterson should have been a “better father” and put the mother in a situation where she would not have to move in with a man she barely knew. In an effort not to sidetrack this issue, I will stick to the main point- an innocent child is gone apparently as a result of domestic violence. That is the most important part of this story to remember.
Given that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this tragedy highlights the necessity to continue bringing awareness to the prevalence of domestic violence as well as advocating for it to end. Family violence remains a serious issue and one of the leading causes of injury to women. Since violence is more about power and control than actually causing physical harm, most abusers will not stop the behavior. They continue the vicious cycle of abuse because they are addicted to the power. They do not want to give it up.
When you choose to enter into a union with someone who has a pattern of abuse in previous relationships, without some type of intervention, the chances that the history will repeat itself is extraordinarily high. An abuser will not change, he or she will not stop without a self-imposed desire to stop. Thus, it is imperative that you consider this before entering into, or remaining in, a relationship with someone who exhibits signs of being physically, sexually, emotionally, verbally, mentally, spiritually, or financially abusive.
It is especially essential to consider a person’s past behavior if you have a child who will be in contact with your choice of partner. Furthermore, where there have been no previous signs of abuse, it is still vital to pay close attention to your (potential) partner’s behavior to look for signs of controlling behavior. Prevention is the best medicine. It is unfortunate that this medicine could not save Mr. Peterson’s child.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please contact your local domestic violence shelter or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE.