Taking the Mask off Domestic Violence

Following is the next installment of our Friday Feature from the Executive Director.

The theme for our Gala this April is Carnevale. Not the wild Carnival of Rio de Janeiro that precedes the Christian observance of Lent; but the Carnevale of Venice. Elaborate masks have traditionally been the signature feature of the Venetian Carnevale. Not much is known about the symbolism of masks in this celebration. Some scholars seem to think the masks are in deference to the strict social class structure of the thirteenth century. Personally, I think our theme for the Gala perfectly symbolizes the experience of domestic violence survivors. For many years, I would don a “mask” so the outside world did not know the abuse I experienced. To my in-laws, friends, colleagues and family, I had what appeared to be a “good” marriage. My first husband elaborately kept up appearances that we were the “family next door,” even though he was controlling and emotionally abusive. If you could have looked at me behind my mask, you would have seen hurt, fear and confusion – is this what love is supposed to be like? Currently, as a community, I believe we do not talk openly about domestic violence. If we do, it is in whispers and hushed tones shrouded in secrecy like a mask. As long as we do this, we keep the mask on domestic violence. Like cancer, AIDS and other social issues that were once taboo, we need to talk about the proverbial elephant in the room. When we talk about domestic violence, we validate to survivors that the issue is real, that the “crazy making” and pretending must stop. Save the date – April 11 – and help us take the mask off domestic violence.