This article first appeared at http://www.goodmenproject.com 

The next time you go and pick up your daughter from school, count how many girls are in her class. (You can still do this exercise even if you only have sons.) When you do that, remember this: 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime and 1 in 3 women will experience a type of sexual assault in her lifetime.  What does that number look like as you count how many girls are joyfully playing as they leave the school. As a father, that number scares me to tears.

Domestic violence is once again on the front page due to the recent murder/suicide involving the Kansas City Chief’s linebacker Jovan Belcher. People are asking, “What would make someone do something like this?” Nobody has any answers. I don’t. I’ve never wanted to hit my wife, so I can’t possibly fathom why anyone would. We constantly hear about the danger of bullying in schools, and kids are taught to stand up to and speak up against bullying. When is society going to do the same?  Stand up and say enough is enough? Last year I wrote a blog about Floyd Mayweather’s conviction for abusing his girlfriend. And what are we talking about now? Trying to get him in a super fight with *Manny Pacquiao where he’ll get paid millions of dollars. Hero worship is directed at someone who has been convicted of abusing his girlfriend.

A while back, I attended a fund raiser for Sanctuary For Families, an organization dedicated to serving domestic violence victims. I heard many personal stories from women who unfortunately have found themselves in that 1 in 4 category. I thought to myself throughout the presentations, “How could anyone do that? How could a man hit a woman?” As I thought about all the women in my life—my wife, my daughter, my mother, and my sister—I became sickened. That’s four people.

So how can we end domestic violence in our society? It’s hard to believe heading into 2013 that we haven’t yet. What can I do? As a father, I can do a lot. It is my duty to teach my two sons that they are to respect women. It is my duty to raise a strong daughter and teach her that it isn’t okay to be disrespected and that she is worth more than anything another person can provide. It’s my responsibility to teach all three of my children that violence is never an appropriate way to resolve conflict and that physical aggression is never anything other than a reprehensible act of cowardice. That nobody should be made to feel like a victim.  And the best way for me to do those things is to respect, love, and honor their mother, my wife, and for her to give the same things back to me. Statistics show that witnessing violence at home is the strongest risk factor for a child becoming an abuser as an adult. And boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to become abusers when they are adults.

Domestic violence is a societal problem, but the end to domestic violence begins with what is taught and modeled at home. Teaching my daughter how to avoid domestic violence is not the only answer—teaching my children never to bully those they love is.

*Manny Pacquiao was knocked out in a fight since this article was written, which will probably push a fight between Mayweather farther down the road. 

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