Thursday, August 27, 2009

Tonya Harding, Lorena Bobbitt and the Cycle of Domestic Violence

On Monday August 24th, Oprah did a show on newsmakers from the 90’s. The two infamous newsmakers featured were both women; Lorena Bobbitt and Tonya Harding. Lorena made headlines in 1993 when she cut her husbands penis off after he allegedly came home drunk and sexually assaulted her. Tonya became the bad girl of the figure skating world in 1994 when her husband sabotaged fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan’s knee, leaving her injured and unable to compete.

There is one common thread between these stories that really stood out to me: both women were victims of domestic violence. When Lorena and Tonya were separately asked what they would do differently if they could change the past, they both immediately answered that they would not have married their first husbands. Both women were emotionally and physically abused by their husbands, and spoke about feeling trapped in a cycle of abuse. Tonya was also physically and mentally abused by her mother, who was an alcoholic.

It is really incredible how abuse contributes to so many other problems in our society. When I watched this program, I couldn’t help but think that when one person is abused, they often go and spread that hatred and violence to others. This is how the cycle continues to expand and grow, and this is why it’s so imperative that we work to stop the cycle of violence.

Today, both of the women say they have learned from their mistakes and understand how hard it is for women to leave abusive relationships. Lorena works to help other women living with violence, and has launched Lorena’s Red Wagon, an organization dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence. Tonya says she's worked to turn her life around, help others and look toward the future. "You have to love yourself so other people can love you," she says. And that’s definitely a starting point for any woman experiencing abuse: learn to love and respect yourself and know you deserve better than an abusive partner.

Click these links to read more about Tonya and Lorena.

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