Domestic Violence Isn't a "Private Family Matter"

Alleged abusers work tirelessly to convince people instances of intimate partner violence are "family affairs" that do not require the attention, help, and support of outsiders. 

Photo: Getty Images

The news that supermodel Gigi Hadid and One Direction star-turned solo act Zayn Malik separated after six years of dating came with another harrowing discovery: Malik allegedly had a physical altercation with Hadid's mother, Yolanda. According to court documents obtained by People, Malik has been charged with four counts of harassment after he allegedly "grabbed [Yolanda] and shoved her into a dresser." Malik also allegedly harassed his former partner and mother of his 13-month-old daughter, Khai, reportedly telling her to "strap on some f*cking balls and defend your partner against your f*cking mother in my house."

Malik pled "no contest" to the charges and has been placed on 360 days of probation. Additionally, he has been court-ordered to complete both an anger management course and a domestic violence program.

In a statement shared on his various social media accounts, Malik described the alleged incident as a "family matter," claiming he decided to plead no contest because he wanted to create and protect "a private space" for his daughter — a space where "private family matters aren't thrown on the world stage for all to poke and pick apart."

Zayn Malik
Zayn Malik. Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for NARAS

But alleged instances of domestic violence are not "private family matters" — they're abusive, dangerous, life-threatening, and, sadly, often life-ending matters that have proven to be all-too-common in the U.S. and abroad. What's more, it is common precisely because alleged abusers work tirelessly to convince people instances of intimate partner violence are "family affairs" that do not require the attention, help, and support of outsiders.

A reported 10 million people are abused by an intimate partner every year in the United States — that equates to roughly 20 people every single minute, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). As many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence at the hands of a partner. An estimated 1 in 15 children are exposed to acts of domestic violence, and 90% of those children witness instances of intimate partner violence themselves.

Domestic violence is not a "private family matter" — it's a national crisis.

It's also a gun safety issue, which is perhaps why influential institutions and people in positions of power have done very little to combat the scourge of domestic violence in the U.S. An estimated 4.5 million women have been threatened with a gun in the United States, according to The Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence (EFSGV) and nearly 1 million have been shot by a partner. In fact, a woman is five times more likely to be murdered by a partner if her abuser has access to a firearm. And like the common-sense gun laws politicians failed to enact after 20 6- and 7-year-olds were murdered in their kindergarten classroom, or after 49 people were murdered at a LGBTQ+ nightclub, or after 59 people were killed during an outdoor concert, the Senate has yet to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act — a bill that would not only help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, but support victims who are immigrants, have a disability, live on a college campus, are part of the LGBTQ+ community, live in rural areas, or are part of a faith-based community.

Domestic violence is no doubt a reproductive justice and abortion rights issue. Domestic abuse often includes reproductive coercion — an attempt by an abuser to control their victim's reproductive health. The most common forms of reproductive coercion, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG), are contraception sabotage, pregnancy coercion, and pregnancy pressure. And at a time when Roe v Wade exists in name only for countless people, and the Supreme Court is preparing to hear oral arguments in two abortion cases that could overturn Roe entirely, it will be all the more difficult for victims to seek abortion care and make their own reproductive health care decisions, free from abuse.

Intimate partner violence is also an economic issue — women in households at or below the poverty level are more likely to experience physical abuse and it's a public health issue — chronic stress from abuse is linked to higher rates of chronic disease, like heart disease and diabetes.

Plainly put: It's the public's issue.

And the only way the public will ever see the issue of domestic violence resolved is if we all refuse to keep it in the family.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Related Articles