Its not about a meme – Michelle O’Rourke August 2019

Whilst I would not want to further promote the local bar and grill who posted the meme ‘Would you punch your ex in the face for a steak?’ I feel compelled to write this month’s column in direct response to that issue.

The owner is quoted as saying this was ‘light-hearted’ and that “I think the MPs need to start concentrating on more important issues, rather than a meme that’s on Facebook” he goes on to say that this was aimed at their target audience. I can only take from this, that the target audience of the business are those who feel domestic violence is acceptable, well maybe in some circumstances? Let’s hope some of his patrons are not too offended.

With regards to the importance of domestic abuse (because let’s face it this is not an outcry about a meme). I would argue this is an extremely important issue, and our politicians and local leaders should be shouting about this, particularly when it is minimised and condoned in this way.

Cleveland has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse related incidents and offences in England; it’s estimated 950,000 children a year witness domestic abuse and 2 women a week are killed by their partner or ex-partner. Those women and children are important, the impact on them, their families and communities is important and the long lasting effects on physical and mental health and well-being are important.

The, in excess of 1000 women a year we support, our staff team and volunteers will certainly say this is not a light-hearted issue and it’s saddening to think that in 2019 it can be acceptable to use this issue as a means of gaining a viral response and front page news because of the outrage it would undoubtedly create.  

I hope readers of this column will read this and wonder if the next time you see a meme like this, would you share that post or give it a like? Or would you be moved to keep scrolling and do your part to challenge the normalisation of violence and abuse?