Guest column | Rao Musunuru

High-profile tragedy demands discussion on controlling domestic violence

A prominent physician, a murder and a suicide. It sounds like a plot for a sensational fiction story, but unfortunately, it is not. It happened in the community and we are all forced to deal with it.

After all is said, the reality is simple: Bad, unchecked bullying behavior coupled with stupid mistakes resulted in a very sad ending. When two lives end that way, the surviving children end up paying the real price.

Why would a person dedicated to saving lives take his own and someone else's (the mother of his children) willingly and viciously? It is an extreme example of domestic violence. There is no good reason to attribute any of the actions to the stressful life of a medical professional.

Domestic violence affects individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or education. Eighty-five percent of domestic violence victims are women. One in every four women is expected to experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Almost every nine seconds a woman is battered. Domestic violence occurs in 60 percent of marriages. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

These statistics do not come from a historical footnote of a primitive barbaric civilization from some remote part of the world thousands of years ago. This is here and now in the sophisticated, educated and civilized United States of America.

No job is easy. Everybody is always under stress, even though most cannot exactly define "stress." Physicians' lives are particularly precarious (an average life span of a practicing physician is estimated to be at least 10 years shorter than the general population) — not that it gives them any concession to be careless, to make extra mistakes or to commit crimes.

Marriage is no picnic. After the initial physical attraction and attributes are exhausted, one is left with a lot of adjustments that are possible only through commitment and dedication to each other.

My wife of 35 years almost qualifies to be a saint. She is very accommodative, adjusting, graceful and kind. I chose to practice medicine. She chose to marry me. We knew very well what that meant and we did not anticipate any conflicts. Still the conflicts came along within a few months of our marriage. She did not like what my grandmother said to her. I did not like what her sister said about me.

Our most important disagreements centered around how best to raise our child. All of that had nothing to do with the demands of my profession or her loneliness. That is called life. We sailed through it very easily with cool heads and compromises from both sides.

Normal people do not go around hurting others just because they are working hard or are under stress or somebody else did not agree with them. My grandmother used to frequently say "hard work never kills anybody." It is anger, jealousy, control and hatred that hurt and kill people.

When an unimaginable and unfortunate incident like this happens, discussion should center around controlling the curse of domestic violence rather than explanations and excuses to justify or to condemn a particular incident.

The profession and the prominence of the perpetrator should take a backseat to the overall importance of the incidence and its implications to the community. Sensitivity should be the order of the day not sensationalism. Seeking solutions should be the goal, not spreading confusion and commotion.

Our next generation is anxiously watching, learning and waiting.

Dr. Rao Musunuru is a practicing cardiologist serving residents of Pasco and Hernando counties since 1981.

High-profile tragedy demands discussion on controlling domestic violence 01/23/10 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:08pm]

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