With our round-the-clock news media, both professional and social, it would be hard for most people to be unaware of the tragic story of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. What’s more challenging is for most of us to be aware of the more serious tragedy of domestic or intimate violence in this country. At the risk of boring some or offending others, I will start with some statistics from www.safehorizon.org.
Domestic Violence Statistics and Facts
National Domestic Violence Statistics
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC, 2017)
- 1 in 10 women in the United States will be raped by an intimate partner in her lifetime. (CDC, 2010)
Domestic Violence Statistics by Race/Ethnicity
- Almost half (47.5%) of American Indian/Alaska Native women, 45.1% of non-Hispanic Black women, 37.3% of non-Hispanic white women, 34.4% of Hispanic women, and 18.3% of Asian-Pacific Islander women experience violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (CDC,2017)
Another interesting source for information can be found at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499891
This website lists the causes of domestic violence, beginning with anger management issues, low self-esteem, and feeling inferior.
Reading this, I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry. My spiritual journey has led me down a path where I am firmly convinced we are spiritual beings having a human experience. To ignore the obvious spiritual issues underlying this problem is a sure set up for failure.
One spiritual aspect of this societal problem is what Eckhart Tolle calls “the pain-body.” He devotes an entire chapter to it in his book, A New Earth.
Briefly described, here is how the pain-body is formed:
“The remnants of pain left behind by every strong negative emotion that is not fully faced, accepted, and then let go of join together to form an energy field that lives in the very cells of your body.” (Page 142)
Then, he defines the pain-body as:
“This energy field of old but still very-much-alive emotion that lives in almost every human being is the pain-body.”(IBID)
The metaphor I created for the activity of the pain-body comes from the movie “Jaws.” It is like the great white shark, always looking for something to feed on, and its favorite food is DRAMA. What better place for drama than in intimate, family relationships? Again, quoting from A New Earth:
“It’s hard to resist another person’s pain-body that is determined to draw you into a reaction. Instinctively, it knows your weakest, most vulnerable points. If it doesn’t succeed the first time, it will try again and again. It is raw emotion looking for more emotion. The other person’s pain-body wants to awaken yours so that both pain-bodies can mutually energize each other.”(Page 148)
Tolle even offers what might be an explanation for why we stay with our abusers:
“When a person becomes drunk, he goes through a complete personality change as the pain-body takes him over. A deeply unconscious person whose pain-body habitually replenishes itself through physical violence often directs it toward his spouse or children. When he becomes sober, he is truly sorry and may say he will never do this again, and he means it. The person who is talking and making promises, however, is not the entity who commits the violence, and so you can be sure it will happen again and again…” (Page 149)
These passages explain what I saw when I watched the video of Gabby and Brian’s traffic stop in Moab, Utah. I saw two people trapped in a repetitive cycle of raw emotion that fluctuated between the extremes of passion. I completely understood her explanation of what had happened, and I knew that he was genuinely sorry for how he treated her. I saw how they both contributed to the tragedy that unfolded.
Later, I watched as she became labeled the victim and he the perpetrator. In truth, they are both victims. They are victims of humanity’s inability to awaken from the sleep of unconsciousness. They were not taught that society exists within a collective dysfunction run by the egoic mind. In this world, we come to believe entirely in the physical or manifest world. We become identified with the mind-made self and the world it has created. We lose the sense of Oneness that we had at birth and re-gain at death. We believe that we are separate beings and that Life is against us.
Gabby, Brian, and six billion others have no idea that they are part of the formless, all-pervasive consciousness that goes by many names: God, Spirit, Intelligence, Being, Presence, Energy. Without this knowledge, we are all trapped in a world of our own making that is dualistic, antagonistic, and ultimately nihilistic. Until more of us are committed to the work of changing our own inner state of consciousness, humanity will continue to exist in the dysfunction of separation. We will not see the interconnectedness of all life, nor will we know that we are each intrinsically whole and One with the Source. We will continue to separate into “us and them.” Attempts to change the external reality by eliminating personal property, national borders, and individual freedom are doomed to failure without the requisite INNER change that only personal, spiritual transformation can accomplish.
That’s why the real tragedy in Gabby and Brian’s story (and millions of other similar stories) is that no one seems to know this. We take sides, judging and condemning, pointing fingers anywhere but at ourselves as part of the dysfunction that resulted in Gabby’s death and the ruination of Brian’s life. Because of our collective human unconsciousness, we can offer little hope of changing the facts and stats of domestic violence.
I ask you: In a nation where expenditures for mental health topped $238.4 billion in 2020 (www.statista.com), what is the best we can do for those caught up in the tragedy of domestic violence? Please don’t tell me that all we can offer them for that kind of money is support for “anger management issues, low self-esteem, and feelings of inferiority.” Please tell me that before one more woman dies at the hand of a man she loves, YOU are at least willing to undertake the hard, hard work of personal, inner transformation. Until more of us commit to this, we can expect more tragedies to make headlines each and every day of our lives.
Rest in peace, Gabby. God be with you, Brian.