One Way To Learn About Violence

Intro from Jay Allison: This piece was produced as part of the Transom Story Workshop Spring 2015 session. Listen to more pieces from this Story Workshop class here.

Listen to “One Way To Learn About Violence.”

About “One Way To Learn About Violence”

I learned I got into the Transom Story Workshop in late January, and our class was told to start thinking about story ideas right around Super Bowl Sunday. That’s when I saw the commercial about domestic violence that ultimately plays in this piece. I went online and watched the ad about ten more times. I scribbled a few words in my notebook: Shelters on Cape Cod?

Over the course of four weeks and 19 drafts, the story before you teased itself out. A couple of our high-profile workshop guests were concerned that this idea, while important, fell on too-well-worn ground. That it might be tough to make it original. As a result, I thought the best way to approach the story would be to make it as personal as possible, as much as that was possible.

I’ll also let you know that I didn’t think “End domestic violence” could be a controversial stance but little did I know I was wading into a massive feminism vs. anti-feminism maelstrom. If you want to feel like you need a shower, read the YouTube comments beneath any video of President Obama’s domestic violence speech at the 2015 Grammy’s. The debate gets its legs (I think) from a national study by the CDC that found more men than women experienced domestic violence in the year 2011. On YouTube, commenters chastise Obama and the media for ignoring male survivors of violence and for promoting a pro-feminism, anti-male agenda. Meanwhile, those championing the cause of the battered man were criticized for trying to undermine the cause of the battered woman — which is unarguably more fatal — for political purposes.

I know I shouldn’t pay attention to the internet trolls (damn you trolls!) but I mention this debate only because I was trying to avoid it. I presented both male and female statistics because intimate partner violence truly can affect anyone and everyone.

I want to thank Gabbe Rowland for sharing her story with me and with everyone. I also want to thank Carmen Espinoza and the Falmouth Police Department for providing me with much-needed expertise.

National Domestic Violence Hotline:
1-800-787-3224 (TTY)

Justin’s Sonic ID

Listen to “Justin’s Sonic ID”

Rob Minshall was the first person I interviewed for my other TSW story, a Creative Life piece on a local production of “Godspell” and the man playing Jesus, Alex Valentine. Although Rob was cast as Judas in the musical, I couldn’t fit his voice into that piece due to time constraints. It would have been an injustice if the epic side-story he told me — about an incident in 2013 when he violently broke his nose on stage — went unheard.

Listen to more pieces from this Story Workshop class.

Justin Bull

Justin Bull

Justin is a freelance writer and radio producer based in Chicago, Illinois. He has worked as a staff writer for a handful of small newspapers, a technical writer for the State of Illinois, and a garbage man during a short stint for a Chicago-area 1-800-Got-Junk? franchise. You can find more of Justin's work at PRX and at his website

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