What Happens When the Bull Elephants are Taken Away? by Toby Earl Johnson

toby johnsonWhat Happens When the Bull Elephants are Taken Away?
By: Toby Earl Johnson

There is a story about a nature preserve in Africa: In this particular preserve, all the male adult elephants were taken away.  As a result, the juvenile elephants were rampaging, killing rhinoceroses and threatening farmers. A couple of them were so dangerous park rangers chose to kill them. The juvenile elephants had no bull elephants there to teach them how to behave.

When they finally put the bull elephants back on the refuge, the young male elephants challenged them. But the bull elephants didn’t back down… Eventually the juvenile elephants beganto behave.

This story really hit home the truth of the outcome when many teens and young adults are missing role models. Whose there to teach them morals? Who shows them how to handle themselves through adversity? How do they learn examples of healthy relationships?

More and more, we are seeing domestic violence cycles perpetuated in teens and young adults. In Minnesota last year, there were several murders
involving teen relationships. This made me wonder about the causes; did they occur from the old adage: power and control doesn’t mean love? Or, is there that big of a fear of losing someone? No matter what it is, the biggest conundrum is how do we get the violence stopped?

Domestic violence is broken into several categories that are not “violence” as normally thought of. Threatening, intimidation, coercion, and manipulation
all have a large part in domestic violence and none are okay. If these are in your relationship, its time to change. Theyre not part of love, nurturing, support, or any healthy relationship.

In my life, my biological dad was extremely abusive to my mom and us kids. The “bull elephant” that was to be my role model, failed to set a correct precedent for me. Luckily for me, my adoptive family was much healthier. There wasnt the fighting, yelling, physical violence, and manipulation that occureed in my previous household. I realize many teens and young adults dont get a second family to set a foundation for what healthy relationships look like. So what stopped me from continuing the cycle of abuse? After all, statistics show many abused continue to abuse, right? I wasnt okay with my mom getting abused, or us kids getting abused. As an adult, I ask myself if I would want my mom, sister, or daughter to experience that?

There are a couple things to be mindful of if you want to break the cycle. Communication is key. Try to use I statements instead of blaming: I feel___ because I___, and I need ____. This makes others feel far less defensive. Remember both sides have an opinion, and its not necessary to convince the other of being right or wrong. Except each others views by acknowledging you understand how they feel, or their opinion. Know your anger triggers. Sometimes, maybe a brief break is the best. Don’t use this as a tactic to escape the issue, but it can be a tool to control your actions.

The majority of domestic violence related murders occur as one partner is trying to leave. Understandably, this can be a time of tension, anger, hurt, fear, confusion, or rejection. Don’t make a long lasting mistake or choice out of momentary situation. Find someone to savely express your feelings to. Remember the feelings dont last forever. I too have experienced these hurts. I too have experienced love lost. But, there are brighter days if youre patient. Look for the healthy bull elephants in your community and allow them to guide your way. Stop the domestic violence today!

**Story is quoted from “Life After Murder” By: Nancy Mullan.


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