While the details of actor Gary Coleman’s death are still unclear, it is safe to say that the whole situation is a bit bizarre. On May 28, Coleman apparently fell down in the kitchen while his ex-wife, Shannon Price, was upstairs. When Price heard his cry for help, she chose not to assist Coleman but instead called 911 for help. On the dispatch calls, Price can be heard telling the dispatchers that her help would only extend to handing Coleman a towel, since the sight of blood was just too much for her to handle.
Coleman survived the trip to the hospital but died when Shannon made the decision to remove him from life support, not even 48 hours after the fall occurred. The day after Shannon’s decision to turn off the life support machine (the legality of which continues to be disputed), she was smiling for a series of photos and did a television appearance defending herself. While her lack of compassion for her live-in ex-husband is shocking, what is most concerning about this story is the fact that nobody seems to be discussing Coleman’s death as a result of a domestic violence dispute.
It’s no secret that Coleman and Price have had a rocky relationship and a history of violent behavior. While neither was accused of physically attacking the other, both had been arrested at different times for domestic violence. When on a televised appearance on “Divorce Court”, Coleman stated that they had an ugly fight at least once a month. Price explained that Coleman would act like a child during their arguments and would often “bash his head into the wall”.
If violence was so prevalent in their home, why aren’t more people questioning the role it might have played in his fall? Is it possible that if the genders of the couple were reversed, both the public and the media would insist that the death was not just a result of an accidental fall. Such assumptions aren’t surprising, seeing as though the statistics show that violence against women is far greater than violence against men, but that is not to say that it doesn’t happen or require more attention than is currently given.
Very little is known about the actual number of men who experience violence by their female partners, but it has been reported about three-fourths of the persons who commit family violence are male. The idea that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is so unthinkable that many men will not attempt to report the crime, for fear of humiliation and a loss of pride. If and when a male victim does share the fact that they are in a violent situation, they are often times not believed or taken seriously.
Case and point? Just look at Gary Coleman, a man who verbally expressed that he was in an explosive relationship and yet his situation was not taken seriously by his friends, family, the public, or the media. It’s time we recognize that violence against men is not just a possibility but a reality, a reality that needs to be given the proper attention it deserves. No one, man or woman, should ever feel as if violence in the home is acceptable, warranted, or inescapable.