BATH – While enjoying a recent lunch at a local eatery, my attention was diverted to a video game sitting silently nearby. This particular game, as do many, involved destroying aliens or some other heinous creature.

What drew my attention however, was not the game but rather the message that scrolled across the screen: “There is no knowledge that is not power.”

I assume this message was meant as inspiration for those dropping quarters into the slot in hopes of coming out victorious against the designated foe or, better yet, having their score listed as the highest on that machine.

I took a different meaning from that message. From the author bio accompanying this piece you can see that I am the Domestic Violence Investigator for the Sagadahoc County District Attorney’s Office. Just as the title states, my primary responsibility is to conduct follow-up investigations of reported domestic abuse cases in the county.

Aside from being an investigator, my position here has taken on additional roles, including advocacy and support of victims, collaborating with other agencies involved in the field and training of officers on issues of domestic violence.

When people become aware of my position, I receive a variety of responses with a majority frowning, wincing or making some other sorrowful facial expression inevitably accompanied by words that reflect their pity for me.

The people who feel compelled to share their feelings fail to recognize I chose this line of work and was not drafted or assigned against my will. In fact, at last count there are over 20 similar positions throughout Maine and I don’t believe any are occupied by people who were coerced.

Aside from the previously mentioned tasks plus others associated with my position as an investigator, I have included a concerted effort of community awareness as part of my duties. This is where I draw in the message I saw on the video game. The message couldn’t be more spot-on.

Knowledge is power in practically every conceivable aspect of life and even more so when the issue is domestic violence.

I write this piece now because of an interesting phenomenon that occurred in this county recently. During a two-month period this past summer, 14 people were arrested for domestic related offenses. Of those, seven were females charged with assaulting males. In my years in Sagadahoc County, it has not been unusual for 10 percent to 15 percent of the arrests for domestic assault to be women so, yes, 50 percent is out of the norm.

In a previous column, I lamented that people feel obliged to provide excuses for abusive behavior. Trust me, it only gets worse when I mention the aforementioned numbers.

The usual explanations — a bad economy, a full moon — no longer seem relevant, so additional thought is often required. The new logical explanations in include variations on several themes: strong women, weak men, retaliation, better trained officers, poorly trained officers, gender neutrality, gender equality, gender bias, system disconnect.

The truth is that for each and every case of domestic violence, regardless of gender, there exist causation factors that are unique to the individuals involved.

Regardless of what one may consider as contributing or causative factors, anyone who lifts a hand with violent intent is making a conscious decision and is not driven by drinking or stress from the holidays. The only commonality in any domestic violence case is that someone in a relationship reverted to physical force or the threat of force against another.

I want to return briefly to our philosophically astute video game as my main point of this article.

Despite the best efforts of police, courts, prosecutors and advocates, the biggest hurdle to any large-scale success at preventing domestic violence is public perception and opinion. Knowledge is truly power and not just for the victims of domestic abuse.

Once the dynamics of domestic violence are known and understood by the general public, then and only then can we collectively address the core issues that truly are the causes of domestic violence. Until we cease providing excuses and start holding people responsible and accountable for their actions, this problem will never go away.

Let there be no mistake, this is a war and the enemy among us is the enemy within us: apathy and ignorance. Knowledge is the weapon that combats the enemy within each of us.