It is one of the great ironies of the times that the start of Domestic Awareness Month this year was preceded by one of the most horrific instances of domestic violence in South Florida: the Dell murder-suicide tragedy that claimed the lives of a man and his estranged wife and four of his five stepchildren in Riviera Beach on Sept. 26.

But it was only part of an ongoing pattern, that is continuing, in which a man takes it upon himself to brutally resolve a situation with which he cannot cope. Male power continues to pervade all aspects of our society and this is one of the terrible consequences that flow from such an elementally unfair relationship.

The male-female power structure that endures into the 21st century continues to hold women in bondage, however silken the knots may appear to be. Women continue to find themselves dependent on men to the point where, even when terrified for their lives, they cannot feel safe and are not safe and no one seems able to protect them.

But there are those with the power to protect our women from abusive men. In the case of the Dell family, that authority failed to offer the protection it should have. The Department of Children and Families had enough reason to act more decisively and more swiftly than it did and as a result, a woman and four young children are dead.

One primary purpose of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is to encourage women to take their safety into their own hands and to seek refuge from men who would harm them or are already hurting them, whether husbands or boyfriends, especially in tough times like the one today, when people can break under the stress. That is a good purpose for the observance.

But there is another reason for turning the spotlight on this heinous behavior in which men feel compelled to prove their manliness and that is to educate them away from just that mindset. That objective, though should not be confined to one month; it must be a year-round endeavor and it must be a societal effort that seeks to steer males, from as young an age as possible, that there can be no excuse whatsoever for violent behavior against a female.

That latter purpose will not be fulfilled overnight but the more it is taken up as a mission by all aspects of society that influence behavior, particularly spiritually, the quicker will arrive the time when the relationship that must exist between males and females is truly a loving one and the animal and caveman instinct that still governs male behavior will be relegated to where it belongs: the caves of yesteryear.