Domestic violence doesn't discriminate
We feel safer when we think domestic violence happens somewhere else to someone else.
In reality, domestic violence occurs in our neighborhoods and in our families. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or economic status. Abusers control and terrorize our daughters, bosses, sisters, friends, and even our sons – who are most often abused by their male partners and sometimes their female partners. While I work to end domestic violence for so many reasons and in honor of so many people, rarely a day goes by when I don't connect the work I do to the life and experiences of my aunt; a highly respected doctor and beloved mother.
There is a myth that women who are victims must have low self-esteem, but this is exactly that: a myth. My aunt was a trail blazer. She went to medical school when most women were told that their career options were limited to nurses, secretaries or teachers (three honorable and critical fields, but a narrow list at best). When my aunt was assaulted by her former partner, she tried to get the local justice system to hold the offender accountable. When the justice system failed her, she moved 500 miles to keep her and her children safe. She testified in front of the state legislature to help improve a system that would create a safer world with effective and real protections for victims and their children.
Never doubt that all survivors are incredibly strong. They get up every day knowing that the person who should be most supportive will likely spend the day threatening to harm the children and pets, controlling and monitoring their activities, and verbally or physically abusing them. Victims get out of bed every day despite the odds against them to persevere, raise their children with love, and make the world a safer place for the next generation.
As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, let us all continue to do our parts to make the world safer for our aunts, colleagues, neighbors, and the next generation. Here is what you can do:
- Continue to bring up the issues of controlling partners, encourage healthy relationships, and talk about what safety at home means wherever and whenever possible. You never know who you might reach and whose safety you might increase.
- Never tolerate a friend or relative belittling or controlling his or her partner. Tell your friend or relative that what they are doing is not okay.
- Donate new items and gift cards to a local shelter throughout the year. Your gift can ensure that moms residing in an abuse shelter feel supported on Mother's Day and children wear a new backpack filled with school supplies when they walk down the shelter steps to their first day of school.
- Sign up to receive NNEDV' s action alerts and tell your elected officials that ending domestic violence is important to all of their constituents.
- Donate critically needed funds to NNEDV, your state coalition, and local program. Your donation helps us keep our lights on, our phone lines open, and allows us to work valiantly every day to make the world safer.
While there are so many good causes, rarely will you find an issue that impacts 1 in 4 women. It is likely that someone in your neighborhood, office, or extended family is in danger right now from an abusive partner.
Thank you for helping us raise awareness and end domestic violence throughout this past month and going forward.
- Written by Cindy Southworth, Vice President of Development and Innovation