Friday, October 17, 2014

A Volunteer's View

After attending the Courtney Queeney lecture:

As a relatively long-time DOVE volunteer, I was going to write a blog from the angle of what touches me most about my experiences interacting with clients, and why I took that first step to take the training sessions and become active at the shelter.  The answer is simple - the children.  They are the most vulnerable, helpless, and potentially scarred for life due to circumstances they did not create, and are powerless to change.  The upcoming Candlelight service will highlight that in a very touching, poignant way.  However, after hearing Courtney speak, her words all too familiar (DV scenarios usually have strikingly similar patterns), I felt a need to expand on a point she made about what "the children" and budding young adults are (and are not) taught in school and society in general. 

Courtney rattled off a list of things, starting with Elementary school topics - fire drills, don't talk to strangers, etc., and later, on to "safe sex" and STD prevention, and many other things, but never any mention of domestic violence, its potential to affect anyone, its causes, warning signs, and ways to deal with unsafe partners and stalkers.  I have often thought about how valuable my current knowledge would have been "way back when" I was of dating age...those "bad-news boyfriends" who were oh, so romantic, exciting, and so "in love" with me!  I was  very lucky to have emerged intact, whereas so many young girls have not.  That (predominantly male) personality profile that is incredibly intense, obsessive, and eventually all-controlling of his victim, is  so romantic at first!  All those  fairy tales read to us in childhood, all those romantic movies and novels, seem to come to life! 

It reminded me of how quickly a casual dating relationship can turn into a stalking situation, too.  There are so many dangers that can't be avoided entirely, but some knowledge, or forewarning, of danger certainly is warranted.  That is why I am so very supportive of DOVE's efforts, both with the BABES program for the younger ages, and for the programs Joyce Kirkland presents to high schoolers about dating relationships.  Decatur is really doing something special!  And girls out there, please - stop looking for Prince Charming to take care of you!  There is only dependence at the other end, with someone else dictating the rules you must follow.  Grow up strong, and "carry your own weight!"  Even the healthiest of relationships are bound to have their difficult moments, and all long-term relationships require effort on the part of both parties.  Thank you, Courtney, for reminding us all that there is that strong element of caution we all must have when entering into an intimate relationship, and thank you DOVE for spreading the word, as well as helping  DV victims understand the dynamics of DV,  and start to rebuild their lives.

Judith Mancinelli

Shelter volunteer

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