Friday, October 9, 2015

What Can We Do?

In October, the winds of change blow as summer gives way to fall.  Trees change colors as the browns and oranges of fall replace the lush green of summer.  October also brings the color purple, as the nation remembers victims and survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

 In his proclamation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, President Barack Obama said, among other things: “Though we have made great progress in bringing awareness to and providing protection against domestic violence, much more needs to be done.”

 It is imperative that we all take a stand against domestic violence.  For far too long, domestic violence was treated as a “problem in the home”.  If friends and neighbors were aware it was happening, they might have gossiped about it among themselves, but they were happy to join the victim and the perpetrator in denying that there was a problem.  Slowly, society began to realize that domestic violence was a crime.  Attitudes began to change and laws began to be strengthened.  As the old ad said, “We’ve come a long way, baby”, but we have a long way to go. 

 There are still people, even officials, who make jokes when they encounter a victim with bruises and obvious injuries.  This is not acceptable.  There are still jurisdictions where officers refuse to make DV arrests.  This is not acceptable.  There are still prosecutors who refuse to file charges against abusers even after they have been arrested.   This is not acceptable.

 What is acceptable?  If we could imagine utopia, what would it look like?  Obviously, in a perfect world, all of us would live in harmony, each accepting and celebrating the unique differences between people……their religions, lifestyles, and culture.  There would be no violence, including domestic violence.  Anyone who watches TV news or accesses social media knows we are nowhere close to that in today’s society.

 But what can we do to change attitudes and to bring about positive changes?  We can take a vow to stand together against domestic violence.  By standing together, we can be sure that victims of domestic violence know that they are believed, that they are validated, and that they are supported.  By standing together, we can be sure that abusers are arrested, prosecuted, and that they understand that their actions are wrong and not acceptable to society.  By standing together, we can support each other as we work to end domestic violence and to ensure that families can live in homes that are safe and secure.  I urge all of you to take a stand against domestic violence, to vow to do something new and different to bring us a little closer to a peaceful world.
Susie Kensil
Shelby County Domestic Violence Program Coordinator

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