Friday, October 2, 2015

What will YOU do?

Once again, as we start the month of October, we recognize National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  So as I mull over in my mind what to write about and what I want to say in this blog, I am faced with many over-riding thoughts and questions.  Have YOU been affected by domestic violence?  Have YOU ever witnessed domestic violence?  Do YOU know someone who has been abused?   Do YOU know someone who is the abuser?  Do YOU know of children who have been affected by this terrible crime??  What are YOU willing to do?  Will YOU ignore it and hope it just goes away?  Will YOU support your local Dove Domestic Violence Program?  Will YOU call law enforcement if there is an incident that you personally witness or hear? 
Over the past 25 years, I have spoken to many victims of domestic violence – both men and women.  I have listened as they share with me their unending stories of abuse they have been subjected to.  I have fought back tears listening to many of these stories – and even more so when I see the hurt, pain and fear in the eyes of their children.  I have listened patiently and quietly as victims have struggled to disclose the horrible experiences they have encountered at the hands of their abusers – yet, in the same sentence, still sobbing, tell me how they still “love them” and confused and in search of an answer to “how can I possibly love someone who is hurting me in these ways?” 
When children witness violence in their homes, it affects them the rest of their lives.  The violence makes them question their parents ability to care for and protect them from harm.  Sadly, I have heard many parents tell me that their children were not in the same room and don’t know what is going on, when in reality, they are in the next room listening to every insult, slap, punch, scream, and cry that is going on.  The affects I have seen on the children who have been in our shelter is severe.  I have witnessed aggressiveness toward Mom, as well as to siblings and to other child residents in the shelter.  I’ve seen meltdowns where these troubled children needed to be restrained in order to keep from hurting themselves or others.  I have seen medical, physical and emotional affects to these children as a result of the violent atmosphere they have been raised in.  Witnessing such things as bedwetting, to explosive anger, aggressiveness, eating problems, tiredness, problems in school, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) to even being hospitalized for any of these behaviors, staff have continued to pull together as a team and work together in developing an individualized plan to best meet the needs of each client, depending on their own personal needs and that of their children.
Although there are many angles and dynamics of domestic violence, I believe that we must begin educating our young children at an early age about anger and violence and conflict resolution.  We must teach them as parents that being angry is normal, but how they react to it is important.   We must role model that in life, we will not always agree with others - and that is okay!!   We must learn how to agree to disagree.  We must teach and show children how to love.  We must nurture our children, show them and tell them we love them.  Children need to know what it means to respect those in authority and to know and understand structure, and order, and guidelines, and responsibility, and consequences.  Children need to taught so they learn about safety – having their very own safety plan and what to do if someone tries to hurt them, or if they have been frightened or threatened by someone.   We must start early – and not wait until it is too late.  After all – domestic violence is a learned behavior.  We need to replace that behavior with more positive and healthy qualities.  NO ONE deserves to be abused!  NO ONE has a right to hurt another person. 
So – back to the beginning – my question is what will YOU do?  Will YOU work at making a difference?  Will YOU do your part in helping put an end to domestic violence in our community?  Will YOU make a determined effort to support your local Dove Domestic Violence Program?   Although domestic violence occurs every day of every year – the time is NOW.  We are all in this together!!  Let’s all take a stand against this unjustifiable crime in our community!!!!
Teri Ducy, Domestic Violence Program Director

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