Friday, July 29, 2016

It Is A Pattern

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior which is designed to keep the victim, or victims, of the abuser under the power and control of the abuser.    The word pattern is a crucial word in the definition.  The word pattern indicates that this is a long-term problem, not an isolated incidence of anger which erupts in a verbal or even physical altercation.  The words power and control indicate that during this long-term process, the victim is robbed of his or her ability to make their own decisions and choices and to control the direction of their lives.  Children ask their parents for permission to do thing; adults should not require “permission” to make phone calls, go to the store, etc.  This is the norm in most domestic violence relationships, however.  Permission must be requested and for the most part it is never granted.   Victims who have lived this way for a long time have no idea how to make choices or decisions, let alone good ones.  Their self-esteem is shattered; they have been told for so long that they are incapable of doing anything right that they are often afraid to make even the simplest decisions.  Most often, they have been completely isolated from any sort of a support system, family, friends, or otherwise.  All of these factors combine to make it very difficult for a victim to make a decision to leave the relationship, let alone make the choices necessary to carry out such a plan.

This is the state that many victims are in when they first make contact with our program.  Perhaps a friend or family member was able to convince them that they needed assistance to leave the nightmare that has been their existence.  More likely, however, is that there has been an unfortunate incident and/or some contact with law enforcement or the judicial system.   At this point, there are many decisions that need to be made by the victim to insure the safety and well-being of their family and for them.  Imagine coming to this point in your life, with absolutely no decision making skills.  This is where our advocacy is so important.  Many times, our clients when they first present to us, have no idea they are victims of domestic abuse, victims of a crime.  They have little or no experience with the judicial system, and if they do have experience with it, the experiences were likely not positive ones.  It is up to us as advocates to point out all of their choices, being sure to explain them all thoroughly and advise them of the possible consequences of each choice.  It is never up to us to make those choices for them, or to try to force them to make a certain choice.  This process may be painful for them, and require a lot of patience on our part, but it is necessary for them to begin the process of reclaiming their own lives.  If we are allowed the privilege of working with them over a period of time, it is rewarding to watch them grow and develop and begin to make decisions…..good, healthy decisions……..for themselves and their families on a regular basis.  When one is used to making decisions and choices, we fail to remember how many of these things we do each day……….choices about when to get up, what to wear, what to eat, how to fill our time…….and on and on.  When a victim has not been allowed to make any decisions, the sheer number of choices they have to make each day can be overwhelming.  Our guidance as their advocates can make their path back to serenity and safety much less complicated.  We must remember to guide them with the respect they have been denied for so long.

This subject has been on my mind lately as I work with a victim who has recently become a client.  I have met with her several times, pointed out all the choices available to her situation, explained the pluses and minuses of each, and the possible consequences of each course of action.  She has begun to make decisions about her situation with an eye to what is best for her and her family.   One decision involved an Order of Protection; she chose not to pursue that relief.  She also has a relationship with another agency, one which has significant power over her at this time.   They disagree with the decision regarding the Order of Protection and have told her that she “has” to get an OP or face the permanent loss of her children.  This is being said, even though the protocol of the agency prohibits this practice, which is much like the behavior of the abuser she is trying to escape.  After spending considerable time calming her and assuring her that I would attempt to deal with this situation  I have begun conversations with the policy-enforcement officials of the other agency, hoping to change this behavior, not only in this case but others in the future.  Again, as advocates, we can make a difference in this fashion.  We may not always have immediate success, but at the very least we are showing our clients that they are not alone any longer.
Susie Kensil
Shelby County Coordinator
Domestic Violence Program

Friday, July 22, 2016

Love Yourself (part 2)

As we continue to examine what it means to love ourselves better in light of healing from domestic violence and moving forward with a more positive sense of self, there are some more practical tools to be implemented that will make a world of difference.  Let’s take a look a few more tangible ways that we can love ourselves better that will hopefully result in a more meaningful life and circle of relationships.

To begin with, we need to begin forgiving our past selves.  Were you born this morning by chance?  If not, CONGRATULATIONS!  You have a past.  With that out of the way, is there any chance that you are perfect in every way?  Still no?  Congrats!  You also have dirt in your past, just like everyone else.  We ALL have a past and those pasts are riddled with good choices, bad choices, successes, failures, wins, losses, mistakes, etc.  You get the point.  Living in the past can only keep you living in your mess.  When you confront your past and begin to forgive yourself of the mistakes made, you can begin to move forward in freedom. 

I want you to picture every big mistake you made.  In light of domestic violence, maybe you got in a relationship you knew wasn’t healthy.  Maybe you stayed in a relationship you knew wasn’t safe.  Maybe you made some poor life decisions that got you caught up in mess like drugs, alcohol, or worse.  It’s possible that in the midst of crisis you took the easy way out and stole to make ends meet, or lied when it was more convenient that facing the truth.  Face it, even good people make big mistakes.  Now imagine that everyone single one of those big mistakes is a piece of luggage.  Some might be little hand bags.  Others might be great big suitcases.  If you are carrying around the burden of your past mistakes, it is like carrying all that luggage around at once with you.  Now picture trying to go to work, pick up your groceries, eat a sandwich, or play with your child.  All that luggage is going to prevent you from doing even the most menial of tasks. 

We can all learn a lesson from this picture, but the cost and burden is probably even greater for those trapped in domestic violence.  It can prevent even the most basic and sensible decisions from being made because the cost of doing so requires too much energy or too much self-esteem.  So ask yourself, what parts of your past are you letting haunt you right now?  Where do you need to forgive yourself and where do you need to forgive and forget?  What is this baggage preventing you from accomplishing in life?  Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for yourself is simply to forgive your past self and love your present self. 

Another practical step toward loving yourself better involves starting to make the changes you know you need to make in your life.  I believe this ties nicely to forgiving your past in part.  As Marc Chernoff writes, “Just because something made you happy in the past doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever.”  We can have a different future if we want it, but we have to change what we are doing.  We’ve all heard that the definition of is doing same thing over and over expecting different results.  We have to change what we are doing in order to get a different result.  We have to change what we allow into our lives in order to gain a different outcome.

Again, when it comes to domestic violence scenarios, there tend to be some changes, big or small, that really do need to be made.  The trouble is that nobody can make those changes but the individual themselves.  And factoring the trauma and even psychological brainwashing that can take place for some, this process can take quite some time.  There might need to be a romantic relationship that needs to be abandoned.  Maybe there is a roommate or friend that needs to be let go.  It can get quite complicated with family involved, but there might be a sturdy set of healthy boundaries that need implemented in order to provide peace.  Someone might even be struggling with the decision to be totally single for a bit so that they stop falling into negative relationships.  There might be bad habits that need dropped, not to mention maybe an addiction or two.  The possibilities are certainly endless. 

So what are some of the things you are doing that cause more damage than good, and can you change it?  What about some of the things you are doing that keep you from making any progress at all, good or bad?  What are some of the things you wish you were doing in life, but you either haven’t gotten there yet or you haven’t that the courage to do?  At the end of the day, even if it costs you a great deal or there is great risk involved, isn’t it still worth it?  Isn’t the possibility of a bright future tied to some risk taking better than a certain bleak or negative one?  Take a chance and start making those changes.  And on that note…

Another very important manner of loving ourselves better is to begin embracing the mistakes we haven’t even made yet.  Einstein famously stated that, “anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”  That sure is something to chew on.  So, if you’ve made a mistake, then you must be in good company along with all those are trying adventurous new things.  If you have never made a mistake then you either have not lived at all…or you are a liar.  The idea is to not let fear of making mistakes dictate what your future looks like. 

For domestic violence victims, fear is a significant part of the equation.  Mixed with the abusers typical barrage of insults and aforementioned brainwashing, I hear a lot of abused women talk about how they must be the problem, and therefore they should stop trying to change anything since it always results in abuse.  We of course know that the abuse was likely going to happen no matter what the victim did.  I have also heard a fair amount of victims fall prey to the lie that they are terrible, worthless, unwanted people and that nobody else would want them anyway so why try.  They don’t even take a shot at freedom or real future love because they thing it can only end in failure.  Even the fear of not finding anyone else and returning to the abuser looking a fool is a very real issue for some victims.  Breaking the choke hold of fear in your life can be the most empowering event, but it certainly isn’t easy.  But on a positive note, there are many who have overcome failure that we can draw inspiration from.

Michael Jordan, the world’s greatest basketball player ever, was cut from his high school basketball team and cried.  The Beatles were rejected by Decca Recording Studios who said they, “have no future in show business.”  Steve Jobs was unceremoniously removed from a company he started.  Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and original ideas.  Oprah was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.  And Einstein wasn’t even able to speak until he was 4 years old, and his teachers claimed he would never amount to much.

Seeing that list can make you feel like you’re in pretty good company as a failure.  I would take any one of their stories.  Michael Jordan has even famously announced, “I have missed over 9000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.”

The reality is, like Einstein stated, if they had never taken a chance and tried something new, they would never have learned to be great at something.  In a nutshell, success requires failure.  It’s not about preventing the fall, but rather, as Batman’s dad said, it’s about learning how to get back up.  So what are some of your fears and what makes you so afraid of them?  Is it mostly wrapped around failing?  What would you have tried or would like to try if fear of failure didn’t play a role?  If you are a victim of domestic violence, how has fear of failure kept you in abusive relationships?  Do you believe you can embrace your failures, learn from them, and rise to new heights?  I do.  So begin to love yourself in amazing new ways.  Forgive your past, start making some changes, and keep taking healthy risks even when you fail.  Because guess what…you are still worth it.


Jared Bohland

Client Services Coordinator

Dove Inc. Domestic Violence Program



Source material includes 16 Simple Ways to Love Yourself Again, Written by Marc Chernoff

Friday, July 15, 2016

Does Age Matter?

It sure does when you are talking about the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program or (RSVP). Many of our volunteers simply do not fit in the retired or senior category at all. In fact, many volunteers we work with do not fit in society’s view of what it means to be retired or senior.  Volunteers live active lifestyles that happen to include volunteering on top of their own hobbies, families, and friends.  I have had the pleasure of learning so much from some of our RSVP volunteers and I am thankful every day that I get to have contact with such fantastic human beings!!! RSVP volunteers are everywhere from our local hospitals, thrift stores, libraries, and museums, to the senior center, NorthEast Community Fund, and even  Meals on Wheels and that is just to name a few. You must be 55 years of age or older to enroll in our Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.  Which makes RSVP an exclusive club with lots of talent and experience that is being shared throughout our communities in both Macon and DeWitt County!!!

Over the years I have seen how the threshold for the title of senior has lowered from 65  all the way down to 50, while the threshold for retirement has increased to 67 years of age and older . Volunteers refer to themselves as, retired, senior, and even ornery but never refer to themselves as elderly. When did that change? I always called anyone older than me my elder and although I still respect my elders I have a much healthier view of what our “older” Americans who become RSVP volunteers really look like.

Because they look like…..more flashlights for the homeless, more cookies for first responders, decorations for appreciation events, and a warm meal served with love, informational hubs like beacons of light,  and much, much more!!  So to answer the question does age matter? You bet your RSVP volunteer it does!!!!

Charlie Gillaspie
RSVP Program Director

Monday, July 11, 2016

Looking back...

Dove was established in 1970 and we are taking this month to look back at some of our history, reported in the newsletter "DoveTales."  This article is from the December 1980 edition.

"DV Project Trains Advocates

A new type of volunteer work is available in the DOVE Domestic Violence project -- Friendly Advocates for battered women.  Friendly Advocates work with victims of domestic Violence over a period of several weeks to assist in dealing with the crisis ..."

We still are seeking volunteers to assist with the Domestic Violence Program.  This September will be the next offering of the needed 40 hour training.  With this training, certified by the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, volunteers have many opportunities to help, such as:  answering the hotline, assisting with support groups, parenting groups etc.;  helping with orders of protections and helping out in the Shelter. 

The registration process begins with a phone interview -  call Barb Blakey after August 1 at 428.6616 - and is finalized with an orientation meeting on Wednesday, September 7 at NOON.  Much more information will be shared at that time to help you determine if the training is what you are looking for.  Below is some basic information to get you started.  Please check the Domestic Violence Program page of the website for services information.

Dates / Times / Location

12, 13, 14, 15
19, 20, 21, 22
26, 27, 28

1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Dean Simcox Conference Room
302 S. Union, Decatur

Thursday, July 7, 2016

8 Great Reasons to Become a RSVP Volunteer

Charlie Gillaspie
RSVP Program Director

Many seniors who have spent most of their lives working wonder why they should now volunteer after retirement. Here are a few great reasons to join the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) with Dove Inc.

  1. Volunteering is essential to Illinois
    Especially during this budget crisis, now more than ever before your time is needed. Local area not- for- profits are struggling to continue to offer the services our communities desperately need.  The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) sponsored by Dove Inc. has provided senior volunteers for forty years and is a great way to get started with National Service.
  2. Seniors are needed now, more than ever before
    Just imagine how many people could get jobs if more seniors volunteered to teach what they have learned over a lifetime, including helping to bridge the generation gap between the young and old. 
  3. Seniors have choices
    As a senior volunteer you get to choose the service that is meaningful and important to you bringing a level of excitement and enthusiasm that some paid workers may never get to achieve.
  4. Maintains mental well-being
     According to a UCLA study, seniors who volunteer not only maintain good brain function, but their brain function and cognitive ability may actually increase. In short, becoming a retired volunteer can actually make a senior citizen smarter!
  5. Keeps Seniors involved in their community
    Senior volunteers spend less time at home and more time in their communities, which helps them increase their social and support networks.
  6. Volunteering is rewarding
    Volunteering is rewarding for both the volunteer and those being helped with your time, talent, and expertise.
  7. Senior Volunteers set their own schedules
    So even if you are already active, our volunteer stations offer flexible scheduling to fit your busy life.
  8. Have Fun
    Staff and volunteers have a great time together in the RSVP program. If you have any doubts then come on by during our next mailing and see for yourselves. We will have the donuts and coffee ready for you!
    To learn more about RSVP you can visit the website at 

The winds of change are upon us

  As the summer fades away, the winds of change are upon us.    The wildflowers are in bloom along the roadways, the crops in the fields are...