To the Editor:
October is packed with awareness efforts. Athletes wear pink for breast cancer. Concerned friends and family wear puzzle pieces for autism. Festivals and celebrations observe everything from German heritage to LGBT history.
All are important topics that deserve our time and attention. All contribute to a better, more educated world.
October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month – an important time for survivors and service organizations alike. Supporters usually express solidarity by wearing purple ribbons, but myths and misconceptions often prevent a more meaningful observance. We at Safe Passage recognize that domestic violence is a difficult topic, especially for those who have never experienced it. How could anyone ever hurt someone they love? And why wouldn’t the victim just find a way out? These are complicated questions, with the answers as diverse as the survivors themselves. Survivors frequently depend on the people who hurt them for things like food, shelter, or health care. They often believe the abuser will change, or that the abuse is their own fault.
A victim is never to blame for someone else’s abusive choices. Domestic violence is about power and control. Abuse occurs when one person chooses harmful tactics to gain and maintain power and control over another person, and this takes many forms. Emotional abuse – often overlooked on the spectrum of violent behaviors – is frequently more harmful than bruises or broken bones. After all, which hurts more: the bruise that fades, or the belief that you deserved it?
However, Safe Passage also knows that there is hope. Every day, we see people breaking free of violence. It’s not easy, but we are committed to serving our community for as long as it takes. We can’t do it alone. Overcoming domestic violence takes all of us working and learning together. Consider using this October to learn about domestic violence and how you might help. Talk to your family about what healthy, caring relationships look like. The “education” section of our website, www.safepassagedv.org, is a great place to start. Domestic violence must be part of the national conversation. Just like the effort to fight breast cancer cannot end with pink accessories, for those of us who are committed to safe communities, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is not about purple ribbons. Help us take the conversation further.
Advocate, Community Educator Safe Passage