Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Preventing Domestic Violence is More Than A Ribbon

I was reminded today at a local clergy association meeting that October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. We were given purple ribbons to indicate our support of survivors.

It's easy to scoff at the preponderance of special days and special months, but in this case, at least for me, it was an important reminder. Domestic violence is one of those issues that is talked about too little, often acknowledged too late in faith communities.

It brought me back to the summer of 1975 when I was looking for my first job. I had applied for a position at a local domestic violence center in Washington, D.C. and was seated in the reception area waiting for an interview. A woman, with a broken nose and split lip and two noisy toddlers sat across from me. Every once in a while, I sidled an uncomfortable glance at her.

She looked right at me. "You don't think you could ever end up this way do you? Well, college girl, I went to Smith and graduated from there five years ago. I married the wrong guy and this is how I ended up. You could end up this way too."

I didn't get the job, but I've never forgotten her.

She may still be sitting in your pews. There are lots of ways women (and men) can be abused, not all physical. Domestic violence knows no bounds by income, religion, or race.

More than wearing a ribbon, ask yourself what you can do to reach out to people who may be victims, what you can do to help prevent personal intimate violence.

Remembering is only a start.


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for mentioning that men can be victims of DV, too.

When my wife broke my nose, and I called the DV hotline, the attendant asked me what I'd done to provoke it. I challenged him – would he say that to a female caller? He said he'd been trained by the local woman's shelter that men who claimed to be DV victims were actually abusers.

A local woman – prominent in our community – ran over her husband with her car, killing him. The case got national attention. The local battered woman's shelter puts up a memorial every year 'for the victims of DV' – a field of purple crosses. The display is just a half mile from where he was run over; you can see it from there. But his name is not among the listed. Wrong gender.

So thanks for remembering the male victims. It means a lot to some of us.

Scott Fisher said...

I was just reading through your blog. It is very interesting and insightful. I am sure I will be back often.