OCTOBER IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH!
What does that mean exactly? As is the case with most months that are set aside to talk about important issues, most of which, as a society, we would rather not discuss, we victims advocates devised a plan to encourage America to talk about hard topics, by giving it a MONTH of attention.
I don’t know off hand of any organization that has done as thorough a job of making an awareness month an event as Susan Komen; you would have to live on the moon to not know that October is Breast Cancer awareness month!
October has been Domestic Violence Awareness month since 1994, and although most people have no idea that it is, or likely care what it means to families who have lost someone they love to this crime; we celebrate the opportunity to educate our community about this crime.
Our society has done a very good job of putting this crime into an “it will not happen to me category” when in fact it is happening to hundreds of thousands of young men and women across our country every day. Parents are sending their children away to college and losing them to relationship violence. These unsuspecting parents are so blindsided by this crime that they do not have a clue what happened to their child or why it happened!
It is my dream that each and every awareness month results in just that; people learning how to recognize the signs that a loved one is in trouble. It is also my dream that the awareness of domestic violence be so widespread that people know how to access the resources needed to talk about the problem with their loved one, help them work though it and yes, perhaps save their LIFE!
However, it is still but a dream. I went to a domestic violence awareness month press conference in the Dallas area today at City Hall. It had all the pomp and circumstance of a huge event: there were pictures taken and speeches made. They even had purple cake!
There was talk about task forces and plans to add resources and services for victims of domestic violence; how excited I would be if only I understood how to take advantage of these services. As an abuse survivor and having experienced the loss of a loved one to domestic violence, it would have been great to know that even I could get counseling , legal and/or medical help, or some resolution to my pain, but alas, there was none of that!
This day was supposed to be about taking photos and letting the voters know that the City, the City Council, the Mayors office and countless other agencies are there for us victims and survivors; well maybe not those of us that were in the room because they never ACTUALLY SPOKE to me. Perhaps I was looking too healed or my expression was not one of a woman who has lost her sister, cousin and aunt to relationship violence, or maybe I did not have the look of a woman who has survived a physically abusive marriage. So, I passed on the purple cake and the option to take photos with the councilmen and women and opted to come home and talk to you guys about my hopes. I am hoping that if we actually talk about this crime and provide resources to victims and their families that perhaps, they will get the help they need. I’m hoping that if we share information on how to be safe, maybe someone you know, perhaps a daughter or son, will read the information, listen to the warnings, and actually take the steps necessary to be safe on that blind or first date.
Or perhaps we will take a look at a crime that is killing millions of women and children in our country and say, “ok, enough”, we have had enough of senseless loss of life and we are going to talk about this in the schools, at church, in our book clubs and so on!
Again my dream for the future is a future without relationship violence, where men will take responsibility for their behavior and stop hurting the people they say they love. Since NONE of my wishes are coming true for Domestic Violence Awareness month this year, I will continue to work, hope and pray for the future.
If you need help and resource information for a friend or family member who is in a violent relationship, or if you have questions about what support is available for victims or survivors of a violent crime, please visit our website www.inamaegreene.org