October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Personally, I don’t know that I like the “awareness” term as the world is aware of domestic violence. I think it needs to be called domestic violence survivors celebration month. The reason is two-fold.
- Any time we share our stories, we bring awareness. Domestic violence stories are in the news on a daily basis. The awareness is there. What we need is to offer hope. Let our stories of successfully ending an abusive relationship be a beacon of hope for those who remain in such relationships. Let our strength of character, of overcoming such incredibly odds be a light of hope for those who have yet to find their strength. Let our ability to move forward, to carve out a better life for ourselves and our children be a lifeline for another who needs it. We need to encourage those who continue to exist in such devastating environments to find just a small portion of the courage they hold inside themselves and get out. Let our celebration of life and love offer them the safety net to find their own courage.
- We are aware of domestic violence. We need to put the spotlight on the lack of support for those who need to flee such relationships. Shelters are generally overflowing. Education, job training, financial guidance, counseling and childcare are critical to a survivor’s ability to not only leave the relationship, but successfully support themselves and their children. Often times a safe house is needed as the abusive partner is intent on keeping them at all costs. Many abusive partners have the “if I can’t have you, no one can” mentality. Survivors need safe places, secure facilities, and a court system who will offer more than just a piece of paper as protection against these abusers. Yes domestic violence happens. I think our focus needs to be on how to better assist survivors on leaving and starting new.
I am a domestic abuse survivor. I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to get out, stay out, stay safe, and after many years of counseling, many false starts, and many other mistakes, I can finally say I am beginning to finally do more than survive; I am beginning to thrive.
Please, as this month goes on, share your own stories. Not just of the abuse you suffered, but of all you have accomplished since then. Let’s celebrate our living.
Don’t just stop there, though. We know many survivors have been unjustly imprisoned due to finally fighting back. Let us unite to support them in their fight for their freedom. Let us work to make the world understand the devastating physical, mental, and emotional damage domestic abuses inflicts. Let us make them understand we shall no longer sit quietly as we watch more survivors lose their battles. We will fight for our rights to survive, to thrive, to live, and to love.