October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). This month is about taking action, raising awareness, and bringing attention to the issue of domestic violence (DV). It is also about remembering those we have lost to domestic violence and honoring those that have survived. Change starts within ourselves and flows out; first touching our families and those closest to us, next reaching our communities, and then moving beyond to hopefully, a national level. If we want a world without domestic violence, we must take a stand in some way and remind ourselves, our communities, and our country that there are still countless people impacted by domestic violence directly and indirectly each year. We must continue to shed light on the issue until there is zero tolerance for domestic violence on a national level. For many of us, this can seem daunting & uncomfortable, and for many of us, we pose the same question in our heads. “How can I actually make a difference in a domestic violence situation?” The answer is simple, let’s change the way we think about making a difference on an issue such as intimate partner violence. Let’s change the way we think about offering help to create change should look like around domestic violence. Even though we want to, we don’t have to stop the abuse to help and create change around the issue.
In honor of taking a stand against domestic violence, this article intends to offer a few examples on the ways you might be able to help a survivor or someone experiencing domestic violence.
1. 1. Give your talents- Do you have some special skill that comes so very easy to you it’s almost like second nature? Have your friends ever asked for your help with something because you are known to be quite good at it? Do you have special training/ certifications or professional skills and experience that others might benefit from? If so, you can always contact an organization that works with domestic violence victims and ask if their clients could use your skills. A personal trainer, yoga instructor, dance teacher may offer exercise, yoga, or dance classes periodically. A career coach might offer a class that focuses on preparing for a job interview. A writer or even college level English major, can provide a workshop on building resumes and writing cover letters. You might offer attendees the opportunity to develop their own resume during the class. Chefs can offer a cooking class. Artists can offer art therapy workshops. Call your local domestic violence shelter or organization and offer your talents. The possibilities are endless in this department!
2. 2. Give your time – Many domestic violence organizations and shelters rely heavily on volunteers to ensure certain aspects of their programs continue to run and function efficiently and smoothly. Unfortunately, funding is limited for most, if not all, programs that work toward helping domestic violence victims and survivors. Limited funding means limited staff with heavy caseloads and not nearly enough time. This is why volunteers are so essential to these domestic violence shelters and organizations. If you are interested in volunteering, check your local DV shelter and DV organizations to see what opportunities they offer volunteers. A few options might include:
· Answering calls that come through a domestic violence hotline or online chat
· Providing agency/shelter approved transportation to appointments and job interviews
· “Volunteering as an advocate who helps survivors find jobs, housing, childcare, and legal services”
· Working at a DV fundraising or DV awareness & community event
· “Cooking or cleaning for a shelter”
· “Fostering a dog or cat whose “parent” can’t keep the animal in a domestic violence shelter”
3. 3. Give a nonmonetary donation – When leaving a domestic violence situation, many survivors have to start over entirely. They often spend weeks if not longer planning to leave the abusive situation and often wait anxiously for the safest time to leave. They typically have a very limited window of time to escape and no means to take belongings other than a small bag of clothes for themselves and their children and important documents. If you have items that you no longer need such as clothes, like new household items (ex. towels, blankets/sheets, furniture) old cell phones, old vehicles, consider donating before throwing these items away. Toiletries, cleaning supplies, and food are always in high demand at shelters as well. You can also call your local DV shelter and ask what they need. Start a local drive with friends to obtain what is needed and raise awareness.
4. 4. Give a monetary donation – Shelters and organizations often have limited funding and rely on grants and donations to keep their domestic violence programs running and afloat. Donations are always greatly appreciated and make a huge difference in the supportive services that most organizations and shelters are able to provide. If you’d like to donate to Origin SC’s Family Violence Intervention program, click the link. https://originsc.org/get-involved/donate/
5. Help the people around you – You don’t have to work at a domestic violence shelter or organization to offer kindness and compassion to someone in need. Just offer to listen and see how you can help their particular situation whether it be babysitting for a few hours, or watching a pet, maybe they just need a safe place to stay one night. Perhaps you can be the safe location they come to first when they decide to flee and then you help get them to a shelter. With dv rates so high, chances are you do know someone who has or is experiencing intimate partner violence. If you know someone isn’t ready to leave a domestic violence relationship, just simply let them know you are here for them now and when they do decide to leave. Provide them with local resources and encourage them to call 911 if they are ever in an emergency.
jh Origin SC, has a Family Violence Intervention Program (FVIP) that offers group workshops and individual counseling for those who have experienced violence or abuse in the home. To learn more, visit the FVIP webpage or call 843.628.3000.
Written by: Lindsey Jenkins