Warning: Sharing with other cultures can result in self reflection!

By: Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

HAVEN was honored with a visit from a group of dedicated Guatemalan health care workers from Casa Colibri.

The group, under the local leadership of Linda Eastman of Rochester Hills, visited HAVEN to learn more about our domestic violence shelter and our crisis intervention efforts. We are really excited to forge a new relationship with a group of concerned individuals who, like the volunteers that started HAVEN 38 years ago, recognize the need to provide safe services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Through our visit I was reminded that not so long ago domestic violence wasn’t talked about, it wasn’t against the law, and victims suffered in isolation.

As we shared stories, it became apparent that domestic violence victims in Guatemala have very similar fears and struggles as women here in the United States do. One of the Casa Colibri members shared that often women will come to their health clinic begging for help preventing pregnancy. They ask them to find a way to provide birth control medication disguised as a simple vitamin or other type of medication, to prevent their partner from beating her for not wanting more children.

Sadly, this is a story that we often hear at HAVEN. Women are forced or threatened into pregnancy as a way for the abuser to maintain their relationship and their control.  The approach may be different in Guatemala, but we all know that women’s reproductive rights are under attack in the US as well.

While we offered advice to our new Guatemalan advocates, we also shared with them that the battle for social change is both long and arduous.  Our staff was reminded that we do our best each day to assist victims and to offer safety options. Yet in order to end domestic violence the work must be done not just through individual acts but through significant social change.

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