Domestic violence thrives on silence. Often times hiding in plain sight. Please join the staff at HAVEN and myself this month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to shed light onto this epidemic.
We have a false sense of security when we think that domestic violence happens to other people who live elsewhere. In actuality, 1 in 3 households in Michigan has experienced domestic violence firsthand. In Oakland County that equates to more than 150,000 households that are affected. So the odds are pretty good that someone you know has been impacted.
On some level, most of us unknowingly participate in the culture that supports and encourages violence against women and girls. Like when we tell our friends to “man up” when they have to do something difficult or when we laugh at sexist jokes. But there are also bigger ways culture supports and encourages violence. For example, when a manager makes light of a sexual harassment complaint, when sports figures or celebrities accused of domestic violence receive special treatment, or when people don’t speak out against the beating and raping of women and girls. Or worse yet, they speak out but do so to blame the victim.
Beginning today and every day thereafter, I am urging you to look beyond the makeup and the excuses and dig a bit deeper. Be aware of what you say, trust your gut if something doesn’t seem right and ask questions if you think someone needs help. Take action to educate yourself by learning the facts, the prevalence, and how to help, and then share what you learn to aid in bringing an end to these horrific crimes.
Starting today you can:
- Hold your friends and family accountable when they disrespect women and girls.
- Engage others in discussions about violence against women.
- Speak out against racist, sexist or homophobic jokes.
- Avoid engaging in, supporting or encouraging sexual harassment.
- Learn how to take action if you hear of or witness a violent act against a friend, neighbor or stranger.
- Applaud others who speak out against violence and oppression.
- Believe survivors and don’t blame them for what has happened.
- Reconsider spanking or hitting your children.
- Teach kids that respect is the minimum in a relationship and lead by example.
Break the silence and get talking. We all need to play a role to break the cycle of Domestic Violence – someone’s life could depend on it.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the HAVEN Crisis and Support Line at 1-877-922-1274.