Category Archives: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Collective Strength

handprints-distance

Guest post by Karen Wullaert DeKett, MA, LPC, DV/SA Therapist, HAVEN

With one in three Michigan families impacted by domestic violence, it can seem like a daunting task to bring it to an end. But, by working together we can make great strides through our collective strength in protecting those impacted by this crime.

This month is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It’s a chance for everyone in the movement – victims, survivors, advocates, law enforcement, supporters and politicians – to unite in our work to end abuse. If you’re wondering how YOU can support this effort, here are some ideas:

  • Many of our supporters encourage their coworkers to wear purple and collect funds to donate in support of survivors. If your organization does this, please be sure to send us a picture or post on social media with the hashtags #LiveWithoutFear and #DVAM.

You can also:

  • Explore our website to learn about the issue.
  • Hold your friends accountable when they disrespect women and girls.
  • Engage others in discussions about violence against women.
  • Speak out against racist, sexist or homophobic jokes.
  • Learn how to take action if you witness a violent act against a friend or neighbor. While it can be a scary or awkward situation, the difference between not doing anything and doing something could mean the difference between life and death.
  • Applaud others who speak out against violence and oppression.
  • Reconsider spanking or hitting your children.
  • Open the dialogue with your children and teach them that respect is the minimum in a relationship and lead by example. Let them know what acceptable behavior is and what the limits are.

At HAVEN, our Counseling Program recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month by holding a Candlelight Vigil for survivors every year. Our goal is to bring survivors together to celebrate their inner strength, their connectedness, and their resilience. We want to honor our past and all of the survivors and supporters who have come before us. We also look forward to the future and creating a world free of violence and fear.

This year, residential and non-residential clients came together to celebrate their personal healing journeys and their collective strength. The evening started with a meditation focused on loving-kindness, encouraging each survivor to focus on her worthiness and strength.

Next, clients created a group art project. The foundation of the art piece was a tree in the Meditation Garden. The tree represented the movement to end domestic violence. The movement has deep roots, spanning generations. The tree represented all survivors and supporters, past, present, and future. Each person was given a cutout of a hand; it represented their “leaf” on the tree, their own unique healing journey. It’s their story in the larger narrative.

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After they finished creating their handprints, they were given the option of sharing with the group. They shared stories of courage and faith in the face of abuse and adversity. They shared what grounded them and what has helped them heal. They shared inspirational words, quotes, and poetry. After each person shared, the group offered applause and kind words.

Next, the survivors hung their handprints on the tree and gathered around the fire pit. Each woman took a candle and one-by-one, they lit each other’s candles. As they touched candles, they shared an affirmation or words of encouragement with one another. There was a moment of silence to honor all survivors of domestic violence.

I have so much gratitude for the women who came to this year’s vigil. It was inspiring to be in their presence, not just to hear their stories of hope and empowerment, but to see the compassion and warmth they shared with each other. Sometimes HAVEN’s mission seems so big to me. But on nights like the Candlelight Vigil, I am reminded of how powerful a small group can be and how much of an impact HAVEN has in the lives of survivors.

If you’d like to learn more about HAVEN, visit our website at www.haven-oakland.org.

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It’s Time to Talk

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.

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Filed under Call to action, Domestic Violence Awareness Month