Sunday, October 26, 2008

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month - My Two Cents...

I think that we should be aware of Domestic Violence no matter the month but this is a special time to remind ourselves that many women and children live in an environment of fear and violence - even as you read this post. My son and I are survivors of domestic violence and it has been a hard road BUT I will tell you our liberation has been worth all of the set backs - large and small. I have dedicated my life to moving forward and developing my work around helping to restore the female spirit.

If you are in a violent relationship it is important to recognize the patterns of violence and KNOW that you are NOT alone...although it can feel like it...If you can take some time to re-evaluate what it is that YOU WANT FOR YOUR LIFE - if you want peace, love, joy and freedom then consider what it will take to get you there...often that means leaving a bad situation. I will not lie, the first step is the hardest and known to be the most dangerous (depending on the level of violence you are dealing with...)

1. Make a PLAN for yourself and your children (if you have any)-this could include talking to a domestic violence organization/shelter, talking to a "trusted" family member or friend, packing a secret/hidden bag for yourself and children with essentials such as medicine, extra set of keys, diapers, clothes, shoes, copies of important papers and money. It could include getting the assistance of someone to help you leave.

2. Many people are ignorant to the issues of domestic violence so you may encounter various non helpful gestures BUT THIS IS ABOUT YOUR LIFE NOT ANYONE ELSE'S. Get help from someone willing to help you -sometimes this may be a stranger on the other end of a crisis line or a counselor at a shelter.

3. Keep yourself safe - don't speak about your whereabouts to people who will tell your abusive spouse, screen your calls, alert your workplace of your situation (often you will find they will screen calls for you or alert there security), alert your daycare or children's schools.

4. Try to secure your financial situation - save cash and have it on hand. If you have left -close joint bank accounts and secure your credit (this was a big downfall for me but you need to know abusers will strike your finances if they can't strike you...) Write landlords to alert them you have left the premises and send all mail verified. Make sure your divorce is documented as a domestic violence situation -this may help with creditors later.

5. Consider the help of Legal Aid Societies and the Department of Family Services. Often you need to apply for these services early BEFORE you are in a desperate crunch - it could take up to 30 days to get assistance...

6. DOCUMENT everything - dates of abusive incidents, police reports - YES -call the police if there is violence and have them FILE A REPORT. Take it from me you will find yourself having to prove you were actually abused...If the police seem like they don't want to help or get involved (yes, this happens...) then insist that they make a CITIZEN'S ARREST - if you need your abuser in their custody for a short while - and it may be short!

7.KEEP IT REAL - be honest with YOURSELF first - your in this situation for various reasons and now you need out - YOU CAN DO IT and it may take some time to really get your head above water. Get counseling and do some self reflection. Be around people who BELIEVE IN YOU. In time you will find that you have moved forward...

8. This is hardly as simple as a numbered list but this comes from my own experiences - so I hope it is helpful... Below are resources...

*If you know someone who is being abused the best thing you can do is EDUCATE yourself on the issues and provide a LISTENING EAR. Judgement can send a Sistah spiraling back to her abuser. PLEASE NOTE SISTAHS: I know survivors who are PhDs, doctors, scientist, activists, women's advocates, ministers, housewives, teachers, wellness practitioners, and more... I know abusers who are doctors, lawyers, ministers, high profile stock brokers, basketball players, teachers, activists and so on...Don't let yourself get caught up in status -look at people's actions -pay attention to their deeds and they will reveal who they really are...


If you need immediate assistance, dial 911.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

The National Coalition of Domestic Violence has good resources on protecting yourself and making a plan.

The Legal Aid Society
See how you can get free legal help and advice on how to proceed legally.

Here is a resource on Understanding Domestic Violence


Healing takes time. You will have anger, rage, despair, depression mixed with leaps of hope and positive thinking with leaps of anxiety. Just be open to all these feelings -sometimes we need to sit in the dark to see the light. Don't put yourself on other people's time tables -THIS IS YOUR LIFE - YOUR HEALING. Do small things for yourself - candle lit baths, massage, walks, singing, dancing, ART of any kind. Get a NEW lease on life! Acknowledge the past BUT really start spending a great deal of time living in the present and visualizing your NEW LIFE with peace, love, joy and true prosperity. Meet new people who are about positive living. Try a spiritual practice like meditation, yoga, prayer and affirmation. Everyday wake up and declare that it is a NEW DAY FOR YOU and give blessings and gratitude for what you do have. If you are in a rut - clean your house from top to bottom - throw out the dirty water through the back door - light some incense, dance, sing and laugh as LOUD as you can and give negativity no space in your life. Every time you think of your oppressive past and it is mingled with fear and anger - JUST START LAUGHING (this sounds "crazy") but do this until you actually are naturally laughing. The Igbo people call this "hooting at danger" - meaning to laugh it off - you have been through the worst trial AND YOU SURVIVED. YOU ARE THE MOST POWERFUL MANIFESTATION OF THE CREATOR/GOD/GODDESS - YES YOU! Much peace and blessings to you!
With Light and Love,
Sistah C