October is #domesticviolenceawareness month, although of course we should be aware every month. What can you do to increase your awareness, or to support those of us who’ve been victims of domestic violence? What can I do?
I can donate. Last week, I attended a fundraiser for Peaceful Paths, the amazingly comprehensive domestic violence support agency in North Florida. From very humble beginnings, Peaceful Paths has grown into an organization that provides shelter, legal assistance, counseling, financial support and advice, and community advocacy for victims of domestic violence and their children. Many years ago, I was on the board of a similar agency in Massachusetts, and I know how important financial support from the community is. Donations from individuals, especially unrestricted donations, go a long way toward providing services as well as the “match” often required by foundation grants.
I can read other survivors’ stories to learn about the diversity of domestic violence experiences, and I can share those stories. One of the survivor speakers at last week’s Peaceful Paths event has a blog, http://www.bruisedwoman.com. It contains personal stories as well as specific advice on many of the issues faced by survivors. Check it out!
I can tell my story, as I do in my memoir, Walk Away, and in other published works. Our stories change people’s minds and lives. This seems especially relevant in today’s political climate, where assaults on women are being dismissed by some. But the truth about violence against women, which is often intimate partner violence, is being spread by literally millions of women. Have you seen the Twitter threads, and the articles about them?
If you’re a survivor, and you’re inclined to tell your story, there are many places to do so. If you don’t know where to share your story, send me an email at michelejleavitt at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to tell you what I know about getting your story out to the world. Like James Baldwin said, our stories are “the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.”
Need help? Call 911 in an emergency. To connect with local resources in your area, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), or visit them at www.thehotline.org.